Ficano questioned for three hours as part of fmr. appointee's lawsuit

DETROIT (WXYZ) - Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano faced three-hours of questions today as part of a lawsuit filed by a former appointee who says he was wrongfully terminated.

Ficano's deposition today stems from a civil lawsuit filed by former appointee James Wallace.  He says he was fired after refusing to do campaign work on county time.  He says that Ficano's political machine was operated inside the county's headquarters and run by county appointees. 

The county denies the allegations.

Wallace, who had been a graphic artist with the county, says that political work was routinely done on county time.

"It's very much ingrained in the culture there," Wallace said in an interview last year.

"I think a lot of the pressure that I received from my immediate supervisors is because they thought it was okay."

Wallace's lawyer Deborah Gordon questioned Ficano today at a law office in downtown Detroit.  She said the CEO denied that any political work was done on county time, and that e-mails Gordon obtained that show employees e-mailing about political fundraising during the day were sent during breaks.

Gordon questioned Ficano on a variety of other subjects, too. She said his lawyers instructed him several times to not answer certain questions, including those about his former economic development chief Turkia Mullin. 

Mullin's secret $200,000 severance payment, which was exposed by 7 Action News in September 2011, prompted her dismissal at Wayne County Metro Airport and prompted an FBI probe.

Ficano had fought to avoid giving today's deposition, but a federal judge ruled that he could not.

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