A member of the transition team for Attorney General-elect Dana Nessel is defending himself in the midst of controversy over domestic violence allegations by his ex-wife.

Michael Sareini, 46, a Dearborn city councilman, was charged in 2000 with violating a court-ordered personal protection order involving his then-wife Krystal, according to Wayne County Circuit Court records and later pleaded no contest to a charge of violating the order.

In an emailed statement late Monday, Sareini called the controversy "a recycled news story based on unfounded 20-year-old allegations."

Krystal Sareini requested a PPO after complaints that her husband attacked her at a Detroit car dealership on Michigan Avenue, where he worked on June 16, 2000, according to court records.

"... he grabbed me by the throat and knocked me to the floor then yelled for me to get up because some ford (sic) executives were walking through," Krystal Sareini wrote in a hand-written note. 

Three days later, Krystal Sareini filed for a PPO. Michael Sareini pleaded no contest in September 2000 to a charge of violating the PPO and was ordered to undergo 26 weeks of anger management counseling. 

In a subsequent court filing in January 2001, Michael Sareini told the court the "allegations are untrue" and that the PPO was unwarranted.

In June 2001, the charges against Sareini were dismissed due to "no recent violations," according to court records.

 "As a dedicated public servant, husband and father of five, I take seriously and denounce all abuses of power," Sareini said in his statement. "That’s part of the reason why I’m passionate about serving the people of our state and the AG-elect on her transition team. The reemergence of twenty-year-old allegations from my divorce, ones that I have been cleared of, do not determine the person I am or the perspective I bring to my public service."

Sareini was named last month as a member of Nessel's transition team. 

 Kelly Rossman-McKinney, a transition team spokeswoman, said Nessel "was not aware of the allegations until a reporter raised the issue last week." 

“Attorney General-elect Nessel is proud to have Dearborn Mayor Pro Tem Michael Sareini as part of her transition team," Rossman-McKinney said. "Councilman Sareini is a well respected member of the community and a valuable asset to our team.

She continued: "It is neither fair nor appropriate to judge Mike or anyone else based on unsustained allegations made in divorce pleadings nearly twenty years ago. Attorney General-Elect Nessel looks forward to Councilman Sareini's continued guidance in preparing to take office in January.”

Nessel, a Democrat, was elected to be Michigan's next attorney general last month over Republican state House Speaker Tom Leonard.

A former Wayne County prosecutor and defense lawyer, Nessel is best known for her work to defend lesbian couple April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, whose case helped to topple the gay marriage ban in Michigan and other states.

Beth LeBlanc contributed.

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