UPDATED: Turkia Mullin pays back severance money to Wayne County

DETROIT, MI (WXYZ) - Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano announced Thursday morning that Turkia Mullin has paid back $135,900 to Wayne County.

Ficano held up a cashier's check to reporters, hoping to put to bed questions by commissioners who wondered why it was taking Mullin so long to cut a check. 

"Today at approximately 9:15 Turkia Mullin repaid her check of the severance package," Ficano told reporters.

The check marks the severance payment Turkia Mullin received, minus taxes and her routine paycheck, when she left her position as chief development officer with Wayne County for a new job as director of Metro Airport.

She promised to give the money back about a month ago, after Action News broke the story of her huge payout package. 

"She had to get her finances in order to return the check," Ficano said.

But Ficano still has a mountain of problems, including an FBI investigation into the severance payment as well as allegations of kickbacks concerning county health insurance. 

"We're going to continue to work and cooperate with the FBI," Ficano said Thursday. "I feel that I've done absolutely nothing wrong or illegal and I stand by that."

Turkia Mullin's assistant, Sheri Galofaro-Mendez, also got a severance check when she left and today Ficano provided evidence that she paid back the money, $15, 643.27.

Meantime, Wayne County Commissioners today grilled Wayne County Chief Financial Officer Carla Sledge and Assistant County Executive Alan Helmkamp during a commissioner meeting.

"I just want really want to cut to the chase, I mean who authorized the payment?" asked Commissioner Diane Webb. 

While nobody would answer that question, Action News did learn more about the now infamous undated letter that spelled out the $200,000 severance payout to Mullin.

"And this is a key point because willful deception by lawyers within the county government is a big deal," said Commissioner Gary Woronchak. 

Helmkamp said today it was Corporate Counsel Marianne Talon who drafted the letter, and Deputy County Executive Azzam Elder who revised it. Both have been suspended.  

"It's pretty clear that the undated letter was meant to imply that it happened in 2009," said Woronchak. "It's pretty clear it was meant to deceive."

Sledge says new controls are being put in place, and she will be taking a more active role in large transactions.

"If a payroll check exceeds a certain amount, that I would approve it and we're certainly going to put that in place," said Sledge. 

And Helmkamp, who conducted the internal review, isn't saying what he learned when he interviewed high-ranking officials on who came up with the idea of the undated letter on old stationery.

"There were inconsistent statements." 

Commissioner Laura Cox accused the Ficano Administration of stonewalling.

"Once again, Mr. Ficano has sent out his agents to obfuscate and hide from the facts here," Cox said in a statement. "Once again, the Ficano administration's silence is an expression of his contempt for transparency and his contempt for the citizens of Wayne County. It is reprehensible."

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