Macomb County Sues Kilpatrick, Other Contractors

Lawsuit Filed Over 2004 Sewer Repair Project

Published On: Oct 02 2011 04:44:38 PM EDT   Updated On: Jul 19 2011 07:04:48 AM EDT
CLINTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. -

Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Anthony Marrocco has filed a federal lawsuit against former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and more than two dozen contractors on allegations they overcharged the county $25 million on a sewer repair project.

In 2004, a giant sinkhole swallowed up a portion of 15 Mile Road near Hayes Road. The repair was headed up by the Detroit Water and Sewer Department under then director Victor Mercado and Kilpatrick. The lawsuit alleges Kilpatrick funneled money to his contractor-friend Bobby Ferguson, even though Ferguson never did work on the project.

Read:Macomb Co. Sewer Project Case Complaint

Marrocco said the original repair budget he was given by the city of Detroit was $33 million, but that the final cost ended up being more than $54 million.

"I was very upset. I was angry and I thought Detroit, or their water and sewage people that run the operation, were making fun of Macomb County. I felt like they were taking advantage of us," Marrocco said. "We're forthright people, we're truthful, we're honest. For them to take advantage of us was unfair and I was very upset. And I decided that we're going to go after them."

Marrocco said any money recovered as a result of the lawsuit would be returned to the taxpayers in the cities that were affected.

In a statement, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said he's behind Marrocoo's decision.

"I support Commissioner Marrocco to pursue this lawsuit as the investigation continues. Inappropriate actions on behalf of public officials and contractors cannot go unchallenged," Hackel said.

Homeowner also approve of the idea of trying to get some financial relief.

?All that money that could have went to something else and we are giving it away,? said homeowner Antia Johnson.

The sink hole was just steps away from Johnson?s home on 15 Mile Road near Hayes. ?It was just something that was a real inconvenience to all of us,? she said.

Business owners near the sight of the sink hole were happy to hear about the lawsuit.

?My business is my life, my livelihood, my survival and I can not believe something like that happened,? said Halina Paluch, who owns a hair salon on 15 Mile Road.

Paluch said the sink hole nearly sunk her business of 20 years and she was disgusted to by the idea others may have profited by the incident.

?I think that?s the worst thing that happened to businesses here. I think he (Kwame Kilpatrick) should pay for this,? she said.