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Spranger faces arrest warrant over restitution order

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

A warrant was issued Thursday for the arrest of Karen Spranger, the latest legal trouble for the former Macomb County clerk, court records show.

The 68-year-old failed to appear at a Sept. 10 review hearing over her conviction in a case where she was accused of stealing money from a housemate, according to Macomb County Circuit Court.

Karen Spranger

Spranger did not have to attend the proceeding if she paid $1,660 in restitution by that date, but the court records indicate she failed to do so. On Monday, a request for appointment of appellate counsel was made.

The attorney court records listed as having represented Spranger did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

The case dates to early 2019, when a 78-year-old woman told Warren police she believed Spranger had stolen from her. The resident said the ex-clerk had been living with her and acting as a caregiver until they argued over money missing from the victim's purse.

Police obtained footage they said showed Spranger making eight withdrawals at an ATM from the victim's account without her permission. Following a tip, officers arrested her at a Tim Horton's in May 2019.

Spranger was charged with one count of larceny over $1,000 but less than $20,000 — a felony. That charge was dismissed with her pleading to a lesser charge, disturbing the peace, records show.

A trial had been scheduled to start this month but was canceled.

Spranger had been in the spotlight since a surprise 2016 election win to become county clerk. The Republican, who had no previous experience in public office, frequently clashed with office staff and other county officials and faced criticism and controversy. Her tenure also sparked a whistleblower lawsuit.

Spranger was ousted in 2018 after a St. Clair County judge ruled she had not been legally elected because she lied about her residency in pre-election filings. Spranger listed an address in Warren when filing to run for county clerk but an investigation showed she was not living there.