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What about Bobby? Ferguson's family says he deserves commutation too

Ferguson and Kilpatrick, seen in 2012.
Posted at 5:12 PM, Jan 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-22 18:31:18-05

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Loved ones of Bobby Ferguson were thrilled to see his longtime friend and co-defendant Kwame Kilpatrick recently freed from prison. Their only question tonight: why wasn’t Bobby?

“All we know, collectively as a family, is we want our brother home,” said Daniel Ferguson, one of the former contractor’s relatives. “That’s what we know.”

While the final 20 years of Kilpatrick’s 28-year prison sentence were commuted Wednesday by former President Donald Trump, Ferguson’s name was left off the list of more than 100 others to receive a pardon or commutation by the outgoing president.

Ferguson was convicted on public corruption charges back in 2013, sentenced to 21 years behind bars for racketeering, extortion and fraud. Prosecutors said Kilpatrick steered bids to his friend, and the two shared in the profits.

“I know the system is corrupt. I know how the system is. I know that it’s not…it’s not designed for us,” Daniel Ferguson said today.

Attorney Mike Rataj, who defended Bobby Ferguson during his six-month trial, said the decision not to commute Ferguson’s sentence was “on its face unfair.”

“It’s not fair that Kilpatrick—who had 20 years to go on his sentence—is free, and Bobby—who’s got 10 years go to—is still stuck in prison,” he said.

In his fight for release, Kilpatrick enlisted state lawmakers, businessmen, and friends of Donald Trump to plead his case, but Ferguson’s battle for a pardon or commutation didn’t have the same star power.

Like Kilpatrick, Ferguson did not accept responsibility or show remorse when he was sentenced nearly 8 years ago, but his attorney says that’s no longer the case.

“He has demonstrated remorse in communications with me,” Rataj said. “He doesn’t really have the forum to show the world that he’s remorseful when he’s locked up in prison, right? But I can tell you that he regrets many of the things that have happened.”

Rataj said that, for now, his strategy to get Ferguson out of prison will remain between him and his client, but vowed that he doesn’t see this battle anywhere near over.

“I’m still going to do what I can do to see if I can get him out,” Rataj said. “We’re not done fighting for Bobby Ferguson at this point.”