Former Fraser employee pleads guilty to embezzlement charges

By: Brendan Losinski | Fraser-Clinton Chronicle | Published December 20, 2023

 File photo

File photo


FRASER — A former Fraser employee has pleaded guilty to charges of embezzling more than $100,000 in city funds.

On Dec. 19, Michele Kwiatkowski, the former IT Director of the City of Fraser, pleaded guilty to embezzlement over $100,000, which is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. She was ordered to pay restitution to the city of Fraser to resolve the case.

It was alleged that from January 2016 through 2020, Kwiatkowski used the city of Fraser’s American Express credit card to purchase personal items.

“Her sentencing will be delayed pursuant to MCL 771.1 for 12 months,” the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office said in a press release. “If Kwiatkowski pays approximately $90,000 in restitution and complies with all other conditions imposed by the court, her conviction will be amended to a ten-year embezzlement felony and she will be sentenced accordingly. The City of Fraser has also requested that her pension be forfeited.”

The city requested an investigation into the matter and worked with the Michigan State Police to uncover what had happened to the funds.

“When those entrusted with the public trust exploit their authority for personal benefit, they betray the very public they are meant to serve,” Macomb County Prosecutor Peter J. Lucido said in the release. “We are committed to holding accountable anyone who breaches this public trust. Acknowledging guilt and pledging restitution is a crucial stride towards atonement.”

Kwiatkowski’s attorney, Elias Muawad, previously stated that his client was taking items purchased with the card to her home during the period in question due to the city offices being shut down because of the pandemic. He also said the matter should have been addressed prior to her termination and the investigation.

“Because of COVID everything she ordered for the city was being shipped to her house, but she was using the Fraser credit card to (also) purchase personal items and that was why she had gotten into trouble,” said Muawad.

He said that he and his client are satisfied with the results of the case, given the circumstances.

“Michelle is very happy to get this resolved,” said Muawad. “She has 11 months from the sentencing date — which is Feb. 6 — to pay the $89,000. If she does, she will get the lesser embezzlement felony offense. She will also have to stay out of trouble and pay all of her fines and costs in that 11-month period. We are satisfied with the resolution.”