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Investigation finds Holland deputy clerk lied about incident with mayor’s husband

By Sydney Smith/The Holland Sentinel • Jan 16, 2018 at 3:00 PM

HOLLAND — Anna Perales, former deputy city clerk for Holland, resigned after officials found she lied about being grabbed by the mayor’s husband late last year.

Perales alleged that Jim DeBoer, Mayor Nancy DeBoer’s husband, grabbed her arm after she did not read an introduction of the mayor at a swearing-in ceremony on Nov. 13 at city hall when new and returning council members were being sworn in for new terms, according to a letter to Perales obtained by the Sentinel. Nancy DeBoer was re-elected to a second term in early November.

Perales later told Interim City Manager Greg Robinson that Jim DeBoer grabbed her arm, and the force she demonstrated on Robinson prompted an investigation. Jim DeBoer repeatedly denied this to city officials.

After the verbal exchange with Jim DeBoer in city council chambers Nov. 13, Perales told The Sentinel that Jim DeBoer was upset about the omission of the mayor’s bio. She did not say that Jim DeBoer grabbed her arm.

Surveillance video footage obtained by the Grand Rapids Press does not appear to show him grabbing Perales’ arm.

Jim DeBoer told The Sentinel via email the “entire matter is very bizarre.”

“As you can see in the video, her story was completely fabricated,” he said. “The video speaks for itself.”

“The conclusion after the investigation and watching the surveillance video was that he did not grab her arm,” Jennifer Orme, Holland’s human resources director, told The Sentinel.

After reviewing surveillance footage and hearing denials from the DeBoers, Orme issued the letter to Perales saying that Perales’ dishonesty betrayed the city’s trust and that the city had lost confidence in her ability to perform her responsibilities.

“Your dishonesty has severely compromised your credibility,” Orme wrote. “Further, your improper actions have reflected extremely negatively on yourself and the city as an organization. Because of your misconduct, the city has lost confidence in your ability to properly, professionally and effectively perform your job duties.”

The city was going to take disciplinary action, up to and including termination, before Perales resigned.

According to the letter, Perales had violated multiple parts of the city’s policy on employee conduct, including dishonesty and making false statements.

Perales resigned a month later, Dec. 13, after a closed session with city council. After that, city officials declined to discuss what led to her resignation.

According to Perales’ resignation agreement obtained by The Sentinel, Perales was paid a lump sum of $18,475.20 which represents three months of salary and $8,609.33 in paid time off.

Perales could not be reached for comment. In the past, she declined to comment on what led to her resignation because she said her resignation agreement prohibited her from doing so.

She worked for the city for 17 years and was asked to step in as deputy city clerk in 2006 after the city had legal troubles with previous city clerk Jenifer French. In that case, Holland officials fired French after alleging she lied about where she lived on tax and voter registration forms, netting $8,000 a year in homestead tax exemptions. The city accused French of filing a false voter registration and personal residency exemption as well as conduct detrimental to the image of the city and presenting false and misleading information during the investigation.

In 2014, the city reached a settlement, agreeing to pay French more than $1 million.

Perales’ attorney Brad Glazier could not be reached Monday.

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