Northern Michigan Funeral Home Owner Facing Felony Embezzlement Charges

Felony Embezzlement Charges in Standish, Michigan

The owner of R.O. Savage Funeral Home in Standish, Michigan, has been charged with felony embezzlement. Richard Weishuhn faces two separate felony charges. The first is for embezzlement of more than $100,000. This is punishable by up to 20-years in prison and possible fines. The second is for embezzlement of more than $50,000, punishable by up to 15-years in prison and possible fines.

The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) conducted a routine audit last year on the records of the funeral home. It was discovered that Weishuhn had failed to submit the required annual financial reports for prepaid funeral contracts from 2006-2012. The audit also found that 174 pre-paid funeral contracts, valued at $601,438, were not held in escrow as required by law.

In addition to the many violations of the Prepaid Funeral and Cemetery Sales Act, it was also discovered that the manager was practicing mortuary science without a license. The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs suspended the license and registration of R.O. Savage Funeral Chapel, and ordered that Weishuhn “cease and desist all activity requiring a mortuary science license, including maintaining a funeral establishment and representing himself in connection with a funeral establishment.”

LARA reported the alleged misconduct to the Michigan Attorney General’s Office, who then conducted their own investigation of Weishuhn’s financial affairs. It was revealed that in 2011 and 2012, Weishuhn allegedly spent more than $200,000 in prepaid funeral funds for personal and business use.

Weshuhn turned himself in and was arraigned in 81st District Court in Standish. He was released on a $25,000 bail bond.

Medical Marijuana Supporters In Michigan Concerned About New ‘Drugged Driving’ Proposal

Michigan Legislature Addresses “Drugged Driving”

Just a few days ago the House Judiciary Committee took testimony on a three-bill package to address “drugged driving”. The new proposal would require that driving while under the influence of a controlled substance, for example: medical marijuana, would be subject to the same testing requirements as drunk driving.

Currently the law allows for blood, urine and breath testing for alcohol consumption. Under the new proposal, these tests would also include saliva testing by way of oral swab tests. According to Sgt. Dwayne Gill, legislative liaison for the Michigan State Police, it would provide MSP with a new tool for dealing with drugged driving cases. He also stated that the police didn’t intend to start using the test immediately; they will wait until the science has been proven through testing.

So, what is an oral swab test? Swab drug tests are gaining popularity in recent years, replacing urine and blood tests in many situations.  They are easy to use and far less invasive. A swab drug test, also known as an oral fluid test, can determine if a person has recently used any drugs in the SAMHSA-5 category, including opiates, marijuana and cocaine.

Advocates for the medical marijuana community have expressed concerns regarding the accuracy of the swab tests and what those results would mean for patients. The test doesn’t confirm intoxication, it simply provides a positive or negative finding with regards to traces of marijuana in the driver’s system.

Concerns have been raised that arrests might be made based on oral swab results for trace amounts of legalised marijuana that aren’t affecting a driver’s ability. Currently medical marijuana patients are allowed to drive after consuming the drug, but only if they are not driving erratically or posing a danger to others.

According to the new proposal, the law would “apply the same consequences to operating a vehicle with the presence of a controlled substance, that are currently in place for having an unlawful alcohol content.”  In other words, the current consequences of drunk driving would be applied to “drugged driving”.

High Court Makes it Easier to Convict Defendants of Extortion in Michigan

In People v. Harris, the defendant was convicted of extortion and other offenses. The Court of Appeals affirmed the convictions, and the Michigan Supreme Court granted leave to appeal. The case originated in Saginaw County Circuit Court. This opinion was released on April 3, 2014.

On appeal, the Supreme Court found that according to the plain language of the extortion law, the crime is complete when:

(a) the defendant says or writes a threat;

(b) to accuse another of a crime or to injure them or their property; and

(c) with the intent to gain money or financial advantage or to stop another from an act against his or her will. A couple of Court of Appeal cases have stated that the act demanded of the victim must also have a serious consequence in order to convict a person of that crime. However, the Supreme Court found that this went against the plain meaning of the law. In other words, the Court decided that the level of seriousness of the consequences of the forced act was not important.

