Wayne County's chief information officer charged with extortion, bribery

Tahir Kazmi, Zayd Allebban face federal charges

Published On: Feb 15 2012 04:18:59 PM EST   Updated On: Feb 16 2012 09:33:08 AM EST
DETROIT -

Wayne County's chief information officer is accused of pressuring a county vendor to lie to FBI agents during their investigation into possible corruption in Wayne County government.

Tahir Kazmi, 52, is charged with extortion and bribery. The county's director of enterprise application, 33-year-old Zayd Allebban, is also charged with obstruction of justice.

READ: Criminal complaint

Kazmi, who is currently off on leave, has been CIO of the county since 2008. Allebban is employed in Kazmi's department. Kazmi is also charged with extorting the vendor by demanding items of value, such as cash and expensive trips, in return for county contracts. He is also charged with accepting bribes from the vendor to gain his influence in the granting of county contracts.

Under FBI supervision, the un-named contractor began recording a series of conversation with Kazmi and Allebban with a hidden recording device.  In a meeting just a few weeks ago outside a bagel shop in Farmington Hills, there’s an exchange.  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.”

And then there’s this, as chief of technology, Kazmi supervised all employees in the department and had specialized knowledge of computers.  Last month the FBI 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. 

Kazmi is also accused of forcing the contractor to pay for his children’s cell phone. He’s also accused of making the contractor give up 49% of their business to Kazmi’s brother-in-law.

Kazmi was on leave, but resigned after the federal charges dropped. Allebban has been suspended without pay.

United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, Barbara McQuade said agents of the FBI and IRS executed a search warrant on Kazmi's Rochester Hills home on Feb. 9. The search warrant targeted Wayne County contracts, and any documents, in whatever form, belonging to Wayne County or taken from Wayne County. It also sought any and all records and communications relating to bribery, kickbacks and extortion involving Wayne County government.

Complaint and arrest warrants were executed Wednesday.

"We have been fully cooperating and if somebody did something wrong then we're going to hold them accountable," Ficano said

For a closer look watch: Retired FBI agent addresses scandals rocking Detroit