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Records: Karen Spranger only used Bridge Card in Wayne County, far from supposed primary residence

Spranger removed from office due to residency dispute

Macomb County Clerk Karen Spranger was removed from office Tuesday. (WDIV)

MACOMB COUNTY, Mich. – Karen Spranger and officials have been fighting over her primary residence throughout her tenure as Macomb County clerk, but a judge ruled against Spranger on Tuesday and removed her from office.

Though Spranger claimed she met all requirements to run for the position, Macomb County officials disputed her listing a home on Hudson Avenue in Warren as her primary residence.

Judge Daniel Kelly listed several pieces of evidence provided by the county in his 17-page opinion released Tuesday.

One of the main points against Spranger came in records from the Department of Health and Human Services, which show that she used her Bridge Card exclusively in western Wayne County from November 2015 through the end of 2016.

Records show that although Spranger used her Bridge Card regularly, she only shopped at five different stores during the time:

  • Zerbos Health Foods at 34164 Plymouth Road in Livonia
  • Kroger at 36430 Ford Road in Westland
  • Better Health Market at 42875 Grand River Avenue in Novi
  • Better Health Market at 44427 Ann Arbor Road in Plymouth
  • Costco at 13700 Middlebelt Road in Livonia

Macomb County's evidence that Spranger only shopped for groceries in Wayne County was important because Kelly said four of the five stores have locations in Macomb County that are much closer to the Hudson address, but the Bridge Card was never used at those locations.

As a result, Kelly determined that Spranger didn't live in the home on Hudson Avenue, but instead in western Wayne County. Since Spranger didn't live in Macomb County in the 30 days immediately before the April application deadline, the judge said she was not eligible to be Macomb County's clerk.

Further evidence

Kelly pointed to several pieces of evidence that suggest Spranger doesn't primarily live on Hudson Avenue, which was the residence listed on her application to run for Macomb County clerk. Kelly said the home last had electrical service in April 2015 and natural gas service in July 2015.

In addition, mail sent to the address was returned to the sender by the U.S. Post Office because the property was vacant.

Three neighbors of the Hudson home provided witness statements saying nobody had lived at the home for years.

Sgt. Mark Morfino of the Macomb County Sheriff's Office said he was part of a team that executed a search warrant at the Hudson home. He said the team found entryways barricaded from the inside by wall-to-wall garbage, feces and animals to a depth of four to five feet.

MORESergeant says clerk's 'home' barricaded wall-to-wall with garbage

Morfino said the team didn't find any mail at the home that was dated after 2011.

Officials respond to Spranger's removal

Spranger's removal came as Macomb County officials were challenging Spranger's residency in a countersuit to her lawsuit. Kelly issued the order to remove Spranger to the Macomb County Executive's Office.

"It feels like 100 pounds off of my shoulders," Macomb County Deputy Executive Mark Deldin said.

Macomb County officials said Spranger will be forced out when the judge's writ is received, which is likely to be in a few days. Spragner can appeal, but she'll have to leave the office during the appeal process, officials said.

Employees in the clerk's office said human resources workers and county lawyers took Spranger's keys and security badge to remove her from the office.

"I'm confident the judge's ruling is appropriate," Macomb County Board of Commissioners Chair Bob Smith said. "The Board of Commissioners is ready to assist as appropriate or needed."

Full coverage of Karen Spranger

Jan. 19, 2017: Spranger barred from using county computers after violating security protocols

March 13, 2017: Spranger seeks lawyer for court battle with Hackel

April 11, 2017: Spranger hides in bathroom to avoid questions about dispute with county board

April 20, 2017Macomb County clerk fined for ethics violation amid dispute with county board

April 20, 2017Macomb County clerk crashes county car after being fined for ethics violation

April 24, 2017Neighbor says home listed as Spranger's primary residence overrun with raccoons

May 3, 2017Emails reveal another battle between Spranger and Macomb County officials

May 4, 2017Spranger caught hiding moving boxes to block move to new building

May 9, 2017Legal battle troubles intensify for Macomb County Clerk Karen Spranger

May 10, 2017Judge orders Spranger to cooperate with move to new building

May 17, 2017Spranger answers claims that her office is 'hostile work environment'

June 19, 2017Simple report turns heated between Spranger and county officials

June 22, 2017Macomb County clerk files suit to allow firearms inside government buildings

June 28, 2017Spranger's employees working in fear after security removed

July 20, 2017Spranger accused of perjury over 'uninhabitable' home in Warren

Aug. 1, 2017Lawsuit announced against Macomb County Clerk Karen Spranger

Aug. 14, 2017Employee calls 911 after Spranger asks to look through her purse

Sept. 22, 2017Spranger accused of moving, hiding computers overnight

Sept. 28, 2017Judge rules against Spranger in 'toxic work environment' case

Oct. 21, 2017: Spranger's totaled car among items up for bids at Macomb County auction

Oct. 25, 2017Spranger caught on video covering up court order

Oct. 27, 2017Union files restraining order against Spranger over 'hostile workplace'

Oct. 27, 2017Macomb County Clerk Karen Spranger sues Google amid residency battle

Nov. 1, 2017Employee blames Spranger for huge online backlog at office

Nov. 7, 2017: Spranger requests $100K to pay for her ongoing legal battles

Nov. 9, 2017Spranger's office given Thursday deadline to clear e-filing backlog

Nov. 9, 2017Spranger fails to meet judges' backlog deadline

Nov. 9, 2017: Spranger solves long wait times by bringing in benches for customers

Nov. 21, 2017Union files motion to hold Spranger in contempt of court

Nov. 29, 2017Contempt of court hearing held for Spranger

Nov. 30, 2017: Spranger appears before Board of Commissioners

Nov. 30, 2017Spranger grilled over massive backlog in her office

Dec. 11, 2017: Judge hears arguments on Spranger's firing of employees

Dec. 15, 2017: Video shows feces, clutter in house Spranger listed as residence

Jan. 2, 2018Spranger files lawsuit against Macomb County alleging conspiracy against her

Jan. 8, 2018Spranger puts Macomb County hiring on hold

Jan. 23, 2018Employee says Spranger pressured her to illegally alter record

Jan. 31, 2018: Attorney for Spranger says register of deeds threatened him

Feb. 27, 2018Spranger takes conspiracy allegations to federal court

March 13, 2018Officials claim glitch at courts caused by Spranger maxing out credit card

March 19, 2018: Motions heard in Macomb County Clerk Karen Spranger residency hearing

March 26, 2018Spranger allegedly kicks employee; 2 criminal investigations opened

March 27, 2018Spranger to be removed from office immediately, judge says