By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — Former City Clerk Kathleen Buda was sentenced to two years probation July 24 and told to pay $1,683 in fees after pleading guilty to embezzlement charges.
Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Lawrence Talon July 21 dismissed the three charges of larceny in a building and three for common law offense in exchange for Buda’s guilty embezzlement plea.
The city of Dearborn asked to have Buda’s pension forfeited from Dec. 15, 2015, when she pleaded guilty to the embezzlement charges and Feb. 17, 2016, when she retired from her position. A brief to seek restitution and forfeiture of her pension during those two months also was filed.
Talon granted both requests. Buda’s attorney, Gerald Evelyn, appealed the city’s first request but was denied by Talon.
Buda pleaded no contest June 22 to the original charges where she could have faced a maximum of 10 years in prison or a $5,000 fine for embezzlement by a public official, a maximum of four years in jail or a $5,000 fine for each count of larceny in a building and a maximum of five years in jail or $10,000 fine for each count of misconduct in office.
Michigan State Police raided the clerk’s office at the Dearborn Administrative Center, 16901 Michigan Ave., in December 2015 for an embezzlement investigation after an employee discovered money missing from the cash box.
When MSP first contacted the city’s Human Resources Department months prior, two employees in the clerk’s office started comparing copies of receipts kept in the cash box to payment records. It was determined that over $400 in deposits was missing and that Buda stole money for birth and death certificates, garage sales and other fees.
When the investigation was completed by MSP, documents, flash drives, receipts, money, Buda’s work cellphone and additional information collected was given to the Prosecutor’s Office before charges were issued.
Buda, 66, then announced that she would retire from her position in February 2016 and then-Deputy Clerk Lola Isiminger would take over.
Buda worked for the city for 20 years and was first elected as city clerk in 1997 and was last re-elected in 2013.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])