DETROIT - Open arguments started Wednesday in the case of Zayd Allebban.
He is the 34-year-old former Wayne County Director of Enterprise Application in the I.T. department and friend of former Wayne County I.T. Director Tahir Kazmi. Kazmi has pleaded guilty to taking bribes and faces sentencing next month in that case.
Allebban is on trial charged with attempting to help Kazmi cover up money he received from friend and businessman Phillip Shisha, owner of Strategis Business Partners, a Wayne County Vendor of software services.
The prosecution began its case by saying Allebban attempted covering up payments Shisha gave to Kazmi, roughly $70,000 worth of cash and trips to Hawaii, Turkey and Florida. The Feds told of several incidences where Allebban met with Shisha attempting to cover up the money trail.
Those conversations held at a coffee shop and in Allebban's car were recorded by the F.B.I. and several recordings were played for the jury during opening. At one point, the prosecution contends Allebban delivered $14,000 in cash to Shisha for Kazmi and helped author a bogus receipt that was intended to create a legitimate reason for money changing hands.
The first witness was the head of the F.B.I's public corruption task force.
Allebban's attorney Hayden Faraj countered by saying Feds' case is not a case at all because his client did not know about any wrongdoing, received no benefit from Kazmi and Shisha's relationship and had no intention of wrongdoing. He wrote on a presentation board "without an intention of obstruction there can be NO conviction."
Faraj said Allebban was a friend of both Kazmi and Shisha and had no reason to suspect a pay for play scheme.
The jury consists of eight men and six women. There is a dispute whether Kazmi will testify in this trial as he has concerns about self-incrimination if he does. Judge Stephen Murphy has yet to rule whether he will be required to appear. Phillip Shisha is expected to testify.
The case should take several days.
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