Articles Posted in Theft and Property Crimes

Original Case Details

The defendant in this case was convicted at trial of armed robbery. This conviction occurred after two previous trials that both ended in mistrials due to hung juries. According to court records, in early August 2016, a man went for a walk and met a woman on the street. They talked and he invited her back to his house. At the house, the woman offered to perform sexual acts on the man for $50. The man agreed and opened a safe containing $4,200 in cash and other valuables and pulled out a $50 for the woman, telling her he would give it to her after the night was over. The woman then called a drug dealer to come over and sell her and the man drugs. The defendant then allegedly came over later and sold them crack cocaine and left. Later, the defendant allegedly returned with a gun and stole the man’s safe.

About a week after this, a detective got a warrant to search the defendant’s property for evidence related to separate criminal allegations of drug trafficking. Upon executing the warrant, the police seized the defendant’s phone. The phone’s data was extracted and categorized, resulting in a 600-page report on the defendant’s phone. Evidence related to drug trafficking was searched. The phone was later searched again when the prosecutor in the armed robbery case asked the police to search the report using different search terms related only to the armed robbery case. Using information gained from the search of the phone information, the prosecutor was able to get a conviction at the third trial. This resulted in a sentence of 25-60 years in prison.

In the field of criminal defense, especially that of theft crimes, we find individuals facing prosecutions at an alarming rate. A question that many people wonder is why aren’t there more corporate prosecutions? Do the likes of companies such as “Enron” and “WorldCom” get somehow of a free pass while those charged with Retail Fraud (shoplifting) face continual prosecutions? To discuss this matter in greater detail, we spoke to 3 of the top criminal defense lawyers in the state of Michigan to gain their insight.

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates and is known to have the top criminal defense team across the state of Michigan. When asked about criminal prosecutions, Grabel stated, “We really do not see a lot of this and the reality is that when a corporation is facing criminal charges they tend to engage a big named civil defense firm which is confusing. It is almost as if the corporate defendants’ stay with firms that they work with as opposed to engaging a firm that specializes in criminal law. It can truly set the defendant up for failure.”

William Amadeo is a Partner for McManus and Amadeo in Washtenaw County and a Senior Associate for Grabel and Associates in Ingham and Shiawassee County, Michigan. Amadeo, who is known as the top criminal defense lawyer in Washtenaw County added his insight when he said, “Different judges have different hotspots. Many times when dealing with theft there is a lot of confusion. Quite often, we see Presentence Investigation Reports that make the case seem far worse than it is. The reality is that where we stand in the criminal justice system, if you steal $1 million you get the benefit of the doubt but if you steal groceries from “Meijer” you face stiff prosecution. It’s a bizarre system that we need to fix. If you want to prosecute go after the true criminal, not the single mother trying to feed her family.”

Original Case Details

On April 5th of this year, the rapper Eminem woke up to find a man standing behind him in his Clinton Township home. Investigators say that Eminem initially thought the person standing behind him was his nephew but was surprised to find out that it was a complete stranger. Eminem asked him why he was there, and the man, identified as Matthew David Hughes, said he was there to kill him. During the preliminary exam hearing, Clinton Township police officer Adam Hackstock testified that when he arrived at Eminem’s home in Clinton Township, he found Eminem’s security guard fighting with Hughes. Police were able to take Hughes into custody without much incident or struggle. Police testified that a brick was found inside the house next to a broken window where Hughes is said to have entered the home. Security footage is said to show that Hughes was on the premises of Eminem’s home for a while before he entered the house through the broken window. Hughes was unarmed when he was taken into custody and did not use or attempt to use any weapons during the alleged crime. Hughes was scheduled to take a competency evaluation but later turned it down. His defense attorney has stated on the record that he thinks there are mental health issues involved in the case.

Charges and Potential Penalties for Eminem’s Alleged Home Invader

Original Case Details

Former Macomb County Clerk Karen Spranger was accused of stealing money from a bank account of a 78-year-old woman that she was supposed to be taking care of. Spranger was alleged to have taken money from the woman’s account on eight separate occasions in January of 2019 without proper permission. It was alleged that she took a total of $1,660 from the woman by accessing her bank account and making withdrawals. Spranger was originally charged with felony larceny, as well as disturbing the peace for allegedly pulling the alleged victim from Spranger’s car, causing them both to fall. Spranger has since pled no contest to the disturbing the peace charge. Spranger was first accused of these charges in February of 2019, it took authorities until May of 2019 to catch up to Spranger and formally arraign her on the charges. Previously, Spranger was elected as the Macomb County Clerk in 2016 but was removed from the post in March of 2018 after St. Clair County Circuit Court judge ruled that Spranger lied about her actual residency which required her to be a Macomb County resident.

Criminal Charges and Potential Penalties

Original Case Details

Federal authorities raided a house in northern Michigan that they believe is tied to an art forgery scheme that tricks art collectors into buying fake paintings claimed to be painted by top American artists. These artists include Ralston Crawford, Gertrude Abercrombie, and George Ault. Ault was an artist active mainly in the 1940s, while Crawford was mainly active in the 1970s but also had a similar artistic style to Ault. Abercrombie was a surrealist artist mainly active in the 1970s as well. Those involved in the scheme are also believed to be in the business of selling counterfeit sports memorabilia falsely advertised as belonging to baseball hall of famers Babe Ruth, Will Mays, and Lou Gehrig. Investigators believe this is a national crime ring which has conspirators operating in the Detroit area. It is alleged that this ring targeted major galleries with its scheme. Hirschl & Adler, a top American art gallery in New York City, spent nearly half a million dollars in paintings that were part of the alleged scheme. The managing director of the gallery, Elizabeth Feld stated that, “this is every (art) dealer’s nightmare.” Feld also pointed out that the artwork they bought was still beautiful art, even if not painted by the artists claimed. It is important to note that the artwork that is alleged to have been sold are not said to be photocopies of other famous pieces. These are pieces that art claimed to have been unknown pieces of art coming from these famous artists. In order for any of this alleged scheme to work, they have to convince art collectors and art galleries that these pieces were actually painted by a famous artist, something they seem to have done pretty well.

