Former acting city manager is found not guilty of assault
By Charles Sercombe
“The nightmare is over.”
That’s the first thing former Acting City Manager Erik Tungate said, after being cleared of assaulting his former fiancé.
On Tuesday, a St. Ignace jury found Tungate not guilty of assaulting Morgan Nye, while they were at a hotel on Mackinac Island last September. The charge was a felony, and if he had been found guilty, it would have a serious career killer.
Tungate was hired over three months ago to fill in as city manager after the city council abruptly fired former City Manager Bill Cooper.
Tungate’s hiring was controversial because he did not meet the city charter qualifications for the job.
However, his supporters, which included Mayor Karen Majewski, argued that since he was only “acting” city manager, the charter requirements did not apply.
The charge against Tungate came to light just after he was hired.
Tungate said from the start that he would be vindicated by the court. In a telephone interview on Thursday with The Review, he said: “I’m relieved. Justice has been done, and my faith in the system has been renewed.”
He also said he rejected offers to take a plea deal at a lesser charge.
“If you’re innocent, why would you plead guilty?” he said.
Tungate’s tenure as acting city manager didn’t last long. Some former supporters of his on council had turned against Tungate and were prepared to fire him.
But instead of being fired, Tungate submitted his resignation. Before leaving, he did produce a budget deficit reduction plan. That plan called for passing on costs to property owners through a series of special fees and a tax increase.
It didn’t appear the plan had full support among councilmembers. After Tungate left, Finance Director Nevrus Nazarko was appointed acting city manager.
A search is continuing for a permanent city manager.
Tungate said he has a job prospect, but declined to go into details.
At his trial was Hillary Cherry, who runs the blog site hamtramckstar.com. Cherry was the first to publish Tungate’s arrest report. The report had been accidently released, said the St. Ignace Prosecutor’s Office.
The prosecutor’s office declined to comment. Tungate’s trial lasted for two days, and the jury deliberated for about one hour.