New Kilpatrick witness will talk about threats by Detroit contractor

Another businessman whose firm allegedly was extorted out of at least $6.7 million will soon testify about being threatened by ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s close friend, Bobby Ferguson.

Avinash Rachmale

In a court filing Monday, prosecutors revealed the upcoming testimony of Lakeshore Engineering Services CEO Avinash Rachmale.

Rachmale will testify about an alleged climate of fear that existed during Kilpatrick’s tenure, according to the court filing.

Rachmale will tell jurors about conversations he had with his former partner, Detroit businessman Tom Hardiman, who will continue testifying Monday.

From the filing:

“Ferguson threatened each of them individually and they related those threats to each other as they discussed how to respond to Ferguson’s extortionate demands.”

The conversations will be told to jurors to show Rachmale and Hardiman’s state of mind as extortion victims, prosecutors wrote. The conversations, which prosecutors argue are admissible, address the heart of the corruption case, including allegations of corruption and racketeering conspiracy, according to the filing.

John Minock, defense attorney for former Detroit Water boss Victor Mercado, said in a court filing the conversations amount to hearsay.

Ferguson allegedly extorted Lakeshore out of $1.7 million from a nearly $28 million sewer outfalls contract, according to the indictment.

He also allegedly extorted Rachmale’s company out of $5 million in work on a sewer repair contract for the city’s east side, according to the indictment.

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