Elowski’s personal protection order granted against Alpena resident

Michelle Elowski enters her car after leaving the Alcona County Courthouse in an archived photo.

HARRISVILLE — Alcona County’s 23rd Circuit Court Judge Laura Frawley on Wednesday granted former Alpena attorney Michelle Elowski’s request for a personal protection order against Alpena resident Steven Meno.

The PPO bars Meno from communicating with Elowski in any way. Frawley also prohibited Meno from making any “humiliating statements” against the former attorney.

Elowski claimed Meno showed up at her office, screaming and banging on the door, took pictures of Elowski’s property and showed it to others, created flyers printed with Elowski’s face and allegations against her, and aggressively called a lawyer demanding the names of clients previously handled by Elowski.

Elowski called two witnesses to the stand: Meno and East Tawas attorney Nicole Sauvola-LaMay.

Elowski asked Meno about a phone call Meno made to Sauvola-LaMay on April 4. Meno responded that he received a letter on Feb. 29 from Elowski’s office that said that, if anybody had concerns or had interactions with Elowski to contact Sauvola-LaMay.

Meno said he believed Sauvola-LaMay had represented Elowski, but, after rereading the letter in court, he realized he misinterpreted the letter’s wording. Instead, the letter recommended Sauvola-LaMay as an attorney for former clients of Elowski as Elowski began transferring clients earlier this year.

Both witnesses testified Meno refused to give his name to Sauvola-LaMay and that Meno invited Sauvola-LaMay to a gathering for people who claimed Elowski had wronged them.

Sauvola-LaMay testified Meno demanded a list of Elowski’s clients, acting aggressively throughout the phone call.

“I felt assaulted by the phone call, because he was yelling into the phone the entire time,” Sauvola-LaMay said. “He kept inviting me to a community meeting where there’s going to be a mob there. I mean, would I really come to a meeting if I didn’t even know who the person was who was inviting me? I was very concerned.”

Meno called Sauvola-LaMay’s testimony false and said he never asked for a list of clients.

According to both sides, Meno sued Elowski for the return of $25,000 that he loaned to Elowski but had still not received after asking for it back in March 2023.

Both sides testified that, on Aug. 18, Meno had an order from an Alpena County judge to collect the money after Elowski and Meno settled the case, but Elowski had still not paid for it.

Meno testified that he knocked on Elowski’s office door and noticed her peeking out of a window when he was ready to leave. Meno then went to the window and tried to have a discussion. Elowski claimed he banged on her door and began yelling aggressively.

“I knocked on the front door,” Meno said in court. “Nobody answered the front door, and, as I was pulling out, I saw Ms. Elowski look out the window. So I spoke with her. That was well after the judgment had been issued and all I was trying to do is resolve and find out what arrangements could be made to pay me back.”

By September 2023, both parties settled the lawsuit and Meno was given the $25,000 by Elowski.

Around the time Meno went to Elowski’s office, he also published flyers with Elowski’s face on it, claiming that she stole money from him and that she stole his children’s college fund.

Meno claims he asked the Michigan State Police if the flyer was OK to get published.

Elowski also claimed Meno took pictures of her home and shared the photos with other people.

Meno said he took a picture of the house, which is close to his own home. Because the property was listed for sale in a March edition of The Alpena News, friends asked for photos of the home, he said.

Meno testified that he did not originally know it was Elowski’s estate when taking pictures, but confirmed that, when he did know it was Elowski’s home, he still shared the pictures with others and indicated it was her estate.

“If every individual took matters into their own hands, we would have, as (Meno) pointed out, a lawless society,” Frawley said. “As a society, it would be chaos — it’d be the Wild, Wild West, so I believe Ms. Elowski has met the burden of demonstrating with previous incidents.”

Because of the order’s nature, Meno could not comment.

On March 5, Meno filed another lawsuit against Elowski, requesting $2,500 for a retainer fee he had given Elowski for different legal matters with which she had helped him.

Elowski made a motion to turn the small claims lawsuit to general courts, but missed the deadline and Meno was awarded the $2,500 on April 10 by default.

Elowski filed a lawsuit to set aside the default order, as Elowski claims Meno caused her emotional distress, but that lawsuit was denied. Elowski said in court on Wednesday that she plans to appeal

Separately, on March 11, Judge Allen Curtis of Alpena County’s Probate Court sentenced Elowski to 45 days in jail for direct contempt of court for abruptly leaving a civil court proceeding in November. The Michigan Court of Appeals, however, stayed the enforcement of that sentence, allowing Elowski to stay out of jail until the court resolves the appeal.

Curtis has ordered Elowski to repay more than $500,000 to two families, but Elowski told the court in February the money is gone.

Also, in Oscoda County, Elowski faces two counts of common law fraud, one count of check fraud with non-sufficient funds of $500 or more, one count of embezzlement by a trustee of $1,000 or more but less than $20,000, and one count of embezzlement by a trustee of $50,000 or more but less than $100,000.

A preliminary examination for the charges will happen at 1:30 p.m. May 6.

On April 3, the Michigan Supreme Court barred Elowski from practicing law in the state.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today