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Warren — A controversial ex-county official who is the subject of an embezzlement/elder abuse complaint is believed to be homeless and living out of area motels, a police official said Wednesday.

Warren Police Commissioner William Dwyer said police have been trying to find former county clerk Karen Spranger as part of the investigation.

Spranger, 65, has not been charged with any crimes but has been the focus of a complaint for several weeks after a bank reported concerns about a 78-year-old customer who said Spranger pushed her down in an apartment parking lot during a confrontation over cash missing from the woman’s purse, Dwyer said. The amount is estimated at more than $1,000.

The incident was reported to the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office, and Warren police detectives were advised to further their investigation, including interviewing Spranger, before any action would be taken on a warrant request.

“We have been trying to find her (Spranger) and reached out to friends and former associates, but no one seems to know where she is,” said William Dwyer, Warren police commissioner. “Its important that we contact her as part of our investigation.”

Dwyer said the alleged victim told police Spranger approached her in October about running errands and that she moved in with the woman. The woman noticed cash missing from her purse.

Dwyer said embezzlement is a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison on conviction. The assault offense is a misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of up to 93 days in the county jail.

Spranger was ousted from office as the Macomb County clerk last March after a St. Clair Circuit judge ruled she was not legally elected because she had lied about her residency in pre-election filings. Spranger had filed that she lived at an address in Warren, but when an investigation disproved that, Spranger was found ineligible to run for the job and therefore, could not be elected.

Spranger, who previously had no political office experience, was best known for showing up at Warren council meetings challenging the use of Smartmeters and attempting to recall Warren Mayor James Fouts. She unsuccessfully ran for mayor against Fouts.

She won the GOP primary for the County Clerk/Register of Deeds Office by 312 votes and then won election by 635 votes, defeating a popular Democratic candidate. Once in her office, she regularly sparred with other officials and staff over running of her office.

The entire Macomb Circuit Court bench recused itself from hearing the ineligiblity question and the issue was transferred to St. Clair County.

Dwyer asked Spranger, or anyone who may have information regarding her whereabouts, to call (586) 574-4803.

mmartindale@detroitnews.com

(248) 338-0319

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