A Detroit businessman allegedly extorted by Kwame Kilpatrick’s friend and co-defendant Bobby Ferguson didn’t know his salary, stake in a powerful Detroit firm or other key details. But he remembered being extorted.
Businessman Tom Hardiman provided few answers to questions asked by Ferguson’s lawyer during a fourth day of testimony in the City Hall corruption trial.
But he reiterated allegations Ferguson demanded $600,000 in no-show work and threatened to have Kilpatrick yank city deals.
Hardiman had said that his former firm, Lakeshore Engineering Services, lost out on two contracts worth $15 million after he rejected a Ferguson overture to work together.
Hardiman testified that he decided that he needed Ferguson and his ties to Kilpatrick to get city work.
Hardiman will return for a fifth day of testimony Thursday.
Live Updates EndedPlease read below for an archived view of this event.
A Detroit businessman allegedly extorted by Bobby Ferguson lashed out at the mayor’s friend following one demand for $600,000 in no-show work.
“I cursed at him,” Detroit contractor Tom Hardiman said.
“He said ‘you’re an idiot,” Hardiman testified.
The testimony came near the end of questioning by prosecutors, who tried to underscore how one businessman paid Ferguson money out of fear his firm would otherwise lose city contracts.
The notion is a central part of the City Hall corruption case against Ferguson and close friend, ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
“During the time Mr. Kilpatrick was in office, did you think you had any choice but to deal with Mr. Ferguson if you wanted to keep contracts with the city?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow asked.
Hardiman, a former executive with Lakeshore Engineering Services, said the firm and co-owner Avinash Rachmale wanted to keep Ferguson happy.
“Mr. Rachmale did not feel comfortable with me saying ‘let Bobby jump off into the river,’” Hardiman testified.
A key government witness appeared stunned Wednesday by the notion that convicted felon and pistol-whipping demolition contractor Bobby Ferguson could be bullied out of a water department deal.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow posed the question to Detroit businessman Tom Hardiman, whose firms allegedly were extorted out of almost $13 million by Ferguson and his friend, ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
“Do I think Bobby Ferguson can be bullied?” Hardiman said. “I can’t picture Mr. Ferguson being bullied.”
The question came near the end of Hardiman’s four-day stint on the witness stand.
Chutkow asked the businessman about Ferguson allegedly being squeezed out of a $20 million sewer deal in 2005 involving Lakeshore.
Ferguson was convicted in 2005 of pistol whipping a former employee.
Ferguson assaulted Kennedy Thomas after accusing him of calling his wife late at night.
Thomas testified he suffers from seizures and dizziness and must walk with a cane as a result of the assault.
Thomas won a $2.6 million jury verdict against Ferguson in 2007. A judge later reduced the amount of the judgment against Ferguson and his company to just over $860,000.
Prosecutors tried to rehabilitate a key government witness whose firm praised Bobby Ferguson despite claims the close friend of Kwame Kilpatrick extorted them out of millions.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow asked ex-Lakeshore Engineering Services executive Tom Hardiman about a letter his firm wrote in early 2009, praising Ferguson.
Ferguson’s lawyer introduced the letter, written by another Lakeshore executive, to counter extortion claims.
Chutkow probed Hardiman about how he felt after Ferguson allegedly threatened to get Lakeshore’s contracts canceled.
“When (Ferguson) said he would shut down the m—– f—— contracts, did you feel like he was threatening you?” Chutkow asked.
“Not me directly, but the company,” Hardiman said.
“And your employees’ jobs?” the prosecutor asked.
“Yes,” Hardiman said.
In all, Hardiman said his firm lost $15 million of work after refusing Ferguson’s demands.
Chutkow asked if the letter writer knew about the alleged extortion demands.
“No,” Hardiman said.
Prosecutors also showed jurors text messages between Ferguson and Kilpatrick in 2003 discussing prices being paid to Lakeshore.
“Did you know Mr. Ferguson and the mayor were discussing prices of your contract?” Chutkow asked.
“No,” Hardiman said.
A Detroit firm allegedly extorted by ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and Bobby Ferguson received city water contracts totaling almost $158 million.
Ferguson lawyer Gerald Evelyn presented the total to Lakeshore executive Tom Hardiman, who repeatedly complained about allegedly losing $15 million worth of city deals after refusing to give Ferguson a 25 percent share.
Evelyn countered the allegation by showing Lakeshore received contracts worth far more than the $15 million.
“That looks pretty good, right?” Evelyn asked Hardiman after showing him the grand total.
“That’s pretty good,” Hardiman said.
Evelyn also countered earlier testimony that Hardiman delivered $25,000 cash to Ferguson in September 2005.
Hardiman previously said he gave the money to Ferguson to keeping the mayor’s close friend happy.
Hardiman said Ferguson demanded $25,000 in September 2005 and wanted it hand-delivered that night.
Hardiman scrambled to collect the money.
Ferguson was smiling when Hardiman arrived with the cash.
“He was stunned you brought cash, he thought you would bring a check, right?” Evelyn asked.
