DETROIT - 9:15 a.m. This morning's session is off to a late start. Long lines at the
security check-in are to blame. That's why I get here early! Would hate to be late for court.
Now it appears all parties have reached the courtroom and the judge is speaking to the attorneys in a "sidebar" session before the jury is brought in. The judge called the sidebar. We can't hear these discussions so it will be interesting to hear if the judge addresses what the topic is in open court.
Thomas Hardiman, a contractor was on the stand for hours yesterday and is expected back at least for a little while this morning.
Perhaps the judge is encouraging the defense attorneys to move on from Hardiman as quickly as they can. It's not a secret that she appeared to grow a bit frustrated as Gerald Evelyn, attorney for Bobby Ferguson questioned Hardiman for a long time Tuesday.
People from Serbia visitors are in the courtroom and the judge is giving them a warm welcome.
Attorney for Bobby Ferguson is again questioning contractor Thomas Hardiman in rapid-fire fashion. He's questioning him about a lawsuit filed against his son's company for allegedly not paying subcontractors. Evelyn is asking the questions as fast as he can and Hardiman is saying that he turns all legal matters over to his attorneys and doesn't remember every issue that comes up A&V Contractors filed suit against A&H Contractors along with Ferguson Enterprises for breach of contract. Hardiman says he does not recall this suit.
This is a 2009 suit filed by A&V Services in Shelby Township. Kwame Kilpatrick and Bobby Ferguson look bored stiff during this line of questioning. Evelyn is asking questions about Hardiman's son, Johnny and about his son's business dealings. Now Evelyn is showing an invoice. Evelyn is suggesting that Ferguson covered one of the bills that his son owed. Evelyn is asking Hardiman that after Ferguson paid the bill, did Ferguson ever threaten to pull any of Hardiman's contracts with the city in retaliation for covering from his son. Hardiman says he does not remember Ferguson ever making such threats.
Hardiman says his company, Lakeshore won a $10 Million contract and a $5 Million dollar contact.
The contract was "on hold" and then after he had a conversation with Ferguson the contracts were cancelled. Hardiman's former company Lakeshore praises it's partnership with Bobby Ferguson: Lakeshore protested the bid with the city of Detroit finance department.
Lakeshore sent a letter in December of 2009 to the city to complain that the board of water commissioners made a mistake in awarding two big contracts to one firm. This was a sewer project the city put out for bid. Evelyn is asking Hardiman to read the letter aloud.
The letter is signed:
THOMAS E. HARDIMAN SR.
CHAIRMAN, LAKESHORE GROUP
These two are engaging in a rather difficult conversation. Evelyn asks Hardiman specific questions about minute details about this letter, who wrote it, who brought it to him, asking if he read the letter before he signed it. Answers aren't coming easy. Hardiman will answer "I'm not sure who wrote it." "I trust whoever wrote it." The two spar over the smallest details and, again, it's a testy exchange. The protest letter reads that one company got a $40 million city water contract and Hardiman's company called that "unprecedented and not in the best interest of the City of Detroit."
D'Allesandro company got the contract.
Evelyn is asking why the letter states the wrong title for Hardiman. It reads "chairman" and Hardiman says he was the chair of the "advisory board." Did Hardiman or Lakeshore misrepresent his position when they complained to the city about these massive contracts?
If so, did it have any benefit or impact?
Dave Bing was mayor of Detroit at the time of this contract protest, not Kilpatrick. Another letter is being shown addressed to Mary Blackmon, President of the Board of Water Commissioners. Hardiman signed it, but he says someone else wrote the letter. The letter is signed:
Chairman of the Lakeshore Group
Hardiman says he was the chairman of the advisory board. Why his title is incorrect on the letter is not clear.
Evelyn is having a very hard time getting Hardiman to take responsibility for his role in much of anything regarding these issue.
Hardiman says he had little interest after divesting in the Lakeshore group and Lakeshore had him sign the protest letters because he was known as a part of Lakeshore in Detroit and was the African American "face" of the company.
***Praise for Ferguson from the company that one of it's past leaders testified that Ferguson extorted the company and helped cancel big money contracts
Another letter is now being shown from:
Colt Odeh Vice President of Lakeshore Group. The letter is to Alvin White, Ferguson Enterprises. The letter reads that Lakeshore "greatly appreciates" the work of Ferguson Enterprises on a water department job. Lakeshore's VP wrote "we look forward to our continued accomplishment as we count on Ferguson Enterprises in the effective and successful performance of these existing and many other future projects."
