Grosse Pointe Farms tycoon Tony Soave stuck to his story of being extorted by ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick while his former colleague corroborated claims of strong-arm tactics used by Bobby Ferguson to allegedly snatch a piece of a $50 million sewer deal.
Former Soave executive Kathleen McCann told jurors about the forced marriage between her firm and Ferguson, who was added to a sewer deal following pressure from the mayor.
The “marriage” was so toxic McCann said she and colleagues documented threats and pressure from Ferguson in a diary, figuring some day “we would be telling the story.”
That day was Friday.
McCann returns to the witness stand at 9 a.m. Monday in federal court.
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A businesswoman at a firm allegedly strong-armed by Kwame Kilpatrick kept a diary detailing interactions she had with the mayor’s close friend, Bobby Ferguson and the contractor’s alleged threats.
Former Soave Enterprises executive Kathleen McCann said she kept the diary and urged co-workers to do likewise after Ferguson demanded a $1.5 million piece of a $50 million sewer deal in 2002.
Earlier testimony alleged Kilpatrick forced a Soave-related firm Inland Waters to dump its minority contractor and hire Ferguson.
McCann said Ferguson made threats and took credit for Inland receiving the sewer deal and getting the city to approve change orders that padded the contract’s value.
Amid the alleged threats, McCann started keeping a diary.
“We had some sense we would be telling the story and I thought it was important to have documentation,” McCann said.
McCann described an unpleasant working relationship with Ferguson.
In August 2004, a Water department official ordered Ferguson to stop working on the sewer project.
Ferguson’s work had fallen behind and was deficient, McCann said.
“We had to work with him in order to get that caught up,” she said. “And there were a number of circumstances in which billings were inappropriate — either they were in error or too high — and that needed to be corrected.”
In all, Ferguson’s firm received $24.7 million in work on the sewer deal, according to prosecutors.
McCann was concerned Ferguson could hurt Soave’s ability to land and keep city deals if he was unhappy.
“We felt like we had a sword dangling over our heads,” McCann said.
After Kwame Kilpatrick won re-election, Ferguson aired a list of complaints, McCann said.
She documented the gripes in her diary.
“He felt he had been disrespected, not given appropriate credit for getting Inland its work,” she said. “He acted as if he had full power to keep Inland getting work or not getting work. It was going to be his decision whether he went forward with us.”
A businesswoman testified Friday that Kwame Kilpatrick aide Derrick Miller leaned on her to hire the mayor’s pal before the city approved a $50 million sewer deal in 2002.
Former Soave Enterprises executive Kathleen McCann testified about an uncomfortable meeting she had with Miller at a party during the 2002 Mackinac Policy Conference on Mackinac Island.
Miller asked McCann about the status of hiring Bobby Ferguson as a minority subcontractor on a $50 million sewer deal with Soave’s firm Inland Waters. Negotiations were ongoing after Ferguson demanded a $1.5 million payday, McCann testified.
McCann felt uncomfortable being approached by Miller, particularly after Kilpatrick allegedly forced Inland to dump its minority subcontractor and hire Ferguson.
“I was uncomfortable,” McCann said. “It let me know that negotiations needed to be completed before the contract was let.”
Miller struck a plea deal with federal prosecutors and agreed to testify against Kilpatrick during the City Hall corruption trial.
Contractor Bobby Ferguson demanded a $1.5 million piece of a sewer deal allegedly steered to his firm by pal Kwame Kilpatrick, a businesswoman testified Friday.
Former Soave Enterprises executive Kathleen McCann testified about the demand after Kilpatrick allegedly forced the company to hire Ferguson as a minority subcontractor on a $50 million sewer deal in spring 2002.
She corroborated earlier testimony that Kilpatrick held up a $50 million sewer deal until tycoon Tony Soave’s firm hired Ferguson.
“Why didn’t you tell him ‘we’re going to find somebody else?’” Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow asked McCann.
“We were essentially in a forced marriage,” McCann said.
“Who was forcing you to be in the forced marriage?” Chutkow asked.
