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Genesee County Clerk retires as part of a plea agreement

Former Genesee County Clerk and Registrar of Deeds John Gleason (file photo)
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Former Genesee County Clerk and Registrar of Deeds John Gleason (file photo)

Genesee County Clerk John Gleason is stepping down as part of a plea agreement.

It all started with a wedding.

Gleason performed the wedding in 2019 in Shiawassee County. But at the time, the couple did not have a marriage license.

Prosecutors allege Gleason pressured clerk’s office employees to backdate the couple's marriage license.

In April of this year, Gleason was charged with bribing, intimidating or interfering with a witness, which is a felony carrying a penalty of up to four years in prison. He was also charged with a misdemeanor count of Willful Neglect of Duty.

As part of his plea agreement, Gleason pleaded guilty to violating the state marriage act, which is a misdemeanor. He also agreed to retire as county clerk.

“We know that sometimes justice takes longer than we expect,” said Dominique Clemons, chair of the Genesee County Board of Commissioners, “But today sends a strong message that any unethical behavior will not be accepted in Genesee County.”

Gleason will officially retire November 2, just before next month’s general election.

Normally, a county clerk resigning so close to an election would present a problem for county election officials. But the Michigan Bureau of Elections directed that Gleason not be part of Genesee County elections administration pending the outcome of his criminal case. In fact, Gleason has already missed two other elections this year.

So has the County’s election supervisor. Kathy Funk has been on unpaid administrative leave since she was charged with ballot tampering dating back to her old job as Flint Township clerk. She’s scheduled to go on trial next year.

Now the question becomes who will assume the office of Genesee County clerk.

Clemons said the local circuit court will select a new Genesee County clerk and registrar of deeds, though he did not give a timetable for the decision.

In the meantime, Chief Deputy Clerk Leslie Raleigh remains in charge.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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