Flint, MI– Genesee County Clerk John Gleason has been arrested and is facing charges of bribing or interfering with a witness and willful neglect of duty of a public officer.
Records from the 67th District Court show that the two charges were entered on April 8, 2022, but that the offense date was from 2019.
During a press conference held at the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, Tuscola County Prosecutor Mark Reene explained that it had been a “journey” to file charges.
“This has been a journey working through this case. … Sometimes that’s a short journey, and sometimes it’s a longer one,” Reene said. “However, we’re confident that we’ve got to the exact point we need to be today, and we’ve got it right, and that’s why these charges were authorized at the time they were.”
According to a press release from Reene’s office, the two charges were authorized against Gleason “after a detailed and exhaustive review of all investigative materials … for conduct occurring between December 2019 and March 2022.”
The first charge was for bribing/intimidating/interfering with a witness, which is a felony and punishable by up to four years and/or $5,000. According to the press release, the witness is an employee of the Genesee County Clerk’s Office.
The second charge is for willful neglect of duty as a public officer, which is a misdemeanor and punishable by up to one year and/or $1,000.
“As in all criminal cases the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law,” the release states.
Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson confirmed at the press conference that Gleason had been arrested earlier today from his office and was taken to the jail and processed “without incident.” Swanson said that Gleason had been arraigned this afternoon.
Swanson and Reene both made references to female victims but did not explain the nature of the incident in detail.
“I’ve had the opportunity to learn in detail about what has transpired throughout this case and I can tell you what I’ve learned is that they (the victims) strike me as individuals who simply wanted to come to work, serve the public and do a good job,” Reene said. “And unfortunately, they encountered behavior that has resulted in our coming together today to address what has happened.”
Reene encouraged other people to come forward if they had more information about “other potential issues” with Gleason and share their stories with the Sheriff’s Office.
He said he believed there was a probable cause conference set for May 19, and a preliminary examination set for May 25.
Gleason is not the only official in the County Clerk’s office currently facing criminal charges. Election Supervisor Kathy Funk was arraigned on March 14, 2022 for two charges related to ballot tampering. The charges are from 2020, when Funk was the clerk of Flint Township.
Last month, Gleason put Funk on unpaid administrative leave in light of the charges.
Swanson acknowledged the fact that two county elections officials are facing criminal charges less than one month away from the May 3 election.
“When you have both the clerk and the deputy clerk charged with criminal offenses into separate incidents, it begs the question, what do we do to maintain the integrity of the system?” Swanson said at the press conference.
He said that he’s been in communication with Genesee County Commissioner Dominique Clemons to discuss the “next best steps.”
“That is not my jurisdiction, but I know that they have the best interests of the county at hand,” Swanson said. “They represent every inch of this county, all nine commissioners, and I trust their judgment.”
Swanson said there will be additional updates as they proceed.