TRAVERSE CITY -- Former Acme Township Treasurer Bill Boltres wants "the whole ball of wax" -- details of how he believes developers manipulated elections and drove him from office over a zoning dispute, his attorney said.
Boltres' attorney Grant Parsons filed a motion in 13th Circuit Court this week that alleged criminal misconduct by The Village at Grand Traverse LLC developers in two Acme Township elections.
"The Village committed criminal acts under Michigan's Campaign Finance Act and then, ostensibly relying on advice of counsel, perpetrated a cover-up," Parsons wrote in his motion. "The apparent criminal violations add to the weight of evidence indicating that The Village employed a legion of lawyers to run Boltres and others out of office, and then covered up its crimes ... ."
The Village plans to soon file a detailed response in court, said Steve Smith, its managing partner. He declined additional comment.
Smith's attorney, Mark Verwys of Plunkett Cooney PC, would not comment.
Boltres is suing The Village for malicious prosecution and wants to review all related legal documents from law firms retained by The Village and Meijer Inc., its development partner.
Boltres' motion contends that possible criminal misconduct by The Village outweighs standard attorney-client confidentiality.
"If this motion is granted we will know why decisions were made at every step of the process," Parsons said. "I think this will answer everybody's questions about everything that happened in Acme Township over the last five years."
Plans by The Village and Meijer for a sprawling, mixed-use project pitted them against township officials in a zoning dispute that began in 2004. The battle led to lawsuits by the developers against township officials in 2005; Acme officials then turned the tables and sued The Village and Meijer for malicious prosecution.
In separate cases, Boltres in late 2007 agreed to an undisclosed financial settlement from Meijer to halt his lawsuit, while five other Acme officials this year received a $1.5 million settlement from Meijer and The Village to end their suit.
Boltres' original suit exposed illegal campaign activity conducted by Meijer in 2005 and 2007 Acme elections. The retailer then reported its violations to the Secretary of State and paid $190,000 in fines to avoid criminal charges.
Parsons recently hired Rich Robinson, executive director of the nonprofit Michigan Campaign Finance Network, to review campaign records filed by Meijer in conjunction with Boltres' latest lawsuit.
"The records Meijer filed, as far as I can tell, were nothing that carried any resemblance to what actually happened. It's a rewrite of history," Robinson said. "This is a chance to find out what the history actually was."
Boltres sued The Village in 2008 and this spring Village managing partner Steve Smith testified in a deposition that he paid legal bills for campaign work done in 2005.
Smith said he had a law firm audit his bills, and when lawyers discovered the unreported campaign expenditures, he sought reimbursement from Meijer.
Smith testified during that deposition he never looked at a single legal bill. Rather, he said, he paid the bills, sent them on to Meijer, and the retailer reimbursed him 50 percent.
Parsons wrote in the court motion that Smith's testimony "resonates with the clear, bell-like tone of falsehood."
Even if Smith didn't know of the campaign finance act violations in 2005 and 2007, by early 2008 Smith and The Village knew they had violated state law, Parsons contended.
"For The Village and Meijer to make post facto reimbursements in 2008 ... does not negate the criminal act, any more than a thief returning a stolen car," Parsons wrote.
Robinson said state law allows 30 days to return a contribution. Otherwise, failure to report the contribution is a violation of the campaign finance act.
A hearing on Boltres' motion is scheduled Aug. 24 before 13th Circuit Court Judge Philip Rodgers.