MACOMB COUNTY, Mich. - A new allegation has been made against embattled Macomb County Clerk Karen Spranger, who has been at odds with county officials since she was elected.
This time, Spranger is accused of perjury. If it is proven, Spranger could be removed from office and face a year in jail for lying on a notarized affidavit.
Spranger's home is at the center of the controversy. The complaint said the home in Warren is not Spranger's primary residence. She told Local 4's Jason Colthorp on two occasions that it is.
But a notice on the door from the city of Warren labels it as a vacant home and uninhabitable.
Local 4 went to the home in question on April 24, when neighbors said the house was overrun with raccoons.
"I was in the backyard and noticed raccoons coming out of the house, and I called the city," neighbor Dayton Hood said.
The complaint filed a week ago with the Macomb County Sheriff's Office alleges Spranger lied about the home on Hudson Avenue being her primary residence on a document she filed to run for the clerk position.
Two appeals courts already came to that conclusion in 2012 and 2015, when Spranger applied for special tax exemptions. That was based on the very small water usage at the home, which neighbors said hasn't been lived in for more than a year.
Spranger didn't want to go on camera, but she said she does live at the home. She said she's not always there because she's always on the go.
The notices, dated two days ago, state not only is the home vacant, but nobody is allowed to live in it until it's inspected by the city of Warren.
"I do believe it's gibberish," said Bob Smith, the chairman of the Macomb County Board of Commissioners.
Smith thinks Spranger's lawsuit against the county is nonsense, and the board is appointing outside counsel at the expense of taxpayers. He's also not a fan of her apparent reluctance to use technology.
"She is basically systematically taking away any advancements that the clerk and the staff have made over the last 10 years," Smith said. "She's slowly reverting us back to the 19th century, it feels like."
Employees said Spranger recently took iPads away from vital records workers, a move that is requiring more paperwork and slowing down the transactions.
Once the Sheriff's Office is done looking into the complaint, if it has merit, it will be sent up the chain to the state level.
Some employees and union leaders told commissioners that the office is getting backlogged, and employees are on the verge of breakdowns or of being fired. They said they even brought in therapists to help.
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