Bobby Ferguson, convicted as part of the City Hall corruption scandal with ex-mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, is asking the court to end his supervised release for the second time this year, after the city canceled $1 million in blight and tree removal contracts with his daughter’s company.
In a motion filed this week with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Ferguson asked U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Edmunds to terminate the remainder of his supervision, citing the hardships he’s experiencing as a result of the court’s supervision. This time, he asserts, “a legitimate bid” was canceled over his “role as a father.”
Ferguson cites a BridgeDetroit investigation into the contracts that his daughter, Bianca Bush, was awarded by the city of Detroit, including a link to the article, arguing to the court “…the media continues to villainize his family for using their skill set in construction to earn a legitimate income” and further claims the “alleged connection is based on nothing more than the reporter’s discovery” that Ferguson and his daughter shared office space. The city’s top lawyer canceled Bush’s contracts last month amid concerns Ferguson, who still owes the city millions in restitution, was connected to the company and profiting from the work.
BridgeDetroit reported on the separate business entities created by Ferguson and Bush three weeks after his release from federal prison. The companies — Ferguson Group V LLC and Staffing Equipment Evolution (SEE) — share a downtown mailing address, according to documents filed with the state of Michigan’s licensing and regulatory agency. The firms also share a physical address on Wyoming Street in Detroit, which are the offices of Ferguson’s former construction company, Ferguson Enterprises Inc.
Ferguson’s initial request for Edmunds to terminate his supervised release early was denied in February over $2.6 million in outstanding restitution owed to the city of Detroit. In court filings, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has accused Ferguson of shielding income and assets as a means of dodging the restitution he owes the city for his crimes.
Ferguson, in the new motion first reported by The Detroit News, is now pushing back on the judge’s earlier rationale, alleging the court misapplied legal standards and sentencing factors. Ferguson’s motion notes that federal law ensures the court’s ability to continue overseeing collection efforts, even after supervised release end Additionally, Ferguson argued that restitution should not be of concern given that over half of the $6.2 million in court-ordered restitution has been paid. However, Ferguson disclosed in his motion that he intends to challenge the calculation used to determine how much he owed in the first place.
Ferguson offered BridgeDetroit’s investigation into his daughter’s city contracts as supporting evidence for the hardship he’s facing as he reintegrates and seeks meaningful employment.
Ferguson left federal prison in 2021 and returned to Detroit, eight years into a 21-year sentence for his role in the criminal enterprise Kilpatrick ran out of City Hall. Ferguson was a contractor who shook down other contractors and was convicted of bribery and extortion in 2013.
His supervised release required that he get a job, report his income, and make payments on his restitution.
Detroit Corporation Counsel Conrad Mallett canceled Bush’s contracts last month, noting the City Charter prohibits Detroit from entering into contracts with businesses that owe the city money. John Roach, a spokesman for Mayor Mike Duggan, has said Ferguson’s relationship with Bush’s company was not disclosed during procurement but that the city’s Law Department later received “credible information that SEE was a company affiliated with Bobby Ferguson.”
BridgeDetroit’s examination of city demolition contracts also prompted an investigation by the city’s Office of Inspector General into whether Ferguson had a stake in contracts awarded to his daughter’s business. Kamau Marable, Deputy Inspector General, told BridgeDetroit the investigation is still active and ongoing but declined to provide any additional information.
Ferguson in his motion argues to the court that “there is no credible evidence that Ferguson is connected to the company and profited from the work.”
“Rather, Ferguson is connected to his daughter and has mentored her to run a successful business. That is his role as a father,” the motion reads. He further claims that their shared address is “not nefarious,” but “simply an efficient use of office space.”
The hardships he’s now facing as a result of the recent media reports and resulting negative attention, he told the court, conflict with the intended purpose of supervised release which is “to assist defendants with reintegration into society.”
Ferguson’s motion argues the hardships can be resolved if the court terminates his supervised release and further, it will “assuage concerns of potential partners and/or employers and Ferguson can return to his previous employment and earn an income that will enable him to actually satisfy his restitution obligation once it is correctly calculated by the court.”
Ferguson did not elaborate on how his previous employment had been impacted by the city’s decision, rather, he argued potential partners were skeptical of hiring him because of public opinion.
Ferguson also alleged in his motion that 14 employees lost their jobs when the city canceled its contracts with his daughter’s business. The details of the contract that were disclosed in a routine report drafted by the council’s Legislative Policy Division indicated that SEE has 20 employees, and all of whom the division reported were Detroit residents.
In his new motion, Ferguson questions whether the decision to deny his request was in the “interest of justice,” and references a case similar to his own in which the defendant defrauded the government.
The defendant, referred to in Ferguson’s motion as “Gandy,” was sentenced to 80 months in federal prison in 2018. Gandy’s term of supervised release started in January 2022 and was recently terminated through efforts similar to Ferguson’s.
While categorically similar, there were several differences. For example, the amount of money that Gandy illegally obtained as a result of the scheme was just over $360,000. In comparison, prosecutors determined Ferguson and Kilpatrick had obtained about $72 million through the criminal enterprise they ran out of City Hall.
Gandy’s judge determined that continuing supervision was unnecessary to ensure payments continued and that it wasn’t in the “interest of justice” to continue supervision when Gandy had demonstrated that “he is now a productive, law-abiding member of society.” The same standard was not applied in Ferguson’s case, according to the argument.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office has 14 days to file a response to Ferguson’s motion. Edmunds will make a decision to approve or deny Ferguson’s request without a hearing, according to a notice filed by the court. When Ferguson requested the same relief earlier this year, Edmunds issued an opinion and order three weeks after it was filed with the court.