DETROIT — A contractor convicted of tag-teaming with a Detroit mayor to commit corruption worth millions was sentenced today to 21 years in federal prison.
Bobby Ferguson’s punishment was more than double what his attorneys had sought. It came a day after former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was sentenced to 28 years in prison, one of the longest penalties in recent cases of public corruption in the U.S.
“Bobby Ferguson was the catalyst at the center of an historic and unprecedented criminal scheme,” U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds said.
Evidence at trial showed Kilpatrick often went to bat for his buddy and punished contractors who didn’t make room for Ferguson on excavation projects. Prosecutors said $73 million of Ferguson’s $127 million in revenue from city work came through extortion.
Ferguson was convicted of racketeering conspiracy, extortion and bribery. Kilpatrick, mayor from 2002 to fall 2008, was convicted of the same crimes and more.
Ferguson’s “criminal activity stopped only because Kwame Kilpatrick was forced to resign,” the judge said.
Ferguson, like Kilpatrick, has been in custody since being convicted in March. Wearing tan prison clothes, Ferguson praised God and said everything presented in court has gone the government’s way.
“In America, it seems like genocide on black people,” said Ferguson, who is black. “I’m not trying to make this racist, I’m just telling you how I feel. ... The American dream is supposed to be prosperity, liberty. I just don’t see it that way no more, judge.”
Kilpatrick’s father, Bernard, was part of the corruption trial, too, and was convicted of a tax crime. He will be sentenced Oct. 17.