(WXYZ) - State legislators and protesters have been calling for Michigan’s Attorney General to investigate Wayne County in the wake of the severance scandal first exposed by Action News but now the Attorney General confirms he won’t be taking the case because the FBI is already investigating.
Action News Investigator Heather Catallo first broke the story about the FBI’s involvement – now Bill Schuette’s spokesman is confirming that anything that they might investigate is on hold because the FBI has already taken the case.
While the FBI will neither confirm nor deny that they’re investigating – sources are telling us, the feds are already hard at work.
The severance scandal that’s rocking Wayne County may just be the tip of the iceberg. Now the FBI is investigating what’s been going on behind closed doors at the county’s headquarters inside the Guardian Building.
“In addition to referring the case through the Prosecuting Attorneys Association, we did also refer and talk to the FBI in Detroit. And today they announced they will indeed take on the investigation, in the Mullin situation. So that case will now be in their hands, and we have absolute faith in their ability to do such an investigation,” said Attorney General Spokesman John Sellek.
The Action News Investigators first told you how Robert Ficano’s Economic Development chief, Turkia Mullin, got a $200,000 severance payout when she voluntarily quit her job. Mullin left to become CEO of Metro Airport, where she’s now making $250,000 a year. Mullin was appointed by an airport authority board with strong ties to Ficano.
FBI officials will neither confirm nor deny an investigation. Sources tell Action News that federal agents are looking into Ficano’s non-profit Wayne County Business Development Corporation fund, among other things. Action News Investigators first told you about the non-profit last year and how local companies, some with county contracts, contributed to the fund.
It’s the same kind of non-profit that tripped up former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. A federal grand jury indicted Kilpatrick for using his fund like a personal piggy bank.
After months of asking, we finally learned that Mullin also earned $75,000 a year from the non-profit while she was working for the taxpayers.
Protesters and State Rep. John Olumba (D-Detroit) have been calling on Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette to investigate Ficano, Mullin, and his other top appointees. Olumba introduced a resolution, and today the House Committee on Oversight, Reform, and Ethics heard testimony. Even though Schuette is confirming the FBI has taken the case – Olumba still would have liked the state to step in.
“People expect the FBI to step in and do their job, but I would also say it’s possibly a missed opportunity for this state government and for us in Lansing to have shown that there is something that is there in our state that needs some looking in to, that we be willing to do it,” said Olumba.
Rep. Olumba also says he thinks someone should be investigating things that won’t rise to the level of criminal acts – but could be considered professional misconduct, including some of the members of the legislature.
The Attorney General’s spokesman says Mr. Schuette commends the efforts of Rep. Olumba.
Late on Tuesday, Ficano’s spokeswoman issued this statement:
“I welcome the opportunity to clear up the misinformation that has been out in the media for weeks, and put this issue to rest once and for all. My administration and I will cooperate fully and expect to be fully exonerated.”
Action News contacted Ficano's spokeswoman, Brooke Blackwell, to ask what misinformation Ficano was referring to. Blackwell did not respond.
If you have a tip for the Action News Investigative Team, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (248) 827-9466.
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