“He was startled,” Hardiman said.
“Nothing further,” Evelyn said.
A Detroit construction firm allegedly extorted by ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and Bobby Ferguson in 2007 praised the mayor’s pal two years later.
Ferguson’s defense lawyer showed former Lakeshore Engineering Services executive Tom Hardiman a letter his firm wrote in January 2009.
In the letter, a Lakeshore official hailed Ferguson’s firm for its performance on a water department project.
The letter reveals Lakeshore looked forward to working with Ferguson again, even though prosecutors allege the contractor and Kilpatrick extorted Lakeshore and Hardiman’s other company out of more than $12.9 million.
“The sustained efforts exerted by the Ferguson Enterprises team in making the water system improvement projects…a success is acknowledged and greatly appreciated,” the Lakeshore official wrote. “We look forward to our continued accomplishments as we count on Ferguson Enterprises in the effective and successful performance of these existing and many other future projects,” the letter continued.
Detroit businessman Tom Hardiman remembers allegedly being extorted by contractor Bobby Ferguson. Beyond that, not much.
Hardiman is stringing together a long list of “I don’t remember” and I “don’t recall” answers to questions from Ferguson’s lawyer Wednesday during the City Hall corruption trial.
The back-and-forth between Hardiman and Ferguson lawyer Gerald Evelyn served as an entertaining battle during the sixth week of testimony.
Hardiman didn’t remember his salary or the value of stock in Lakeshore Engineering Services — a firm allegedly extorted by Ferguson. He didn’t recall being sued by a company.
When he could recall details, he refused to agree with Evelyn.
At one point, Evelyn showed the businessman a 2009 letter written to the city complaining about low scores awarded to Lakeshore during a bidding process.
By late 2009, Hardiman had left Lakeshore. Yet, he signed the letter as chairman of Lakeshore’s umbrella company.
“Why would you sign it, that’s a pretty big misrepresentation?” Evelyn asked.
“I would not agree,” Hardiman said.
Hardiman said he didn’t write the letter. He merely signed it.
“Explain who made the mistake,” Evelyn said.
“You would have to ask the person that probably put the letter together,” Hardiman said.
“Who?” the lawyer asked.
“I’m not sure,” Hardiman said.
Hardiman suggested he was asked to sign the letter because he was black and a well-known name in Detroit political circles.
“I was the African American face of Lakeshore,” Hardiman said.
Evelyn grilled the businessman about his financial package.
“How much were you paid for your interest in Lakeshore?” the lawyer asked.
Hardiman wasn’t sure.
“Could you hazard a guess?” Evelyn asked.
“Nope,” Hardiman said.
A defense lawyer opened testimony Wednesday by trying to discredit a key government witness who allegedly was extorted by Kwame Kilpatrick pal Bobby Ferguson.
Ferguson lawyer Gerald Evelyn quizzed Detroit businessman Tom Hardiman about a lawsuit filed against Hardiman’s firm by a concrete company.
Hardiman didn’t recall the 2010 Wayne County Circuit Court lawsuit, filed against his company A&H Contractors, his son and Ferguson’s demolition firm. The suit alleged a company owned by Hardiman’s son stiffed a concrete contractor.
“Who owns A&H,” Evelyn asked.
“I do,” Hardiman said.
“Don’t you think lawsuits would be something you would pay attention to?” Evelyn asked.
“I do not remember,” Hardiman said, adding that any lawsuits would be turned over to his lawyer.
“So Mr. Ferguson never said ‘your son didn’t pay a contractor when I paid your son and now I’m being sued, you need to fix it?’” Evelyn asked.
“I don’t remember it,” Hardiman said.
Ferguson paid the bill for Hardiman’s son, according to Evelyn.
“Mr. Ferguson never threatened you or said he would pull your contracts with the city?” Evelyn asked.
“I do not remember any threats from Mr. Ferguson,” Hardiman said.
Judy Smith, the crisis manager who testified last month about helping Kwame Kilpatrick during the text-message scandal, is playing a key role in the scandal surrounding Gen. David Petraeus.
Florida socialite Jill Kelley who allegedly received threatening emails from Petraeus’ mistress hired the Washington D.C.-based crisis manager.
Smith, who colorful career inspired the ABC show Scandal, might want money up front, based on her Kilpatrick experience.
She testified Oct. 16 that she was paid about $180,000 to work for Kilpatrick, including money from his nonprofit group. But Kilpatrick stiffed her for about $60,000, a debt her firm wrote off.
Kelley, who reportedly triggered the FBI probe that led to Petraeus’ resignation, joins a distinguished roster of Smith clients.
From her bio:
Ms. Smith honed her skills through her experiences with some of the most historic and sensational events of our time, including the Iran Contra investigation, the prosecution of former Washington D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, the 1991 Gulf War, the Los Angeles riots, the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Justice Clarence Thomas, the President Clinton scandal involving Monica Lewinsky, the congressional inquiry of Enron, and the United Nations Foundation and World Health Organization response to the SARS epidemic.