A Detroit businessman allegedly extorted by Bobby Ferguson spent more than three hours on the witness stand Tuesday, deflecting defense questions about his work with Kwame Kilpatrick’s pal and co-defendant.
Also Tuesday, jurors were told to disregard former Detroit Water boss Victor Mercado’s empty chair when they returned following a two-week break in the Kilpatrick corruption trial.
U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds told jurors not to speculate as to the reason for his absence.
When testimony resumes Wednesday, Detroit businessman Tom Hardiman will continue to be cross-examined by Ferguson lawyer Gerald Evelyn about alleged extortion demands.
Live Updates EndedPlease read below for an archived view of this event.
Bobby Ferguson’s lawyer Gerald Evelyn expressed gratitude for the outpouring of support following his medical crisis that stalled the Kwame Kilpatrick trial Oct. 29.
Evelyn acknowledged he suffered a “cardiac condition” common for men his age. He said he’s taking medication and his doctor has asked him to slow down a bit.
Speaking to reporters outside federal court Tuesday, Evelyn recounted the day he fell ill in front of jurors.
During his cross examination of Detroit businessman Tom Hardiman, Evelyn said he felt a tightness in his chest and started suffering from double vision.
He calmly asked U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Edmunds for a brief break. He said he recalls her suggesting a five minute break.
“I said (to myself) if I can get back in five minutes it would be a miracle,” he recalled outside the federal courtroom.
From the moment Edmunds agreed to the break to the short walk to his chair, Evelyn said he sweated through his suit and soon felt incredible nausea.
He remembers little thereafter; he was taken from the courthouse on a stretcher to Detroit Receiving Hospital.
The incident spurred a two-week break in the case during which co-defendant Victor Mercado pleaded guilty as part of a deal with federal prosecutors. It also led many to express their concern for Evelyn and hopes for his recovery.
On Tuesday Evelyn resumed his questioning of Hardiman and didn’t appear to miss a beat, though he said afterward he’s “not entirely back to normal.”
“I want to say thank you to everybody,” Evelyn said. “It really renews your faith.”
Key government witness Tom Hardiman is getting tired of sparring with Bobby Ferguson’s lawyer.
Attorney Gerald Evelyn has spent more than three hours questioning the Detroit businessman, a tango that has turned testy. Hardiman has spent several days on the witness stand testifying about allegedly being extorted by Ferguson.
Evelyn asked the businessman Tuesday about working alongside Ferguson on east-side water main repairs and how Ferguson helped Hardiman’s firm.
“He’s an African American doing work in the city of Detroit,” Hardiman said. “I’m an African American doing work in the city of Detroit. He believes in family. I believe in family. I don’t mean any disrespect, but what is it you want me to talk about now?”
“I don’t want to irritate you,” Evelyn said. “I am asking you questions that are important in this trial.
After, Hardiman reverted to a mantra as Evelyn showed the businessman a series of contracts and forms, providing little insight or explanation.
“That’s what the document is saying,” Hardiman said.
Evelyn showed another exhibit.
“Again, that’s what the document is saying,” Hardiman said.
Contractor Bobby Ferguson came to the rescue after a water main broke on the city’s east side, according to testimony.
Ferguson lawyer Gerald Evelyn focused on the event to show his client’s expertise and to suggest a firm owned by a key government witness — allegedly extorted by Ferguson — made a mistake that flooded a Detroit neighborhood.
A testy exchange added spice to an otherwise tepid day of testimony.
Although the date of the incident was unclear, Detroit businessman Tom Hardiman’s firm A&H Contractors was installing water mains on the east side, near Manistique and E. Jefferson.
Ferguson’s company was a subcontractor, working two blocks away when the water main ruptured.
“When A&H was performing the work, they installed the water main improperly, correct?” Ferguson lawyer Gerald Evelyn asked Hardiman.
“That is not correct,” Hardiman said.
“Your son told federal investigators that a water main was installed improperly and that the water main broke and flooded that area and that Mr. Ferguson had to come and help him,” Evelyn said.
“I can only speak to the fact that he sent some of his people over, I’ll agree to that,” Hardiman said.
“Your son said it was an emergency, a section of the neighborhood was flooded and people were complaining,” Evelyn said. “You told him to call Mr. Ferguson.”
“I don’t remember that,” Hardiman said.
Hardiman disagreed that his company installed the water main improperly.
“Something shifted is my best recollection and water spilled out,” Hardiman said.
“Is it possible it shifted because it was improperly installed by A&H employees?” Evelyn asked.
“I’m not saying that,” Hardiman said.
“Your employees couldn’t fix the problem,” Evelyn said.
“Not true,” Hardiman said.
“Your employees didn’t fix the problem,” Evelyn said.
