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Former Genesee County Clerk in new legal trouble

Former Genesee County Clerk John Gleason (file photo)
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Former Genesee County Clerk John Gleason (file photo)

A former Genesee County clerk is in legal trouble, again.

Former Clerk John Gleason resigned last year, after pleading guilty to performing an illegal wedding. It was part of a plea deal, under which prosecutors dropped more serious charges of intimidating a witness and willful neglect of duty.

The new charges are indirectly related to the old case.

Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson said Gleason allegedly asked some of his political donors to accept $33,000 in refunds and agree to contribute the money to Gleason’s legal defense fund.

“In that scheme, we were able to show that not all the money went to pay for his legal defense fund. In fact, there’s a little over $15,000 that was used for personal expenses,” said Swanson.

Prosecutors filed 10 misdemeanor counts against Gleason this week, including for violating campaign finance laws. He faces possible jail time and fines if convicted.

Swanson says none of the campaign donors who agreed to contribute the refunded money to Gleason’s legal defense fund are facing charges.

Gleason did not respond to a request for comment on the allegations.

Attorney Mark Ewing represents the former county clerk. Ewing told MLive that his client was acting on advice on campaign finance and legal defense funds that he thought was correct.

John Gleason is expected to appear in court on Friday.

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.