Macomb Prosecutor Lucido made 'brutal,' 'rude' remarks to employees, probe finds

Hayley Harding
The Detroit News

Macomb County Prosecutor Peter Lucido made inappropriate sexual comments to women, used race as a factor in assignment decisions and used county personnel for "campaign-type activities," according to a report by an outside law firm looking into allegations about his behavior.

In a memorandum prepared by Butzel Long and obtained by The Detroit News from the Macomb County corporation counsel's office, investigators recommended Lucido be referred to the Michigan Secretary of State's Office for alleged campaign finance violations and that he undergo multiple county-level trainings on civil rights and union rights.

Deputy County Executive Andy McKinnon told The Detroit News on Tuesday that the investigation was launched by the county's human resources department after one employee filed a complaint against Lucido in person in February. That prompted "numerous" other employees to come forward and lodge complaints that were filed toward the end of February, McKinnon said.

The county's HR department sent its notes of the allegations against Lucido to Butzel Long attorneys in late February. The law firm's investigation began immediately and lasted until their report was sent to county officials on Friday, McKinnon said.

The report came from interviews with 16 current and former employees of the Macomb County Prosecutor's Office. Lucido, though his lawyer, declined to be interviewed, the report notes. 

Macomb County Prosecutor Peter Lucido is accused by current and former employees of making inappropriate sexual comments to women, using race as a factor in assignment decisions and using county personnel for "campaign-type activities," according to a report by an outside law firm.

Lucido's lawyer, Cameron Evans, said in a Tuesday statement that the report is "nothing more than a collection of unchallenged complaints."

"These sorts of complaints have always, and should have, followed the grievance process under union contracts. That would have complied with essential due process, including the opportunity of the accused to confront his accuser," Evans said. "Instead, the county executive commissioned a law firm, at taxpayer’s expense, primarily to seek out complaints and draw conclusions and recommendations against an elected official he clearly dislikes."

Lucido did not respond to a call or texts for comment.

Most of the names included in the report, along with specific details on some instances, are redacted in the version released by the office of Macomb County Corporation Counsel John Schapka, who works for Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel.

Lucido, a Shelby Township Republican, was elected prosecutor in November 2020 after serving for six years in the state House and state Senate — where a state Senate committee looked into allegations of sexual harassment and found he engaged in “inappropriate workplace behavior” that “demonstrates an unfortunate pattern of behavior.” Republican Senate leaders removed Lucido as chair of one of his committees and required him to take a class in workplace behavior and sexual harassment.

What report alleges

The new report specifically details comments Lucido allegedly made about women and Black individuals after taking office in 2021. Lucido announced on an unspecified Valentine's Day that he would "like some kisses from the ladies," made comments about women's body parts and treated female staff members "in an offensive manner," described as "brutal" and "rude," the report says.

MORE: Women say Macomb prosecutor Lucido should quit over 'inappropriate' behavior

Nine people said he treated female staff offensively, with one person noting that he could be "'boisterous' when speaking to male employees, but that he treats female administrative staff much worse."

Complaints include accusations that he said during a meeting that he wanted to assign a Black assistant prosecutor to the warrant division after the "Shelby Five" incident, in which five protesters were charged with felonies following a demonstration against police brutality in Shelby Township.

Lucido wanted a Black assistant prosecuting attorney in the role so "'those people' could not complain that Prosecutor Lucido was not being fair if a Black APA was making the decisions," according to the report. A Black assistant prosecuting attorney who has requested to be assigned to the warrant division was passed over for another Black assistant prosecutor, the report notes.

Although the cost of the investigation through Butzel Long was not yet clear, Schapka said it was necessary for an outside firm to do the investigation to make clear that no officials were being shielded from responsibility.

Michigan law requires employers to investigate allegations of illegal behavior by employees when they are reported.

Schapka said the county was considering referring Lucido to Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson's office as "a possible course of action" but noted officials had just received the report, which is dated Friday.

The recommended training sessions already exist and are required for Macomb County employees, McKinnon said.

"One of the things we're doing right now is reviewing the document, crafting what our recommendations for the prosecutor are going to be and whom exactly we think should be providing that additional training," he said. "If someone is stepped out of line, instead of just chatting with that individual employee, you might give them more thorough or intense training on the exact issues that you're dealing with."

McKinnon, who was the county's human resources director before becoming deputy county executive, said the county has an employee assistance program that offers help for employees who need it "for any reason." The county has continued to share that with staff and has directed employees with additional questions to the appropriate department, he said.

As an elected official, a prosecutor like Lucido cannot just be fired but instead must be voted out, Schapka said.

"I can say with great confidence that if this was an investigation into my conduct, and the investigation reached the findings that were reached, I would have been fired long ago," he said.

Other Lucido controversies

Lucido ran for prosecutor after former Prosecutor Eric Smith, a Democrat, was charged with several felonies and resigned.

But Lucido has encountered controversy. After the death of Detroit Police Officer Loren Courts, who police said was killed by Ehmani Davis last week, it came to light that Macomb County officials had been pursuing charges against Davis for a different, nonfatal shooting in Eastpointe in June.

Lucido, in defending his office, blamed Hackel for not allowing him to make temporary hires to work through a backlog of cases.

"My assistant prosecuting attorneys are good people, overworked and now devastated in their belief that had they had more hands, this Warrant Request might have been processed sooner and the perpetrator may have not been on the street," he wrote in a Facebook post laying out the timeline on Davis' case from his office.

Hackel, a Democrat and former county sheriff, accused Lucido of playing politics and argued the prosecutor's office received the largest staffing budget increase of any county department.

Previously, when accusations of sexual harassment have been raised against Lucido as a lawmaker, he defended himself last year by noting he has never been criminally charged with any offenses after the harassment accusations were made. They included:

  • In 2020, a female reporter said Lucido made lewd and suggestive remarks in front of male students.
  • A female senator claimed Lucido groped and degraded her during an orientation of new legislators, and a Lansing lobbyist said Lucido inappropriately touched her during a meeting.
  • In March 2021, Lisa McCormick — now an Ingham County circuit judge — said Lucido inappropriately touched her in 2019 during a meeting with lawmakers regarding her appointment as director of the Michigan Office of Children’s Ombudsman.

After the Senate committee disciplined Lucido in March 2020, he released a statement saying "Throughout this process, I have maintained that I did not sexually harass anyone. The Senate Business Office and its outside counsel were charged with investigating whether I did. After their comprehensive and impartial investigation, they determined that the allegations made against me could not be unequivocally substantiated.

“Given that I have not sexually harassed anyone nor were there any citations of a violation of Senate rules determined by the investigation, I look forward to continuing to work on behalf of the people I represent."

Lucido then ran for prosecutor and defeated Democrat Mary Chrzanowski 53% to 47%.

hharding@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @Hayley__Harding