'Extorted' contractor tough guy, Ferguson lawyer says

Bobby Ferguson’s lawyer suggested prominent businessman Tony Soave is too tough and rich to be strong-armed and shaken down by Kwame Kilpatrick and pal Bobby Ferguson.

“Not being a pushover is a key in the contracting business, wouldn’t you agree?” lawyer Michael Rataj asked.

“It’s a rough and tough business,” said the Grosse Pointe Farms businessman, who prosecutors allege was extorted by Kilpatrick.

“And you’ve got to be rough and tough and you’re a tough guy, aren’t you,” Rataj said.

“No,” Soave said, “I’m a lovable guy.”

Kilpatrick and other lawyers in the courtroom exploded in laughter at the joke, which came from a mogul who sold his garbage-hauling company for $750 million, and who has had contacts with known mob associates.

“You’re a tough businessman,” Soave said.

“I try to be tough and fair,” Soave said.

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