Day 62 recap: Millions of dollars discovered in safes linked to Bobby Ferguson

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DETROIT - Witness testimony Monday revealed that close to $2.3 million was discovered in safes in locations related to defendant Bobby Ferguson including one in the bathroom of the contractor's office and another behind the dryer in the laundry room of his Southfield townhouse.

Kwame Kilpatrick on Trial: Day 62

EPA agent Carol Paszkiewicz testified to serving a search warrant on January 15th 2009 to investigate the office for Ferguson Enterprises Inc. (FEI) located on Wyoming St. in Detroit. The special agent told the court that the federal investigators made their way to Ferguson's personal office which included the infamous "chillin' pad."

In a credenza located behind Ferguson's desk, they found a safe which contained $7,000 in cash, a videotape and some personal documents including Ferguson's driver's license and birth certificate. 

FBI agent Gwen Rosenthal followed Paszkiewicz on the stand. Rosenthal, part of the agency's Public Corruption Squad in Detroit, testified that she was present when a search warrant was executed at Ferguson-owned Xcel Construction Services' offices in the Guardian building on the same date. 

The search led agents to 4 safes including one in the bathroom of Ferguson's personal office. In the safes, they found some jewelry including a watch, contract documents, cash totaling $261,500 and Certificates of Deposit (CDs) worth more than $1.2 million. 

Rosenthal told the court that the $261,500 in cash was mostly still held in original bank straps. The bundles of $2,000 and $5,000 were primarily made up of $50 and $100 bills. 

And then on September 8th 2010, the FBI turned up with a search warrant at 25495 St. James, a townhouse in Southfield that had been linked to Ferguson by official records and pictures.  

In the home, the FBI found a small portable safe stashed behind the dryer in the laundry room.  

When investigators opened the safe, they found it packed with U.S. currency including $275,000 in cash and 5 official checks totaling $500,820 made payable to Ferguson Enterprises Inc. The stacks of cash, each measuring just under half an inch, were strapped in bundles of $5,000 and $10,000 again composed primarily of $50 and $100 bills. 

All told, federal investigators discovered $2,260,820 in cash and cash instruments in the safes of the three Ferguson-related locations. 

On cross examination, Ferguson's lawyer Michael Rataj had Rosenthal concede that there is nothing illegal about having safes stuffed with cash in business offices or homes. 

Rataj also argued that as a result of federal investigations into Ferguson's bank accounts, various financial institutions including First Independence Bank, Paramount Bank and Nstar Bank had terminated their relationships with Ferguson forcing to the contractor to find alternative methods of storing his cash. 

The FBI agent disagreed saying that Ferguson continued to have accounts at Bank of America and Comerica. 

Rosenthal admitted, however, that she couldn't "speak to where Ferguson would choose to put his money" and that as far as she knew he had paid his taxes on his income. 

Earlier in the morning, special agent Paszkiewicz told jurors that total revenues on Ferguson-related contracts discussed in the Kwame Kilpatrick federal corruption trial came to $83,829,612. Total revenues for all Ferguson-related contracts with the city of Detroit between 2002 and 2008 under the Kilpatrick administration came to a staggering $124,756,491.

Rataj argued that the witness's calculations did not include all the costs and expenses for the various contracts. 

"Right, that's why we called it revenues," replied Paskiewicz. 

"Your chart is not the full story of FEI's involvement in the contracts. Right or wrong?" pressed Rataj.  

"No, it clearly does not include the cost of doing business. It is strictly revenues," retorted the EPA agent impatiently.  

The last witness to take the stand Monday was IRS agent Rowena Schuch.

The IRS agent said she looked at several Ferguson-related accounts including ones for A & F Environmental, Johnson Consultants, FEI and Xcel as well as personal accounts for Bobby and Marilyn Johnson. 

In the period between 2002 and 2008, Schuch found $2,552,357.21 in transactions of checks written to cash. She also testified that there were many transactions in the $9,000 range which is often done to avoid the reports automatically generated by financial institutions on any transactions over $10,000. 

Rataj pointed to Judge Nancy Edmunds's instructions to the jury that there were no charges in the indictment for money laundering or financial structuring against Ferguson. 

He also pointed out that in 2002, out of 83 checks written, Ferguson had only endorsed three to himself. 

After consulting with counsel at her bench, Judge Edmunds told jurors that the government will wrap up its case tomorrow and defense will begin Thursday after taking a day off to prepare witnesses.

Court reconvenes Tuesday at 9AM.

Special Coverage: Kilpatrick on Trial

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