Traverse City Record-Eagle

Meijer-Acme Township Dispute

August 26, 2009

Deposition may violate Meijer agreement

Boltres sued development partner The Village

TRAVERSE CITY -- A judge's warning may put an end to former Acme Township Treasurer Bill Boltres' quest to get to the bottom of election manipulations in Acme Township.

A two-hour hearing this week in 13th Circuit Court featured accusations of slander, ethics violations, back-stabbing and possible legal malpractice, but Judge Philip Rodgers also outlined financial risks to Boltres if he continues a lawsuit against The Village of Grand Traverse LLC.

Boltres hopes to convince Rodgers that The Village violated state campaign laws, similar to violations committed by Meijer, Inc., The Village's would-be development partner in Acme. But Boltres must submit to questioning by lawyers for The Village, and his statements could undermine a confidentiality agreement with Meijer, which paid Boltres an undisclosed sum to settle a 2007 suit he filed against the retailer.

If Boltres violates the agreement, he could forfeit the money he received from Meijer.

"Rodgers is so concerned about the risks that it stopped me in my tracks," said Grant Parsons, Boltres' attorney. "He's telling me that if I keep pursuing this lawsuit it may not be in my client's best interests."

Meijer and The Village sued Boltres and other Acme officials personally in 2005 amid a zoning battle over a proposed mega-mall along M-72 that was to be anchored by Meijer. Meijer later publicly admitted it violated campaign finance laws when it tried to secretly manipulate township elections in 2005 and 2007.

The Village denied it was involved in either election, though it paid related legal bills in 2005 and one of its partners acted as a liaison between Meijer operatives and local residents later exposed as front groups for Meijer, court and state records show.

Boltres then sued The Village in 2008 for malicious prosecution. In both suits he said the actions harmed his health.

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