Michigan taxpayers may be on the hook for $12M after contractor accuses state of ruining her busines www.myfoxdetroit.com Bellandra Foster says she had a pretty good thing going helping to fix Michigan's roads until two state transportation officials decided to fix her. For good. Michigan taxpayers may be on the hook for $12M after contractor accuses state of ruining her business Michigan taxpayers may be on the hook for $12M after contractor accuses state of ruining her business Posted: Nov 05, 2012 8:03 PM PSTUpdated: Nov 05, 2012 8:03 PM PST By M.L. Elrick Fox 2 News Investigative Reporter DETROIT (WJBK) -- For years, Michigan governors have been trying to figure out how to hold onto the state's best and brightest and reverse the brain drain. So how is it that state officials are being accused of driving a trailblazing Ph.D. out of business and right out of Michigan? Bellandra Foster says she had a pretty good thing going helping to fix Michigan's roads until two state transportation officials decided to fix her. For good. Foster is leaving, but not by choice. "It sadden me. It angered me. It frustrated me," she said. By many measures, Foster is exceptional. She is a black female engineer in a field dominated by white men. And while others were fleeing Michigan's economic meltdown, she started a business in Detroit and she succeeded. In 2008, she had 14 employees. The Michigan Department of Transportation even named her firm Disadvantaged Business Enterprise of the Year. It was the first time they handed out that award. "I was growing, doing well. It was often said that BBF Engineering Services had the best people," Foster said. But here's where our success story hits a pothole. Just as Michigan's economy began to improve, Foster's work for MDOT began drying up, but she couldn't figure it out at first. "I had people working for me, I had people that needed jobs, so I kept bidding on work. That's what I did, I kept bidding on work," she said. But Foster did more than that. She started asking questions just like you would if some bureaucrat said that you had to give up half of a $4 million contract you had won. "I said, 'How come every time my company gets a contract, the cuts are always on the backs of my company?' He said, 'Well, I don't know anything about that.'" Soon federal investigators started asking questions, too, and they didn't like the answers they found. The feds say when Mark Steucher worked for the Michigan Department of Transportation, he changed Foster's bid evaluation to ace her out of a state contract. A federal investigator's report said Foster had the top score, but Steucher said, "oh no, I hate her" and changed it, robbing her at a shot of a $3 million deal. .