DETROIT - 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.
So, Tuesday morning the government will be continuing with FBI agent Bob Beeckman. The FBI agent has testified at various points in the trial and I have come to equate his presence with the introduction of a slew of incriminating text exchanges that I struggle madly to keep up with.
Kwame and Bernard Kilpatrick are seated and ready at the defendants' table. Bobby Ferguson has just come in and taken his seat.
Seems that the prosecution is saying that they have 9 more days of witness testimony and the general expectation is that the whole trial should be over by the end of February.
9:08AM Judge Nancy Edmunds comments to jurors how bad traffic was this morning.
U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow questions FBI agent Beeckman.
Text exchange on October 2nd and 3rd 2003
Anwunah: Did you get the number? If not the number is XXXX. Let me know when you've faxed it.
Anwunah was a supervisor in the Rec Department
Ferguson: Let me know when you have the letter with you.
Anwunah: It's in my hotel room.....
Ferguson: I am going to see the boss today....
Anwunah: Ok I will fax as possible also i would like us to talk things over and brainstorm this.
Apparently this is a reference to the fee dispute with Walbridge.
Missed most of this exchange. Chutkow flew over it too quickly for me. I wish he would keep those texts up just a little longer.
Looking at meeting minutes from Walbridge and Ferguson Enterprises from April 22nd 2004. Meeting held at Walbridge job site. Ferguson objected to a bid opening.
Text on April 22nd 2004
Same day as the previous minutes
Ferguson: Baby creek i told you I would call on you when I needed help. help, f***ing victor, i dont need dwsd to sit on the bid opening.
Mayor: Will call in 30 minutes
Ferguson: Thanks but dont call in the meeting with Walbridge now. i find you later.
Looking at summary of payments from Walbridge to Ferguson on Baby Creek. Contract is 748, Baby Creek. Total paid to Ferguson is $13.5 million.
9:19AM Ferguson's lawyer Mike Rataj doing the cross.
Rataj introduces a bid tabulation summary for Baby Creek. Beeckman says he saw it this morning. Beeckman agrees that it was a low bid contract and that there were equalization credits to be applied.
Walbridge's bid after equalization was $69 million.
Looking at Walsh construction. Before equalization they had the lowest bid but after equalization it was $71 million.
Looking at other contractor equalized bids which are also shown to be higher than Walbridge's.
Email from Walbridge executive Ron Hausmann at Walbridge on February 6th 2003 the day of the bid openings.
A juror just asked Rataj to speak into the microphone.
In the email, Hausmann opines this is going to be a dog fight because everyone wants the $73 million contract. Gerald Evelyn introduced this email yesterday.
More juror questions.
Looking at another document we have already seen. From Daniel Edwards of DWSD to a Scott Penrod of Walbridge. Penrod was second VP at Walbridge under Hausmann. In this, Edwards advises Penrod they were the lowest bidder.
Now looking at Walsh's protest letter. Beeckman says he saw this document this morning before court. From February 11th 2003. Addressed to Audrey Jackson at the Purchasing Division of Detroit Finance Department. There is a whole lot of legalese in the letter. Basically Walsh objects to the awarding of the contract to Walbridge and formally files a protest.
9:30AM Series of emails we saw yesterday between Daniel Edwards of Contracts and Grants and Gary Fujita, his boss, of the DWSD. They are talking about protests filed by Walsh, L. D'Agostinin and W3/Barton Marlow.
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) had an enforced deadline of March 1st 2003 for the Baby Creek project.
Dan Edwards's email to Gary Fujita. Mentioning that Audrey Jackson has consulted her attorneys and will be rendering a decision that same week so delays will not be as long as thought. Ultimately, Jackson found Walbridge to still be the lowest equalized bidder.
Now looking at a document from February 18th 2003 between Dan Edwards and John McGrail and other DWSD engineers. Regarding the Baby Creek project, document shows the batting order of the equalized bids after Jackson considered the protests. Walbridge still at the top.
This is a memo from Victor Mercado of the DWSD on Baby Creek initial bid opening postponement due to an infringement claim. From October 2012 to February 6th 2003. Says that if the Patton Park issue hadn't occurred, the DWSD could have proceeded through the regular channels of Water Board and City Council and not used the Special Administratorship. But timing was of the essence, so they went via Kilpatrick's Special Administrator Order. Beeckman concurring with all of this.
Now looking at the Special Administrative Order for Baby Creek, 748. It was signed by Kilpatrick in April 2003.
Now looking at the texts from yesterday where Anwunah asks Ferguson what he thinks about Walbridge's request for a 5% fee and Ferguson's response is less than enthusiastic to put it mildly.
