Files destroyed, altered in Wayne Co. case

April 20, 2012 at 6:06 PM
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DETROIT, April 20 (UPI) -- U.S. agents looking into allegations of a pay-to-play scheme in Michigan's Wayne County found that evidence in the case has been altered or destroyed.

Wayne County's former information technologies director Tahir Kazmi apparently told FBI agents investigating extortion in County Executive Robert Ficano's administration that county officials destroyed and altered computer files during the inquiry, The Detroit News reported Friday.

In a letter to Ficano, Kazmi's attorney claims the man was "targeted by [Ficano's] political appointees" because he informed authorities about alleged tampering with documents.

"Various persons are unlawfully altering, modifying or deleting information from the county computers," wrote attorney Joel B. Sklar. "[Kazmi] believes this to be a clear violation of both state and federal law, especially in light of the current investigations of the county by law enforcement."

Kazmi resigned from his post Feb. 7 and has since been charged with extorting $80,000 from a contractor. He's to appear in U.S. District Court next Thursday.

Peter Henning, a former federal prosecutor and Wayne State University law professor, said Kazmi's allegations should be taken with a "small grain of salt or perhaps a large one."

However, federal agents may be concern that a "pattern" is developing, Henning said.

"They already were concerned when Azzam Elder's agreement didn't show up," Henning said, referring to a severance agreement promising former Deputy Executive Elder at least $300,000 that was missing from personnel files. "These types of allegations [from Kazmi] are going to make them even more concerned."

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