Detroit contractor mouths off, still pays Kilpatrick pal

Bobby Ferguson outside federal court.

Detroit water department contractor Tom Hardiman said he grudgingly paid $620,000 for no-show consulting work to a company linked with Bobby Ferguson.

At least one time, Hardiman got nasty.

Hardiman has described a series of payments to Ferguson and related companies that prosecutors say amounts to extortion by a close friend of former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

Hardiman’s testimony zeroed in on the no-show consulting payments. The payments would be picked up by Xcel Construction Services executive Calvin Hall.

“Did Xcel provide $620,000 worth of services?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow asked.

“Are you asking me my opinion?” Hardiman said. “No.”

“So why pay it?” the prosecutor asked.

Calvin Hall

“Xcel was brought to us by Bobby Ferguson and we were not going to do anything to upset Bobby Ferguson,” Hardiman said.

At least once, Hardiman handed Hall a check and an insult.

“You’re a parasite,” Hardiman testified he said to Hall.

“Why are you calling him that?” the prosecutor asked.

“Because he was coming in requesting payment for services that I didn’t feel he deserved.”

Hall stood trial alongside Ferguson this summer in a separate bid-rigging case that ended in a mistrial. He is facing a retrial in April and recently said in a court filing that he is broke, unemployed and needs a taxpayer-funded lawyer.

The prosecutor asked if Ferguson knew about the parasite comment.

“He would call me a bunch of names, I would call him some names,” Hardiman said. “At the end of the day, they still consulted for us.”

“Did Mr. Ferguson ever threaten to harm your contracts if you didn’t meet his demands?” Chutkow asked.

“We would have those conversations all the time,” Hardiman said. “He’d say, ‘I’ll get your contracts stopped.'”

Avinash Rachmale

Hardiman eventually told Ferguson to carry out the threat.

Ferguson threatened to call Hardiman’s boss, Lakeshore Engineering Services CEO Avinash Rachmale, according to testimony.

“Avinash would say ‘Tom, I’m not willing to piss Bobby off,'” Hardiman testified.

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