Kilpatrick jury seeks guidance on extortion, racketeering charges

Kwame Kilpatrick and Bobby Ferguson outside federal court.

Kwame Kilpatrick and Bobby Ferguson outside federal court.

Jurors in the Kwame Kilpatrick corruption trial had a technical question Tuesday about the wording of charges listed in the 38-count indictment.

The question related to wording that was slightly different in the racketeering charge against the former Detroit mayor, his father and contractor Bobby Ferguson, and an extortion count against Kilpatrick and Ferguson.

The 20-year felonies are based on the same alleged misconduct, U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds told jurors.

U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds

U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds

The judge told jurors the counts are separate and independent of each other.

The extortion charge referred to by jurors is count #7 in the indictment.

Kilpatrick and Ferguson are accused of extorting more than $1.7 million from contractor Lakeshore Engineering Services and a related firm A&H Contractors. The extortion stemmed from a sewer contract.

Executives paid the money because they feared their firms would suffer economically, according to the indictment.

Kilpatrick lawyer James C. Thomas unsuccessfully objected to the judge reading the jury’s question in open court, citing the media’s presence and coverage of the five-month trial.

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