Augusta Township clerk wanted on felony eavesdropping charges
More than two years after she was accused of secretly recording a conversation between two Augusta Township officials, Clerk Kathy Giszczak is wanted on criminal eavesdropping charges.
Giszczak is expected to turn herself in this week to face one charge each of eavesdropping and use or divulgence of information unlawfully obtained, Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Derrick Jackson said.
The charges stem from an Open Meetings Act lawsuit filed late last year. In a deposition for that lawsuit, Giszczak is alleged to have admitted that she secretly recorded a conversation between township Supervisor Pete Hafler and then-Deputy Treasurer Janice Blair. AnnArbor.com first reported the allegations in January.
Jackson said Blair was fired after Giszczak played part of that conversation to former township Treasurer Angela Sherbine. Blair was dismissed and filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the township, Jackson said.
“Recording a conversation that you are not involved in without the parties’ knowledge is where the eavesdropping comes in,” Jackson said. “Giszczak is expected to turn herself in sometime this week.”
Giszczak could not immediately be reached for comment on the allegations Monday afternoon.
It’s the latest twist in the complicated politics of Augusta Township, in which one half of the township Board of Trustees sued the other half over a possible Open Meetings Act violation when Sherbine resigned and her replacement was named in September 2011.
A legal brief for the Open Meetings Act violation case — filed in the Washtenaw County Trial Court by Nik Lulgjuraj, an attorney representing trustees Mike King, Dan Lula, Kathy Jackson and Hafler — stated Giszczak admitted to recording a conversation between Blair and Hafler in January 2010. She then passed that information along to Sherbine, and Blair was fired, Lulgjuraj alleged.
Blair filed a wrongful termination lawsuit and, during a deposition for that case on Aug. 5, 2011, Giszczak admitted to recording the conversation, he wrote. Giszczak went so far in the deposition to state she “might have provided information to the treasurer that influenced the treasurer terminating Janice Blair,” according to Lulgjuraj.
Giszczak faced a recall election in February 2011 and voters decided to keep her in office. The Ypsilanti Courier reported last week that the township’s Board of Trustees rejected a proposal asking Giszczak to resign due to the alleged eavesdropping.
The Courier also reported the wrongful termination lawsuit filed by Blair was settled for $60,000.
Giszczak has not been arraigned on any criminal charges related to the alleged eavesdropping as of Monday afternoon.
If she’s convicted, she faces up to five years in prison on the eavesdropping charge and two years in prison on the charge of divulging information that was illegally obtained.