Businessman to stay in Detroit despite hit in Kwame Kilpatrick's federal trial
Avinash Rachmale testifies he lost millions before paying bribes to secure contracts in Detroit when Kilpatrick was mayor
Avinash Rachmale finally finished testifying Tuesday after a marathon session.
Rachmale told Local 4 he still wants to keep his multi-million-dollar engineering company, Lakeshore, headquartered in Detroit despite his name and his company getting muddied during the trial against Detroit's former mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick.
"We are a global company. We do a lot of work around the globe," he said. "It did hurt."
Rachmale said his local contracts were killed when his name surfaced in indictments accusing Kilpatrick and defendant Bobby Ferguson of extortion and pay-to-play contracts in the city's water department.
Kilpatrick on Trial: Businessman says he was extorted
However, Rachmale's company thrives today thanks to international contracts across the globe. Still, he wants to keep his headquarters in Detroit in hopes of rebuilding his reputation and winning honest work in the city under its current administration.
"You can change how people perceive you by building trust and doing an honest day's work," said Local 4 legal expert Todd Flood. "But that may be very difficult with this in his background right now. It's going to take some time."
-- Avinash Rachmale
Federal prosecutors painted Rachmale as a victim who lost $15 million in local work for refusing to hire or pay off contractor Ferguson. Then, Rachmale testified that once he started paying bribes he was able to secure massive contracts. The defense argued Rachmale was not a victim but rather a willing participant who became filthy rich in a system where dirty deals were simply the way business was done.
Despite the public hit to his reputation, the Bloomfield Hills businessman says Metro Detroit is his home and he wants to keep and grow his business in this area.
-- Bobby Ferguson, Kwame Kilpatrick and defense attorney Jim Thomas on Tuesday outside Detroit federal court