BLOG RECAP: Lawyers for Bernard Kilpatrick, Bobby Ferguson make final pitch to jury

DETROIT (WXYZ) - Follow along with the latest in closing arguments as 7 Action News Investigator Ross Jones blogs from federal court:

3:37--The end: That's all for today.  We'll see you tomorrow at 9AM.

3:35--Not guilty: Imploring the jurors to "meet the challenge" he asked them to at the beginning of this trial.

Quoting Martin Luther King, Evelyn said: "The ultimate measure of a man or a woman is not where they stand in moments of comfort and convenience, but where they stand in moments of controversy."

He began to cry, his voice cracking.

"I challenge each one of you to do what's right, find my clients not guilty of these charges."

3:30--Tough man: "Bobby Ferguson is a tough minded, sometime course, always animated…active person.  That's how he's survived, that's how he's succeeded in business," Evelyn said.

Unlike some of his competitors, Evelyn said, Ferguson wasn't a pass-through or front company.  Ferguson, Evelyn said, wouldn't do that: it'd be like making money off of the Civil Rights Movement. 

He had real employees, real equipment and did real work.

3:27--Bringing it home: "This is the last time I'm going to address you in this case," Evelyn said.

He's winding down. Stay with us.

3:23--Harsh words: Calling the feds "criminally incompetent," Evelyn said it didn't make sense that of the almost $6 billion in water contracts, "only 9" were allegedly hijacked by Bobby Ferguson. 

3:18--Can't link the cash: The feds couldn't link cash going from Ferguson's accounts or safes and into Kilpatrick's accounts, Evelyn says, telling jurors that it should be easy to do if it happened.

3:16--Not a crime: The feds have shown pictures of money seized from Bobby Ferguson's home and workplace in 2009 and 2010 (money that was seized as part of another case), suggesting that Ferguson shared it with Kilpatrick.

But where's the record that proves how much Ferguson gave to Kilpatrick, Evelyn asks. All the governmente can prove is that Ferguson used some of that money to buy equipment.

"You don't do that if you're cheating! You do that if you're working!" Evelyn said, before shouting: "They're trying to pull the wool over your eyes!"

3:00--Money not taken: Speaking about the state grant money that Ferguson received more than a decade ago and is accused of misusing, Evelyn points out that the state never asked for the money back.

2:50--We're back: Evelyn's closing continues.

2:40--Business, not personal: There's a memorable little scene playing out in front of us right now.  In a sign that there's no personal animosity between these lawyers, Gerald Evelyn took a seat on the prosecution's table and engaged in some pleasant conversation with Asst. U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow.

In a few minutes, he'll get back to attacking his case.

2:21--Short break: Stay with us.

2:19--Not credible: Evelyn is taking aim at government witness Bernard Parker, who worked for a number of different companies--even Ferguson's at one time.  He said that Walbridge Aldinger (a major Detroit construction firm) was urged to partner with Bobby Ferguson. 

Evelyn points out that Parker bad-mouthed lots of people, including his future employers, and painted him as a shyster.

"If Bernard Parker comes to your house and says, 'There's a fire, I'll watch your stuff,' You better watch your stuff," Evelyn said to laughter.

2:12--No complaints: Pounding his fist on the lectern, Evelyn reminded jurors that the man whose company insured Ferguson's company never received a single complaint about him or his work.

"Never happened once to him, in all the time he was doing business," Evelyn said.

"And he's supposed to be a crook."

2:10--No pushover: "Tony Soave's not going to be pushed around," Evelyn said, reminding jurors that Soave didn't build his empire by letting people steamroll over him.

2:08--Soave: Now on to business titan Tony Soave, who said that he was told by Kwame Kilpatrick early on in his administration that he was holding on to his city waterline contract because he hadn't gone into business with Bobby Ferguson.

