Bobby Ferguson, the city contractor and good buddy of ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, was sentenced to 21 years in prison in 2013 for public corruption. He was a co-defendant in the case with Kilpatrick, who got a 28-year term.
In January, President Donald Trump commuted Kilpatrick's sentence to time served, and freed the ex-mayor.
Now, Ferguson, 52, who was convicted of bribery, racketeering and other charges, is asking the federal court for a "compassionate release" based, in good part, on Kilpatrick's release.
"Mr. Ferguson’s sentence was too long as compared with his co-defendant, Kwame Kilpatrick, and with other defendants convicted of similar crimes," Ferguson's attorneys Michael Rataj and Gerald Evelyn write in a motion filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Detroit. "Indeed, the commutation of Mr. Kilpatrick’s sentence by the Executive Branch, from 28 years to 8 years, amplifies the 'extraordinary and compelling reasons' to grant Mr. Ferguson’s motion for compassionate release."
The motion notes that he's been a model inmate and he suffers from "significant medical conditions that increase his risk " during the pandemic.
"Again, the fact that Mr. Kilpatrick is now a free man and Mr. Ferguson still has to serve 10 more years is a sentencing disparity (created entirely by the Executive) that cannot be countenanced by this Honorable Court. Constitutional precepts of fundamental fairness and justice for all mandates Mr. Ferguson’s compassionate release."
Federal authorities alleged that Ferguson received $127 million worth of city contracts of which $73 million was awarded illegally. The government charged that he shared some of the illegal profits with Kilpatrick.
Unlike Kilpatrick, Ferguson admits wrongdoing.
In Tuesday's motion he "acknowledges and takes no issue with the fact that there are consequences for bad choices. Mr. Ferguson is remorseful for his actions. He understands that his crimes were serious and that he had to pay his debt to society. However, a sentence that is excessive in light of the seriousness of the offense promotes disrespect for the law and provides unjust punishment."
The filing says that Ferguson spent the last four years at federal prision in Elkton in Ohio. Initially, he was the No. 2 maintenance orderly for the prison chapel, and is now No. 1 maintenance orderly and supervises a team of 30 inmates.
He's also "logged hundreds of hours in educational courses," including African American History, computer skills, drug education, HIV/AIDS awareness, parenting skills, creative writing, music classes, stress and anger management.
U.S. Attorney's Office in Detroit said Tuesday night that it will respond to Ferguson's request with a motion in court. The office had continuously defended Kilpatrick's 28-year sentence as being just.
The Detroit Free Press reported on the filing first.