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Posted on Wed, Dec 7, 2011 : 3:05 p.m.

Attorney for Augusta Township board members: Clerk Kathy Giszczak illegally tape recorded conversation

By Tom Perkins

Augusta Township Clerk Kathy Giszczak allegedly testified in a deposition that she electronically eavesdropped on a conversation between the township's deputy treasurer and supervisor.

That allegation surfaced as part of an Open Meetings Act lawsuit pitting one half of the board against the other half.

Electronic eavesdropping is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison, though no criminal charges have been brought against Giszczak. A hearing on the OMA lawsuit is scheduled for Dec. 13.

In a legal brief filed in Washtenaw County Circuit Court for the OMA lawsuit, Nik Lulgjuraj, an attorney representing Trustee Mike King, Trustee Dan Lula, Supervisor Pete Hafler and former Supervisor and Trustee Kathy Jackson, wrote that Giszczak admitted to tape recording a conversation between Janice Blair and Hafler in January 2010.

The information obtained in the recording was passed on to former Treasurer Angela Sherbine, and Blair was subsequently fired. Blair filed a wrongful termination lawsuit, and Giszczak admitted to tape recording the conversation during an Aug. 5, 2011 deposition for that case, Lulgjuraj wrote.

He included a portion of the deposition’s transcript in the brief. In the transcript, Giszczak testified she believed she “might have provided information to the treasurer that influenced the treasurer terminating Janice Blair.”

Giszczak then said that she secretly tape recorded the conversation and was not part of it.

Attorneys then stopped the deposition and advised Giszczak to seek independent legal counsel, Lulgjuraj wrote in the brief.

The wrongful termination lawsuit has since been settled out of court, though Lulgjuraj says not all of the board was aware of the alleged eavesdropping.

Lulgjuraj wrote Sherbine and Giszczak “knew they were in trouble” and that’s why Sherbine resigned at the end of September. Sherbine, who did not return calls from, previously said she was leaving her post to be closer to her family in Alabama.

“Sherbine figured she had better leave her position, but concealed her intention to do so with the help of board members that were acting in concert to conceal the apparent eavesdropping activity,” Lulgjuraj wrote, though he did not respond to calls seeking clarification on how he knows that’s why Sherbine left her post.

Sherbine’s resignation and the appointment of Susan Burek as the interim treasurer prompted the OMA lawsuit. The plaintiffs say the resignation and appointment were done deceitfully and violated the OMA, and are asking judge Timothy Connors to nullify the votes that approved them

Trustee Brian Shelby, Giszczak, Trustee Bill Tobler and Sherbine were present at the meeting, which is enough for a quorum. They voted on Sherbine’s resignation, which was approved unanimously. The remaining three board members voted to approve Burek's appointment.

The entire Augusta Township board is named as defendants, though only Giszczak, Tobler and Shelby can consult with the attorney since the other board members are plaintiffs. Sherbine is also named as a defendant.

The plaintiffs say they were unable to attend the special meeting because of its short notice and because it was scheduled on the Friday afternoon prior to Labor Day weekend.

The meeting was called on Thursday, Sept. 1 and scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday, Sept. 2. Giszczak previously said the notices were properly delivered to the board members homes more than 24 hours in advance, as is required by the OMA. She also said Hafler was notified via his mailbox at the township hall as she said he requested be done, and provided emails showing that Hafler was aware of the meeting.

But Trustee Mike King previously charged that the short notice was done intentionally so that he couldn’t get out of work commitments. Lulgjuraj also wrote in his brief that the defendants knew Lula was out of town that day and intentionally didn't respond to emails about the meeting.

The plaintiffs also charge the notice for the special meeting "deliberately misstated" its purpose, which was said to be for a "Treasurer's staffing report." It did not directly say it had to do with Sherbine's resignation.

Both sides have bitterly fought for majority control of the board in recent years, but Lulgjuraj insists in the brief that the real reason for the alleged OMA violations has to do with the eavesdropping.

“Frankly, the defendants’ position is just an attempt to continue concealment of past wrongdoing that should not be tolerated by the court,” he said.


CJ McDonald

Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 2:05 a.m.

What would Bill Schutte do if he is watching? Brian Mackie is the problem. Three times he turned down the State Detective's request to prosecute Kathy Giszczak for OMA violations – he obviously protects elected officials. Mackie even turned down a request to charge Giszczak for perjury when presented with the unimpeachable evidence of a transcript. This is just the tip of the iceberg – a mountain underground. I have the mountain of evidence. I'll share it with anyone who wants the truth.


Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 2:04 a.m.

With replies like Augusta Madness, Janice and McDonald, one begins to see the pattern of sickness that must be endured by the elected officials. It is time for a few more good citizens to step forward and run for office to permanently put them out of power.

augusta madness

Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 11:41 p.m.

