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Wayne County Commissioners on Thursday approved an agreement to pay $395,000 to a former deputy county executive to settle a lawsuit.

During its full board meeting Thursday, the commission voted 14-1 to approve the deal with Azzam Elder, who was the top lieutenant for then-Wayne County Executive Bob Ficano until 2011. Commissioner Ilona Varga, D-Detroit, was the sole vote against the proposal.

County officials said the settlement agreement was in the county’s best interests.

“Given the substantial cost to defend with uncertain liability, a settlement in the amount of $395,000 is recommended,” Zenna Elhasan, Wayne County corporation counsel said in a Wednesday letter to the county’s chief financial officer, Tony Saunders. “An adverse judgment could reach a high six-figure sum.”

Elder filed a $25 million suit in January 2012 alleging he was forced out of his job and owed a $300,000 severance.

The suit claimed Ficano helped create more than 12 secret severance deals and his staff misled the public about a $200,000 severance awarded to former economic development director Turkia Mullin. Elder was suspended for 30 days in 2011 for his role and submitted his resignation shorty after.

Elder and Mullin — who was hired and fired as CEO of Detroit Metropolitan Airport in October 2011 — along with Ficano were the targets of a three-year federal investigation that led to charges against four former Ficano aides.

Federal prosecutors in February said they would not pursue criminal charges against Elder, Ficano or Mullin because they couldn’t find any evidence they did anything criminal.

cramirez@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2058

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