Detroit contractor lost deals due to budget cuts, not Kilpatrick pal, lawyer says

A Detroit businessman didn’t lose city contracts because he was extorted by Bobby Ferguson, he lost them because of budget cuts, a defense lawyer suggested Monday.

Former Detroit Water boss Victor Mercado’s lawyer Martin Crandall suggested two department contracts were not fulfilled because of a cost-savings analysis underway in early 2003.

Martin Crandall

The suggestion marked the start of cross-examination of Detroit businessman Tom Hardiman, who testified about alleged extortion demands by Ferguson, a close friend and co-defendant of ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

On Friday, Hardiman said his former firm Lakeshore Engineering Services lost $15 million worth of contracts because he refused to give Ferguson a 25 percent piece of the deals.

Hardiman’s refusal was a watershed moment in the businessman’s life. After allegedly losing the deals, he said he paid Ferguson more than $1.5 million to do nothing but protect his company’s interests.

Under cross-examination Monday, Hardiman said he did not know whether Ferguson had influence with the former water boss.

Crandall suggested Ferguson and Mercado didn’t get along. Ferguson referred to the water boss as “the slickman” and said he was “full of s—,” Crandall said.

“Bobby’s personality was one of challenge,” Hardiman said. “So if he didn’t get along with Victor or used the words you are saying, that was his personality.”

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