Another medical scare prompted U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds to adjourn the Kwame Kilpatrick trial Monday following feisty testimony.
Bobby Ferguson’s lawyer Susan Van Dusen fell and hurt her nose and was rushed to an area hospital. She incident happened after she spent almost 90 minutes cross-examining a Detroit businesswoman about her dealings with the ex-mayor’s close friend and co-defendant.
Prosecutors, meanwhile, want to puncture a defense claim surrounding an alleged bagman who delivered $90,000 to Kwame Kilpatrick.
The bagman argument emerged Friday after business executive Kathleen McCann testified the ex-mayor’s administration pressured her to add Bobby Ferguson to a $50 million sewer deal.
Testimony is expected to resume at 9 a.m. Tuesday in federal court.
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A federal judge adjourned the Kwame Kilpatrick corruption trial two hours early Monday after a defense lawyer was rushed to the hospital.
Bobby Ferguson’s defense lawyer Susan Van Dusen fell and hurt her nose, U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds told jurors.
The Miami lawyer, who once defended New York City mob boss John Gotti, fell during a 10:30 a.m. break. She is the second Ferguson lawyer to be hospitalized during the trial.
Ferguson’s lead defense lawyer Gerald Evelyn suffered an undisclosed medical condition in late October, prompting a two-week delay.
On Monday, Evelyn said Van Dusen tripped over a carpeted mat just outside the courtroom and fell face first into the marble floor.
“As far as we know, shes OK,” defense attorney Mike Rataj said.
The judge apologized to jurors for “being “snakebit with this trial.”
“Ms. Van Dusen had a fall during the break, she’s likely OK but had to go to the hospital,” the judge told jurors before excusing them around 11:10 a.m. “She hit her nose and wasn’t able to continue…
“We anticipate she will be fine but we want to be cautious and make sure she is OK.”
If Van Dusen cannot continue Tuesday, another defense lawyer will continue cross-examining a Detroit businesswoman about dealing with Ferguson.
“We’re all sorry she hurt herself and hope she will be OK,” the judge said.
Bobby Ferguson’s lawyer fell and suffered an undisclosed injury Monday, prompting court security officers to send a nurse to the 8th floor courtroom and triggering a delay in the Kwame Kilpatrick corruption trial.
Susan Van Dusen fell during a 10:30 a.m. break after leading a lengthy cross-examination of a Detroit businesswoman. There are early indications Van Dusen, a Florida lawyer who once defended New York City mob boss John Gotti, broke her nose.
Courthouse security officers cleared U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds’ courtroom on the 8th floor and the hallway.
The Miami attorney and University of Detroit Mercy School of Law graduate was a member of the legal team that defended Gotti. Dubbed the “Teflon Don,” Gotti was convicted in 1992 of racketeering and murder.
This is the second health-scare to postpone testimony in the high-profile trial. Ferguson’s other lawyer, Gerald Evelyn, fell ill in late October, triggering a two-week delay in the trial.
Van Dusen spent the entire morning cross-examining a government witness about interactions she had with Kilpatrick’s close friend and co-defendant.
A government witness whose firm allegedly was forced to hire Bobby Ferguson disagreed that the mayor’s pal was a tough, passionate businessman concerned about finding work for minorities in Detroit.
Witness Kathleen McCann, a former high-ranking executive at Soave Enterprises, refused to concede to defense points during a heated cross-examination Monday directed by Ferguson’s lawyer Susan Van Dusen.
McCann previously testified Ferguson demanded $1.5 million and threatened a Soave-related firm on a $50 million sewer deal in 2002. Ferguson allegedly was added to the deal at the insistence of the contractor’s pal, ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
Her interactions with Ferguson were so unreasonable and unpleasant McCann said she kept a diary, figuring one day she would be telling the story. McCann eventually did talk to the FBI.
“He wanted money for doing no work,” McCann said.
“You probably heard around Soave’s offices that (Ferguson) was a handful, right?” Van Dusen asked. “He has a habit when he talks that is sort of like yelling, correct?”
“I don’t recall that,” McCann said.
“But you knew he was fighting for his employees to get work, correct?” Van Dusen said.
“No,” McCann said. “Mr. Ferguson was fighting for himself.”
A businesswoman whose firm allegedly was forced to hire Bobby Ferguson on a $50 million sewer deal defended her earlier testimony that dealing with the mayor’s pal was unpleasant.
Kathleen McCann was being cross-examined about her claims Ferguson demanded a $1.5 million piece the deal, made threats and took credit for Inland Waters receiving the sewer deal and getting the city to approve change orders that padded the contract’s value.
“You were used to minority contractors who were compliant, correct?” Ferguson lawyer Susan Van Dusen asked.
“That’s an unfair characterization,” McCann said. “We hadn’t experienced that kind of push back from any subcontractor before. The types of things being pushed back on were not reasonable.”
“In your opinion,” Van Dusen said. “Your world is not Mr. Ferguson’s world and you learned that.”
“Clearly,” McCann said.
McCann described a difficult relationship with Ferguson after Kwame Kilpatrick allegedly forced Inland to hire his pal.
