Prosecutors use text messages to hammer home bid rigging allegations

DETROIT (WXYZ) - Federal prosecutors used more text messages Friday to hammer home their allegations of bid rigging in the Kilpatrick corruption case.

The feds are using the texts to shore up what some recent witnesses have said – that they thought Bobby Ferguson was using his pull with Kwame Kilpatrick to get water department deals.

Also Friday, things got a little nasty at times as defense attorneys tried to overcome a major hurdle – you can't cross examine someone who's no longer alive.

The former mayor's text messages are coming back to haunt him once again-- this time, federal prosecutors say texts between Kilpatrick and Ferguson suggest the two were scheming to steer water department deals to Ferguson.

The former mayor, his father Bernard Kilpatrick, and Ferguson are on trial, accused of racketeering and conspiracy.

Recent witnesses have told the jury that when Ferguson wasn't added to their teams, they lost city business.

Today EPA Investigator Carol Paszkiewicz showed the jury this text message that was sent in 2003 – about a $10 million contract that Lakeshore Engineering thought they had been awarded.  

Ferguson writes: "Hello, Black, you haven't released that contract right?"
Kilpatrick says: "Right they know I'm holding it."

Ferguson replies: "Using your terms, it's still ‘cool' with you I need to hold it for a long time…"

Ultimately, Inland Waters landed the project after they hired Ferguson as a subcontractor.

"No comment," said Kim Harris.

Meanwhile, the cross examination of Harris at times got contentious Friday.

Harris used to be the Chief Compliance officer for Detroit's Human Rights Dept.  Harris told the jury that his boss directed him to revoke a special certification that the engineering firm DLZ needed to score extra points on water department bids.

Harris testified that it was the former mayor Kilpatrick who told former Human Rights Director Gerard Grant Phillips to revoke DLZ's Detroit Headquartered Business certification.  The move shuffled the scores on bids for a multi-million dollar water main contract… landing Ferguson's joint-venture in first place.

Defense lawyers showed Harris emails and records that indicated the water department was asking Harris to look into whether DLZ deserved the certification since the company appeared to be headquartered in Ohio.

Harris said he did not investigate, instead telling Phillips he "didn't want to be involved anymore because it was getting too goofy."
The judge refused several requests from Kilpatrick attorney Jim Thomas to go after some of Harris' testimony about DLZ – and lawyers can't question Phillips because he passed away last year.

"Now the jury gets to decide the weight of everybody's testimony. Now I say that somebody said to me, that somebody said to me, that some dead guy told me something, then maybe you might want to think there's a lack of proof there.  But we'll see how it plays," said Thomas.

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