Macomb Co. woman accuses clerk of eavesdropping

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

A Clinton Township woman is accusing the Macomb County Clerk and others of eavesdropping and recording her private conversation without permission.

Diane Zontini is alleging her rights were violated by Macomb County Clerk Karen Spranger, former Deputy Register Of Deeds Erin Stahl and a television show when she was recorded at Spranger’s office without her permission, according to a lawsuit filed last week in federal court in Detroit.

The complaint alleges conspiracy and violation of a federal act pertaining to the interception and disclosure of information. She’s asking the court to grant an injunction to prevent further use of the recordings and to award damages.

Liberty Town Hall, the TV show in the complaint, is a 30-minute program that boasts being “dedicated to allowing the voice of liberty to be heard in the great country of ours.” The show is produced by M33 TV and airs weekdays on more than 230 stations nationwide on the LegacyTV network.

“On the morning of Nov. 14, 2016, at 40 N. Main Street, Mt. Clemens, Michigan, using an electronic device or several devices, Defendants did willingly eavesdrop, or cause the eavesdropping, on Plaintiff during a private conversation to which Plantiff was a party and to which Defendants were not parties,” the complaint said. “Defendants did so without Plaintiff’s knowledge.”

Zontini, in the complaint, alleges she also demanded the defendants stop video-recording her, but they ignored her.

Barry Powers, an attorney for Zontini, could not be reached Thursday for comment, nor could Spranger’s attorney, Frank Cusumano Jr.

Spranger has been a lightning rod for controversy since taking office in January. As clerk, she’s earns a salary of $108,880.

In her first three months, she fired Stahl and another top aide, was barred from using the county’s computer system and fought with county commissioners over her right to fire unionized employees.

Both of the Spranger’s former aides filed lawsuits against her. For two months, Spranger wasn’t able to use the county’s computer system because her privileges were revoked when county officials accused her of allowing non-employees to log in behind the clerk’s desk.

In April, the county’s ethics board fined Spranger $100 for allowing people who weren’t county employees to use the computer equipment.

Hours after the board fined her, Roseville police cited her for rear-ending another motorist at an intersection while driving a county-owned vehicle.

The next month, the county sued Spranger to block her legal challenge to the county’s plans to relocate two of her departments, the Register of Deeds and Vital Records.