Tuesday recap: Kilpatrick on trial
The government unleashed more damaging text messages Tuesday in the Kwame Kilpatrick federal corruption trial which categorically demonstrated defendant Bobby Ferguson knew he was about to win a city contract before it was officially awarded and that he paid for the tailor-made suits of a top official in the city department granting said contract.
Over the last few days of testimony, jurors have heard about the Heilmann Recreation Center project. The $7 million contract was awarded to the joint venture of JOA Construction, Ferguson's Xcel Construction and SDG architects. JOA/Xcel/SDG won the contract despite being ranked 4th out of the 5 final teams who interviewed with an evaluation committee for the project. The Heilmann contract was officially awarded to Ferguson's team on June 19th 2003.
FBI special agent Bob Beeckman made it back to the stand this morning to talk about a series of texts that involved Ferguson and the Heilmann project.
The first text was between Ferguson and Vincent Anwunah, general manager of the Detroit Recreation Department. Anwunah also happened to be the boss of LaJuan Wilks, a government witness who testified that Anwunah did nothing when Ferguson yelled at her and threatened her job in a meeting between the three. The text is dated April 16th 2003- more than 2 months before the Heilmann contract was publicly awarded.
In it, Ferguson asks when the contract is coming out and Anwunah lets him know that it should be within the week. Anwunah then proceeds to also let him know that Dick Hautau, the former director of the city Recreation Department, is no longer part of the decision-making process. To which Ferguson responds, "Ok we need to meet on the project."
On June 18th 2003, the day before the winner of the Heilmann contract is made public, Ferguson receives a text from Anwunah congratulating him "for tomorrow." Ferguson asks what has happened. Anwunah texts him "Your team got Heilmann." To which an unsurprised Ferguson replies "Yeah I know, thanks, also call that guy from dwsd."
Ferguson also communicated with Christine Beatty, Kilpatrick's former Chief-of-Staff who was also the chair of the Detroit Building Authority (DBA) board that voted on the Heilmann contract. On June 19th an exuberant Ferguson texts Beatty: "THANK YOU I love you you are for sure my sister." Beatty responds "Oh, you know I was going to take care of you."
Then there were the texts about the tailor-made suits for Lee Stephenson, deputy director of the Detroit Recreation Department, when the Heilmann project was underway.
On October 29th 2003, Anwunah texts Ferguson and lets him know that Stephenson is all set to meet. Ferguson instructs to meet them both "at the tailor at 1:30 today. Is that cool. I know that it is short notice." The tailor in question was Nick Cirino who was located at "112 Clifford st. next to Madison madison bldg".
In another series of texts dated October 31st 2003 and December 16th 2003, Ferguson's assistant Eugenia Blake texts her boss to let him know that "Nick the tailor" has called about garments for himself and Stephenson.
On December 18th 2003, Ferguson texts Anwunah to let him know his boss "can pick up one suit of his choice and I can pay for the rest Monday." But 11 days later, on December 29th, Ferguson asks Anwunah to tell Stephenson to hold off before going to Nick's to pick up his garments saying "damn I didn't pay for it all wait until Tuesday." And the suits definitely weren't cheap. On December 30th 2003, an out-of-town Ferguson texts another assistant, Carmen Cunnigham, to cut a check for the Stephenson suits. Carmen asks her boss "$3,360- is that right." To which Ferguson replies, "It sounds right but he won't take the check from no one but me." Special agent Beeckman finished his testimony by saying that Anwunah sometimes referred to Ferguson as "boss."
Gerald Evelyn, one of Ferguson's defense lawyers, did not address a single text exchange in his cross-examination of Beeckman.
Court resumes Wednesday at 9AM.