Ferguson Walks: Jury Deadlocked and Judge Declares Mistrial
In an outcome that proved embarrassing and disappointing for the prosecution, a Detroit federal judge declared a mistrial late Tueday afternoon in the Bobby Ferguson bid-rigging case after the jury foreman said they were hopelessly deadlocked on every count involving every defendant.
After six days of deliberation, the jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict on Ferguson, a close friend of Kwame Kilpatrick, and business associates Calvin Hall and Michael Woodhouse and three businesses in a $12 million bid-rigging case. U.S. District Judge David Lawson, after declaring a mistrial, denied a motion by the defense to dismiss the counts outright, leaving open the possibility for a second trial.
Ferguson (pictured on the right ) departed the courthouse shortly after with his attorney Gerald Evelyn flanked on his left. He and his attorney offered no comment as a trail of reporters and photographers and tv camera people followed him down Lafayette Blvd. Other defense attorneys and Bruce Judge, one of the prosecutors, also declined comment.
Afterwards, U.S. Barbara McQuade, issued a statement saying that prosecutors would go for a retrial.
"We are disappointed that these jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict, but we appreciate their time and their work. We will try this case again because it is so important to the citizens of Detroit, who deserve so much better. We will do all we can to hold accountable defendants who are charged with cheating to obtain lucrative public contracts and then dumping contaminated soil on a housing project for low-income families just so that they can be paid to clean it up. We are confident in the merits and strength of this case."
The case in many ways about alleged corruption the ex-Kwame Kilpatrick regime, and was forerunner for the big trial in September in which Kilpatrick, his father, Ferguson and one other defendant face a host of public corruption charges.
Some had speculated that if Ferguson had been convicted, that he might consider flipping on his friend Kilpatrick to save him from doing a long bid in prison. Ferguson faced seven counts including conspiracy, money laundering and a felon in possession of a gun. Co-defendant Hall faced three counts and Woodhouse, four.
The case centered around a $12 million contract involving low-income house in Detroit. The prosecution had alleged that Ferguson rigged the bidding process to land the lucrative contract. Interestingly, both the prosecution and defense felt confident about winning as the trial proceeded.
Instead, this is likely to embolden Ferguson and Kilpatrick as well, who had reportedly been offered a fairly unappealing plea agreement that called for him to serve 15 years.