Having overruled the earlier Court of Appeals cases named Fobb and Hubbard, the Court looked solely at the text of the Michigan law and decided that there was enough evidence to uphold the defendant’s extortion conviction.   In this case, the defendant used foul language, threatened to silence the victim, and waved the gun around. There was a malicious verbal threat made that compelled the victim to act against his will—that is, to continue working on fixing the defendant’s truck.

There is little doubt that this case will make it easier for prosecutor’s to get convictions for extortion in Michigan.  The crime of extortion is often added to a criminal complaint in order put the prosecution in a better negotiating position.  For more information regarding the crime of Extortion in Michigan, CLICK HERE.

Kronzek and Cronkright, PLLC, provides premium criminal defense to clients all across the lower peninsula of Michigan.

 

Joseph Ford Trial Under Way – Drunk Driving Causing Death Conviction May Lead to Prison Sentence

Michigan Drunk Driving Causing Death Trial

Late last year, on the night of October 10th, Joseph Ford joined friends at the Florentine Pizzeria Ristorante & Sports Lounge in Grand Rapids, MI. According to the bartenders working that night, Ford drank 4 beers and 4 ‘Jagerbombs’. They also observed that his pupils looked misshapen. One of the bartenders was a friend of Ford’s from high school. She stated that she knew he struggled with ADHD and was taking prescription Adderall.

Shortly before 10pm, Ford left the restaurant in his 2006 Dodge Charger and was driving north on Patterson SE when when he ran a red light at 36th Street. His car struck a Mazda driven by Eric Fischer, aged 23, and containing Andrea Herrera, aged 20, who was Fischer’s girlfriend. The impact pushed the Mazda into an oncoming semi-truck.

Fischer and Herrera were both severely injured at the scene. Two AeroMed flight nurses happened to be driving in the area at the time of the crash and tried to assist the wounded couple, but to no avail. Fischer and Herrera both died as a result of their injuries.

According to two separate Michigan State Police blood-draw tests, Fords blood alcohol level was registered at .087, and then when tested by staff at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Hospital it registered at .125. The legal limit for drunk driving in Michigan is .08 percent. MSP forensic analysis also showed that Ford’s blood tested positive for  amphetamines, morphine and promethazine.

Ford has been charged with two felony counts of drunk driving causing death, and two felony counts of reckless driving causing death. Under Michigan law causing a death while driving drunk is a felony that is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine of $2,500 to $10,000, or both.

The trial is expected to last the rest of the week and wrap up on Friday. Ford remains free on a $50,000 bond. As a condition of his bond, Ford also wears an electronic tether that monitors his blood-alcohol level.

 

 

Former NMU Student President Facing Michigan Embezzlement Charges

On March 26th, following a police investigation, Amber Lopota was charged with embezzlement. She is accused of stealing over &1,000 from the student government of Northern Michigan University, where she was the elected student president.

Lopota, a 34 year old from Port Huron, was elected in April 2013 and served through the 2013 – 14 academic year. After the charges were filed, Lopota chose to withdraw from the university instead of facing a hearing before the student conduct board. She is charged with felony embezzlement, agent or trustee, of between $1,000 and $20,000, and a misdemeanor count of embezzlement, agent or trustee, of less than $200

Lopota waived the preliminary examination for the felony embezzlement charges in district court, so the case was bound over to circuit court. She is scheduled to appear on May 9th for arraignment in the Marquette County Circuit Court. She is also scheduled to stand trial on June 3rd in the Marquette District Court on the misdemeanor embezzlement charges.

Police say that the investigation is still on-going, and as a result, information available to the public is currently limited. Lopota’s lawyer, Karl Numinen, stated that “Things aren’t always what they seem at first, and I expect that as this process unfolds, the full truth will be revealed.”

Because it is a felony, a Michigan embezzlement charge where the amount stolen is more than $1,000 and less than $20,000 the penalty can be up to five years in prison, up to $10,000 in fines, and sometimes both. In misdemeanor embezzlement charges where the stolen money has a value of less than $200.00, the punishment can be up to 93 days of imprisonment, a fine of not more than $500.00, and sometimes both.

 

Indiana Woman Facing Multiple Felony Charges In St. Joseph County, Michigan

Aubrey Ann Coy, a 34 year old resident of Kosciusko County in Indiana, is facing 7 felony charges and 1 misdemeanor following a high speed police chase that took place in Southern Michigan recently.

