Former Eastpointe mayor sentenced on fraud charge

By: Brian Wells | Roseville-Eastpointe Eastsider | Published November 20, 2023




EASTPOINTE — Eastpointe’s former mayor was sentenced earlier this month on a charge related to fraudulently applying for a grant as a veteran-owned business.

Former Mayor Monique Owens was sentenced Nov. 9 for fraudulently applying for a grant under the CARES Act Small Business Fund by falsely stating that her business was 51% veteran-owned and had between 100 and 249 employees.

The CARES Act, also known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, was created to provide economic assistance for workers, families, small businesses and industries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In April 2020, Macomb County received $152 million through the act, which was then spread throughout the county. In November of that year, Owens applied for a grant and received $10,000 from the money that the county had received.

Owens originally was facing one charge of false pretenses of $1,000 or more but less than $20,000, a five-year felony. However, on Sept. 28, she pleaded no contest to one count of making a false statement about her financial condition, a one-year misdemeanor, and the original charge was dropped.

In addition to the charge, Owens was ordered to pay $10,000 in restitution to the county. According to an earlier press release from the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office, the office requires that every defendant pays restitution in advance of a plea to ensure that the victim is made financially whole.

Owens was sentenced by Macomb County Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Faunce to six months of non-reporting probation and 100 hours of community service.

Neither Owens nor her attorney, Gerald Evelyn, responded to requests for comment.

“The oath to uphold the law is sworn with the understanding that no one is above the law,” Macomb County Prosecutor Peter Lucido said in a prepared statement issued Nov. 9. “As we honor Veterans Day, my office stands firm in its commitment to the people — to prosecute without hesitation and to hold accountable those who have betrayed the public trust, ensuring that benefits meant for veterans are not lost to fraud.”

Owens, the city’s first Black mayor, was elected in 2019. She ran for reelection in 2023; however, she didn’t receive enough votes to advance past the August primary election. Voters elected Michael Klinefelt as the city’s new mayor Nov. 7, and he was sworn in at the Nov. 13 City Council meeting.