Testimony in Kilpatrick Corruption Trial focuses on pricey suits and text messages

DETROIT (WXYZ) - More testimony about pricey custom suits and some damaging text messages were the focus in the Kilpatrick Corruption trial.

Former city contractor Bobby Ferguson and Kwame Kilpatrick are always dressed to the nines. 

The ex-mayor's custom suits have played a major role in the Kilpatrick Corruption Trial. Now text messages show Ferguson telling his staff to cut a check to purchase a custom suit for a top manager in Detroit's Recreation Department.

The former mayor, his father, and Ferguson are all on trial -- accused of running a criminal enterprise out of city hall.

Today FBI special agent Bob Beeckman showed the jury several text message exchanges that seemed to show Ferguson was getting the inside track on the bid for the Heilmann Recreation Center construction project.

The $7 million project was managed by the Detroit Building Authority for the Recreation Department. At the time, Kilpatrick's 2nd cousin Ayanna Benson was in charge of the DBA, and his chief of staff, Christine Beatty sat on the board.

Text messages between Rec Department General Manager Vincent Anwunah and Ferguson show the two discussing when the bid for Heilmann will be made public, and Special Agent Beeckman said Anwunah often referred to the mayor's pal as "boss."

Recreation Department construction manager LaJuan Wilks previously testified that she was surprised that Ferguson's joint venture got the Heilmann project because they came in 2nd to last among the bids evaluated.

Beeckman says the day before the DBA was going to vote on the Heilmann bid, Ferguson and Anwunah exchanged these text messages:

Anwunah: Congratulations for tomorrow.
Ferguson: Ok, what happened good.
Anwunah: Your team got Heilman.
Ferguson: Yeah I know, thanks. Also call that guy from DWSD….

The next day the DBA board awarded Ferguson the Heilmann project. That's when he exchanged these messages with Christine Beatty:

Ferguson: Thank you, I love you, you are for sre [sure]my sister.
Beatty: What did I do?
Ferguson: Benson [referring to the DBA executive director].
Beatty: Oh you know I was going to take care of you!
Ferguson: Thank you.

"I think you guys are reading them the wrong way and that's not the whole story. That's all I can tell you. I've told you a 100 times, wait until the evidence is all," said Ferguson lead attorney Gerald Evelyn.

Meanwhile, the feds showed that Ferguson was also texting with Anwunah about buying custom suits for the one-time deputy director of the recreation department, Lee Stephenson.

Ferguson: …he can pick up 1 suite [sic] of his choice, and I will pay for the rest Monday.
Anwunah: That is great. Thanks.

Former Detroit Chief Financial Officer Sean Werdlow also took the witness stand today. He told the jury that when he voted for the Heilmann project, he was never told Ferguson's joint venture bid was ranked 2nd to last by the evaluation committee. He also said in cabinet meetings that Kilpatrick would often say "I'd like my guy Bobby to get it.." when they discussed various contracts.

The defense did get Werdlow to say there's nothing wrong with members of the administration talking about their choices for projects.

The defense continues to say the text messages don't tell the whole story – and to wait because this is still the prosecutions' case, the jury still hasn't heard the defense's side.
 

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