Employee says Macomb County Clerk Karen Spranger pressured her to illegally alter record

Chief court clerk says she locked herself in her office out of fear

MACOMB COUNTY, Mich. – Macomb County Clerk Karen Spranger is facing new allegations that she harassed her employees, with her chief court clerk saying she was forced to lock herself in her office.

The employee is one Spranger has already been found guilty of harassing before, so the case could be even more serious. County officials are looking into whether the clerk threatened the employee to illegally alter an old court document.

The incident began with a letter from Spranger in response to an inquiry from a woman regarding her 2012 court case.

"Former court clerk Carmella Sabaugh was complicit in fraud and set up a default to conceal corruption," Spranger wrote. "In my investigation, all of the cases listed above were improperly done and with obvious intent, and it caused inappropriate Register of Action false statements. So, I will forward my findings to the necessary authority."

That was sent Nov. 30. On Jan. 11, Spranger emailed Chief Court Clerk Lisa Emerson to make a change. Emerson consulted with the county's top lawmaker, who told her to ignore the email.

On Jan. 17, Spranger sent another email.

"Please file the correction today, or I will be forced to take immediate action with immediate dismissal for not correcting the misrepresentation/fraud statements," Spranger wrote.

Shortly after the email was sent, Emerson said Spranger walked into her office with the woman's husband. In an incident report, Emerson said she was forced to lock herself in her office out of fear.

"As a result of this confrontation, I am not only afraid during normal business hours, I am also forced to continue to work in my office behind a locked door," Emerson said. "No employee should have to be forced to work under such threatening, intimidating and harassing conditions."

The woman's husband said the court decision was fraudulently not entered, and there is a pattern of corruption in all four cases. He said Spranger agreed.

He confirmed last Wednesday Emerson had two deputies with her, saying she isn't afraid of Spranger, she's afraid of the fallout because so many people are involved in the cover-up of those four cases.

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, 2018: Employee says Spranger pressured her to illegally alter record

About the Authors:

Jason anchors Local 4's 5:30 p.m. newscast. He joined WDIV in January 2015 as a general assignment reporter and has a Journalism degree from Michigan State University.