By Helen A. Granger, staff writer
Former Shiawassee County Administrator Thomas J. “TJ” Clark was arraigned June 4 at 66th District Court in Corunna and bound over to Shiawassee County Circuit Court with a pre-trial date of June 12.
Clark sat mute as District Judge Terrance Dignan found probable cause on all eight embezzlement counts he was charged with regarding use of the county’s credit card during 2014.
Clark’s attorney, Michael J. Cronkright, argued in his summation that the charges were the result of “a breakdown of the process” and “inconsistent procedures” at the county level by those officials whose responsibility included overseeing the credit card charges – including those county commissioners responsible for that oversight. “Those who should have denied the charges and asked for reimbursement from Clark,” Cronkright said. (Commissioner John Plowman was the chair of the County Finance and Administration Committee at the time the charges were made and Commissioner Jeffrey Bartz was the chairman of the Board of Commissioners).
John DeWane, special prosecutor from Ingham County, prosecuting the case for Shiawassee County, argued in his summation that Clark knew what he was doing when he made the credit charges – and some of the felony counts occurred when he used his private debit card but used county credit certificates/points earned on prior purchases at the Miller Road Best Buy store in Flint.
Credit card charges included $270 for six tickets to a Shiawassee Regional Chamber of Commerce dinner, the purchase of two fold-away holsters (one left and one right) for approximately $60, a $15 charge at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa for an elliptical bike rental, a $19.04 charge at Courtside Café in Owosso for two lunches, a ticket for approximately $25 for a Shiawassee United Way fundraiser, a $120.75 charge for a night’s stay at the Downtown Convention Center in Detroit, among others.
Two large charges at the Flint Best Buy were being discussed at the time of the May 19 continuance and that testimony continued June 4 with Best Buy Assistant Store Manager Joe Campbell.
Clark is charged with eight counts of embezzlement by a public official over $50. Each charge carries with it a maximum 10-year sentence and possible fines of approximately $50,000 if found guilty.