Southfield City Clerk facing felony charges
Charges stem from Nov. 6, 2018 general election
SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel was joined by Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to announce six felony charges filed Monday morning in Oakland County 46th District Court against Southfield City Clerk Sherikia Hawkins.
The charges, which stem from the Nov. 6, 2018, general election, are as follows:
• Count One. Election Law – Falsifying Returns/Records, a five-year felony and/or $1,000;
• Count Two. Forgery of a Public Record, a 14-year felony;
• Count Three. Misconduct in Office, a five-year felony and/or $10,000;
• Count Four. Using a Computer to Commit a Crime – Election Law – Falsifying Returns/Records, a seven-year felony and/or $5,000;
• Count Five. Using a Computer to Commit a Crime – Forgery of a Public Record, a 10-year felony and/or $10,000;
• Count Six. Using a Computer to Commit a Crime – Misconduct in Office, a seven-year felony and/or $5,000.
"When we took office, both Secretary Benson and I committed to doing everything in our power to make sure that Michigan's elections were safe from every conceivable threat," said Nessel. "That commitment – made to the people of this state – includes taking swift and decisive action when a public official fails to fulfill the important role that he or she plays in protecting the integrity of our elections."
Discrepancies in the Southfield voter count were brought to the Secretary of State's attention by the Oakland County Clerk's office following its efforts to certify Southfield's absentee ballots.
Michigan State Police conducted a thorough investigation and determined that election records had been altered.
The prosecution will be led by the Public Integrity Unit of the Department of Attorney General, which ensures that public officials or law enforcement officers who commit crimes in Michigan – regardless of position, standing or party affiliation – are held accountable.
"Today upon learning that the Southfield City Clerk was formally charged with multiple crimes under Michigan election law, I exercised my authority under Michigan law to exert supervisory control over local election officials and directed the clerk to refrain from administering any election while there are charges pending against her," Benson said.
"Our elections are the foundation of our democracy, and under my and Attorney General Nessel's administration there will be no tolerance for any actions that undermine that foundation – anywhere, anytime, by any person or official."
Hawkins, 38, of Southfield, was elected Southfield city clerk in November 2017. Prior to election she was the city clerk of Pontiac, a non-elected position, where she was responsible for that city's elections.
Hawkins turned herself in and was charged and arraigned late this morning in the 46th District Court (Southfield) on six felony counts in front of visiting judge Michelle Friedman Appel, chief judge of the 45th District Court.
Hawkins was given a $15,000 personal bond and a probable cause conference was scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Monday, Sept. 30.
A preliminary examination hearing is set for Tuesday, Oct. 15, before Judge Appel.
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