Former Genesee Co. Clerk facing 10 criminal charges

Former Genesee County Clerk John Gleason is facing a 10-count warrant involving campaign fund violations.
Published: May. 17, 2023 at 11:46 AM EDT|Updated: May. 17, 2023 at 3:01 PM EDT
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GENESEE Co. Mich. (WNEM) - Former Genesee County Clerk John Gleason is facing a 10-count warrant involving campaign fund violations.

In a press conference on Wednesday, May 17, Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson said Gleason had plead guilty to a misdemeanor from a case in 2020, and that case seemed to be closed in October of 2022.

However, within two weeks of this conclusion, Swanson said the sheriff’s office got word that organizations who had previously donated to Gleason’s campaign were receiving phone calls asking about refunding that money.

Investigators looked into Gleason’s finance reports and found in June and July of 2022, about $33,500 had been recorded as return of donations from dozens of well-known individuals and organizations from around the area.

Further investigation found Gleason had been asking if he could refund money back to people who had previously donated to his campaign and have them donate the same amount of money to him for his legal defense fund.

Swanson said every person interviewed had this same story. He said many people gave back to Gleason in this way, adding they believed a person they once donated to.

Swanson clarified that the law doesn’t allow people to use campaign funds for legal defense, a person would have to raise new money.

However, investigators found the funds people gave back to him didn’t go to a state recorded fund at Huntington Bank but to his personal checking account at ELGA Credit Union that Gleason set up as his legal defense fund, Swanson said.

Swanson said donors knew something wasn’t right and felt betrayed.

The investigation also found not all of the money went to pay for Gleason’s legal defense fund, Swanson said, explaining some was used at Sam’s Club and some was used to make a personal insurance payment.

He said a little over $15,000 was used for personal expenses, adding Gleason’s wife was listed at the treasurer for legal defense fund at ELGA Credit Union attached to his personal checking account.

Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton has authorized a 10-count warrant for campaign fund violation. The first seven counts are 90-day misdemeanors that involve legal defense fund campaign violations, Swanson said, adding charges eight through 10 involve comingling of funds.

Swanson said over 20 people in the community have been impacted by this incident.

Swanson said he told Gleason’s attorney that Gleason has until Friday, May 19 at 3 p.m. to turn himself in for arraignment.

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