Ferguson: Hell no thats 5% they are crazy.....
Beeckman concedes that it is not unusual to have a conversation like this.
Now looking at Bernard Parker email on February 12th 2003 internally to Walbridge where he says he was trying to find out from Daniel Edwards what Audrey Jackson might doing with the protests.
Looking at Baby Creek bid form signed by Penrod of Walbridge on February 6th 2003, the day of the bid opening.
Juror asks to see the signature page again.
Looking at a number of allowances for Baby Creek. Beeckman agrees that the deadline the DWSD was under related specifically to the Baby Creek portion. The bulk of contract 748 was a DWSD contract. $10 million set aside for Patton Park. Total amount is more than $73 million.
Now looking at the handwritten agreement between Ferguson Enterprises and Walbridge. Signed by Keith Merritt of FEI and Penrod of Walbridge on February 14th 2003. A valentine's agreement! This is the agreement where Walbridge promised to cut in Ferguson if they got the contract. Shows that he would get the $10 million for the Patton Park portion.
9:50AM Ferguson was objecting to 5% that Walbridge wanted of the $10 million. Rataj says that Walbridge wanted $500,000 for doing nothing.
Beeckman saying a 5% fee is a standard fee on those types of contracts because they are the managers.
Beeckman agrees that Ferguson Enterprises got $10 million for Patton Park.
Rataj says FEI would only have been left with $9.5 million to do the Patton Park project if they paid Walbridge the 5% fee.
Looking at a Walbridge change order for Baby Creek. Walbridge seems to want a release from FEI on the project. Rataj says Patton Park is FEI's responsibility. Beeckman agrees.
"That's what it says," says Beeckman.
Looking at DWSD construction change authorization.
A design consultant is being paid more than $700,000 out of the $10 million. Walbridge ended up with something more like a 2.5% fee. There was also a general conditions' fee.
Rataj says the amount available for construction was $10 million minus about $2.5 million for the 3 combined deductions so the left over was about $7.5 million.
Jurors asking to see the document again. It's like the third time today that the jurors want to see a document. They are really paying attention this morning.
Letter from Brian Cruickshank of Walbridge to Bobby Ferguson. This is where Walbridge saying that they were "strongly persuaded by highly placed city officials" to take on Ferguson despite his not being the lowest bidder. Letter on October 1 2003.
New letter is on October 15th 2003 and is again from Cruickshank to Ferguson. Beeckman says that it looks like it is supposed to be from Cruickshank but it doesn't look like he signed it. Beeckman says that Walbridge was alarmed by the first letter sent out by Cruickshank to Ferguson so they drafted a new letter to ameliorate the damage done but it's unclear whether Cruickshank agreed to sign it.
Doesn't look like Cruickshank signed it. In it, it says that Cruickshank was in error in some of his statements. Says that Ferguson was actually hired because he is a qualified contractor. Also says Walbridge responsible for testing contaminated diert and Cruickshank supposedly takes ownership of errors that he made.
Again with the handwritten agreement where Rataj points to a section which describes excavation.
10:15AM Just a reminder we will be ending at noon today and Friday. Judge Edmunds never explained why.
Beeckman describing Walbridge's internal review on sub-contractors of Baby Creek and it's a spreadsheet comparing their amounts.
Looking at bids for mass excavation from the sub-contractors. Looking specifically at WPM where there is no bid amount listed. Now for structural site work again no base bid number listed for WPM.
Rataj says Ferguson was awarded under Baby Creek the mass excavation work but did not get the sewer work. Beeckman says he does not about that because these are bids submitted at the beginning. Handwritten document shows $2.73 million for the mass excavation work for Ferguson.
Rataj asks if Beeckman has proof here today that Ferguson Enterprises did sewer work. Beeckman says he can't answer one way or another. Doesn't know.
Beeckman also doesn't know if Ferguson did site work on Baby Creek.
Rataj asks if Ferguson Enterprises was lowest bidder on mass excavation. Beeckman says that there is no number for WPM so he can't say for sure.
Beeckman saying that Ferguson's estimate is 23% higher on the mass excavation just like Cruickshank said in his October 1st letter.
Beeckman says he doesn't know what kind of work Ferguson got in the end. He knows only what Hausmann promised the city he was giving Ferguson.
"I'm not interested in speculation Mr. Beeckman. You can't convict people on speculation," says Rataj.
Beeckman asks Rataj to hand him the document so he can show him what he means. Rataj doesn't hand it over. He did hold the documents up and shake them for the jury though.
Rataj asks if there is a number on the top or bottom for WPM.
"Not on that page," says Beeckman.
