Detroit contractor fights back after Kilpatrick quits in disgrace

In the weeks before Kwame Kilpatrick resigned in 2008, Bobby Ferguson’s demands for cash increased in frequency, one of the contractor’s alleged extortion victims testified.

“Did he explain at all why he needed these payments?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow asked Detroit businessman Tom Hardiman.

“No,” Hardiman said.

Hardiman, a former Lakeshore Engineering Services partner, said he stopped paying ex-Mayor Kilpatrick’s close friend after the mayor resigned amid the text-message scandal in September 2008.

Ferguson tried to get work with Lakeshore once or twice afterward.

“What was your response?” Chutkow asked.

“We’ll see,” Hardiman said.

“Why did you say ‘we’ll see?'” the prosecutor asked.

“We were going to treat him like any other contractor,” Hardiman said.

The testimony marked a stark contrast between how Hardiman and Lakeshore treated Ferguson during the mayor’s tenure. Hardiman testified Friday he paid for no-show work and gave Ferguson shares of water department deals to keep the mayor’s close friend happy — and ensure future city work.

Lakeshore CEO Avinash Rachmale is expected to testify after Hardiman.

The prosecutor asked why Ferguson was frozen out of Lakeshore deals after Kilpatrick quit.

“Basically, Avinash was always concerned about the relationship Ferguson had downtown and when that relationship was no longer there, it was easier to say no,” Hardiman said.

Robert Snell

Robert Snell is the Detroit News federal courts reporter. He can be reached at rsnell@detnews.com or (313) 222-2028.