Ferguson lawyer cracks 'your mother' joke during trial

Michael Rataj

A defense lawyer attacked Tony Soave”s claims that contractor Bobby Ferguson was difficult to deal with and threw his weight around during a $50 million sewer deal.

The cross-examination was filled with quips and profanity and featured several entertaining exchanges during the high-stakes City Hall corruption trial.

Ferguson’s defense team strategically picked attorney Michael Rataj — a former U.S. Marine and college hockey player known for aggressive questioning — to handle cross-examination of the rich and powerful Grosse Pointe Farms businessman.

“You never told Mr. Kilpatrick ‘would you please tell Ferguson to stop threatening my people,'” Rataj said.

Kwame Kilpatrick left gestures to passers by as he and Ferguson leave federal court Aug. 8.

“No,” Soave said.

“You had plenty of opportunities, yes?” Rataj asked. “You testified you took a bunch of trips together, right?”

“Not a bunch,” Soave said. “Two or three.”

Soave never griped about Ferguson when he allegedly bought Kilpatrick $10,000 worth of tickets to a 2004 Detroit Pistons playoff game, Rataj said.

Soave disagreed, saying he never went to the game with the Detroit mayor.

“I couldn’t afford any more tickets,” Soave said.

“You’re not the kind of person someone can intimidate or threaten easily, isn’t that true?” Rataj asked.

“By certain people I can get pushed around,” Soave said.

“Your mother?” Rataj asked.

“My grand kids,” Soave said.

“Not in the business world,” Rataj said. “No one pushes you around, isn’t that true?”

As an example, he reminded jurors that Soave allegedly told Ferguson — Kilpatrick’s pistol-whipping pal — to “f— himself.”

“I have been pushed around before,” Soave said.

Again, Rataj suggested no one can intimidate Soave.

Soave disagreed.

“My grand kids, and you,” 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.