Lawsuit Filed in Shiawassee County Against Board of Commissioners

A Shiawassee County resident is suing her county Board of Commissioners for violating the Open Meetings Act.

The lawsuit, filed by Nichole Ruggiero, states the board recently met in a closed session to discuss funds from the federal American Rescue Plan to be dispersed among county employees as hazard pay for essential workers. The board then came out of closed session, according to the lawsuit, to vote on the measure.

Not only did county employees receive a bonus, but elected officials did as well. Board Chair Jeremy Root and Sheriff Brian Begole received $25,000, a couple of commissioners received $10,000 while the remainder got $5,000. The average payout to county employees was around $2,100.

Commissioner Marlene Webster says she intended to return the funds while Commissioners Gregory Brodeur and Gary Holzhausen plan to donate their payouts. The Shiawassee County Prosecutor has ordered all elected officials to pay back the money.

The first court hearing will be held Monday, July 26 in Genesee County.