Ficano Named In Ex-Deputy’s Whistleblower Suit

DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – On the same day the Wayne County Commission voted to outlaw severance pay, the county’s former deputy executive is claiming in a lawsuit his ex-boss tried to cover up severance deals for top appointees.

Azzam Elder said he resigned from his post after refusing to go along with a plan he says was “concocted” by County Executive Robert Ficano.  The whistleblower suit was filed Wednesday in Wayne County Circuit Court and also names two county commissioners.

Ficano suspended Elder last fall for his deputy’s role in a $200,000 severance deal paid out to former development chief Turkia Mullin. Elder said Ficano didn’t want “the truth” about the payment to Mullin and other severance deals to be made public.

Ficano said Thursday in a statement that Elder “continuously refuses to accept responsibility for his own actions.”

Meantime, an apparent bid to win back the public trust after the high profile scandal, the Wayne County Commissioners have voted to make it illegal to give severance pay to any county employee.

WWJ Newsradio 950 spoke with Comission Chairman Gary Woronchak who helped draft the resolution with Commissioner Bernard Parker.

“With Commissioner Parker’s work and working together with him I think we’ve put together something that speaks to the administration saying this thing will never been allowed again,” said Woronchak. “It assures the people of Wayne County that the Commission has taken action to prevent this.”

Commissioners say they were not aware Ficano’s staff had paid Mullin those thousands after she left the job to become Director of Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Mullin later returned the money after heavy criticism.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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