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Warren — A controversial ex-Macomb County Clerk is under investigation for allegedly assaulting an elderly woman she was providing with home care, police confirmed Thursday.

Police Chief William Dwyer said he is seeking criminal warrants against Karen Spranger based on conversations this week with the alleged victim, a 78-year-old woman. Spranger has not been charged with a crime and is not in custody, he said.

“We asked the Macomb County Prosecutor today to issue warrants charging Spranger with embezzlement between $1,000 and $20,000,” plus assault, Dwyer said Thursday.

Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith was not immediately available for comment.

Dwyer said embezzlement is a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. Assault is a misdemeanor that carries a penalty of up to 93 days in jail.

Dwyer said officers went to the alleged victim’s house on Karam Street, not far from the police department, after the woman claimed Spranger had knocked her down Tuesday morning in a parking lot.

“She did not require medical attention,” Dwyer said. “She told us that Spranger approached her last October about running errands for her and doing grocery shopping. It is believed she moved in at the woman’s address to take care of her needs.”

The alleged victim told police there have been other incidents in which Spranger pushed her that she did not report and that she believes money is missing from her purse had been taken by Spranger.

Dwyer said officers do not know of Spranger’s whereabouts but want to interview her regarding the accusations.

Spranger was ousted from office last March after a St. Clair County Circuit judge ruled she had not been legally elected because she had lied about her residency in pre-election filings. Specifically, Spranger listed an address in Warren when she filed to run for county clerk in 2016 but an investigation showed she was not actually living there.

Spranger, who had no previous experience in public office, was known for showing up at Warren council meetings challenging the use of smart meters and attempting to recall Warren Mayor James Fouts. She unsuccessfully ran for mayor against Fouts in 2014.

In 2016, Spranger won the GOP primary for the county clerk/register of deeds by 312 votes and then won election by 635 votes, defeating Democrat Fred Miller.

Once in office, she regularly sparred with other officials and employees about her office's operations and 80-person staff, with many of the issues resulting in lawsuits. The entire Macomb Circuit bench recused itself from hearing the eligibility question and it was transferred and decided in St. Clair County.

 mmartindale@detroitnews.com

(248) 338-0319

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