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Defenders: Did Ficano make secret settlement?

Defenders dig deeper into suspected payoff

DETROIT – The Local 4 Defenders were the first to uncover a possible secret settlement between Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano and a woman who has accused him of misdeeds in the office.

The county has refused to comment on the case. They won't comment about how much may have been paid to make it go away.

But now, a federal judge is deciding whether to spill the beans on the "secret" deal.

Wayne County activist Robert Davis is trying to shed light on the Ficano administration. He has demanded to know more about a federal lawsuit filed by former Wayne County Mental Health Director Patti Kukula. Kukula's suit claimed Ficano inappropriately used money from her department to pay members of his executive staff.

She threatened to go to authorities. However, the case was suddenly settled.

"Something stinks at the Guardian Building ... ," Davis said. " ... when they are forcing workers to take big cuts and spending money to pay people to keep quiet."

He calls it "hush money" paid with Wayne County tax dollars.

"My sources tell me it was $1 million," Davis said.

The Defenders asked Ficano how much he paid Kukula and why. He hasn't said why, saying the federal judge ordered all details remain confidential.

Davis told the judge on Wednesday that it was public money and that the public has the right to know how and why it was spent.

Both sides are scheduled to be in court Jan. 9. At that time, Judge Bernard Friedman could order the documents be released immediately, demand they stay confidential or refer the matter to a Wayne County judge.