Giszczak, Tobler and Sherbine have a history of bad management, bad politics and bad character. All 3 were present when the clerk admitted she secretly tape recorded a private conversation in the public hall. It was at that point a settlement was suddenly offered. Very suspect! The big question is why the entire Board and the public were not informed that Giszczak admitted to tape recording a private conversation. Without doubt that is the reason for the settlement because as Tobler states in his comment, "During the pretrial proceedings, Blair, or anyone else, was unable to produce any evidence to back her claims of illegal money transfer made in her complaint. To the contrary, the bank records supported the position taken by the Clerk and Treasurer. Further, the annual audit by an independent auditing company did not uncover any wrongdoing." If all that is a true why did the Board paid Blair 60 thousand large. Why was the public told that it was too expensive to fight the case while all along Giszczak, Tobler and Sherbine knew that the real reason was because a possible felony was committed by Giszczak. After all, why would they pay so much money for a case that Tobler says showed no wrongdoing. Obviously, it was to coverup the potential felony crime by Giszczak. There has been so much turnover of staff at Augusta because of the intimidating environment employees are subjected to everyday by the likes of Tobler. At the last meeting there was a discussion that the recently terminated deputy clerk may have to sue to get her rights, just like Blair, and that other employees and citizens have been harassed and subjected to unacceptable conduct by Giszczak. As a citizen I want to know why the public was not informed that the reason for the Blair settlement was a possible felony by Giszczak. The excuse of the excessive expense is simply another lie by the Big three. Let the testimony begin. I hope Bill Schutte is watching.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 7:35 p.m.

I had no idea Mr Tobler and Mrs Giszczak were interested in answering to the Court for their illegal behavior. I will be happy to notify the Sheriffs Office and file criminal charges against Mrs Giszczak for ilegall recording of a conversation. I will also inform the court of Mr Tobler's violation of the Court Ordered Settlement of my case. If they feel I have violated the law, they have the right to do likewise. Janice Blair

CJ McDonald

Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 4:43 p.m.

After being denied access to the Record Copy of the Township Meeting minutes since April 2007 with Giszczak lying about it by saying I was a "no show" when I have documents to prove I was there, it's about time someone is making the smoke billow.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 2:56 p.m.

This article is completely onesided and does a disservice to Augusta Township. It reports only what the Plaintiff's Hafler, King, Lula and Jackson have claimed. The divided Board in Augusta Township is not new news. Half the Board represents the citizens of Augusta Township, and the other half (Hafler, King and Lula, with Jackson on deck) represent private developers and back room deals, and themselves. What is presented in the newspapers is that the Board is divided, which is true. But what is not brought out is why. Condemning the good elected officials because of the bad does not make much sense.

Jamie Riddle

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 11:56 a.m.

I think Giszczak should have criminal charges brought against her for this act. How are you going to secretly record something to use against someone you don't like to get them terminated?


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 6:25 a.m.

Yet to come.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 1:26 a.m.

Augusta township citizens are so poorly served...and this childish self-serving behavior has been going on for years. I feel badly for anyone living in Augusta Township.


Wed, Dec 7, 2011 : 11:50 p.m.

The law regarding recordings is quite confusing. For example, was there an expectation of privacy? If, for example, the conversation occurred in the township meeting room where it could be heard by bystanders, there would be no expectation of privacy. Was the party recording the conversation known to be present and listening to the conversation? The Michigan Supreme Court also recently found that police officers could always be recorded while they were on duty. This was a case where Detroit Police charged a rapper for using a recording of them breaking up one of his concerts on his next music video. If police can be recorded while on duty, can other public officials be recorded while conducting public business? Thus, the recording may very well be perfectly legal. The reporter should give more details that would inform the reader as to whether the circumstances would make the recording legal.

William Tobler, Trustee

Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 5:42 p.m.

The conversation was in the front lobby of the township hall. There is no expectation of privacy.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 12:33 a.m.

Typically with recordings the law requires that at least one party has to know they are being recorded when they expect privacy. Some states have two party consent, which came up with the recordings of Monica Lewinsky by her friend Linda Trip in Maryland, where the state law requires all parties are aware of the recording.

Ron Granger

Wed, Dec 7, 2011 : 11:17 p.m.

Where there is smoke, there is fire. The smoke is starting to billow. So why no charges in the eavesdropping?


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 6:22 a.m.

The house has burned down


Wed, Dec 7, 2011 : 9:02 p.m.

So.. What sort of slime perpetrated by Blair was found on the recording? City council members remind me of very nasty children.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 6:22 a.m.

Blair was reporting to Supervisor Hafler what she believed was illegal money transfers happening by treasurer Sherbine on the advise of clerk Giszczak. According to the deposition taken under oath by clerk Giszczak, she overheard the conversation and decided to place a recorder where it would tape the conversation and she went to lunch. Upon returning she listened to the recording, took it to the treasurer who listened, then fired deputy Blair. Blair in turn filed a suit under the Wistle Blowers Act, and upon Clerk Giszczaks admission of guilt, the case was settled. When the final number of what clerk Giszczak has cost Augusta in dollars and professional is calculated it will be staggering.


Wed, Dec 7, 2011 : 8:40 p.m.

At least she didn't set up an iPad and video somebody in the bathroom.

John Blair

Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 6:07 p.m.

I guess I don't understand smokeblwr's comment. Are you saying that someone at the township hall set an iPad in the bathroom? And just who are you accusing of having done so?


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 6:43 a.m.

Given all of that she's done, you might want to hold it while your in the township hall.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 4:23 p.m.

And then walk away to do chores.


Wed, Dec 7, 2011 : 8:30 p.m.

Does this sound like Detroit and Wayne County?


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 6:49 a.m.

Kwami Giszczak says that depends on what the definition of is, is.