Beleaguered former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was hit with an additional federal charge this week, as federal prosecutors allege that he and his friend Bobby Ferguson extorted a city towing contractor for around $90,000.
On Wednesday, Kilpatrick and Ferguson were slapped with an additional charge of extortion for putting pressure on a local towing company that had a number of contracts with the Detroit Police Department — contracts that Kilpatrick, as mayor, was in charge of overseeing.
According to a superseding second indictment, beginning in February 2003, members of the Kilpatrick enterprise directed an associate of Kilpatrick to obtain around $9,000 from an unnamed towing contractor. In July 2004, the same contractor gave $25,000 to a PAC, “with instructions that the PAC give the money to Kwame Kilpatrick’s campaign,” which it did.
Though the contractor is unnamed, Tresa Baldas of the Detroit Free-Press writes that “according to state campaign finance records, on July 14, 2004, Gasper Fiore, the owner of Boulevard and Trumbull Towing, donated $25,000 to the Allen Brothers political action committee. That same day, records show, the Allen Brothers PAC donated $25,000 to the Kilpatrick campaign.”
In 2005, the indictment says, Ferguson told the contractor to give him $9,500, and the contractor “complied in order to prevent Ferguson from using his influence with Kwame Kilpatrick to adversely affect the towing contractor’s business with the Detroit Police Department.”
In 2005, Kilpatrick had the Detroit Police Department add the contractor’s companies to its “tow lists,” which effectively increased business for the contractor. Then, in May 2008, Ferguson shook down the towing contractor for $50,000 — though he initially demanded $100,000 — which he then allegedly shared with Kilpatrick.
Kilpatrick, his father, Bernard Kilpatrick, Miller, Ferguson and the former head of Detroit’s water and sewage department Victor Mercado were indicted in December, 2010 under the RICO Act, regarding an alleged plot to extort millions from city contractors. They collectively face 37 counts of corruption, bribery and racketeering.
Kilpatrick previously did jail time after, in January 2008, a series of steamy text messages between he and his Chief of Staff Christine Beatty contradicted both of their testimonies under oath that they had not had an affair. Kilpatrick pleaded guilty to perjury and obstruction of justice, and then did more jail time for violating the terms of his parole.