Witness: Kilpatrick pal hid in shadows to win Detroit water deal

Bobby Ferguson

A Detroit businessman testified he partnered with Bobby Ferguson in 2006 to win a city water project and ensure the city didn’t spike the deal.

The project involved water main replacements on the east side of the city. A Ferguson firm had won a city contract to work on the west side of Detroit and, under city rules, was barred from working on the east side.

So Ferguson, a close friend of ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick who prosecutors say used that friendship to strong-arm city contractors, hid his involvement behind another company, E&T Trucking Inc., Rachmale testified.

Rachmale’s firm listed E&T under its bid proposal in May 2006. E&T would get 15 percent of the deal.

“We had the qualifications to win the job, we had the required knowledge to win the job, but once we won the job we didn’t want the job unfairly taken away, so we wanted him on our team,” Avinash Rachmale said.

In the bid proposal, Ferguson’s qualifications and expertise were listed under E&T’s name, Rachmale testified.

Ferguson later allegedly demanded half of the management fee paid to Rachmale’s firm.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow asked why Rachmale agreed to pay the money.

“I didn’t want to upset him, piss him off,” Rachmale said. “We did not need him…but I did not want my projects to be unfairly canceled.”

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