10:27AM 20 minute break.
10:50AM Rataj brings up another text message introduced yesterday between Ferguson and Kwame on October 1st 2003.
Beeckman says this is the same day as letter from Cruickshank.
Ferguson: If gary torgo calls about meah not calling him back its because of him not paying fei for the parking garage.
Mayor: Cool. How much does he owe:
Ferguson: Its his team they are disputing 57,0000.00 for work we performed on mack and woodward. typical white folk shit. when we talk i tell what walbridges...
Rataj says Torgo is a private developer who has nothing to do with Baby Creek. Beeckman agrees.
Rataj says didn't you interview Torgo on December 18th 2012. Beeckman asks to see the form to refresh his memory. Looks at it and agrees.
"Where you trying to mislead the jury," asks Rataj about using the text to correlate it with Baby Creek.
Beeckman says no he is not trying to mislead jury. There is a portion of the text that refers to Walbridge.
Another jury question about the spelling of Amru Meah.
Rataj says he had some government notes on Torgo to determine if Walbridge was involved with the parking garage.
Beeckman says he interviewed Torgo via telephone.
Discussing the 302, FBI interview form.
Beeckman looks at form says it's from May 4th 2012 and not December and it's not his notes.
Beeckman says when he talked to Torgo they didn't discuss.
Beeckman says he knows that Ferguson is talking about parking garage but doesn't know if Walbridge has anything to do with it.
Rataj hands Beeckman his 302 from interview with Torgo last December. Beeckman agrees they were discussing the timeframe of October 2003 in the interview.
Rataj says earlier this morning Chutkow showed payments from Walbridge to Ferguson on Baby Creek. Correct says Beeckman.
Looking at an application for payment on the Patton Park Recreation Center to Walbridge aldinger from Ferguson Enterprises. It's application #1. Basically a request for payment on the project. looking at a sume to KEO & Associates for $295,000 and another to a fencing company for more than $11,000.
Now looking at a similar application for payment from Ferguson to Walbridge. It's number 26. Rataj says that a lot of money went out to other contractors in regards to Patton Park: Bayview Electric.....
Bottom line says Rataj line is that out of $13 million, more than $10 million went to pay contractors other than Ferguson. Beeckman agrees.
Looking at September 11th text message between Ferguson and Kwame.
The long and the short of it is that Ferguson is letting Kwame know in the exchange that John Rakolta of Walbridge has been trying to get a meeting with the mayor. Bernard Parker III has been offering to help put the meeting together.
Beeckman says it looks like Walbridge thinks that Parker can get to the mayor through Ferguson.
Beeckman says this is evidence that the mayor couldn't get a meeting with the mayor at this particular time.
11:10AM Rataj introduces from the mayor's calendar on February 10 2007. Meeting scheduled at 6pm with Rakolta at Manoogian Mansion.
Rataj says Beeckman asked Parker specifically about the text message. Rataj said that he was trying to help Rakolta get meeting with the mayor. Beeckman agrees.
Rataj says that Walbridge is large corporation that has been around for a long time. Beeckman agrees.
Beeckman confirming that Walbridge worked on the Compuware building.
Rataj listing people like Peter Karmanos and Ted Gatzaros who had access to the mayor.
Rataj saying that relationships a big part of business.
Soave had friendships with former mayors Coleman Young and Archer. Beeckman agrees.
Rataj says that Soave testified that it was a good feeling to have relationships with politicians. Beeckman says he recalls Soave saying something like that.
Rataj says steering of relationships is a function of relationships. Beeckman questions that.
Rataj brings up Avinash Rachmale of Lakeshore Engineering having relationships within the DWSD.
"We need to confine this," says Judge Edmunds about line of questioning.
Rataj says Soave testified that construction is not for the faint of heart. Beeckman agrees with that. But doesn't recall when Rataj says he said about sharpening elbows to get people out of the way.
Rataj is done.
11:19AM Chutkow redirects.
Text between Bobby and Kwame.
Ferguson: Yes he is. Bernard Parker work for walbridge now basically because of them not being able to talk to you they think he can help the situation, we can use this to our advantage. he call me to say rakolta secretary can get a re...
Beeckman says that "we" is Ferguson and Kwame.
Looking at the internal Walbridge document ranking sub-contractor bids. this is the document that Rataj wouldn't hand him. Beeckman says if you take sewer work and mass excavation pages and add it together and comes up with number at the bottom of the page. That total bid number is 23% higher than WPM's like Cruickshank said in his letter.
Cruickshank was project manager on Baby Creek. In his letter he had said that Ferguson was 4th lowest responsive bidder, 23% higher than the lowest WPM.
