Walbridge letter worried Ferguson, his former employee testifies

Walbridge letter worried Ferguson, his former employee testifies

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DETROIT (WJBK) -

A former employee of Bobby Ferguson and other contractors testified Wednesday that Ferguson often threw his weight around to intimidate partners, but there was at least one thing that Ferguson himself was afraid of.

For years, Ferguson boasted that he got city contracts on merit, not because of his friendship with Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

However, business consultant and former Ferguson employee Bernard Parker testified that Kilpatrick aides put Ferguson in city deals and Ferguson used his city hall connections to threaten contractors who didn't give him his way.

Still, an official with Walbridge Aldinger pushed back, reminding Ferguson in a letter that he was only a part of their deal because "Walbridge Aldinger was strongly persuaded by highly-placed city officials to award a substantial portion of the excavation work to Ferguson enterprises."

The official pointed out that Ferguson's price for the job was 23 percent higher than the low bidder Walbridge might have otherwise hired.

Parker testified that the letter infuriated Ferguson, who was afraid reporters might someday read it.

However, Ferguson wasn't the only one fuming.  Attorney Mike Rataj said Judge Nancy Edmunds isn't giving the defense a fair shake.

"For her to prop the government lawyers up every time they can't ask a question properly, for the hearsay, the double and triple hearsay that's coming in, it puts us at a huge disadvantage in this case," he remarked.  "We're all frustrated because this isn't the way that it's supposed to work.  The person that makes the statement's got to come in and testify to it so they can be crossed examined.  That's the bottom line."

The roughneck former college hockey player said the judge's rulings make fighting the case like skating five-on-three, but Rataj isn't giving up just yet.

"As long as we're still playing, I think we can win."

Hearsay testimony has been a big complaint of the defense throughout this trial, but they will get a chance to call those folks in when they put their own case on starting early next year.

Question and Answer

HUEL PERKINS: Judge Nancy Edmunds runs a tight ship.  She may not be happy about Rataj's comments.  What do you think she's going to do?

ELRICK: I think that's putting it mildly.  She's already taken him to the woodshed, or as he may say the penalty box, a couple times in this trial.  I have a feeling that if (she)... hears about this, she will have something to say to Mr. Rataj and it's something that he probably will not want to hear, and we'll see if it could lead to sanctions or some sort of discipline.  It's an open question, one that I think we'll have resolved very soon.

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