Former Hazel Park city treasurer charged with embezzlement

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published November 8, 2021

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HAZEL PARK — The state attorney general has announced criminal charges against a former treasurer for the city of Hazel Park.

Jo Ann Hubbs, formerly Hubbs-Reeves, stands accused of embezzling cash payments from city residents. Her employment with the city was terminated in July 2018 after the discovery that she allegedly stole two checks for residential property taxes and used them to pay personal expenses. The checks were reportedly worth a total of $4,656.98.

The FBI Detroit-Area Public Corruption Task Force investigated and then referred the case to the Department of Attorney General in August. On Oct. 28, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced the charges Hubbs will face in Oakland County Circuit Court. These include one count of embezzlement by a public official or agent, $50 or more, a 10-year felony; one count of official misconduct in office, a common-law five-year felony; and one count of embezzlement by an employee or agent, $1,000 or more but less than $20,000, a five-year felony. Hubbs was arraigned on the charges in Ferndale 43rd District Court on Oct. 28. She has pleaded not guilty.  

“I appreciate the work the FBI completed to present this investigation to my office. We will continue to partner with the bureau on this case,” Nessel said in a statement.

Added Timothy Walter, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Detroit Division, in a statement: “The FBI is committed to working with our state and local partners to protect the integrity of city government and to take strong action against those who seek to personally benefit by corrupting their elected positions.”

The city treasurer is defined in Hazel Park’s city charter as a custodian of the city’s funds. Hazel Park’s finance director Alacia Christiansen assumed the duties of treasurer after Hubbs was terminated from the role.

Ed Klobucher, the city manager of Hazel Park, said in an email that other employees in the City Treasurer’s Office uncovered the alleged evidence of wrongdoing, and reported Hubbs’ conduct to the finance director. An internal investigation reportedly confirmed the findings, at which point police were contacted, and the city terminated Hubbs’ employment.

“Thankfully, Hubbs’ wrongdoing was uncovered by her coworkers, who did the right thing and reported her actions to the appropriate city officials,” Klobucher said. “We have since segregated duties in the Treasurer’s Office to ensure oversight and checks and balances. We have also more fully integrated our computer accounting and records system to ensure greater transparency and accountability.

“Hazel Park took this case very seriously,” he said. “We are pleased the Attorney General’s Office brought charges against Hubbs.”

Kimberly Stout, the attorney for Hubbs, implored the public to not jump to any conclusions.

“No evidence has been presented so far,” Stout said. “I would ask that people wait for evidence to be presented in a court of law before any judgment is reached. Right now, we only have allegations.”

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