Bobby Ferguson will get taxpayer-funded lawyer

(WXYZ) DETROIT - A federal judge is appointing a lawyer to defend Bobby Ferguson in his bid-rigging re-trial.  The once-wealthy Detroit contractor signed a financial affidavit that Judge David Lawson is keeping under seal, which means even federal prosecutors won't have access to the sworn statement about Ferguson's finances.

Judge Lawson also questioned Ferguson under oath, in private.  He cleared the courtroom before he spoke to Ferguson and 3 lawyers from the Federal Defenders Office for about five minutes Thursday morning.

After reporters and prosecutors were allowed back into the courtroom, the judge said he was "satisfied" that Ferguson can't afford his own lawyer.  Chief Federal Defender Miriam Siefer is expected to appoint a federal panel attorney next week.

Ferguson once made millions of dollars from city contracts, but federal agents have seized many of his assets, including cash and expensive construction equipment.  The forfeited assets from both of his federal cases totals more than $3.3 million.

Ferguson was convicted on racketeering and bribery charges with his long-time friend, former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick back in March in a historic corruption trial.  But Ferguson has to face federal prosecutors again for a bid-rigging case involving the Garden View Estates housing project, which ended in a mistrial last year.  His long-time lawyer had to withdraw from the re-trial due to health reasons.

Wearing a red prison jumpsuit, Ferguson was lead away from the courtroom in handcuffs.  He has been denied bond pending his sentencing in the corruption case.

Even though the taxpayers will now fund Ferguson's defense, if federal agents uncover more assets, he will have to pay back the cost of the lawyer.


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