Latvian Man Pleads Guilty to Internet Scam

Karlis Vitols, 29, Miami Springs, Florida, pleaded guilty this morning to obtaining $1,000 or more but less than $20,000 by false pretenses in the 33rd Circuit Court. Vitols will be sentenced on Sept. 14. The crime is punishable by up to five years in prison.

Vitols’ plea was entered with the assistance of a Latvian translator as he is a citizen of Latvia. Charlevoix County Sheriff’s Office arrested Vitols in Miami, Florida as he was preparing to board a plane to leave the country.

In his guilty plea, Vitols acknowledged that money had been transferred into a bank account in his name that was part of a fraud or scam. According to an affidavit filed by police, a Charlevoix County resident agreed to purchase a classic car online through a website that was purportedly of a car dealership located in Kansas. In fact, the dealership had closed a year earlier and was no longer in business.

The victim wire transferred over $18,000 into an account as directed by the “dealership” and the money was received by Vitols. The victim did not receive his vehicle, but rather numerous excuses for delay. He called the Charlevoix County Sheriff’s Office.

“This was a result of great police work by Detectives Ben Speigl and Mike Wheat,” Charlevoix County Prosecuting Attorney Allen Telgenhof said. “They broke down the scheme and found that not only had our Charlevoix County person been victimized, but a number of people across the country had been taken as well.”

“The detectives shared information with law enforcement agencies from other states and the FBI and as a result there will be other prosecutions in other jurisdictions as well. If not for the work of the Charlevoix County Sheriff’s Office, this defendant would have fled the country. We are very fortunate for a county our size to have detectives of this caliber and a sheriff who supports prosecution of crimes that may involve traveling to other states for investigation and arrest.”

On July 24, 2018, the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced they had indicated 25 defendants, including Vitols, with wire fraud and money laundering with the toll of their crimes totaling more than $4.5 million.” (https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/25-defendants-charged-manhattan-federal-court-multimillion-dollar-wire-fraud-and-money). The other individuals are from Kazakhstan, Azerbijan, Georgia, Ukraine, Russia and Turkey.

Vitols has a co-defendant, Matiss Puke, who was also arrested in Florida by the Charlevoix County Sheriff’s Office. Puke is charged with false pretenses and using a computer to commit a crime. Puke was also listed in the federal indictment referenced above.

Posted in Uncategorized

Man Pleads Guilty to Medical Marijuana Theft and Use of False Evidence

On Friday, August 3 in the 33rd Circuit Court, Trevor James Blackwell, 26, Charlevoix, pleaded guilty to breaking and entering with intent, a ten-year felony, and presenting false evidence, a four-year felony. Blackwell will also be subject to a sentencing enhancement as a three-time felon which will change the breaking and entering charge to a twenty-year maximum.

Blackwell was set to go to trial on Wednesday, August 8 on these charges as well as additional charges of larceny greater than $20,000 and witness intimidation. Those charges were dismissed as part of a plea agreement as was a charge of home invasion.

According to the affidavits of probable cause filed in the cases, Blackwell and three other men, all of whom have already pleaded guilty in connection with the events, broke into two area medical marijuana grow operations and stole medical marijuana.

After the four were charged, Blackwell asked one of his co-defendants to lie for him and to create a letter stating that Blackwell was not involved in the robberies. Text messages between Blackwell and the co-defendant revealed that Blackwell told the co-defendant what to say and sought to have them to lie under oath.

The letter created by the co-defendant at Blackwell’s urging was introduced at Blackwell’s preliminary examination in the 90th District Court and formed the basis for the false evidence charge. The false evidence charged may be served consecutively to the breaking and entering charge as it was committed while Blackwell was on bond.

Sentencing will occur on Aug. 24.

Posted in Uncategorized

Charlevoix Man Gets Prison for Sexual Assault on Child

Nicholas J. Thelen, 22, of Charlevoix, was sentenced to 57 to 180 months in prison this morning by Judge Roy C. Hayes III in the 33rd Circuit Court. Thelen pleaded guilty to Criminal Sexual Conduct, Second Degree on March 21, 2018.

