Southfield clerk reaches plea agreement, resigns from office

By: Andy Kozlowski | Southfield Sun | Published November 10, 2022

File photo


SOUTHFIELD — Sherikia Hawkins has fully resigned from her position as Southfield city clerk following a plea agreement reached in Oakland County’s 6th Circuit Court, where she faced charges related to possible fraud in the 2018 general election.

Hawkins has not been involved in running elections in the city since 2019, when the state first began investigating allegations against her. Since 2019, elections have been overseen by the city’s deputy clerk, Nicole Humphries.

Hawkins’ resignation Oct. 22 followed a deal where five of the six felony counts against her were dropped in exchange for her entering a plea of “no contest” to misconduct in office, which is punishable by up to five years and/or a $10,000 fine. As part of the agreement, Judge Kwame Rowe also decided against probation or incarceration. Sentencing is set for Dec. 8.

Hawkins’ attorney, Harold Gurewitz, did not return requests for comment by press time.

The five charges that were dropped included one count of violating election law by falsifying returns or records, one count of forgery of a public record, one count of using a computer to commit a crime connected to violating election law by falsifying returns or records, one count of using a computer to commit a crime connected to forgery of a public record, and one count of using a computer to commit a crime connected to misconduct in office.

The allegations go back to the 2018 general election, when inspectors mistakenly put 193 absentee ballots in the ballot container without first tabulating them. This resulted in a disparity, where the number of votes counted was less than the number of absentee ballots received.

According to the office of Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, Hawkins tried to cover up this mistake by removing the 193 names from the list of voters who had returned absentee ballots. The fraud was then exposed when county election officials opened the ballot container and manually counted the votes.

“I am committed to ensuring the voters of our state can have confidence in our election process,” Nessel said in a statement. “Election officials, regardless of political party, must uphold the integrity of their position and ensure every vote is accurately counted. Those who abuse that commitment undermine the very foundation of our democracy.”

Hawkins first became city clerk in 2017 and was in the middle of her second term at the time of her resignation. Her term was set to expire in 2025. At press time, the city attorney was studying the city charter to try to decide how Hawkins’ post will be filled for the remaining three years.

On Nov. 7, the day before the 2022 general election, the city of Southfield issued its own official statement, which reads:

“As a duly elected official, Hawkins only oversaw functions of the Clerk’s Office that were not related to elections when the state stripped her of election duties while the criminal case against her was pending. Deputy Clerk Humphries is now overseeing all of Hawkins’ former duties.

“The Justice Department will also monitor compliance with federal voting rights laws for the Nov. 8, 2022 general election in Southfield, as well as 64 other jurisdictions in 24 states,” it stated. “The Civil Rights Division has regularly monitored elections in the field in jurisdictions around the country to protect the rights of voters, and to take complaints from the public nationwide regarding possible violations of the federal voting rights laws through its call center. The Civil Rights Division enforces the federal voting rights laws that protect the rights of all citizens to access the ballot.”