County administrators charged with extortion, theft, obstruction of justice

Wayne County’s chief information officer was charged with extortion and bribery in connection with a program receiving federal funds, and obstruction of justice in a criminal complaint issued Feb. 15, United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced.

The county’s director of Enterprise Application, Zayd Alleban, of Dearborn, also was charged with obstruction of justice in the same complaint.

The charges are the first by federal prosecutors in a corruption probe of county government that began four months ago.

Tahir Kazmi, 52, of Rochester Hills, and Alleban, 33, are accused of obstructing justice by pressuring a county vendor to lie to FBI agents and manufacture evidence to impede the FBI’s investigation into possible corruption in county government.

Kazmi, who currently is on leave, has been the county CIO since 2008. Alleban is employed in Kazmi’s department.

Kazmi also is charged with extorting the vendor by demanding items of value, such as cash and expensive trips, in return for county contracts. He also is charged with accepting bribes from the vendor to gain his influence in the granting of county contracts.

FBI and IRS agents executed a search warrant on Kazmi’s home Feb. 9. The warrant targeted Wayne County contracts, and any documents belonging to Wayne County or taken from Wayne County. It also sought records and communications relating to bribery, kickbacks and extortion involving Wayne County government.

Complaint and arrest warrants were executed Feb. 15.

“We are turning over every stone in this case, and anyone who tampers with our investigation will be charged with obstruction of justice,” McQuade said. “We hope that these charges will encourage others to come forward and assist us in our investigation rather than impede it.

“The citizens of Wayne County are entitled to a thorough investigation to ensure that they are receiving the honest government they deserve.”

McQuade was joined in the announcement by FBI Special Agent in Charge Andrew G. Arena and IRS Special Agent in Charge Criminal Investigation Erick Martinez.

“As this investigation continues to unfold it is imperative that anyone with knowledge of potential illegal activity within Wayne County government come forward immediately,” Arena said. “In addition, anyone who knowingly acts to obstruct justice in this case will be found and prosecuted. As always, assistance and cooperation from citizens and employees of Wayne County remains a key part of the investigation.”

“Following the money trail is crucial to uncovering all of the facts in this investigation,” Martinez said. “The taxpayers of Wayne County deserve public officials who are honest and not lured by greed,”

A complaint is only a charge and not evidence of guilt. Trial cannot be held on felony charges in a complaint. When the investigation is completed, a determination will be made whether to seek a felony indictment.