Traverse City Record-Eagle

Meijer-Acme Township Dispute

August 7, 2009

Lawsuit alleges Village committed crime

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.

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