Marilyn 'Cookie' Ferguson (Detroit News file photo)
Detroit — Convicted contractor Bobby Ferguson’s ex-wife and children were in federal court Wednesday fighting to recover their family home, money and construction equipment seized by the government during the yearslong City Hall corruption investigation.
Ferguson’s relatives have filed claims for the property, saying they own a $330,000 home on Bretton in Rosedale Park, more than $460,000 seized by the FBI and 16 pieces of construction equipment.
The hearing in front of U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds added a personal postscript to a corruption case that ended with Ferguson and close friend, former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick sentenced to decades in prison.
Ex-wife Marilyn “Cookie” Ferguson’s lawyer, Todd Russell Perkins, would not say how desperately the family needs the money after the government seized millions from Bobby Ferguson and his companies during a years-long investigation and two federal criminal cases.
“That’s a very personal question,” Perkins said outside federal court.
Edmunds gave the government and lawyers for Ferguson’s ex-wife and three daughters 90 days to negotiate a possible settlement that would spare the home from being liquidated.
Ferguson, 45, the notorious head of construction company Ferguson Enterprises, received a 21-year sentence and is incarcerated in South Carolina. Kilpatrick, 44, is serving 28 years in an Oklahoma prison.
As part of his conviction, Bobby Ferguson agreed to forfeit his interest in the home, the money, 15 pieces of heavy equipment and a Riverfront Towers condominium.
But in December, his family staked claims to the assets.
“Ferguson Enterprise’s (sic) was a family-owned business and being married to and mother to a minor child who is not of age to claim his interest in any of his family assets I feel I naturally have an interest in property or equipment owned by Bobby W. Ferguson if it will in any way help with the support of my son,” Ferguson’s 47-year-old ex-wife wrote in a court filing. She divorced Bobby Ferguson in February.
Ferguson’s three daughters also filed claims.
“This money was put (away) for me and/or written to me,” daughter Brandy Ferguson, 26, wrote.
Brittany Ferguson, 24, said she has lived in the home for 15 years.
“I contribute to the maintenance and upkeep of the property,” she wrote. “The bills are kept up with money that I pay as rent.”
The home and equipment was purchased before Bobby Ferguson committed any “alleged” crimes, daughter Bianca Ferguson, 21, wrote.
“Seizure of this property will cause undue hardship on defendant’s children ... spouse and grandchildren,” she wrote.
Bobby Ferguson was sentenced in October 2013 to 21 years in prison, one of the longest sentences in a public corruption case in U.S. history. Edmunds said he was the “muscle and the money” behind Kilpatrick’s long-running criminal racket inside City Hall.
Ferguson was ordered to pay almost $6.3 million in restitution to the city even though he has claimed to be penniless. But the night before jurors reached guilty verdicts in the City Hall corruption trial, the FBI obtained a search warrant and seized almost $700,000 from accounts linked to the Detroit contractor.