Elusive ex-Macomb Co. clerk arrested at doughnut shop

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News
Karen Spranger

Warren — Karen Spranger, the controversial ex-Macomb County clerk, was arrested and jailed Thursday afternoon after a citizen spotted her in a doughnut shop.

The 66-year-old Spranger was arrested without incident at about 4 p.m. at a Tim Hortons at 12 Mile and Mound, said Warren Police Commissioner William Dwyer.

"Someone spotted her there and called us," said Dwyer. "She is in our jail and will probably be arraigned on the warrant Friday."

On Wednesday, Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith announced he had issued a not-in-custody warrant charging Spranger with larceny over $1,000 but less than $20,000 in an alleged incident involving a 78-year-old Warren woman. Police had been unable to locate Spranger for several weeks,

Police were called by a Warren bank in February that was suspicious the elderly woman was being victimized by someone. The alleged victim has told police Spranger had been living with her as a caregiver for a few months until February when the woman confronted Spranger about money missing from her purse.

Warren police obtained videos from a Chase Bank ATM, which showed Spranger making eight withdrawals of cash, without permission, from the woman's account in January.

The offense is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

Both Dwyer and Smith had made public pleas to Spranger asking her to come in to police so they could interview her about allegations.

Dwyer said Thursday it did not appear Spranger had planned to contact police when she was arrested in the eatery.

After winning a surprise election as county clerk in 2016, Spranger soon found herself at odds with staff and other county officials, including Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, on the operation of her office. Her 15 months in office was sparked by several lawsuits.

During a background probe, it was determined Spranger had provided a Warren address in campaign filings as her official address 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 she could not hold the office for which she was elected. She was removed from the $108,800 a year job.

Prior to being elected as county clerk, Spranger was better known for showing up at Warren council meetings on smart meter concerns 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 and went on to win the general election by 635 votes, defeating a popular Democratic candidate


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