Extorted Detroit businessman sat on Kilpatrick pal's charity

Bobby Ferguson

A Detroit businessman allegedly extorted by Bobby Ferguson said he served on the contractor’s charitable foundation out of the goodness of his heart.

The admission came as Ferguson’s defense lawyer tried to combat earlier testimony that his client extorted money from former Lakeshore Engineering Sevices partner Tom Hardiman.

Defense lawyer Gerald Evelyn portrayed Ferguson as a charitable family man concerned about helping minority contractors. Prosecutors say Ferguson, who was convicted of pistol-whipping a man, strong-armed some of those same contractors — including Hardiman.

Under cross-examination, Hardiman said he served on the board of the Homer Ferguson Foundation, a charity started by Ferguson’s father. The foundation raised money to feed Detroit’s poor.

“That’s not something you did for money or recognition, you thought it was morally good, right?” Evelyn asked.

“That’s right,” Hardiman said.

“As far as you know, that’s what drives Mr. Ferguson: business opportunities for himself, business opportunities for his family and African American businessmen, isn’t that right?” Evelyn asked.

“That’s right,” 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.