Key business owners to testify this week in Kwame Kilpatrick's federal trial

By Kevin Dietz, Local 4 Defenders, @KDietzLocal4
Published On: Oct 23 2012 05:24:46 PM EDT
Updated On: Oct 23 2012 05:48:55 PM EDT

Federal prosecutors poured out details in court of an elaborate pay-to-play scheme for contracts in Detroit.

DETROIT -

Lakeshore Engineering and A&H Contractors had a very cozy relationship with the Kwame Kilpatrick administration.

The companies donated thousands of dollars to Kilpatrick and Caroline Cheeks Kilpatrick's campaigns. A&H put Bernard Kilpatrick's ex-wife on the board of directors.

Kilpatrick trial turns to city contract bids

Lakeshore hired Kwame Kilpatrick's one-time deputy mayor, Anthony Adams, after he left the Detroit's water department. Lakeshore also donated $25,000 for Kilpatrick's inaugural celebration.

The city of Detroit used Lakeshore property to house a police precinct and political offices.

"Who did these people know? How did they actually get in line to get these jobs?" said Andy Arena, of the Detroit Crime Commission.

Lakeshore boss Avinash Rachmale and A&H boss Thomas Hardiman worked together for years before separating their companies. Both are on the witness list in Kilpatrick's federal trial. They will testify this week.

Lakeshore received nearly $150 million in city work. Most of it was from the Detroit water department. They hired Hardiman's company as a subcontractor. Kwame Kilpatrick signed off on a multi-million-dollar sewer contract with Lakeshore, bypassing City Council and the water board.

"The government's going to try to show that, 'Hey listen, when we boil this down for the person sitting on their living room couch, this person got the job because he was a favorite with the mayor,'" said legal expert Todd Flood.

Lakeshore also had a relationship with Kilpatrick's best friend, Bobby Ferguson. Ferguson was hired by Lakeshore to do millions of dollars worth of subcontracting.

Now, it's time for the jury to hear from the owners of these two companies. Were they forced to hire Ferguson as part of an extortion plot, as prosecutors say, or did they hire him because they needed to partner with a minority company to get the work?

"Realistically, I think what the defense is going to show is that this is the normal course of business," said Flood.

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