Augusta Township clerk accused of eavesdropping: 'I expect to be exonerated'
Augusta Township clerk Kathy Giszczak said she plans to “vigorously defend” her actions after a warrant was issued for her arrest on two felony eavesdropping charges.
Giszczak faces one count of eavesdropping and one count of use or divulgence of information unlawfully obtained for allegedly recording a conversation between township Supervisor Pete Hafler and former Deputy Treasurer Janice Blair. Giszczak said Tuesday Michigan law prohibits recording private conversations, but she recorded a public conversation in a public place.
“I am being accused of violating this law because a recording was made of a public, not private, conversation which took place in a common area of a public township hall,” she said. “The prosecution is unfounded and I expect to be exonerated.”
Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Derrick Jackson said Giszczak secretly recorded a conversation between Hafler and Blair and then played that conversation for former township Treasurer Angela Sherbine. Jackson said Blair was fired and filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the township, which was eventually settled out of court.
The incident surfaced in a legal brief filed in an Open Meetings Act lawsuit filed late last year. The brief — filed in the Washtenaw County Trial Court by attorney Nik Lulgjuraj, who represents half of the Augusta Township Board of Trustees — stated Giszczak admitted to recording the conversation during a deposition in Blair’s wrongful termination case.
During the deposition for Blair’s wrongful termination case, Giszczak stated she “might have provided information to the treasurer that influenced the treasurer terminating Janice Blair,” the brief alleged.
The Open Meetings Act lawsuit was filed in September 2011 after a board meeting at which Sherbine resigned and her replacement was named without many trustees present. Several members of the board filed the lawsuit against the rest of the board.
If convicted, Giszczak faces a maximum of five years in prison on the eavesdropping charge and two years in prison on the charge of divulging information unlawfully obtained.
According to court records, Giszczak had not been arraigned on the charges as of Tuesday morning. She’s expected to turn herself into police sometime this week, Jackson said Monday.
“The resolution of this unfortunate charge will come in a court of justice, not in the court of public opinion,” Giszczak said. “I will vigorously defend my actions.”