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Macomb Township

December 12, 2012

Status hearing on election-fraud lawsuit to be held

By Robert Guttersohn
C & G Staff Writer

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Attorneys for the defendant and plaintiff in an election fraud lawsuit are scheduled to meet at Macomb County Circuit Court Dec. 19 to provide the judge overseeing the case with a progress report.

The hearing comes more than a month after circuit court Judge John Foster threatened to throw out the case between Macomb Township Clerk Michael Koehs and a township resident, due to a “lack of progress,” according to court filings.

“The action will be dismissed for a lack of progress unless the parties appear in court within 28 days of the date of this notice and show that progress is being made or that the failure to prosecute is not due to the fault or lack of reasonable diligence of the party seeking affirmative relief,” wrote Foster in a Nov. 9 letter to both parties.

But Foster extended the deadline after Albert Addis, attorney for the township, filed a motion to dismiss the case from the no-progress docket, according to Addis’ office.

“It should have never been on there,” said a spokeswoman from Addis’ office.

The origin of the lawsuit dates back to July, when Macomb resident Mark Maiuri filed suit against Koehs. Maiuri claimed Koehs and his office committed election fraud by accepting Supervisor Janet Dunn’s nominating petitions, which he said were fraught with fraudulent signatures. The lawsuit also named County Clerk Carmella Sabaugh as a second plaintiff, but court records show that she has been dismissed from the case.

Back then, Dunn was running for the office of supervisor as a trustee against former Supervisor Mark Grabow. She defeated Grabow in the Aug. 7 primary and the general election when he ran as a write-in candidate.

Maiuri also said Koehs was unlawfully keeping secret the contents of a letter written by a former township employee to Grabow and other Macomb officials. Maiuri claimed the letter revealed the former employee witnessed election fraud and was forced to resign because of it.

Koehs denied that his office committed election fraud and, after the election, filed a countersuit against Maiuri, claiming the resident was using the court system to influence an election. Maiuri, in court filings, denied that claim.

In September, court records show Maiuri’s attorney, James Bishai, tried to have the lawsuit thrown out completely, based on the fact that he withdrew the original election-fraud lawsuit before Koehs filed his countersuit.

Bishai, who did not return phone calls for comment by press time, claimed he filed his motion to dismiss on Aug. 6, three days before court records indicate he filed it and three days before Koehs filed his countersuit. The court denied his motion.

“Clearly your Notice of Dismissal was filed AFTER both answers were filed, which is why the Order Setting Aside the Notice of Dismissal was prepared and entered,” wrote Cheryl Burck, the clerk to Foster.

Koehs recently said the case is in the discovery stage and maintains that he intends to carry his countersuit to judgment. In his countersuit, Koehs said the number of defendants could expand from just Maiuri, if discovery reveals more people were involved in conspiring against Koehs.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Robert Guttersohn at rguttersohn@candgnews.com or at (586)218-5006.