“Mr. Ferguson volunteered; he was a few blocks over,” Hardiman said.
Kwame Kilpatrick might have packed his bull-crap boots, but he didn’t wear them to court Tuesday.
Kilpatrick relaxed in the federal court’s first-floor lobby during a break in testimony. On his feet: black loafers.
Kilpatrick, who is living at his mother’s house during the trial, tweeted some trash Monday, saying he was prepared to deal with “bull excrement” as his City Hall corruption trial resumed following a two-week hiatus.
“Back in Detroit! Strapping on my boots,” Kilpatrick wrote. “Time to go back to work on my freedom. Plus, I need the boots for all the bull excrement.”
A Detroit firm allegedly extorted by Bobby Ferguson listed two of the controversial contractor’s employees to help win a city job, according to testimony.
The business relationship was in sharp contrast to earlier testimony from A&H Contractors owner Tom Hardiman, who talked about allegedly being extorted by Ferguson.
On Tuesday, Hardiman was shown a bid proposal for water and sewer replacement work in Detroit.
The proposal listed several purported A&H employees who would work on the project, including Shakib Deria and Fred Erdman.
Hardiman said he didn’t know the men, even though the proposal said both men worked at his firm for at least six years.
Ferguson lawyer Gerald Evelyn appeared incredulous that the small-business owner didn’t know the employees.
“That’s your company,” Evelyn said. “Don’t you know who works for your company?”
Hardiman said the men could have been hired through his human resources department. He agreed with Evelyn they may have been “loaned” to A&H.
Turns out, Deria and Erdman worked for Ferguson.
Hardiman said he didn’t put the proposal together and wasn’t sure how both men came to be identified as A&H employees.
Deria, whose nickname is “The African,” was the star witness in Ferguson’s federal bid-rigging case, which ended in a mistrial this summer.
Deria testified during the bid-rigging trial that Ferguson asked him to lie and take credit for a gun hidden in Ferguson’s office.
Deria, who was charged in the bid-rigging case, was sentenced in September to three years’ probation, with the first three months in a residential re-entry center. He was also fined $4,000.
Evelyn suggested the men, who had more experience than A&H employees, were added to the proposal so Hardiman’s firm could win the project.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow objected to the question and the judge sustained it.
A Detroit contractor backed off claims ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s friend Bobby Ferguson threatened to cancel his water department contracts unless he received 25 percent of the deal.
“Mr. Ferguson never told you if you didn’t hire him the contracts would be canceled, isn’t that true?” Ferguson lawyer Gerald Evelyn asked businessman Tom Hardiman.
“He never said those words,” Hardiman said. “The only thing he said is that it has to go across the mayor’s desk.”
On Oct. 26, Hardiman testified that in 2003 Ferguson demanded a 25 percent piece of a water deal, worth $2.5 million. Hardiman, who also had a business relationship with construction firm Lakeshore Engineering Services, offered 10 percent.
“After that, the contract stopped and was ultimately canceled,” Hardiman said Tuesday. “That’s what I know.”
Jurors were not told about former Detroit Water boss Victor Mercado’s guilty plea when the Kwame Kilpatrick corruption trial resumed Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds read a prepared instruction to jurors eight days after Mercado struck a plea deal that could put him in prison for 18 months.
“Mr. Mercado is no longer a part of this trial,” Edmunds told jurors. “I instruct you not to speculate as to the reason for his absence.”
Bobby Ferguson’s lawyer Gerald Evelyn returned to federal court Tuesday, two weeks after falling ill and prompting a hiatus in the Kwame Kilpatrick corruption trial.
Evelyn was seated at the defense table alongside his client, waiting for jurors to enter the courtroom.
“Mr. Evelyn, how nice to see you back,” U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds told him.
“There is nothing to apologize for,” the judge said. “Just glad you’re doing better.”
When jurors return, Edmunds is expected to address co-defendant Victor Mercado’s absence from the corruption trial. He struck a plea deal with prosecutors last week but it is unclear whether jurors will be told about the deal.
Edmunds and lawyers involved in the case are reviewing a prepthat will be read to jurors explaining Mercado’s absence.
Kwame Kilpatrick is definitely a clothes horse, as my colleague Francis X. Donnelly proved today, but the rakish (alleged) racketeer is beating a dead horse.
The dapper Democrat appears to be wearing the same suits from as long as four years ago. Several of the suits are from the text-message scandal era and were worn to court by Kilpatrick in 2008.
A review of archived Detroit News photos contrasts with suggestions the comely ex-con is somehow bankrolling a new wardrobe while claiming to be indigent and getting a taxpayer-funded legal team.
More likely? The fashionable felon had the suits altered after shedding 50 pounds, experts told The News.
Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the peacockish pol:
Lastly, as any sartorial superhero knows, you have to accessorize.