October 8, 2013 at 11:08 pm

Ferguson sentence should not top 10 years, his lawyer says

Bobby Ferguson (David Coates / The Detroit News)

Detroit— Kwame Kilpatrick’s pal and co-defendant Bobby Ferguson should not spend more than 10 years in federal prison for racketeering and other crimes, his lawyers said Tuesday.

There is wide disagreement between Ferguson’s defense team and federal prosecutors, who last week urged U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds to send the contractor to prison for up to 28 years. He is scheduled to be sentenced Friday, one day after Kilpatrick.

Ferguson’s lawyers blamed the media for demonizing their client, accused prosecutors of mischaracterizing his criminal record and offering a one-sided story to lead to a stiffer prison sentence.

“Mr. Ferguson is now before this Court to be sentenced against the backdrop of inflamed passions and vitriol hatred,” Ferguson lawyer Gerald Evelyn wrote. “With Detroit in peril, strapped with an emergency manager and mired in bankruptcy, there is a belief that Mr. Ferguson and Mr. Kilpatrick must be held responsible for all our city’s wrongs. The extraordinary historical inaccuracies aside, this court must resist the temptation to get caught up in the groundswell of this passion and zealotry.”

Ferguson, 44, was found guilty of nine criminal charges in March following the City Hall corruption trial. He is being detained along with Kilpatrick at a federal prison in Milan.

Defense lawyers also filed a dozen letters from friends and relatives, including Ferguson’s children.

In one letter, daughter Brittany Ferguson praised her father’s work ethic and impact he has had on his family.

“I never thought I would have to visit my father in jail and I especially never imagined my daughter having to visit her grandfather in jail,” Brittany Ferguson, 23, wrote. “Life isn’t fair and I’ve learned that. I really miss my dad and sometimes I cry because I can’t call him and see him whenever I like.”

She called her father a hero and a protector.

“I am blessed and thankful to have a loving, strong, caring and disciplinary man in my life,” she wrote. “He showed me what my sisters and I should expect in a man.

Prosecutors disagree and portrayed Ferguson as a violent, scheming felon who, along with Kilpatrick, extorted tens of millions of dollars out of contractors by forcing them to hire Ferguson to work on city contracts.

“While Ferguson relied on Kilpatrick to back up his threats, Ferguson drove the extortion machine,” prosecutors wrote last week. “With ruthless abandon, he bullied local businessmen and women, threatening to cancel their contracts and promising to visit financial harm upon them if they did not accede to his demands.”

rsnell@detroitnews.com
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