10:18AM Hearing for Victor Mercado is about to begin. Mercado, 61, former head of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) faces 4 counts: 1 racketeering, 2 counts extortion and 1 count obstruction of justice. We are anticipating he will plead guilty and will likely be looking at a sentence of 18 months.
Between 2002 and 2008, Mercado oversaw the $1 billion agency and became the highest-ranking city official in the history of Detroit in doing so. He made $240,000 a year in that role.
Throughout the trial, Mercado has mostly kept to himself, seldom saying a word let alone glancing at the other defendants. His defense counsel, Martin Crandall and John Minock, has maintained that he is an outsider to the inner circle of trust or "Kitchen Cabinet" as they have labeled it.
Mercado is accused of rigging millions of dollars worth of water contracts co-defendant Bobby Ferguson's way in return for his quarter of a million salary. The government contends he failed to blow the whistle on obvious wrong-doing.
10:26AM Martin Crandall and John Minock are in court at the podium. Looks like US Attorney Mark Chutkow will also be making a statement.
10:31AM Judge Nancy Edmunds enters the courtroom.
Mercado is to be arraigned on superceding information.
Crandall says that Mercado understands the consequences. Mercado wishes to plead guilty to superceding information.
US Attorney Mark Chutkow says that Mercado will be pleading guilty to 5th superceding on conspiracy. From 2002 to 2008, conspired with other individuals. Kwame Kilpatrick used position as mayor and special administrator to steer contracts to Bobby Ferguson and Mercado helped do so under Kilpatrick's direction.
10:34AM Mercado sworn in and judge will ask him questions.
Do you understand you can be silent? Yes.
You wish to waive right? Yes.
You are now under oath, understand? Yes your honor.
How old are you? 61.
Judge says he is fluent in Spanish and English.
Presently under medication? No.
Judge says it does appear that Mercado is competent to proceed.
Have you discussed with lawyers? Yes.
Happy with them? Absolutely.
Do you understand that if you plead not guilty you could go to trial and be protected? Yes.
Judge goes over rights. Right to plead not guilty, trial by jury, presumption of innocence.
You wish to waive rights and enter plea of guilty? Yes your honor.
You understand that the offense is a felony? Yes.
10:40AM Maximum penalty is 5 years and $250,000 fine. Do you understand? Yes.
You are not on probation or parole? Yes your honor.