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Spranger charged with ATM thefts from elderly woman

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News
An image of Karen Spranger in her car at an ATM, one of the images shown during a press conference by Macomb County Prosecutors office.

Mount Clemens — Former Macomb County Clerk Karen Spranger is being charged with taking more than $1,000 from an elderly woman through repeated ATM withdrawals.

County Prosecutor Eric Smith announced Wednesday he has issued a warrant charging the controversial ex-official with larceny over $1,000 but less than $20,000.

Smith said Spranger is not in custody but when located will be charged with the offense, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. He said the charge stems from interviews and video footage of a person making eight ATM withdrawals, without permission, from the older woman's account between Jan. 1 and Jan. 8 of this year.

“Each time, the person taking the money was Karen Spranger,” said Smith.

Spranger, who authorities believe may be homeless and living out of Metro Detroit motels, became the focus of an investigation after a bank reported concerns about a 78-year-old customer.

The elderly woman told investigators Spranger had been living with her and acting as a caregiver when the woman confronted Spranger about money missing from her purse.

Several weeks ago, Warren Police Commissioner William Dwyer made a public plea for Spranger to come in to police so they could interview her about allegations.

Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith holds press conference announcing charges of larceny against Karen Spranger at the Macomb County Administration building in Mount Clemens Wednesday afternoon.

“We take any suspected crimes against the elderly very seriously but would still like to talk with her and it would be in her best interest to come in and give her side of this,” Dwyer said Wednesday.

After winning a surprise election as county clerk in November 2016, Spranger soon found herself at odds with office staff and other other county officials, including Executive Mark Hackel, on the operation of her office.

During a background probe, it was determined Spranger had provided a Warren address in campaign filings as her official residence but it was eventually determined while she owned the house, she was not living there. A judge ruled in March 2018 that her election residency filings were improper and removed her from office.


Prior to being elected as county clerk, Spranger was better known for showing up at Warren council meetings contesting the use of Smart Meters and attempting a recall of Warren Mayor James Fouts. She unsuccessfully ran for mayor in an effort to unseat him.

Spranger won the GOP primary for the county clerk/register of deeds office by 312 votes in 2016 and went on to win the general election by 635 votes, defeating Democrat Fred Miller.

Miller subsequently won election last November to fill the remaining two years of Spranger's term.

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