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Feds slam Kilpatrick crony's 2,100-year plan to repay Detroit taxpayers


Detroit — It appears contractor Bobby Ferguson is concealing income since being freed early from a 21-year prison sentence for helping former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick turn City Hall into a criminal enterprise and is trying to avoid paying $2.6 million in restitution to taxpayers, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

The U.S. Attorney's Office leveled the accusation while fighting an attempt by Ferguson to be released from court oversight that prosecutors say is necessary to ensure the Detroit businessman makes some restitution payments.

In the court filing, prosecutors revealed Ferguson failed to make restitution payments this month and in December despite an obligation to pay $100 per month — a figure Assistant U.S. Attorney David Gardey called "paltry." Under that court-imposed plan, it would take Ferguson more than 2,100 years to repay taxpayers.

"As was apparent from the testimony and evidence at trial, Ferguson is an ambitious, greedy, and hardworking individual. Somehow, this drive and energy have failed to produce any income over the course of 21 months," Gardey wrote. "It seems more likely that Ferguson is continuing to conceal and shield his income from his restitutionobligations."

Ferguson and Kilpatrick are trying to shed court oversight after receiving unlikely breaks from decades-long prison sentences imposed for one of the largest public corruption scandals in U.S. history. Prosecutors are fighting requests from both men.

Ferguson, 54, was released from federal prison on compassionate grounds in April 2021 as prison officials and judges tried to stem the spread of COVID-19 and protect inmates. President Donald Trump commuted Kilpatrick's 28-year sentence in January 2021.

Ferguson was convicted of nine felonies, including racketeering, extortion and bribery, after a six-month trial in March 2013 featuring testimony about how he extorted tens of millions of dollars in city contracts and received at least $73 million.

Centuries-long restitution payments are not unprecedented. Kilpatrick friend and administration official Derrick Miller was given 100 years to pay taxes to the IRS. U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds set the 100-year payment plan after she spared Miller from spending a day in prison in 2014.

Miller, the city's chief administrative officer, pleaded guilty to taking $115,000 in kickbacks from a real estate broker and sharing the cash with Kilpatrick. He also pleaded guilty to failing to report more than $46,000 in kickbacks on his tax return and a $568,000 consulting fee related to a Detroit pension deal.

In all, Miller was ordered to pay $240,858 restitution at the rate of $200 a month.

In his request to be free of court oversight, Ferguson argued he has complied with the conditions of supervised release, served as a business mentor and is no longer a threat to the community.

"Notably, Ferguson does not claim that his activities have been negatively impacted in any way by his continuedsupervision," Gardey wrote. "Simply stated, Ferguson cannot be trusted, and this court should maintain supervision so that it can enforce its orders and ensure compliance."

rsnell@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @robertsnellnews