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Financial woes mount for Plainfield Township supervisor | News

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Financial woes mount for Plainfield Township supervisor

PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WZZM) -- Already embroiled in bankruptcy, Plainfield Township's top elected official is now contesting a $540,000 judgment entered against him in Kent County Circuit Court.

Plainfield Township Supervisor Jay Spencer this month filed an appeal to the financial judgment against him, calling it "inaccurate.''

The judgment was awarded last month to Jolan Jackson, a Grandville man who invested $241,000 for a real estate deal Spencer was overseeing. The money came from Jackson's pension; he retired from General Motors in 2008.

The money was supposed to be used to buy and fix up six properties, including five in Grand Rapids, court records show.

Instead, Spencer used the money to pay personal expenses, including babysitters, car repairs, veterinarian bills and meals at several Grand Rapids area restaurants, Judge Christopher Yates wrote in a five-page ruling.

Jackson, 64, sued Spencer in May, 2013 to recover what he lost from the 2011 investment. Six months after the lawsuit was filed, Spencer filed for bankruptcy,

"It's been a heart-wrenching period on my life,'' the Vietnam veteran said today. "It stays on your mind; you wake up thinking about it you go to bed thinking about it. That money I worked for for over 30 years. A lot of overtime at General Motors; just tucking money away.''

Spencer Monday afternoon released a statement in which he says the business transaction that led to litigation took place a year before he was elected supervisor. "This transaction has not affected my work as township supervisor,'' the statement reads. "I will continue to work in the best interests of the residents I was elected to represent to the best of my ability as I have done since I was elected.''

He says the order by Judge Yates was based on depositions from a former associate and Jackson's financial advisor. "This was not testimony given with an opportunity for any cross-examination,'' the statement reads. "There are blatant discrepancies in the depositions from the facts of the case that went unchallenged.''

No criminal charges were filed, but Yates was clearly agitated by Spencer's actions.

"Spencer did not use most of Jackson's funds to buy or rehabilitate the identified properties,'' Yates wrote. "Instead, some of the money paid for rehabilitation work on properties separate from Jackson's investment and Spencer spent a substantial share of the money on his own expenses.''

Spencer used the retiree's money "for expenses not remotely related to'' the investment venture, Yates determined.

Spencer two weeks ago asked the judge to reconsider the judgment, and proposed an alternative amount of $379,000. That request is pending.

Kent County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Chris Becker said his office was not asked to review the case for possible criminal charges. Jackson said he would like to see charges filed.

"My feelings are he should be in jail - after he pays me,'' Jackson said. "Being a politician, representing the people in a large area and for him to be allowed to continue to function in that capacity; it's mind-boggling.''

Spencer was elected supervisor of Plainfield Township in 2012.