Kilpatrick brought pal along on Puerto Rico trip

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

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

Kwame Kilpatrick brought his pal Bobby Ferguson along during a 2003 city business trip to Puerto Rico in hopes of securing work for the Detroit contractor, according to testimony.

Former Kilpatrick aide Derrick Miller was on the trip along with Detroit Water boss Victor Mercado and mayoral aide DeDan Milton.

Mercado previously operated a water treatment facility in Puerto Rico and the city officials wanted to get an up-close look at the operations.

“Did the mayor ever tell you why Mr. Ferguson was coming along?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow asked Miller.

“He wanted Mr. Ferguson and Mr. Mercado to have a good relationship,” Miller said.

The move failed.

Victor Mercado

Victor Mercado

Mercado complained to Miller about Ferguson demanding additional city work, costly change orders that padded contracts, Miller said.

Ferguson also frequently complained to the mayor about the amount of work awarded to his firm.

“(Mercado) was shaken by it,” Miller said.

Mercado struck a plea deal in November — almost two months into the corruption trial — and admitted he conspired with Kilpatrick to steer city contracts to Ferguson. He is awaiting sentencing.

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