Aide to Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano pleads guilty to accepting a bribe

DETROIT (WXYZ) - One of Robert Ficano's aides has pleaded guilty to accepting a bribe.

David Edwards admitted in open court today that he took cash from a county contractor.  And as part of his plea deal, he has to cooperate and testify.  The question now is, how far up the ladder in the Guardian building will Edwards information take the feds.

He used to be second-in-command over Wayne County's Information Technology Department.

Now 41 year old David Edwards has pleaded guilty to accepting a $13,000 cash bribe from an IT vendor who has county contracts.

"He made a mistake; he took responsibility for it today. He admitted that to the judge. And he's ready to proceed and move on w/ his life," said attorney Maurice Morton, who is representing Edwards.

The former Deputy Chief Information Officer used to oversee contracts for the IT department.  In front of a federal judge Monday morning, Edwards admitted that on two different occasions between 2009 and 2011, he accepted cash from a county contractor which has not been identified.

"Mr. Edwards accepted a gift, it was cash, from a contractor," said Morton.

As part of his plea deal, Edwards must cooperate with the FBI's ongoing investigation into alleged corruption in Wayne County.

Attorney Maurice Morton says Edwards expects to meet very soon with federal agents and prosecutors to share what he knows.

"We expect in the coming weeks to sit down with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's office for a debriefing, and at that time Mr. Edwards will begin his cooperation," said Morton.

The bribery charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, but as part of Edwards' deal, prosecutors will recommend no more than 18 months behind bar.

Back in February, the U.S. Attorney also charged Edwards' former immediate boss, Chief Information Officer Tahir Kazmi.  Kazmi is accused of shaking down a county vendor for more than $80,000 in cash, plus trips and gifts.  Another IT department appointee is facing charges as well.  Zayd Alleban is charged with obstruction for pressuring that county contractor to lie to federal agents.  It's not clear if that vendor is the same one involved in the Edwards case.

The FBI started investigating a wide range of allegations of wrong-doing in Wayne County after 7 Action News exposed a secret severance deal, and other practices that are now being scrutinized.

County Executive Robert Ficano has tried to distance himself from the 5 people – 4 of them county employees – who have been charged in the federal probe. 

It's not clear who Edwards will implicate with his testimony.

"He's a good guy, he's a great guy, he made a mistake in judgment," said Morton.

Deputy County CEO Jeffrey Collins told 7 Action News Investigator Heather Catallo that the county continues to cooperate with the federal investigation, and they're doing what they can to root out any illegal conduct.  Collins maintains Ficano had no knowledge of any of these activities, and he's encouraging Edwards to come completely clean and tell the feds everything he knows.

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