Detroit contractor says Kilpatrick pal threatened his firm

Bobby Ferguson

Prosecutors tried to rehabilitate a key government witness whose firm praised Bobby Ferguson despite claims the close friend of Kwame Kilpatrick extorted them out of millions.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow asked ex-Lakeshore Engineering Services executive Tom Hardiman about a letter his firm wrote in early 2009, praising Ferguson.

Ferguson’s lawyer introduced the letter, written by another Lakeshore executive, to counter extortion claims.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow

Chutkow probed Hardiman about how he felt after Ferguson allegedly threatened to get Lakeshore’s contracts canceled.

“When (Ferguson) said he would shut down the m—– f—— contracts, did you feel like he was threatening you?” Chutkow asked.

“Not me directly, but the company,” Hardiman said.

“And your employees’ jobs?” the prosecutor asked.

“Yes,” Hardiman said.

In all, Hardiman said his firm lost $15 million of work after refusing Ferguson’s demands.

Chutkow asked if the letter writer knew about the alleged extortion demands.

“No,” Hardiman said.

Prosecutors also showed jurors text messages between Ferguson and Kilpatrick in 2003 discussing prices being paid to Lakeshore.

“Did you know Mr. Ferguson and the mayor were discussing prices of your contract?” Chutkow asked.

“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.