Kilpatrick, Inc. case can be addictive, as Hardiman finds out - KMSP-TV

Kilpatrick, Inc. case can be addictive, as Hardiman finds it hard to say good-bye

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By M.L. Elrick
FOX 2 News Investigative Reporter

DETROIT (WJBK) -- You'd think Thomas Hardiman would have had enough of federal court after stepping down from the witness stand Thursday.

Hardiman testified for five days -- a virtual legal mini-marathon -- but the Kilpatrick, Inc. trial took even more of his life than that.

For starters, prosecutors had him cued up for two days before he actually took the stand. We'd see Hardiman floating around the courthouse, waiting for the coach to call in the right hander.

After he got the nod, three weeks passed before he was able to step down for the last time, his stay with us extended by the interregnum caused by Gerald Evelyn's sudden illness and health issues.

Nevertheless, Hardiman hung around the ground floor of the courthouse after answering his last question.

He chatted with reporters, good-naturedly letting them know whether he thought they had been fair or too hard on him. (For the record, he deemed the fair and balanced Team Fox 2 coverage fair and balanced.) He grabbed a snack from the coffee shop.

He shook hands and had a cordial conversation with Evelyn, his chief persecutor when he wasn't answering questions from the chief prosecutor.

And he even had some fairly polite interaction with Bobby Ferguson and Kwame Kilpatrick, the two men he told jurors were responsible for the "culture of fear" that essentially stripped millions of dollars in profit from his companies. (Hardiman testified that Ferguson demanded cash and that he included Ferguson's companies in water department deals to keep him from using Hizzoner to put the kibosh on deals involving Hardiman's Lakeshore Engineering Services.) As Kilpatrick and Ferguson hustled back to court at the end of the first break after Hardiman stepped down, Kilpatrick turned and impishly called over his shoulder, "Hey, Tom, go home!"

Hardiman held up his hand, five fingers splayed, and called back, "Five days!"

Perhaps it's because he's not worried what Kilpatrick will do now that he's not mayor, or perhaps these proceedings are just addictive, but Hardiman DIDN'T go home.

Instead, he grabbed a seat in the public overflow room and watched his partner and friend, Avinash Rachmale, take his turn on the hot seat.

Due in part to the affect those hard courtroom pews are having on my delicate behind, I'm hoping Rachmale doesn't break Hardiman's ironman record

In any case, I'd bet a courthouse coffee shop chicken salad sandwich -- a bargain at $2.75! -- that when Rachmale is done, he'll hit the door without so much as a glance back over his shoulder.

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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