In a fiery speech on the witness stand, McCann said Ferguson was unwilling to negotiate.
“He could have been trying to intentionally cripple the company by not doing work and then having the contract taken away so he could have his way,” McCann said. “The difficulty getting contracts signed were of his own making. The reason he wasn’t at the table is he didn’t want to be.”
A businesswoman at a firm allegedly forced by Kwame Kilpatrick to hire the mayor’s pal Bobby Ferguson had tense exchange with Ferguson’s lawyer today.
The exchange happened as Ferguson lawyer Susan Van Dusen suggested Inland Waters had a “minority front” as a subcontractor until they hired Ferguson, who headed a real company with equipment and employees.
Van Dusen questioned businesswoman Kathleen McCann about subcontractor Charlie Williams. Inland allegedly dumped Williams at the insistence of Kilpatrick, who wanted the firm to hire Ferguson on a $50 million sewer deal in spring 2002.
Van Dusen suggested Inland merely used Williams to qualify for bonus points awarded to minority firms based in Detroit during the bidding process.
“If you put Inland employees with Charlie Williams and you pay him for his share and he pays your employees, you’re passing money through him and back to Inland,” Van Dusen said.
“That is not what was going to happen, counselor,” McCann said in a clipped tone. “I don’t know how many different ways to tell you that.”
Former Kwame Kilpatrick aide and fraternity brother Marc Andre Cunningham, who is expected to testify this week, surfaced in a separate public corruption investigation that ultimately led to Bernard Kilpatrick, the former mayor’s father.
Bernard Kilpatrick had been under investigation by the FBI in Detroit for about two years when, in 2007, he came to the attention of FBI agents in New Jersey conducting Operation Broken Boards, a corruption probe that would lead to convictions of 14 New Jersey officials, including state assemblymen and school board officials.
The New Jersey FBI snagged corrupt politicians by setting up a dummy company called Coastal Solutions LLC and offering bribes in return for insurance-related contracts.
Those agents were put in touch with Cunningham.
Cunningham said Coastal representatives discussed insurance and development projects with him, but no agreements were reached, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer in 2007.
The Detroit Free Press reported in 2010 that Cunningham referred the FBI agents conducting the sting to Bernard Kilpatrick, who met with Coastal Solutions representatives in Atlantic City and attended a sold-out 2007 Las Vegas prize fight with Coastal Solutions officials, his son — the former mayor — and Cunningham.
But no deal was ever struck, and no Detroit-area charges have been brought in connection with the New Jersey operation.
There were concerns in Detroit that the New Jersey investigation could unwittingly upset a Detroit FBI investigation into City Hall corruption that was well under way, a person familiar with the investigation said.
Kwame Kilpatrick’s longtime friend and former assistant is expected to testify against the former mayor this week about being forced to kickback money from a city pension deal.
Kilpatrick allegedly ordered Marc Andre Cunningham to pay at least $15,000 to the mayor’s father Bernard from 2006 to 2007, according to prosecutors. The kickback was in return for the mayor’s support of a pension fund deal.
The money came out of Cunningham’s commission on a $30 million loan involving two Detroit pension funds, prosecutors allege.
From the indictment:
“In or about the Summer of2006, at a restaurant in Detroit, KWAME KILPATRICK, through one of his high-level aides, directed Cunningham to pay BERNARD KILPATRICK a portion of the commissions Cunningham received from a venture capital firm (“the Firm”) for Cunningham’s assistance obtaining a $30 million investment… KWAME KILPATRICK was present when Cunningham was told to make these payments.”
On Oct, 4, 2006, Cunningham gave Bernard Kilpatrick at least $4,000 cash during a meeting at City Hall.
Again, from the indictment:
“It was understood between Cunningham and KWAME KILPATRICK that this and future payments were to be made to BERNARD KILPATRICK to reward KWAME KlLPATRICK for his support of the…investments and to obtain favorable treatment by KWAME KILPATRICK in any future business that might arise between Cunningham and the City of Detroit.”
The payments continued, according to prosecutors, until fall 2007.
“…following a media report of an FBI undercover corruption investigation that implicated Cunningham, KWAME KILPATRICK told Cunningham to stop paying BERNARD KILPATRICK.”
Cunningham pleaded guilty in November 2010 to conspiracy to commit bribery and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. He faces up to 37 months in prison and is awaiting sentencing.
Cunningham was an aide to the mayor who headed the Detroit Film Office, and a fraternity brother of Kilpatrick and former city treasurer Jeff Beasley at Florida A&M University.
He resigned from City Hall in July 2008 after media reports said his phone had been briefly tapped as part of an FBI investigation into the Synagro Technologies Inc. sludge contract.
If the “Michelin Man” couldn’t make it through airport security, as Bobby Ferguson’s lawyers contend, what hope is there for Kool-Aid Guy?
Defense lawyer Michael Rataj tangoed memorably with ‘extorted’ business tycoon Tony Soave last week, but his most memorable moment so far might have been the “Michelin Man” quip days into the trial.
The quip may have scored points with jurors but could haunt the defense team if prosecutors are allowed to tell jurors about a little airport security test involving an FBI agent, $90,000 cash and a metal detector.