Ex-Ficano aide wants obstruction convictions tossed

DETROIT (WXYZ) - A former Wayne County appointee wants a judge to toss out two criminal convictions, saying that he never got a chance to confront a key witness in court.

Zayd Allebban was found guilty in February of two counts of obstruction of justice. Those charges stemmed from what the feds said was an elaborate scheme by Allebban to cover-up thousands of dollars in bribes accepted by his old boss, county information officer Tahir Kazmi.

Kazmi pleaded guilty last year to bribery, and refused to testify as a witness in Allebban's trial.  But Kazmi's words were still used against his former subordinate. That's because the feds played secretly recorded, damaging conversations between Allebban and Kazmi to the jury.

In a new court filing, Allebban's lawyer argued that because he wasn't able to confront Kazmi in court over those recordings, his client should be acquitted or, at the very least, be given a brand new trial. 

"(Kazmi) had an opportunity to come to court and make clear to everyone, the government, the jury, what my involvement was. And he did not take that opportunity," Allebban said after hearing the jury's verdict.

"My credibility, my name being dragged through the mud by the government, by witnesses they're relying on that we all know they shouldn't," he said.

Allebban's conviction is the latest in the Wayne County corruption probe, and today one prominent Detroit criminal lawyer said it's unlikely to be tossed.  Motions like Allebban's, he said, are seldom successful.  But as the 34-year-old awaits sentencing, he knows he has nothing to lose by asking. 

"I know what happened.  I'm one of two people in this world that knows what happened," he said.

The U.S. Attorney has not yet filed a response to Allebban's motion.

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