Soave testified that his first meeting with Kilpatrick was very cordial: Kilpatrick reached out to Soave after he took office and told him he wanted his support going forward. But in their second meeting, Soave said Kilpatrick told him to hire Bobby Ferguson on his major city contract.

Again, Evelyn says this is ludicrous. Kilpatrick had just been elected mayor and Soave was a powerful, well-established billionaire.  This scenario couldn't have played out like that, he says.

"The next time Soave comes to see him, he's making demands on a multi-billionaire," Evelyn said.

"Does that make any sense?"

1:55--Paid for no work? Evelyn is pushing back hard on the government's claim that Ferguson was paid for doing no work.  Remember, the defense argues that Ferguson wasn't demanding money for nothing.  He was being pushed out of a $10 million deal, Evelyn says, in favor of another subcontractor. If Ferguson would agree to step aside, he wanted to be compensated for giving up his spot.

1:41--Friends or enemies? Hardiman clearly had a friendly relationship with Ferguson, Evelyn says, pointing out that Hardiman once sat on the board of a foundation named after Ferguson's father.  How believable is it that this friend later extorted Hardiman, Evelyn asks.

1:39--Hardiman: Evelyn is getting to Thomas Hardiman, one of the witnesses who said his contracts were killed when Bobby Ferguson wasn't a part of them. 

1:32--Minority fronts: Evelyn says Kilpatrick and Ferguson were both very concerned about "minority fronts," companies that used minority businesses to score a contract, paid them a fee and actually did the work themselves.

"That's trickery, that's faking people out," Evelyn said.

1:27--Real concern: Evelyn stresses that, for one Ferguson competitor (DLZ) who was tossed from a bid, there was "real concern" that it was a company that was based out of state and didn't deserve to its Detroit-based status. 

The feds have alleged, and at least one witness testified, that DLZ deserved its certification, which was ultimately pulled.

1:20--Contracts: Now Evelyn's switching gears to focus on the contracts at issue in the case. Grab a comfy seat...there are a lot.

1:15--Going back: Reminding jurors of testimony we heard way back in the Fall, Evelyn is focusing on the testimony of DPD Officer Michael Fountain, who said he was threatened by Bobby Ferguson when he wrote him tickets for environmental violations. 

Fountain said that he was approached by Ferguson and two of Kilpatrick's bodyguards in court, who threatened him to dismiss the tickets.

"How plausible does that sound?" he asked incredulously.

1:13--Not a fan: "The government and the media have demonized…Mr. Kilpatrick and by extension, Mr. Ferguson," Evelyn said.

1:07--Drumbeat: Calling the lead-up to this case an "institutional drumbeat...begging you to prejudge in a way that I can't remember" in his 30 plus years as a lawyer, Evelyn urged the jury to resist the pressure they may feel to convict the defendants.

"It could easily seem difficult to be objective and do your duty as jurors, even if the right result is an unpopular result," he said.

He said doing the right thing is never easy, but it's vitally important.  Evelyn held up a copy of John F. Kennedy's "Profiles in Courage," asking jurors to emulate the brave men written about in the book.

1:04--Evelyn's up: Bobby Ferguson's lead attorney Gerald Evelyn is up now.  He's thanking the jury for their time, attention and patience.

"Each one of you has given up some things to be here," he said, stressing that the make-up of the jury represents the diversity of the region.

"We thank you for that."

12:55--Keeping in shape: As we prepare to get going again, I noticed Kwame Kilpatrick and Bobby Ferguson walking laps around the 8th floor here at the federal courthouse. Whether they're working off some calories or stress, they were in a good mood while they did it.

11:32--Lunch break: We're on a lunch break until 1PM.  Stay with us. Bobby Ferguson's lawyer Gerald Evelyn is up next.

11:28--Not pure: Bernard Kilpatrick's "not a saint," his lawyer said, but he's also not guilty.

"You have to acquit him," he said.

Shea's closing argument is over.