Apparently Coy and her mother were visiting Coy’s 5 year old daughter, a supervised visit for which Coy’s mother was appointed the supervisor. During the visit, Coy took her daughter and her mother’s car and fled. Coy’s mother called 911 as soon as she realised that her daughter and the child were missing.

Coy is well known to authorities in her county. She has an extensive criminal history including felony charges for theft, forgery, fraud, resisting law enforcement, possession of methamphetamine, leaving the scene of an accident, operating while intoxicated (drunk driving) and possession of a controlled substance. She has also been previously charged with misdemeanors for trespassing, intimidation and operating while intoxicated.

By using the GPS in her cell phone, Kosciusko County Sheriff Department tracked Coy to her location in Michigan and alerted the St. Joseph County Dispatch that she was entering their jurisdictiona. At this point the Michigan State Police began the search for her car.

A trooper noticed her vehicle in Mottville Township and approached the car. Apparently the 5 year old was sitting in the front seat without a car seat or restraints.  The officer spoke with her briefly, but when he asked her to step out of the car, Coy drove away at high speed. MSP chased her for several miles, during which time the child was seen climbing into her lap in the driver’s seat.  The chase reached 75 miles per hour.

Police were finally able to pull the vehicle over when one of Coy’s tires came off of the rim and two other tires were flattened by stop sticks. At this point Coy grabbed the child and attempted to flee on foot. She was quickly overtaken by police and tried to fight them off before being taken into custody. Officers found cocaine during a search of the vehicle after the arrest. The child is safe and has been returned to family.

Coy has been charged with felony counts of second-degree child abuse, obstruction of justice, possession of cocaine, fleeing and eluding police and three counts of resisting arrest. Coy was also charged with a misdemeanor count of operating under the influence of a narcotic. Authorities have said that it is likely that she may face additional charges in Kosciusko county, which may include interfering with child custody and/or kidnapping.

Washtenaw County Teenager Charged With Murder, Now Facing Additional Charges

On February 22nd, just after midnight in the city of Saline, MI, Samantha Grigg was arrested for murder. She and two other teenagers, 18 year old Tyrel Bredernitz and 16 year old Brendan Heim, were charged with the murder of 19 year old Michigan State University student Dustyn Frolka. Frolka’s body was found partially-clothed and unresponsive on the side of the Interstate 69 in Bath Township on February 15.

Police say the three teens intended to rob Frolka of money to buy drugs, but the situation changed for reasons not known to authorities, and he was instead beaten to death with brass knuckles and thrown from the moving vehicle. He was taken to Sparrow Hospital in Lansing and soon after, pronounced dead.

As a result, all three teens are currently facing charges of first-degree murder, armed robbery and conspiracy to commit armed robbery. Grigg and Bredernitz waived their preliminary examinations, but Brandon Heim, who was charged as an adult, is awaiting a psychological examination. His hearing was adjourned without a date to allow time for the psychological evaluation which will determine his competency and criminal responsibility.

At the time of the arrest, Grigg’s car was searched as it was believed by police to be the vehicle used in the murder. During the search police found two pill bottles containing 38 pills marked as dextroamphetamine. In addition, they also found a small bag containing 13.13 grams of marijuana. According to the police report, the search produced both drugs and equipment.

In addition to the murder and armed robbery charges, Washtenaw County Assistant Prosecutor Brenda Taylor has now authorized drug charges against Grigg, including possession with intent to deliver or manufacture marijuana, and an additional count of possession of analogues or amphetamines.

Under Michigan law, if convicted on the marijuana possession charge, Grigg faces up to four years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000. If convicted on the amphetamines possession charge, she could face up to two years in prison and a possible fine of up to $20,000.

The Washtenaw County charges have not yet been filed; and so no court date has been set for the arraignment in the 14A District Court. Grigg is currently being held in the Clinton County Jail where she awaits trial for murder and armed robbery in the Clinton County Trial Court. She is expected to accept a plea deal for those charges.

