Detroit contractor grilled about cozy ties to Kilpatrick clan

A businessman allegedly extorted out of millions by ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and Bobby Ferguson was grilled Monday about why he supported the ex-mayor financially and personally.

Avinash Rachmale received the 2009 Champion Award for Entrepreneurial Success from President Obama.

Avinash Rachmale was asked why he donated thousands of dollars to Kilpatrick’s nonprofit group and wrote a letter in 2008 supporting the ex-mayor.

“I felt the mayor was dynamic and personable and felt that he (could) lead the city very well,” Rachmale testified Monday.

In 2008, he fawned over Kilpatrick, praised his work as mayor and begged a Wayne County judge to give the ex-mayor a lenient sentence amid the text-message scandal.

The Lakeshore Engineering Services chief executive was one of several business leaders who wrote personal pleas to Wayne County Circuit Judge David Groner in 2008.

From the letter (written before Kilpatrick got four months in jail):

“This letter is in support of Kwame M. Kilpatrick who I have had the pleasure of knowing for approximately eight years,” Rachmale wrote. “As a business and property owner in the city of Detroit for 13 years, I can see the progress that the city has made under Mr. Kilpatrick’s leadership. I have been inspired by his vision, intelligence and his ability to get the job done.

“He knows he made some serious mistakes and thoroughly regrets what has happened as a result of his actions.

“He has apologized to all of us, family, friends, supporters and citizens, who have been affected by this most unfortunate situation. I accept his apology and know that he is very remorseful.

“I implore you Judge Groner to assess all the wonderful contributions Kwame Kilpatrick has made to the city of Detroit, and ask you to consider a more lenient sentence for him. He and we are looking forward to him once again making a positive difference in the city.”

Rachmale also testified he provided office space for the ex-mayor’s mom, former U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick.

Robert Snell

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