Things may be heating up for Victor Mercado - FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

Things may be heating up for Victor Mercado

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Victor Mercado stands outside a federal courthouse in Detroit on Wednesday afternoon. Victor Mercado stands outside a federal courthouse in Detroit on Wednesday afternoon.

By M.L. Elrick
FOX 2 News Investigative Reporter

DETROIT (WJBK) - We've been hearing for months that Kwame Kilpatrick, his father Bernard and best bud Bobby Ferguson may have to fight a two-front war to beat the rap on dozens of public corruption and tax charges.

But, so far, there's been nary a peep from co-defendant -- and prospective source of friendly-fire -- Victor Mercado.

Things may be heating up at the lonely end of the defense table after Wednesday, however. EPA agent Carol Paszkiewicz took the witness stand Wednesday to read several texts that prosecutors say show Ferguson, Kilpatrick and top aide Derrick Miller, known as Zeke, jousting with then-water department director Mercado as they allegedly schemed to get Ferguson more city work.

In one text from 2004, Ferguson appears to be reporting to the mayor that the water department agreed to change a date for him, but won't budge on giving him a share of a big contract that had already penciled in three non-minority firms for work.

"Just left Victor," Ferguson wrote. "The date has been changed to my benefit, but we still have problem on the big one. He thinks he is slick man with his white folks."

"His slick sh*t is running out," Kilpatrick replied. "I got his *ss on something. I ain't happy."

The feds didn't make it clear what Kilpatrick thought he had on Mercado, who resigned from his city post a couple years after that text was sent.

In another exchange sent about two weeks after the last text message, Ferguson appears to be frustrated that Mercado is refusing to give him a piece of the action.

"Victor is full of sh*t," he wrote to Kilpatrick. "He told me the ordinance didn't let him throw Posen out. That's a damn lie. We will talk tonight."

"Cool," the mayor replied.

Miller, then the city's chief administrative officer, chimed in: "That's BS. I am in DC so I will hollah tomorrow."

Not only do those texts show Mercado resisting the triumvirate's efforts, they play into the narrative his attorney, Martin Crandall, laid down in his opening statements: Victor Mercado was not a part of the "circle of trust."

Of course, the feds never said Kilpatrick and his crew trusted Mercado. They just say he did their bidding to keep his powerful post and hefty salary of more than $200,000 a year.

Pratap Rajadhyaksha, a former private contractor who oversaw a major downtown water main reconstruction project for the water department, testified that Ferguson was a source of frustration for Mercado.

"In casual conversations he expressed that he seemed to be under a lot of pressure to give Mr. Ferguson work," Rajadhyaksha said, "and he was getting tired of it."

But Ferguson got the work nonetheless, a fact that could count against Mercado.

So the question now is whether Mercado and his lawyers --  having watched the feds put a wedge between Mercado and his co-defendants -- will use this opportunity to further differentiate himself by hammering away at Hizzoner and the others.

Which raises a second question: If Mercado planned to go it alone all along, why didn't he reach a plea deal in the first place?

Follow M.L. Elrick's coverage of the Kilpatrick & Co. trial daily on FOX 2 and at www.myfoxdetroit.com. Contact him at ml.elrick@foxtv.com or via Twitter (@elrick) or Facebook. And catch him every Friday morning around 7:15 a.m. on Drew & Mike on WRIF, 101.1 FM. He is co-author of "The Kwame Sutra: Musings on Lust, Life and Leadership from Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick," available at www.kwamesutra.com. A portion of sales benefit the Eagle Sports Club and Soar Tutoring. Learn more at www.eaglesports.com.

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