Local 4 is inside the courtroom for the federal corruption trial of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, Kilpatrick's dad Bernard Kilpatrick and his childhood friend Bobby Ferguson. Each day we bring you information from inside federal court as it happens.
8:59AM Friday morning at the federal courthouse and court proceedings in the Kwame Kilpatrick federal corruption trial should be getting underway soon. First up this morning, EPA agent Carol Paszkiewicz on the stand as Mike Rataj, defense lawyer for Bobby Ferguson takes another stab at cross-examination with her. Once that's done, we are on to the Heilmann Recreation Center chapter of the trial.
9:05AM Everyone is in the courtroom and the jury enters.
Mike Rataj takes up cross of Paszkiewizc. Tells the courtroom he has a "very discreet" area to cover and it won't take long. Asks the witness how she's doing. "We'll see," responds the witness alluding to the fact she doesn't know what he has in store for her.
Looking at change order #3 for contract 812c, the alleged pass through contract to Ferguson's company DTF. Mentions changes to security changes to pump stations. D'Agostini & Sons held the contract in name. Rataj already getting feisty with the federal agent.
Rataj saying yesterday the witness testified that the full amount of the contract $3.9 million went to Ferguson. Witness says she didn't change her testimony when she said it was $3.1 million that Ferguson.
Looking at a document from D'Agostini to the DWSD invoicing for $3.1 million. Dated January 10 2006. Rataj says nowhere on that document does it say Ferguson Enterprises. No says the witness.
9:13AM New witness taking stand in the Heilmann chapter. US Attorney Jennifer Blackwell for the government. Johnson Akinwusi is the witness. JOA Construction Company has been his for 20 years. Does commercial construction. they have contracts for the city of Detroit and the federal government. Has built training centers, a levy and dam for the US corps of Engineers as well as several other small projects. In the city of Detroit, did the exterior of the federal building, the secret service office and the FBI's office.
JOA had contracts with Detroit under the Archer administration with the Detroit Building Authority. Worked on the 36th District court and fire stations. Regularly received requests from the Detroit Building Authority and they were on a list of contractors for them. Made campaign contribution to Gil Hill, about $2500, when Hill ran against Kwame in 2001.
Missed a meeting of contractors with the mayor in 2002. Akinwusi says he didn't know about the meeting and never made it.
The witness talked to Larry Albiosu of Fashion International, a friend of the mayor and of the witness's. Told him that he was not getting work in the city and could he help him. Albiosu told him to write a letter to the mayor about what he had done for the city and what he could do. Also told the witness that there were clothes in layaway that he could pay for, including suits for the former mayor. The witness wrote a letter asking to continue doing work with the city of Detroit. Witness also paid for the suits.
Looking at receipt for suit that witness bought at Fashion International and check that he wrote for his suit and layaway. Witness purchased suits for himself on March 11th 2002 worth $3,142. Wrote at check amount on March 11th 2002 for $7,933.38. Difference of $4,800 went toward layaway clothes for mayor Kilpatrick. Witness saying he paid for mayor's suits because he wanted to work for the city of Detroit.
Shortly after, witness got bid proposal for the Heilmann Recreation Center. Before that, witness went to ribbon cutting ceremony at the Erma Henderson Marina. That was a contract he performed under Archer. The event was during the Kilpatrick administration. Witness was approached by Christine Beatty who asked him to contribute towards the Kilpatrick Civic Fund. Witness wrote a check to the KCF on May 28th 2002 for $10,000. Witness says he was asked for that amount by Beatty. "That was the amount I was asked by Christine Beatty to provide," says witness.
The DBA offered bid proposal to JOA for the Heilmann Recreation Center. That was put out for bid in 2003 and it was a design build contract. Heilmann Center located in east side of Detroit. Witness presented with an RFP. The did a joint venture with Xcel Construction, teamed up to design a proposal. Witness had never joint ventured with Xcel before. Ferguson, Calvin Hall and Michael Wodehouse just came to the witness. STG Design was the architect on the project.
9:30AM Wodehouse was aware that the witness had received an RFP but did not say how he knew. The Heilmann contract was for $7 million. The witness knew Wodehouse and he felt that he had a good chance of getting contract. "I knew Bobby and Wodehouse were close to the mayor and I had a better chance with them," says the witness.
Looking at a letter from the DBA. Witness received this letter on June 3rd 2003. Letter said that 5 teams were chosen to be interviewed for project by the evaluation committee including JOA. Each team had 30 minutes for presentation including 15 more minutes for questioning. Ayanna Benson was the head of the committee.
The witness, Sam Allen and David Cypher, witness's operational manager, did the presentation. Wodehouse and Calvin Hall participated for Xcel. Witness says the presentation was calm; there was no anxiety in the interview.
A letter came to the witness's office letting him know they had been selected for the project. Met with Xcel and they decided on the contract and the payment percentages between them. Xcel wanted 36%. Witness says each partner on a venture usually provides employees. Witness says that Xcel did not provide staff, employees on the job. JOA provided the employees- superintendent, project manager- all employees came from JOA. Witness says that in his experience on a joint venture both parties provide employees. JOA also was the sole provider of bonds thus 100% responsible for the job. Ferguson Enterprises provided demolition on the contract. Witness said that initially that wasn't a problem but after felt that given Xcel was a partner felt it was a conflict of interest.
"I didn't want to create any issues that would slow job down," says witness about confronting Ferguson about the conflict of interest. Didn't want to slow down payment to JOA.
Witness was concerned about getting paid by the city. Witness's controller called the city finance department. Witness says that Ferguson had the ability to talk to people processing the payment. Shortly after approaching Ferguson about payment, JOA received it. Looking at payment schedule that went to Xcel and Ferguson. JOA checks that went to Xcel. Total paid to Xcel on Heilmann contract is $161,185. Witness says Xcel basically only came to progress meetings on the job and that's all they did. Date range for checks is October 2003 to June of 2006. Witness says Wodehouse would get to progress meetings.
Blackwell asks witness if he felt Xcel deserved the money. Gerald Evelyn objects. "No I don't think so," says witness. Why did you pay them then says Blackwell.
"We had a contract. I didn't want to get sued so I paid the contract," says the witness. Witness says he abided by the contract. "I didn't want to create waves on the job. If I didn't pay Bobby, the job wouldn't go." Says he means by that payment would be slow coming and his bonds would get pulled.
Witness also made 3 other payments: including one to glass company and 2 to Ferguson Enterprises for demolition of existing building. Blackwell asks if the $161.00 he paid Xcel took away from his profits. Yes says witness. Witness says he got no other projects after the job. Witness supported Kwame in the re-election. Ferguson gave him packet of envelopes that he passed onto sub-contractors for contributions. For the re-election campaign. Total amount that he passed onto to Dave Cypher who gave it to Bobby was more than $32,000. Says he did it to get more work.
9:50AM Witness says he was previously interviewed by the FBI and at first did not mention that he had bought suits for the mayor.
Jim Thomas, Kwame's lawyer, objects and asks for sidebar.