Judge Suzanne Faunce scolded Spranger, who arrived 45 minutes late for the hearing.

Judge Suzanne Faunce scolded Spranger, who arrived 45 minutes late for the hearing.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Former Macomb County Clerk Spranger to stand trial for theft in Warren

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published August 7, 2019

 Former Macomb County Clerk Karen Spranger waived her right to a preliminary in the 37th District Court Aug. 6, where she stands accused of stealing $1,660 from a Warren senior citizen.

Former Macomb County Clerk Karen Spranger waived her right to a preliminary in the 37th District Court Aug. 6, where she stands accused of stealing $1,660 from a Warren senior citizen.

Photo by Patricia O'Blenes

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WARREN — Former Macomb County Clerk Karen Spranger arrived 45 minutes late for her preliminary examination Aug. 6 in the 37th District Court, where she stands accused of stealing money from a Warren senior citizen.

Her tardiness wasn’t lost on the judge, who issued a bench warrant after Spranger failed to show as required at 1:30 p.m., but held the order in abeyance until 3 p.m., giving the embattled former elected official time to make it to the hearing.

Spranger arrived at about 2:15 p.m. and met briefly with her defense attorney, Joseph Arnone, before she entered the courtroom and stood before Judge Suzanne Faunce. Arnone told the judge that Spranger did not have a ride to court, but that he would have arranged one for her had he known that in advance.

“Ms. Spranger, the purpose of bond is for assurance of appearance. The court does not work on your time. You don’t get to show up when you want to,” Faunce said. “The next time, your bond will be revoked. The alternative is to sit in jail, because if you’re in jail, we know when you’re going to be in court, where you’re at at all times. Do you understand that?”

Spranger said little before Arnone announced the decision on her behalf to waive the right to a preliminary examination and to proceed to Macomb County circuit court, where she will now stand trial on the charge of larceny in an amount greater than $1,000 but less than $20,000, a five-year felony.

“I’ve advised my client she has a statutory right to a preliminary examination. Probable cause that she committed it is not a demonstration of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” Arnone said. “It’s a very low standard.”

Arnone told reporters after the hearing that his client maintains the right to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. Spranger, 66, remains free on a personal bond ahead of her Circuit Court arraignment at 8:45 a.m. Aug. 19.

Spranger was arrested at a Warren coffee shop May 2 on a felony warrant authorized the day before, following an investigation into the alleged theft of $1,660 from a Warren senior citizen.

She was arraigned in the 37th District Court on May 3. Judge Matthew Sabaugh set a personal recognizance bond of $3,000.  

Macomb County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Smith announced the warrant authorization May 1 after an investigation by the Warren Police Department that began earlier this year. Investigators alleged that Spranger had used a senior’s ATM card to take $1,660 in cash without consent between Jan. 1 and 8.

In February, Warren police reportedly went to the senior’s home on Karam Boulevard, near Van Dyke Avenue and South Civic Center Boulevard, where the 78-year-old resident provided information that prompted an investigation into a potential financial crime and an alleged act of domestic violence. Police Commissioner Bill Dwyer said previously that the woman said she’d known Spranger for several years and that Spranger had offered to help her with housework and everyday tasks.

Warren detectives filed a warrant request in late February as a result of the investigation, at which time prosecutors asked them to interview Spranger and review the senior’s bank records.

Smith said a review of the bank records revealed “an awful lot of unusual ATM withdrawals.” Warren detectives also obtained surveillance footage from the bank that appears to show Spranger making transactions in a vehicle at a drive-up ATM. There were reportedly eight withdrawals for a total of $1,660.

Spanger ran for mayor of Warren against Jim Fouts in 2015 and lost. She then sought the office of Macomb County’s clerk and register of deeds and won election in November 2016.

On March 28, 2018, Spranger was removed from office by a judge who sided with county officials in a legal dispute over her residency in Warren, which they claimed she had falsified on her candidate affidavit. Her ouster came amid a flurry of controversies and lawsuits with the county that played out over her tumultuous 16 months in office and carried over into federal court.

Macomb County Circuit Court Judge James Biernat Jr. named Kathy Brower as acting temporary clerk after Spranger’s removal. In November, Democrat Fred Miller narrowly edged Republican Lisa Sinclair to win a partial term that will expire Dec. 31, 2020.

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