Extra long break - Back in session
Barbara McQuade US Attorney in the courtroom now, was chatting with Thomas and Gurewitz during the break.
Evelyn back at it with Hardiman. December 13, 2007 Memo sent to Avinash Rachmale of Lakeshore indicating A&H owed money to Ferguson for the Fox Creek Project CM-2014 for $179,146.43 for work they did on this project. A water main that broke and Ferguson assisted on (from yesterday's testimony.)
Another memo from Belayet Hossain (LES) to Al White of (FEI) indicates part of the CM-2014 project on Jefferson Ave was given to FEI and they would be paid from a change order for $200,000. FEI did the work before they were given any money because they were helping in an emergency. Evelyn is trying to demonstrate the relationship between FEI and LES was not based on fear. Evelyn is presenting letters indicating contract price negotiations began November 8, 2006 between the City of Detroit and LES for DWS-865 East Side Sewer repair. Attendee included Hariman, who is a bit fuzzy on his memory of the meeting; he attended a lot of meetings. We are now seeing an organizational chart for LES as presented in the Bid Proposal for DWS-865. Judge asks for a sidebar.
Back in session.
Work on contracts can start before final approval from City Council. But Council must approve before payment is received. Must have been the point of Evelyn's line of questioning before the sidebar.
Evelyn present a timeline of LES Contracts with the DWSD. February 2000 DWS-807; June 2005 DWS-849; June 2006 CM-2014; JULY 2006 DWS-845; totaling $157,821,949.41 "Pretty good amounts for your company." Hardiman agrees.
Ferguson was stunned when Hardiman brought him cash for $25,000 instead of a check, from past testimony.
Chutkow redirect: Hardiman had a different relationship with Ferguson in 2002 - 2003. He was more fearful of Ferguson stopping his contracts because of Fergusons relationship with the Mayor. Ferguson wanted to be a "partner" with LES getting 1/3 of gross contract amounts.
Hardiman's response was "we will see."
February 21, 2003 - LES, Lanzo, and Hayes were partnered for Proposal DWSD-1361 all were Detroit Based and Minority Operated Businesses. They won the contract but according to Ferguson, "the contract had to go across Mayor Kilpatrick's desk." Indicating without Ferguson, the contract would not get approval.
Hardiman contacted Caroline Cheeks Kilpatrick and met with Ferguson to find out why DWSD 1361 contract wasn't moving forward. 10 million - 5 million - over $200,000 in profits lost. (prior testimony)
LES decided all contracts would include FEI because without Ferguson LES would not get contracts.
Chutkow asks: Was Bobby Ferguson someone who could be bullied? "I can't see Bobby Ferguson being bullied." Was it worth it to pay Bobby Ferguson one million dollars? Hardiman's response: "do I think it he worth it?"
Chutkow asks for a 5 min break.
During the break, Hardiman was talking with John Shea from the witness stand hoping Chutkow's questions would be the end of his testimony.
Shea reminded Hardiman "there is still re-ross." Hardiman was despondent.
Back in session. FEI was part of DWSD-865 and also part of the east side project and CM-2014 yet they were not listed on the proposals. The project team members listed did not include FEI.
Ferguson came to Hardiman and told him "these are my streets." Ferguson wanted seven streets from the contract.
Hardiman indicated other contractors could have done the work, but Ferguson threatened Hardiman and went over his head to Avinash Rachmale. Rachmale told Hardiman because of the lost 10 million and 5 million contract - Ferguson had to get some of their work: "let Bobby have those streets!"
Ferguson told Hardiman "if you mess with me, I will shut you down." Ferguson reminded Hardiman of his friendship with the mayor.
Chutkow asks: "Did you feel $600,000 you paid to Ferguson for CM-1061 was part of your common shared values and goals as to promoting African American business?"
Hardiman responded - "No!"
Hardiman wanted to "let Bobby jump into the river" but his boss Avinash Rachmale knew he needed Ferguson to get the contracts.
Chutkow is done, Judge calls the end of day and tells Hardiman "we will see you tomorrow Mr. Hardiman." "Unless there are no further questions?"
Evelyn indicated there are more, and Hardiman recoiled into the witness stand with a glazed look.
The Judge responded: "sorry Mr. Hardiman."
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