11:14--Unfair? Sure: You can't throw someone in jail for being unfair. Maybe Kwame Kilpatrick may have favored Bernard Kilpatrick over other consultants, but Shea says: so what?

"Maybe it's unfair, but it's not illegal," he said.

11:10--Closing his closing: As Shea appears to be wrapping up, he told jurors this:

"Bernard Kilpatrick was doing legitimate work for legitimate clients and getting paid for it...or sometimes not getting paid for it."

11:03--Leverage: In an argument that Bobby Ferguson's lawyer's may not appreciate, Shea points out that there's no evidence showing Bernard Kilpatrick pushed his son to mess with any city contractor's licenses or permits (remember, texts show that Ferguson did do this).

Shea's point is this: if Bernard wanted to use Kwame Kilpatrick to mess with vendors who didn't meet his demands, there's no evidence.

"Where are his efforts in leveraging his son's office?" Shea asked.

10:50--We're back: Shea's still going.  There will be no chance for the jury to deliberate today because, according to Judge Nancy Edmunds, we won't get to the prosecution's rebuttal closing until tomorrow. So at least one more day, folks.

10:20--Short break: Stay with us.

10:14--Not extortion: One of the critical elements of convicting someone of extortion, Shea says, is showing someone "wrongfully used the fear of economic harm" to get something for themselves that they had no lawful claim to.

But Bernard Kilpatrick had a lawful claim to what James Rosendall had hired him to do, Shea says: to get Synagro the City of Detroit deal.

10:11--Muscling him out: Playing wiretaps to the jury again, Shea reminds the courtroom that James Rosendall (along with consultant Rayford Jackson) was trying to push Bernard Kilpatrick out of the Synagro deal.

10:08--Payments: Bernard Kilpatrick only received $10,000 from Rosendall for his work on the Synagro deal, Shea said.  Of course, the government will probably dispute that (jet trips, Cristal champagne, etc.).

10:03--Could have, but didn't: Shea reminds jurors that Kwame Kilpatrick had "Special Administrator" powers over the city's water department. If he'd wanted to push the billion-dollar Synagro deal through (remember, this took many months and some wrangling on city council, including bribing Monica Conyers to get it done), Kilpatrick could have invoked his special powers to get it through. This would have paid Bernard Kilpatrick more quickly, and not leave the deal up in the air.

"But he didn't do that," Shea said.

"He let it go through the standard review process.  It took years."

10:00--Rosendall: As his closing argument crosses the 60-minute mark, Shea is now addressing perhaps the government's most damaging witness against his client: Synagro Vice-President James Rosendall.

"James Rosendall was, without a doubt, the most manipulative and immoral witness we heard from," Shea said.

Caught on wiretaps, Rosendall was heard lying to his bosses about his business relationship with Bernard Kilpatrick.

9:56--Cunningham: Moving on to prosecution witness Marc Andre Cunningham, Shea says that he told one story to the government and one to the jury.  He told the feds that he was told (by the mayor and others) to hire Bernard Kilpatrick on a deal he was working on, but he later told the jury that Bernard Kilpatrick had already been working on the project.

9:50-- You didn't hear: What jurors never heard on wiretaps or in testimony, Shea said, was a clear threat from Bernard Kilpatrick to Kado.

"At no time did Bernard Kilpatrick say 'Pay me or you won't get what you want,' " Shea said.

9:47--Failure: Shea, who's speaking smoothly while pacing back and forth in front of the jury, tells the courtroom that Bernard Kilpatrick couldn't close the Kado deal.

"The funny thing," he said, "is he failed."

Kado never got paid the money he was owed. 

"If Kwame Kilpatrick was really looking out for his old man, and putting his thumb on the scales...he would have said, 'Sure dad, we'll write him a $1.6 million check so you can make $60,000,' " Shea said.

But he didn't.

