Ex-Wayne County CIO pleads guilty to accepting bribes

Tahir Kazmi accused of pressuring county vendor to lie to FBI agents during their investigation into possible county government

Published On: Jul 26 2012 11:36:21 AM EDT   Updated On: Jul 26 2012 05:41:56 PM EDT
Tahir Kazmi
DETROIT -

Tahir Kazmi Wayne County's former chief of technology has pleaded guilty in federal court.

Tahir Kazmi was accused of pressuring a county vendor to lie to FBI agents during their investigation into possible county government.

READ: Criminal complaint

He pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of accepting bribes and has been ordered to forfeit $11,294 in money that the feds seized during their investigation. He had originally been charged earlier this year with extortion, theft and obstruction of justice.

He now faces up to $250,000 in fines. He is agreeing to cooperate with an investigation and testify, which could help his prison time get cut down at his sentencing.

Kazmi had been CIO of the county since 2008.

In his plea, he admitted that between 2009 and 2011 he accepted bribes from a private contractor in the form of cash, trips to Hawaii, Turkey, and Florida, and other things of value all totaling approximately $70,000. The private contractor who paid the bribes to Kazmi had multi-million dollar technology contracts with Wayne County.

Another person in Kazmi's department, Zayd Allebban, who was the county's director of enterprise application, is also charged with obstruction of justice.

Under FBI supervision, an un-named contractor began recording a series of conversation with Kazmi and Allebban with a hidden recording device.

In a meeting earlier this year outside a bagel shop in Farmington Hills, Kazmi is recorded saying, “ You’re not sitting here on behalf of somebody?” The contractor says, “No.” Kazmi goes on to say, “Because the only way I can go down is this conversation.”

Tahir Kazmi outside court As chief of technology, Kazmi supervised all employees in the department and had specialized knowledge of computers. 

The FBI said they had interviewed someone who worked closely with the chief of I-T who says they were approached by Kazmi back in October.  Kazmi had requested a copy of the hard drive that had been taken off the computers of person A and person B in the complaint. Two people Local 4 Defenders identify as Azzam Elder and Turkia Mullin. This was allegedly after the severance package scandal was exposed and the FBI moved in. 

Mullins was fired three months after her appointment last year to the Wayne County Airport Authority Board after it was revealed she got a $200,000 severance deal when she left her job as Wayne County’s economic development director for the CEO position. Mullin later agreed to repay it and gave the county a check for the after-tax amount of $135,900.

Ficano has said he won't resign and has done nothing wrong.