Federal agents don't find key document in Wayne County probe

FBI: Elder's $300K severance was not in his personnel file

Published On: Jan 17 2012 06:47:16 PM EST   Updated On: Jan 17 2012 07:15:43 PM EST
Azzam Elder
DETROIT -

Robert Ficano at auto show

Sources have confirmed that federal agents did not find a key document which they subpoenaed in their investigation into Wayne County government.

A $300,000 severance deal for former Deputy Executive Azzam Elder was not in his personnel file. The document surfaced last week when Elder sued the county, claiming Executive Robert Ficano was hiding about 15 severance agreements.

Ficano, during an appearance at the Detroit auto show Tuesday afternoon, said reasons for the document not being in Elder's file would be a matter of speculation.

"We are turning over hundreds of thousands of documents and emails" Ficano said. "A process is set up with federal authorities and they are happy with it. We are continuously doing it. We haven’t completed it. They know that."

The FBI would not comment. Ficano would not discuss the reasons behind Elder's severance agreement and a sweetened pension that could have given Elder about $150,000 in annual retirement income.

Peter Henning, a professor at the Wayne State University School of Law and a former federal prosecutor, said an obstruction of justice charge is unlikely, even if the severance agreement was missing from Elder's file. 

"The concern for the prosecutors now is going to be what else isn't there?" Henning said. "What else didn't we receive? So they're going to be suspicious. Do we have to go back in and look again?"