9:37--Money owed: On a secretly recorded conversation, we can hear Bernard Kilpatrick and Karl Kado discussing how much money the city owes Kado.  Kado said he thought he was owed in the millions , and offered Bernard Kilpatrick 10% of what he's owed if he could collect the money.

To follow that up, Shea played a secretly recorded conversation by the feds between Bernard Kilpatrick and his son the mayor. On the call (which we heard months ago during trial), Kwame Kilpatrick says that Kado is really owed only about $180,000 or $200,000. 

"This doesn't sound like a conspiratorial conversation," Shea said.

He points out that if Kwame Kilpatrick had given Kado what he wanted, it would have meant a larger payday for Bernard Kilpatrick.  But he didn't.

9:32--No invoices: The feds pointed out that Bernard Kilpatrick never gave Karl Kado any invoices documenting the work he performed.  So what, Shea says.  Kado didn't need an invoice to know he owed Bernard Kilpatrick money on the first of the month ($10,000/month).

9:28--Best source: Karl Kado even acknowledges that Bernard Kilpatrick performed work for him, Shea says, reminding jurors of a transcript of a conversation that Kado secretly recorded for the government.  Talking to Bernard Kilpatrick about an electrical contract, Kado said: "...we made it together you and me."

9:25--Nothing hidden: Kilpatrick and Kado's relationship wasn't a closely-guarded secret , Shea says, and was widely known inside city government.

9:21--"Complete theater:" Karl Kado, one of the government's key witnesses against Bernard Kilpatrick, was a confused older man who made up facts he couldn't remember, Shea said.

He told jurors that in some cases, when asked to read back transcripts of his original grand jury testimony, he would add words that weren't even there in order to fit better with the story he was trying to tell, Shea said.

He called Kado's testimony "complete theater."

9:17--Knows the system: One of Bernard Kilpatrick's client's, homeless shelter owner Jon Rutherford, told jurors that he hired Kilpatrick, at least in part, because he knew how to navigate a confusing bureaucracy.

"Absolutely nothing wrong with that. Totally normal," Shea said.

He also reminded jurors of examples of work that Kilpatrick performed during his 13-month contract with Rutherford.  Remember: Rutherford wanted to build a casino along the city's riverfront.  Rutherford said Kilpatrick obtained real estate records along Detroit's riverfront, collected information about cell phone tower locations and more.

"Bernard was doing things for Jon Rutherford," Shea said.

9:12--Far from perfect: And don't forget, Shea said, Bernard Kilpatrick didn't have a perfect batting average.  Far from it, in fact.  He's reminding jurors that not all of Bernard Kilpatrick's clients got the city business they were seeking. In other words: Bernard Kilpatrick wasn't the key ingredient that all city vendors needed. 

9:10--Shea's up: John Shea is up, and he's wasting no time reminding jurors that consultants (like his client) are not just legal, they're perfectly normal. Even his relationship with his son, the mayor, didn't make Bernard Kilpatrick's position unique, he said, reminding jurors that other consultants working in the city (like Conrad Mallet) also had close relationships with the mayor.

9:05--Good read: Some very cool documents here on folks. Channel 7 has ordered the complete transcripts from closing arguments made so far.  Click here to read both the closing statement from the government and Kwame Kilpatrick's attorney Jim Thomas.  As more closings are made, we'll add those too.

9:00--Family: On Tuesday, Kilpatrick's wife and kids joined him in court for the first time during this long trial.  Right now, they don't appear to be in the courtroom.

8:55--Day 71: Welcome back to what could be the final day of trial before deliberations.  Once we get going, Bernard Kilpatrick's lawyer John Shea will re-start his closing argument. He started on Tuesday, but it was cut short after about ten minutes when a juror became ill. After Shea, Bobby Ferguson's lead lawyer Gerald Evelyn is due up, and then the prosecution gets a final rebuttal closing argument.

Have a question or comment for Ross? E-mail him at You can also follow him on Twitter @RossJones7 or like him on Facebook.

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