By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — Former City Clerk Kathleen Buda was arraigned on seven felony counts of embezzlement and common law offenses while in office today in 19th Distinct Court.
Buda, 65, was arrested this morning after a warrant for arrest went out on Feb. 8 before appearing in court with her attorney, Gerald Evelyn.
Judge Mark Somers read the charges which included one count of embezzlement by a public official, three counts of larceny in a building and three counts of misconduct in office.
Embezzlement by a public official comes with a maximum of 10 years in prison or a $5,000 fine; each count of larceny in a building has a maximum of four years in jail or a $5,000 fine; and each count of misconduct in office comes with a maximum of five years in jail or $10,000 fine.
Somers ordered Buda to surrender her passport and was given a $50,000 personal bond. A probable cause hearing was scheduled for 9 a.m. March 10 in Somers’ court.
Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Molly Kettler did not state a specific amount of money allegedly taken, but did say it was “hundreds of dollars.”
“From November 12, 2015, through December 12, 2015, it is alleged that Ms. Buda appropriated cash from an office cash box on multiple occasions,” the Prosecutor’s Office wrote in a statement. “The specific facts and evidence will be introduced in court at the preliminary examination.”
Michigan State Police raided the clerk’s office at the Dearborn Administrative Center, 16901 Michigan Ave. in December 2015 by for an embezzlement investigation.
A city employee alerted Dearborn police that money was missing from the cash box in the office. Police did not become involved in the investigation due to a conflict of interest because Buda was a city employee.
State police were then seen leaving the DAC with several boxes filled with documents. When the investigation was completed by MSP, information collected was and given to the Prosecutor’s Office before charges were issued.
In January 2016, Buda announced that she would retire in February 2016 with then-Deputy Clerk Lola Isiminger taking over.
Buda worked for the city for 20 years. She was first elected city clerk in 1997 and was last re-elected in 2013. Her current four-year-term would have ended on Jan. 1, 2018.
Buda and Evelyn refused to comment on the charges following the arraignment.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)