Macomb County Clerk Karen Spranger’s choice for her deputy clerk has been vetoed by the county’s chief judge because the proposed appointee, George Brikho of Troy, has a criminal record.
In a brief, two-paragraph letter to Spranger sent Monday, Chief Judge James Biernat said Brikho is not acceptable and he urged the clerk to find a new nominee.
According to court records, Brikho was convicted in the past of aggravated assault, possession of the drug ecstasy and driving while license suspended.
If he served as deputy clerk, one of Brikho’s primary duties would have been overseeing the Clerk’s Office court section which handles all the digital paper work and filing of documents for the county Circuit Court system.
Brikho, 42, who announced plans last year to open a medical marijuana dispensary in Madison Heights, has no experience working in a clerk’s office. Court documents suggest another reason why he was not hired — he lacks a high school diploma.
But county officials say it was his criminal past that immediately disqualified him from the job.
In 1999, Brikho was charged with assault with a deadly weapon. He plead no contest to a lesser assault charge, was placed on probation for 12 months, paid a $500 fine, and was ordered by the court to attend one year of anger management classes, according to court records.
In 2002, while serving time in the Macomb County Jail for ecstasy possession, he claimed that a jail guard violently “tortured” him. He sued the county and sought a payout in excess of $75,000. He lost in federal district court and when he appealed that verdict, an appellate judge concluded that there was “not a shred of evidence” to back up Brikho’s claim that the officer maliciously kicked and injured him while he was in his cell.
In a 2003 court deposition, Brikho, at age 28, admitted that he had been cited by police for driving while his license was suspended “quite a few times.”
Yet, last April, in an online post on Instagram, Brikho seemed confident that he would be Spranger’s newest aide. Alongside an old campaign photo in which he expressed his support for the clerk, he wrote: “What a sweet, kind and respectful lady Karen Spranger is! She has definitely won my heart. I can’t wait until Karen and I drain the Macomb County swamp together!”
A few days later, on Facebook he posted a photo of the Clerk’s Office with this caption: “There’s no place like home.”
In contrast, earlier this month he posted items on Facebook that mocked two news publications (including this one, politicscentral.org) for reporting that he appeared to be Spranger’s choice for the deputy clerk vacancy. He called it “fake news.” Perhaps because he had already received word that he was about to get rejected by the chief judge, Brikho tried to portray the idea that he was Spranger’s next deputy as preposterous. In a snarky tone, he suggested he wouldn’t want to be a politician because they’re just like “welfare recipients.”
Spranger’s first deputy clerk, Paul Kardasz of Warren, was hired by the new county clerk when she took office in January then fired by her less than three months later when he accused his boss of unethical behavior. Kardasz has filed a federal whistleblower lawsuit against Spranger.
Meanwhile, Spranger’s long list of transgressions and controversies continue to aggravate top county officials. Most recently, she is blamed for creating a big backlog in the processing of electronic court case filings because she has failed to fill up to 11 vacancies in her office and doesn’t properly assign overtime work hours.
In political circles, Spranger’s proposed choice of Brikho as Kardasz’s successor raised more than a few eyebrows as Brikho is known as a gadfly who holds some odd political views. In 2014, he ran as a Republican for Congress in the 9th District and lost by nearly landslide proportions to incumbent Democratic Rep. Sander Levin.
On Facebook, Brikho lists his education as the “University of Life,” a reference to a website that teaches readers about spirituality and “how to love yourself.”
As for his private sector experience, he owns a hydroponic garden store, a fertilizer company and Evergreen Management, a firm that lobbies for legislation friendly to the marijuana industry in Michigan. In a 2012 press release for his businesses, he claimed that hydroponics, an alternative means of growing plants, is “saving the economy in Michigan.”
Meanwhile, the fertilizer company’s motto, displayed on posters and T-shirts, is the hashtag #WeShitOnThem.