Bobby Ferguson (Detroit News file)
Detroit — Bobby Ferguson got dumped by his criminal defense lawyer Friday, meaning he likely will be retried on federal bid-rigging charges with a new attorney.
Lawyer Gerald Evelyn notified a federal court judge Friday that he is withdrawing from the bid-rigging case, a move that could delay the start of the trial in May.
The move, which must be approved by U.S. District Judge David Lawson, would mark a high-profile split between a veteran criminal defense attorney and his long-time client, who was convicted last week on racketeering charges in the City Hall corruption trial.
Evelyn did not explain the move publicly, but he suffered an undisclosed medical condition last fall, which prompted a two-week delay in the corruption trial. By quitting, he would avoid going through a third trial with Ferguson in less than a year.
Ferguson has agreed to let his lawyer withdraw from the bid-rigging case, according to a filing in federal court.
Last week, Evelyn said Ferguson might not be able to afford paying lawyers after bankrolling legal teams in the corruption and original bid-rigging trial. The government also has seized Ferguson's homes and about $4 million.
Evelyn defended Ferguson in the original bid-rigging case, which ended in a mistrial last summer. Months later, he defended the contractor in the corruption trial, which lasted almost six months.
In one of his final acts as Ferguson's lawyer, Evelyn on Friday asked to have the contractor released from federal prison on bond pending sentencing in the City Hall corruption case.
Ferguson's lawyer said his client is not a danger to the community or a flight risk, particularly since the FBI seized his passport in September 2010.
Several relatives and a friend have offered five homes as collateral, lawyer Gerald Evelyn wrote.
Ferguson's mom offered her Detroit home and one in Alabama.
"The pledges of these five homes as surety tip the scales in favor of Mr. Ferguson being released on bond pending sentencing," Evelyn wrote. "Quite simply, were Mr. Ferguson to flee, his family members and friend would suffer dire consequences by losing their homes."
U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds should consider placing Ferguson on a real-time GPS tether and home confinement, Evelyn argued.
Prosecutors have rejected the request, according to the filing in federal court.
Ferguson, 44, was found guilty of nine counts, including racketeering conspiracy. Like Kilpatrick, he faces 20 years or more in prison.
Ferguson is set to be retried in May on federal bid-rigging charges.
In ordering Kilpatrick and Ferguson imprisoned last week, Edmunds said it was a "close call," a quote Evelyn cited in the filing Friday.
Edmunds said Kilpatrick and Ferguson, both convicted felons, failed to convince her they wouldn't flee. They also failed to convince her they aren't a danger to the community.
Under the law, the presumption was for both men to be imprisoned immediately. Lawyers for both men failed to overcome that presumption, the judge said last week.
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