A Circuit Court judge out of Genesee County has reinstated criminal charges against former Thetford Township police chief Robert Kenny. This ruling overrules the District Court judge’s decision dismissing the case at preliminary exam. Genesee County Circuit Judge David J. Newblatt overturned 67th District Court Judge Vikki Bayeh Haley’s decision to dismiss embezzlement and obstruction of justice charges against Kenny.
Original Case Details
Now former Thetford Township police chief Robert Kenny was alleged to have pocketed more than $5,000 after scrapping surplus military equipment that was owned by the city. This surplus equipment was said to have been obtained by the Thetford Police Department through the federal Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO) program. This program would give excess military equipment that might otherwise be destroyed to law enforcement agencies across the country. All of this equipment is simply given, not sold, to law enforcement agencies. The military equipment would include clothing, office supplies, tools, vehicles, and guns etc. Since the beginning of the program, LESO has transferred more than $7 billion worth of military gear to law enforcement agencies nationwide. Items that are obtained through LESO can be sold off after one year as long as the money is then put back into the police department for improvements. Genesee County Prosecutors allege that Kenny sold off some of this surplus equipment and pocketed the money, over $5,000 worth. 67th District Court Judge Bayeh Haley said that the case “may be bad bookkeeping, but not probable cause for embezzlement.” She also found that there was no evidence of any obstruction of justice charges due to his cooperation with officers.
How The Charges Were Reinstated
A felony charge starts in District Court and most often ends up in Circuit Court for most proceedings, including jury trials. When a felony is first at the District Court level, the prosecution must show that probable cause existed that a crime was committed along with probable cause that the person charged is the one that committed that crime. It is a very low burden for the prosecutor to meet. In the most basic terms, all you really need most of the time is a simple finger pointed at the defendant to make it past this stage to the Circuit Court. If the District Court judge feels that the prosecutor has not met this burden, they can dismiss the case. That is what happened here. Judge Bayeh Haley dismissed the charges against Kenny. Now after the dismissal, the prosecutor has the option to file an appeal of this decision to the Circuit Court, which would review the case to see if the District Court judge “abused their discretion” in making their decision dismissing the case. The District Court is given wide latitude in making decisions and in most cases, appeals of District Court decisions usually fail. In this case, however, Genesee County Circuit Court Judge David J. Newblatt reinstated the charges against the embattled police chief, overturning the District Court’s decision.
What Happens Now?
The case now continues at pretrial at the Circuit Court level, where the case will stay for its duration. Now Kenny has the option to work out some sort of deal or go to trial on the charges of embezzlement and obstruction of justice. It would seem that the prosecutor has a pretty weak case since it was dismissed at preliminary exam where the burden of proof is so low. At a trial, the prosecutor will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Kenny committed these crimes, a far higher standard than the probable cause standard needed to get past the preliminary exam stage.
Any Further Questions?
If you have any additional questions relating to this case or anything else related to public corruption, then we are happy to offer a FREE consultation. If you or someone you love is facing a criminal charge or is currently being investigated for a possible criminal charge, then it is important to seek the advice and counsel of an attorney immediately. At Grabel & Associates, we have over 100 years of combined experience in successfully representing clients in both federal and state court respectively. We are a criminal defense firm, it’s all we do. We are available by phone on our 24/7 defense line at 1-800-342-7896. You can contact us online or come visit us at one of our three statewide offices. We can also come to you.