Kilpatrick pal used dummy invoices to cover $1M payments

Bobby Ferguson and Kwame Kilpatrick outside federal court.

A Detroit businessman scrambled to collect $25,000 for Bobby Ferguson after the contractor demanded the first piece of a $1 million no-work deal in September 2005.

Lakeshore Engineering Services CEO Avinash Rachmale described the frantic hours after Ferguson asked for the cash, one in a series of alleged extortion demands made by the close friend of ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

“Was it difficult to get that amount together?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow asked.

“Yes,” Rachmale said.

Rachmale’s former partner first described the cash demand earlier in the trial.

The money was the first installment on a $1 million payment to get Ferguson to back off a Detroit water department project, Rachmale testified.

“Why not wait and get it to him when you could?” Chutkow asked.

“My partner came to me and said Mr. Ferguson needs it so we did it,” Rachmale said. “And we didn’t want to upset him.”

Ferguson allegedly hid the payments, in part, by drawing up dummy invoices from a consulting company headed by Ferguson’s wife Marilyn, according to testimony.

One invoice indicated Lakeshore paid for environmental and air equipment.

“Did Mr. Ferguson’s wife’s company ever provide such equipment?” the prosecutor asked.

“No,” Rachmale said.

“What about Mr. Ferguson?” Chutkow asked.

“No,” the businessman said.

“So the invoice is false?” the prosecutor asked.

“Yes,” Rachmale said.

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