Again, reading Cruickshank's letter saying that they gave Ferguson work at the urging of "highly-placed city officials" and that if anyone should complain it's WPM who saw their work shrink by 31% due to work given to Ferguson Enterprises.
Parker testified that as a result of his conversation with Derrick miller urging them to use Ferguson, they drew up the unsusual handwritten agreement from Valentine's Day 2003.
Beeckman says that the standard percentage that the manager would get is 5% but Walbridge got more like 3.5%.
Those were some quick deadly blows to the defense.
11:28AM Rataj redirects.
Rataj says that the $10 million on Patton Park fell squarely on Ferguson Enterprises. Beeckman says FEI was just a sub-contractor on the project.
Beeckman says he doesn't think it's true that Walbridge took $350,000 for doing nothing.
Ferguson just spilled his glass of water all over the defendants' table.
Back to the handwritten agreement. Rataj says you have no information that FEI did sewer or sote work. Beeckman says he knows they bid on it.
"You can't convict someone in this country based on speculation," argues Rataj again.
Rataj showing Walbridge's internal comparison review of sub-contractors. Says again there is no number for WPM.
Rataj asks if Ferguson's numbers are the lowest bids due to the numbers on the top line.
"I think you're wrong," says Beeckman because he know that WPM put in a bid on mass excavation.
"You cannot tell from that what is the lowest bidder because there is no number for WPM," says Beeckman.
Rataj brings up he text exchange between bobby and Kwame regarding the attempt to set up a meeting with Rakolta. Rataj says he showed there was a meeting scheduled with Rakolta and Kwame on February 10th 2007.
Rataj asks if he knew what was said in the meeting.
"I wasn't there so I have no idea what was said at the meeting," says Beeckman.
Beeckman is done but now we have another federal agent. EPA agent Carol Paszkiewicz.
11:36AM Like Beeckman, the EPA agent has been on the stand multiple times.
Discussing Inland Waters sewer contract 1368. Talking about sinkhole in sterling Heights 2004.
Previously admitted text messages. Chutkow says this is addressing her previous testimony.
September 1 2004 between Kwame and Ferguson.
Kwame: You got to get with victor on this terling heights job. He said you were meeting him out here.
This was sent at 1:15PM. the agent says per his agenda Kwame was scheduled to be at the sinkhole between 1 and 2pm.
Exchange on September 1st and 2nd 2004 between former mayor and Ferguson.
Ferguson: We need to meet on how I move in. I got a great idea sir. holla in the am. owe gemo my answer service (lol) wants me to do some hauling.
Ferguson first got to sinkhole site on September 14th 2004, about 2 weeks after text exchanges.
Tuesday September 14th 2004 document, this is based on an interview on the sinkhole repair. The agent says this is the record she based her testimony on. It mentions when Ferguson moved his equipment to the site at 6PM.
The sewer collapse was on August 22nd 2004. The defense introduced an exhibit when cross examining the witness that stated that Ferguson showed up onsite the next day. The document was a Ferguson Enterprises work site record. Paszkiewicz says this was inconsistent with what she had seen in her research.
The agent says she hesitated because firstly, the date. And then she took a better look at the document when she left the stand and had other concerns. She says she had seen this type of records in other parts of of her investigation.
Rataj quickly stands up and asks for a sidebar. Likely he is a little nervous about where the government is going with this.
Zoom in on Kwame and Bobby talking to each other quite passionately.
Sidebar over. Paszkiewicz says she wanted to investigate further because typically they have a number that is a unique identifier and the defense exhibit was missing it.
Judge explaining to the jury that the witness is not an expert on document authenticity. Also says she can only testify with respect to her investigation and info in documents themselves.
Witness says there is also typically a date. Paszkiewicz attempts to show on the document where the date would be.
Defense objects again and back to sidebar.
This is getting really interesting. Seems that the prosecution is hinting at defense exhibit tampering. Question is who are they insinuating did it, the defense lawyers or the defendant?
11:53AM Judge Edmunds says this matter is more complicated than anticipated. Seems counsel is going to hash this out in judge's chambers except for Rataj who has to leave for "family matter."
Also, the judge gives the heads up that people should arrive to the courthouse early because 160 jurors will are anticipated tomorrow morning.
Court resumes tomorrow at 9AM.
About the author
Alexandra Harland is a Princeton undergrad and has a masters degree in International affairs with Columbia. A Montreal native, she worked with the Daily Telegraph newspaper for a few years before transitioning to TV, when she worked at ABC News with Peter Jennings. Alexandra has also worked in newsrooms in both Detroit and Boston.
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