Ongoing Investigation

Original Case Details

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy is set to testify over her handling of Former state senator Virgil Smith’s criminal case. Smith was sentenced to ten months in the Wayne County Jail back in 2016 for a felony charge of malicious destruction of property along with admitting that he brandished a gun and fired shots at his ex-wife’s car. An initial plea deal with negotiated where the Wayne County Prosecutors Office agreed to drop three charges if Smith agreed to resign from the Senate along with agreeing to not hold elected office during his probation period, which would have been set for five years. When the negotiated plea deal went in front of Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Lawrence Talon, the judge removed both requirements relating Smith’s ability to hold elected office from the deal, stating that the terms were unconstitutional. Prosecutors didn’t agree with a deal that did not include resignation and no elected office so they attempted to withdraw the deal, but Judge Talon would not allow the withdrawal. Prosecutors appealed the Judge’s decision and won at the Michigan Supreme Court in 2018, where the ruling said that the judge should have allowed prosecutors to withdraw from the deal since key parts of it were removed by the judge. After the deal was successfully withdrawn, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy then offered Smith a new deal if he pled to two felonies, which included the previous malicious destruction of property charge in addition to felonious assault. Seeing as Smith had already served his jail time in 2016, and had no new charges or violations, he found this to be vindictive on Worthy’s part since Smith had a deal that included only one felony conviction previously. Smith had also unsuccessfully attempted a run for a seat on Detroit City Council after serving his jail time.

What Is The Current Situation?

A woman facing embezzlement charges has just gotten another adjournment much to the judge’s chagrin. The judge asked, “what are we doing with this case? This is the ninth adjournment in this case.” While the judge holds the ultimate authority over giving adjournments, there is an interest in working towards a resolution if it is possible. The defense attorney stated that this adjournment was to finalize plea negotiations. Sometimes an adjournment is exactly what is needed, just a little more time. If both the prosecutor and defense attorney are in agreement in asking for an adjournment, it is rarely denied.

Original Case Details

The woman, 64, is accused of embezzling over $20,000 from the Eastpointe chapter of the International Order of Odd Fellows. She was hired as secretary to the club back in June 2018. She has been accused of stealing the money over a period of time. Investigators believe that she would write duplicate checks to herself, listing things like “vacation” and “hotel reservation” on the memo lines. Additional, out of numerical order checks were also made out to her totaling over $12,000. This woman’s rap sheet goes back to 1990 where she had her first conviction for a false identification in the use of a financial transaction device. She has been convicted of embezzlement previously in 2015 and in 2008 where she embezzled more than $35,000 between both cases. In 2003, she was convicted of theft for stealing over $20,000.

After a 3-day jury trial, a Huron County Circuit Court jury returned a verdict of not guilty on a man charged with two felonies. The defendant, Travis M. Kosinski, was found not guilty of one county of breaking and entering a building with intent, and one count of malicious destruction of personal property.

The charges stemmed from a June 2016 allegation, Konsinski was accused of doing thousands of dollars of damage to a 1974 24-foot Sea Ray boat that belonged to his relative. Peter Samouris of Grabel and Associates led Kosinski’s defense.

Samouris provided commentary on the trial when he said, “I’m glad that justice was served in Travis’s case. My client has always maintained his innocence-and as one of the jurors told me afterwards-he was wondering why it was even charged in the first place. Travis is delighted to put all of this behind him. Justice was served with this verdict.”

Alleged Corruption At Detroit Police Department

An ongoing investigation into the Detroit police department narcotics unit has turned up some serious problems within the unit. The investigation has looked into allegations of corruption and continues to investigate. The investigation has uncovered possible false affidavits that led to convictions. Because of these false affidavits, these convictions might be getting overturned and for some people, will mean their freedom. Investigators have also uncovered more alleged corruption in the forms of planting evidence, robbing drug dealers, and embezzling money. There have also been numerous instances where suspects were turned into confidential police informants without the proper approval. The team of investigators is comprised of Detroit police officers, Michigan state police troopers, and FBI agents. This 17-person investigation team is looking within a 10-year period of narcotics unit activity. It is estimated the investigation will be looking into as many as 10,000 police drug raids. This specific drug unit was disbanded in 2014 because of rampant internal problems in how evidence and drugs were handled.

The Current Investigation

In the last 5 years, one crime that has become the center of controversy is that of Home Invasion. While the statute provides one aspect of the crime, the practicality of the statute has been up for debate in courtrooms across the state of Michigan. In reviewing the statute, we learn that Home Invasion in the First Degree states:

A person who breaks and enters a dwelling with intent to commit a felony, larceny, or assault in the dwelling, a person who enters a dwelling without permission with intent to commit a felony, larceny, or assault in the dwelling, or a person who breaks and enters a dwelling or enters a dwelling without permission and, at any time while he or she is entering, present in, or exiting the dwelling, commits a felony, larceny, or assault is guilty of home invasion in the first degree if at any time while the person is entering, present in, or exiting the dwelling either of the following circumstances exists:

(a) The person is armed with a dangerous weapon.

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