Second extorted Detroit businessman takes stand in Kilpatrick case

A new Detroit businessman allegedly extorted by Kwame Kilpatrick and Bobby Ferguson took the witness stand Thursday morning to corroborate a central aspect of the Detroit City Hall corruption case.

Bloomfield Hills businessman Avinash Rachmale, chief executive of Lakeshore Engineering Services, followed his former colleague Tom Hardiman, who spent parts of five days on the witness stand.

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

Rachmale is expected to tell jurors his firm, along with Hardiman’s company, were extorted out of more than $12.9 million by Kilpatrick and Ferguson as alleged in the indictment.

Lakeshore paid the money out of fear it would lose city deals or be blocked from winning future deals, according to the feds.

The indictment offers a snapshot of a once-small firm that has since grown into a global power with business endeavors in war zones.

The India native built his engineering firm from a small company in the early 1990s to a global behemoth. The firm and its approximately 300 companies, based in a building on Woodward in Detroit, specializes in federal work and has several defense contracts.

Anthony Adams

The firm built military housing in Alaska, a fuel depot in Afghanistan and other projects in global hot-spots such as Iraq.

Rachmale testified about how he also got involved in the nursing home business.

The health-care company’s president?

Pistol-packing Anthony Adams, who was Kwame Kilpatrick’s deputy mayor.

Lakeshore’s ties to Kilpatrick go much deeper.

In March 2008, the firm gave $25,000 to Kilpatrick’s nonprofit group, which prosecutors have labeled the ex-mayor’s personal piggy bank.

Rachmale also gave $9,000 to the ex-mayor’s mom, former Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Lakeshore also leased office space to the Kilpatrick campaign. Rachmale supported Kilpatrick’s first run for mayor in 2001 and served on his transition team.

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