We just got through the 38-count federal indictment against former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and a handful of his cohorts, alleging that the group operated as a criminal organization that extorted tens of millions of dollars from city contractors. The indictment — against Kilpatrick, his father, a city contractor named Bobby Ferguson and two former city officials — is full of bits of conversations between the men, presumably via text message and punctuated with “Lol”s and “COOL!”s.
The indictment alleges extortion, bribery, racketeering, mail fraud and RICO conspiracy, a charge originally reserved for crime syndicates like the mafia. Kilpatrick and other city officials were allegedly in the habit of threatening to take away lucrative city contracts from firms unless they hired Ferguson at inflated rates and, in some cases, for no work at all.
In one case, Ferguson, who owned two construction firms, wanted to work on the demolition of the Book Cadillac Hotel. In order to get the lucrative sub-contract from the company managing the project, he allegedly told Kilpatrick that he was having a city official escort him to a party where officials from the management company would be. This was, according to the indictment, an attempt to let the company “know how close Ferguson was to the city administration.”
When told of the plan, Kilpatrick allegedly responded, “COOL!”
The management company still didn’t want to hire Ferguson’s company, the indictment says, so Kilpatrick told Ferguson, “Let’s get to work.” The mayor then allegedly met with representatives from the management company — in a luxury suite during a Detroit Red Wings hockey game — to let them know Ferguson was a “friend.”
So the company hired Ferguson’s company soon after, in April 2003, to remove hazardous waste even though his company didn’t have experience in that work, the feds allege. In January, the company dropped the demolition project, leaving Ferguson complaining that he was out the $300,000 his company had already spent on the job. According to the indictment, he asked Kilpatrick for help. According to the indictment, the conversation went like this (all sic):
“I have over $300,000.00 out of my pockets cash money tied up in this job,” Ferguson said.
“Its not over! We WILL have a deal,” Kilpatrick said.
“Cool,i need to recope what I spent so far,” Ferguson said.
Kilpatrick replied, “NO QUESTION!”
In May, Ferguson was still trying to get his money. From the indictment:
“I am famous now. just need to get some money,” Ferguson told Kilpatrick.
“Lol! Right. Let’s get you some,” Kilpatrick said.
But Ferguson corrected him: “Us.”