Fmr. Ficano fundraiser denies wrongdoing; invokes 5th Amendment rights to avoid some questions

(WXYZ) - A deposition released Wednesday details the testimony of a former Wayne County aide, raising new questions about political work being done on county time.

For years, Nader Fakhouri was Wayne County Executive Bob Ficano's top political fundraiser. He was on the hot seat last month, being questioned as part of a whistle blower lawsuit filed by former county appointee James Wallace.

Wallace used to work for Bob Ficano as a graphic artist, and says he was fired after refusing to do political work on county time.

On Wednesday, Wallace's old boss Nader Fakhouri's 270 page deposition was released. He was grilled for nearly six hours by Wallace's lawyer Deborah Gordon about political work being done on county time.

When shown political e-mails sent during county time, Fakhouri insisted that they were sent on lunch breaks. He said no political fundraising was paid for with taxpayer money.

Perhaps the only thing more interesting than the questions Fakhouri answered, were the ones he didn't. Several times throughout the deposition, Fakhouri invoked his 5th Amendment rights, protecting him from possible

self-incrimination.
When Gordon asked him about the county building authority paying millions for a property that Fakhouri owned a 20 percent stake in, he said he didn't know many details. Gordon seemed skeptical.

"I'm supposed to believe that…the number two or three person in the county doesn't know what the county is doing with property that he owns," she said.

Fakhouri's lawyer jumped in: "It's not relevant to this," he said.

That lawyer also told him not to answer questions about $400,000 in payments from Ficano's campaigns to a company owned by his sister--and whether Fakhouri asked the County's IT Chief Tahir Kazmi to provide county jobs for big campaign contributors.

Throughout his testimony, Fakhouri was flanked by two criminal lawyers who are representing him in the FBI's ongoing probe into Wayne County.

The 7 Action News Investigators spoke with one of the criminal lawyers Wednesday night and he declined comment, but said Fakhouri is not an FBI target.

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