August 2, 2012 at 9:42 am

Feds hit former Ficano aide with new obstruction charges

Federal prosecutors and the FBI wanted Zayd Allebban to strike a plea deal after charging him in a criminal complaint in February, his lawyer said Wednesday. (U.S. Marshal Service)

Detroit— A federal grand jury indicted a former Wayne County official Wednesday on charges he conspired to obstruct justice and falsified documents to hide a bribery scheme.

The indictment applies new pressure against Zayd Allebban, who was originally charged five months ago with obstruction of justice amid an ongoing FBI probe of Executive Robert Ficano's administration .

Federal prosecutors and the FBI wanted Allebban to strike a plea deal. He wouldn't, his lawyer said Wednesday.

"I think they're upset he didn't plead guilty when they wanted us to," the lawyer, Haytham Faraj, said.

The indictment adds a conspiracy charge and three counts of falsifying documents to conceal a bribery scheme by friend and supervisor, Tahir Kazmi.

Allebban , 33 , Wayne County's former director of enterprise application, is to be arraigned at 1 p.m. today in federal court.

He faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, if convicted.

"Public officials who illegally enrich themselves will be detected and brought to justice," U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said in a statement. "Efforts to conceal their crimes will bring additional charges and higher penalties."

A spokeswoman for Ficano said the indictment was "not unexpected."

"We've cooperated with the investigation from the beginning and this takes us one step closer to putting this behind us," Ficano spokeswoman June West said.

Allebban, who was fired March 9, is accused of conspiring with Kazmi by trying to persuade a private contractor to lie to FBI agents and provide phony information to the grand jury. The News has identified the contractor as Philip Shisha of Strategic Business Partners.

Shisha is one of the largest donors to Ficano's political action committee. Shisha gave it $20,000 in 2011, records show.

"Allebban and Kazmi sought to conceal the fact that the contractor had given Kazmi tens of thousands of dollars in cash and trips to Hawaii, Turkey and Florida," prosecutors said Wednesday.

rsnell@detnews.com

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