Wayne County leaders call for audit to be released on controversial jal construction project

Prosecutor will not release report yet

DETROIT (WXYZ) - First the question was – where did the money go on the controversial Wayne County jail project?

Now County leaders want to know:  where is the investigation into those budget over-runs?

For the first time, on Wednesday, we heard publicly from the Auditor General who conducted this audit that has caused such a stir in the county.

The auditor turned over his findings to the Wayne County prosecutor because of allegations of possible criminal activity among county employees.

But that report is still under wraps.

The Wayne County Jail Project – estimated to be $91 Million over its $300 million budget – and now the prosecutor wants to know if crimes were committed.  

The County's Auditor General is mandated by law to turn over his audit to Kym Worthy if he suspects criminal activity – and that's exactly what he's done.  Worthy is asking the county to prevent the report from being made public until she can finish her investigation – which isn't sitting well with some county leaders.

"I'm publicly asking the prosecutor to move on this sooner rather than later, and I'd like to see her move it to the Attorney General's office and get us the rest of the report so we can do our job," said Wayne County Commissioner Ray Basham (D-Taylor), who is chair of the Audit Committee. 

"Wayne County has had enough trouble in the past by failing to be transparent.  The audit committee, the media, the public deserve to see this report, I'd like to formally request this report be transmitted to the Audit Committee as soon as possible," said Basham.

Auditor General Willie Mayo told the committee today – his staff put in more than 2000 hours on the extensive audit – and they too want Worthy to release parts of the report as soon as possible.

"We believe like you do, there are a lot of things in there that can help the commissioners in making their deliberations as we go forwards.  So you and I are totally in agreement," said Mayo.

A spokeswoman for the Prosecutor told 7 Action News that they're still in the process of determining if a copy of the audit – minus the portion about possible criminal activity -- can be made public. 

"If we don't have the info how do you expect us to make informed decision?  I mean, the system is broken," Commissioner Basham told 7 Action News Investigator Heather Catallo.

Commissioner Basham also says the prosecutor should have another law enforcement agency investigate this to avoid a conflict of interest since the County Executive sets her budget.

Her spokeswoman is telling us it's too soon to decide if someone else should step in.

As for the report – the Auditor General is hoping to make a version of the audit public in mid-September.

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano stopped construction on the $300 million jail after learning it was a projected $91 million over budget.  Governor Snyder wants the county to sell the land in downtown Detroit, and build a regional justice center in a former state prison on Mound Rd. on Detroit's East Side.

If you have a story for Heather Catallo, please call 248-827-4473 or email her: hcatallo@wxyz.com .

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