 

Man Facing Battle Creek Drunk Driving Charges After Stealing City-Owned Car

Tad McCrumb, an inspector from the City of Battle Creek Engineering Department, pulled up to the intersection of Fountain Street and Capitol Avenue on Wednesday to check on work progress. New traffic signals were being replaced and he had stopped by to see how the work was coming. He parked behind a cement truck and got out, leaving the vehicle turned off but the keys in the ignition to make it easier for a contractor to move the truck if it happened to be in the way.

At about 1:45 someone told him his truck was being driven away, and not by a contractor. The police were called to report the stolen truck, but as it turns out, they weren’t the only ones with cause for concern. While officers were taking the stolen vehicle report, several other motorists had called 911 to report seeing the truck being driven erratically down the road. Someone finally decided to follow along in their car to make sure everything was OK until police arrived.

Police found and followed the truck, causing the driver to pull over on Territorial Road. The driver was a 40 year old man from Battle Creek who was intoxicated. He was arrested for drunk driving and outstanding warrants, and is currently being held in the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Department.

The driver has been charged with unlawfully driving away an automobile, also known as car theft, which is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. He was also charged with operating while intoxicated, or “drunk driving”, which is a misdemeanor punishable by jail time and possible fines and community service.  The prosecution will be in the Calhoun County Circuit Court.

 

74 Year Old Woman facing Antrim County Home Invasion Charges

An interesting Antrim County home invasion case is in the news.  Ann Shirley Wilson, a 74 year old resident of Elk Rapids, MI was recently arrested and charged with breaking and entering. The retired real estate agent is a suspect in a string of break-ins across several counties, including Leelanau, Grand Traverse and Antrim. According to police, Wilson would knock on the door of a home and if no one answered, she would enter. If discovered, she used a ‘lost dog ruse’ – claiming to be searching for the owners of a lost dog.

Several different home owners across three different counties have reported break-ins to the police, citing the disappearance of little items and knick-knacks from their homes. Several individuals reported encountering Wilson in their homes uninvited. One man claims he came out of the shower to find her wandering around in his house. A woman in another county says she came home to find Wilson in her home. In both instances Wilson cited looking for owners of a lost dog as her reason for being in the home without permission.

Elk Rapids police say there have been five reports of ‘lost dog’ breaking-and-entering incidents in Elk Rapids and several more in other areas. Items reported as missing include small change, jewelry and other assorted little items that are easy to carry and conceal.

During a search of Wilson’s home, several stolen items were recovered, but many more remain unaccounted for. When asked about the stolen items, Wilson stated that after entering a home she would see items that she had ‘fallen in love with’ and then ‘had to have.’ Initially deputies believed that Wilson’s actions may have been the result of a medical condition or mental illness, but it is now believed that her actions were deliberate.

Wilson was arraigned in 86th District Court and is facing one charge of first-degree home invasion which is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. She was held in the Antrim County Jail until posting bail for $150,000 and being released. A condition of her bail forbids her to enter a home that is not her own.

 

Driver in need of Kalamazoo Drunk Driving Attorney

A Michigan man is going to be looking for a good Kalamazoo Drunk Driving Attorney.  On Friday April 11th, in the very early hours of morning, five college roommates were suddenly woken up by a loud boom. They searched for the source of the noise, only to cover that a car had come crashing through the wall of their rental house. No one inside the house was hurt, just confused and surprised. The drunk driver, however, wasn’t quite that lucky. According to one of the residents of the house, his face was all cut up.

Within minutes, the house began to fill with smoke from the damaged car. Apparently the injured man got out of the wrecked car and came into their house, saying “Don’t call the police! Don’t call the police!”. They also say they heard him talking to a friend on his phone, apparently the owner of the vehicle, telling her that he had just totaled her car.

The residents called the police to report the events and, as a result, the driver fled the scene on foot. The suspect was tracked using a K-9 unit, to another home later the same day. He was arrested and charged with leaving the scene of an accident, driving under the influence and driving on a suspended license. Police have not yet released the man’s name, but students of Western Michigan University have identified him as Janero Johnson, a 20 year old resident of Kalamazoo, MI.

The car, described as a maroon Chevrolet Prizm, crashed through the wall of the basement, causing severe structural and electrical damage. Within hours of the incident the house was condemned and the five roommates were required to move out. They are currently staying with friends or family.