“Mr. Ferguson’s company was chosen by Mayor Kilpatrick as our subcontractor,” McCann said.
Tycoon Tony Soave would have fired contractor Bobby Ferguson if he wasn’t being protected by pal, ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
Soave testified he hired Ferguson on a $50 million sewer deal in 2002 because Kilpatrick was holding up the deal and told him he had hired the wrong subcontractor.
Soave’s staff butted heads with Ferguson, who boasted about his friendship with Kilpatrick and demanded more work and more money, the tycoon testified.
“How would you have treated Bobby Ferguson if Kwame Kilpatrick had said ‘he’s not my guy?’” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta asked.
“I think we would have taken some sort of action and we would have probably lessened his workload,” Soave said.
“What if you still had problems after that?” Bullotta asked.
“If you lessen someone’s workload and you’re still having problems, you probably would not do any more work with him,” Soave said.
Kwame Kilpatrick’s defense lawyer suggested contractor Tony Soave showered the Detroit mayor with court-side Detroit Pistons tickets worth $10,000, free flights and luxury New York City shopping trips because they were friends.
Soave wouldn’t go that far, however as defense lawyers tried to counter allegations Kilpatrick extorted the wealthy Grosse Pointe Farms businessman.
“Well, he had a lot to say about things I was doing in the city,” Soave testified. “It was a dual purpose. I wanted to keep the mayor happy.”
Soave earlier said his firm’s $50 million sewer deal was held up by Kilpatrick because he hadn’t hired the mayor’s pal, contractor Bobby Ferguson.
‘”In your 30-plus years of doing business in Detroit, have you ever had the mayor hold up one of your contracts until you put a specific contractor on the project?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta asked.
“No,” Soave said.
The free flights and spending sprees happened after Soave dumped his minority contractor and hired Ferguson, according to testimony.
Soave also was questioned about Detroit Pistons tickets he bought for Kilpatrick during a 2004 playoff run.
“It was a big game, nationally televised. I wanted the mayor to be in the right seats,” Soave said. “I didn’t want him to be in the fifth or eighth row.
“I didn’t realize it was going to be that expensive. I never thought it was going to work out that way, but it did.”
Kwame Kilpatrick flew on prominent businessman Tony Soave’s private jet in March 2004 to view a real-estate development in hopes of bringing a similiar project to Detroit, the ex-mayor’s lawyer argued Friday.
Soave admitted he made the trip along with Kilpatrick to tour the tycoon’s project Brambleton in Leesburg, Va., along with other legitimate business trips to New York, Boston and Mackinac Island.
Defense lawyers told jurors about the trips to counter allegations Kilpatrick extorted the businessman out of $385,000 worth of free pleasure trips aboard Soave’s three private jets.
Soave flew Kilpatrick to Mackinac Island to attend a policy conference in June 2004.
Soave quipped he does not like attending the conference any longer.
“Too many politicians,” he said.
Soave admitted he has flown other politicians to the policy conference, including Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson.
Kilpatrick also flew aboard a Soave jet to attend a Democratic event in the Hamptons in New York and Boston in 2004.
During the July 2004 trip, Kilpatrick flew with aide and childhood friend DeDan Milton and a bodyguard.
“You thought it was an appropriate use of the plane to have the mayor of the city of Detroit attend an event such as that?” Kilpatrick lawyer Harold Gurewitz asked.
“Sure,” Soave said. “Yes I did.”Milton is expected to testify against Kilpatrick during the City Hall corruption trial.
Milton admitted taking about $16,000 in kickbacks in connection with two city land sales. He was sentenced to three years and six months in prison.
Chief U.S. District Judge Gerald E. Rosen also ordered Milton to serve two years of supervised release after he gets out.
He’s a funny guy.
That’s the compliment business tycoon Tony Soave showered on defense lawyer Michael Rataj on Thursday following an entertaining cross-examination that featured a your mamma joke and extortion allegations.
Rataj was touched by the (backhanded?) compliment, turned to his colleagues at the defense table and started mimicking the “You’re a Funny Guy” scene from the mobster classic “Goodfellas.”