2018-06-07 / Front Page

City clerk charged with felony

By Tanya Terry
810-452-2645 • tterry@mihomepaper.com

BURTON — City Clerk Teresa Karsney was charged by the Genesee County Prosecutor’s Office June 4 with one count of violation of Michigan’s Notary Public Act involving real property, a four-year felony.

Both Karsney and Deputy Clerk Racheal Ervin-Boggs were placed on administrative paid administrative leave Sept. 25, which turned to unpaid lead Dec. 11, after a resident made an accusation regarding a land deal Ervin-Boggs was involved in and that Karsney is charged with improperly notarizing.

According to a police report, the property owner told police he agreed to payments for the parcel. Ervin- Boggs said she paid the agreed amount of $1,000. The report said when the property owner said she owed $500 more, Ervin-Boggs backed out of the deal.

The parcel owner later discovered Ervin-Boggs had paid taxes on the property and a quitclaim deed, used to transfer ownership of property from one person to another, for the property was notarized by Karsney. Karsney is charged with notarizing the signature outside of her own presence.

According to the Michigan Notary Pubic Act of 2003, in witnessing or attesting to a signature, the notary public shall determine, either from personal knowledge or from satisfactory evidence, that the signature is that of the person in the presence of the notary public and is the person named in the record.

According to Michigan.gov, a notary notarizing an instrument without the signer being present carries a civil liability. However, the website also says violation of the Michigan Notary Public Act is a felony when a person knowingly violates this act when notarizing any document relating to an interest in real property or a mortgage transaction. Upon conviction, a person can be fined up to $5,000 and/or be imprisoned for up to four years.

If a city clerk vacancy becomes open, which is not the case at the present time, according to the city charter, Zelenko will have 30 days to appoint a new clerk. She can request a 60-day extension on this if council approves of it (Section 3:14 b)

Rik Hayman, chief of staff for Zelenko, said anytime the city doesn’t have individuals in the position they were hired to fill working it causes a tremendous burden on the rest of the city.

“In this case, I filled in for five months as acting clerk while still doing my chief of staff duties,” he said. “So, I was putting in 15-16-hour days frequently. Mrs. Bigsby has been filling in while still doing her duties as executive benefits representative, putting in a tremendous amount of time. The records tech, Marcy Kimball, had to pick up all sorts of extra duties.”

Sue Warren, director of human resources/ labor relations, is also credited with working hard to “pick up the slack” in the absence of a full-time clerk.

“We’re very thankful to have employees who were willing to step up to the plate and do all the extra work that was required and the extra training that was required,” Hayman said. “During the November election, we had to contract out to get help from Davison Township, Genesee Township and Genesee County Clerk’s Office. County Clerk Gleason and his staff were extremely helpful. But, it’s been a tremendous burden.”

Councilman Thomas Martinbianco said the situation concerning the clerk was an unfortunate set of circumstances.

“It’s put us behind,” he said. “I’m more concerned about it putting us behind during the election process because it’s going to be a mid-term election and whatever processes take place probably won’t be done for several months. That being the case, that’s going to put the city behind the eight ball. We have to take corrective action, and it’s going to take council action to remedy the situation.”

Karsney will be arraigned in 67th District Court. Ervin-Boggs has not been charged to date.

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