A former employee of the Livingston County Clerk’s Office has entered a plea in an embezzlement case.

46-year-old Colleen Marie Fortier of Howell pleaded no contest to embezzlement by a public official. She has been ordered to pay full restitution in the amount of $16,905 – an amount that was uncovered through the extensive work of Clerk Elizabeth Hundley and others. Hundley, who holds accounting and law degrees, discovered financial irregularities involving the clerk’s office in May of 2016. Hundley says she worked with very large cash amounts through her private business and had experience in recognizing a theft, so she went to work investigating once she noticed the pattern. An in-depth investigation involving Treasurer Jennifer Nash, as well as the Livingston County Sheriff’s and Prosecutor’s Offices, backed up Hundley’s findings after extensive research and the embezzlement was uncovered.

Hundley tells WHMI she couldn’t have done this by herself and appreciates the cooperation between the many elected offices that were involved, adding she is very happy to put this behind them. Hundley says she was very disappointed to find the irregularity when she came into office, adding it’s not always the easiest thing to do but felt it was very important for the residents of the county, who she took an oath to serve, so she went to bat for them. Hundley says there will be full restitution to county taxpayers in the amount of $16,905 – adding she’s extremely pleased to have this matter settled and is hopeful it will not happen again.

The embezzlement was said to have occurred between December of 2015 through May of 2016 and Fortier was placed on unpaid administrative leave after the internal investigation was initiated. Fortier resigned prior to the completion of the investigation and worked for the county for approximately four years. Fortier remains free on bond pending her delayed sentencing in September 2018 in Livingston County Circuit Court. If she pays $5,313 restitution within 11 months prior to her sentencing, the conviction will be entered as embezzlement over $200 but under $1,000, which is a one-year misdemeanor. If Fortier does not meet that stipulation, the plea will be entered as embezzlement by a public official over $50,000, which is a 10-year felony. (JM)