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Bobby Ferguson Adds Lawyer for Kwame Kilpatrick Corruption Case

By Tresa Baldas – Detroit Free Press

After nearly being convicted of bid-rigging, Bobby Ferguson is arming himself with more lawyers to defend him in perhaps the biggest legal fight of his life: the upcoming public corruption trial involving ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

The latest face to join Ferguson’s legal team is Miami attorney Susan Van Dusen, who helped defend infamous mobster boss John Gotti in the 1992 racketeering murder trial.

“It’s probably the smartest thing he’s done in his life,” nationally known defense expert Albert Krieger said of Ferguson hiring Van Dusen.

“I’ve known Susan for over 30 years…. She has participated in some of the heaviest trials. I’ve said on many occasions her IQ is like a telephone number, which probably says it all,” said Krieger, a past president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers who defended Gotti alongside Van Dusen.

According to records filed Monday in U.S. District Court, Van Dusen is the third lawyer hired by Ferguson to represent him in the upcoming racketeering trial. She will serve as co-counsel, alongside Gerald Evelyn, a prominent Detroit defense attorney, and Michael Rataj. Rataj most recently represented Hutaree defendant Tina Stone, one of six militia members acquitted of all charges in a domestic terrorism case.

Rataj said one lawyer alone can’t handle the case, given its complexity and the mountain of evidence — including 370,000 text messages and scores of wiretap recordings.

“It’s a racketeering case, and racketeering cases by their very nature are complex,” Rataj said. “There are a lot of different allegations in this case, and it’s just too much for one person to handle, bottom line.”

Van Dusen was not available for comment Monday.

Ferguson’s bid-rigging case ended in a mistrial June 27 when the jury deadlocked. According to several jurors, the panel voted 10-1 to convict Ferguson on at least four of the counts.

The government will retry the case, but not until after the federal racketeering trial. Ferguson, Kilpatrick, Kilpatrick’s father, Bernard, and ex-water boss Victor Mercado are charged with running a criminal enterprise out of the mayor’s office to enrich themselves.

Of the four defendants, Ferguson is the only one paying for his own attorneys. The trial is scheduled to start Sept. 6. Jury selection is to start Aug. 8.

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