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, 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.
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.
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
March 13, 2017: Spranger seeks lawyer for court battle with Hackel
June 28, 2017: Spranger's employees working in fear after security removed
Sept. 22, 2017: Spranger accused of moving, hiding computers overnight
Sept. 28, 2017: Judge rules against Spranger in 'toxic work environment' case
Oct. 25, 2017: Spranger caught on video covering up court order
Nov. 9, 2017: Spranger fails to meet judges' backlog deadline
Nov. 21, 2017: Union files motion to hold Spranger in contempt of court
Nov. 29, 2017: Contempt of court hearing held for Spranger
Nov. 30, 2017: Spranger appears before Board of Commissioners
Nov. 30, 2017: Spranger grilled over massive backlog in her office
Dec. 11, 2017: Judge hears arguments on Spranger's firing of employees
Jan. 8, 2018: Spranger puts Macomb County hiring on hold
Jan. 31, 2018: Attorney for Spranger says register of deeds threatened him
Feb. 27, 2018: Spranger takes conspiracy allegations to federal court
March 27, 2018: Spranger to be removed from office immediately, judge says
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