Former Fraser IT director charged with embezzlement

By: Brendan Losinski | Fraser-Clinton Chronicle | Published May 23, 2023

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FRASER — The Michigan State Police have charged the former information technology director for the city of Fraser with embezzlement following an investigation requested by the city.

The former employee, Michele Kwiatkowski, was arraigned in 39th District Court on one count of embezzlement over $100,000 on April 20. The charge is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

It is alleged that from 2016 through 2020, she used the city of Fraser’s American Express credit card to purchase personal items. A $5,000 personal bond was set by the judge.

“Public corruption strikes at the very heart of our democracy, eroding public trust and undermining the rule of law,” Macomb County Prosecutor Peter J. Lucido said in a press release. “When individuals in positions of public trust use their power for personal gain, they betray the public they serve. This brazen conduct cannot and will not be tolerated in Macomb County.”

Kwiatowski’s next court dates are a probable cause hearing scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on June 14, and a preliminary exam is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on June 21, both at the 39th District Court.

Fraser City Manager Elaine Leven said that city officials were limited regarding what they could say on the matter, but she did confirm the city of Fraser requested the Michigan State Police investigation.

Leven said she wants Fraser residents to be confident in their local government.

“We can’t comment on the case, but I can say that we are working with the state police and getting this case to the state prosecutor has been a long time coming,” she said. “There are new people that are in the city ensuring that this does not happen moving forward.”

Kwiatowski’s attorney, Elias Muawad, 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.

“We are still going through the materials to determine exactly what was purchased, from where it was purchased and where it went,” Muawad said. “This was during COVID, so a lot of materials went to her home because the Fraser offices were shut down. She was told to take them to her home. We’re trying to determine what — if anything — she held on to.”

He added that he believes the matter of the purchases should have been brought up prior to this investigation by the state police.

“This should have been brought out prior to the agreement for her termination,” said Muawad. “There should have been a formal accounting at that point.”