Thelen admitted sexually assaulting a seven-year-old victim while she was attending a birthday party. While still at the party, the victim reported the assault to an adult. The case was then investigated by the Michigan State Police.

The plea agreement involved a reduction from the original charge of Criminal Sexual Conduct, First Degree. Charlevoix County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Caitlin Borchard, who prosecuted the case, told the court at sentencing that the plea offer was made out of concern for the victim and not putting her through any greater stress or anxiety.

Borchard stated that the child considered Thelen a “friend” and that he preyed upon her by removing other children from the room, closing the blinds and door before he assaulted her. She also indicated that Thelen had been observing child sexually abusive material for years prior to the assault.

In sentencing the defendant, Hayes noted that sexual assaults upon children are “evil acts” and “regularly cause lifelong damage to the victims.” Hayes sentenced Thelen to the maximum under the sentencing guidelines for the case.

Posted in Uncategorized

Free Movie at Charlevoix Cinema III for Crime Victim Rights Week 2018

2018 NCVRW Theme Poster 11x17The Charlevoix County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office will be hosting a free showing of the powerful documentary “Sands of Silence: Waves of Courage” at Charlevoix Cinema III on Tuesday, April 10 at 7:00 p.m. All members of the public are invited to attend.

The showing of the film is made possible by the Crime Victim Services Commission, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Prosecuting Attorney’s Association of Michigan.

“Each year, our Charlevoix County Victim Advocate Libby Mikulski applies for funding for a project to bring awareness regarding victims of crime to our community,” Charlevoix County Prosecuting Attorney Allen Telgenhof said. “This year we are proud to be bringing this award-winning film to Charlevoix County.”

Through the transformation of sex trafficking survivor Virginia Isaias into an inspiring advocate, Sands of Silence celebrates the triumph of the spirit with a call to action to break the chains of sexual violence worldwide

A 15-year quest to expose the underworld of sexual exploitation and trafficking from Asia to the Americas leads world-reporter Chelo Alvarez-Stehle to the windswept beach where her childhood ended and family secrets began.

As she documents the transformation of sex-trafficking survivor Virginia Isaias—a Mexican-American woman whose past is engulfed in a cycle of sexual exploitation—into an inspiring advocate committed to breaking that pattern, Chelo undertakes a parallel journey of healing and introspection as she sets out to shatter the silence about abuse in her own life.

An intimate story about an endemic problem, Sands of Silence celebrates the triumph of the spirit with a call to action to break the chains of sexual violence worldwide.

Posted in Uncategorized

Boyne City Man Sent to Prison

Kyle Richard Cronin, 26, of Boyne City, was sentenced to serve 38 to 60 months in prison this morning in the 33rd Circuit Court. Cronin pleaded guilty on Feb. 2 to a reduced charge of attempted assault by strangulation.

The incident occurred on Nov. 24, 2017 in the City of Boyne City. According to the affidavit of probable cause filed in the case, the Defendant pushed the victim down, then put both of his hands around the victim’s throat while she was lying on the ground causing her to have problems breathing.

Cronin then hit the victim’s head on the floor a couple of times and held her down so she could not get free.

Charlevoix County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Kerry Zahner prosecuted the case for the State of Michigan. Zahner praised the police work of Boyne City Officer Tavis Tannehill and Charlevoix County Deputy Jeremy McAuliff who responded to the call.

Attempted assault by strangulation is a felony which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Posted in Uncategorized

Three Sentenced to Prison in Charlevoix County

Three defendants were sent to prison this morning in the 33rd Circuit Court.

Justin Swadling, 35, of Alanson, was sentenced to 10 to 15 years on his conviction of criminal sexual conduct, third degree. Swadling pleaded guilty on Jan. 16, admitting sexually assaulting a 14-year old on Oct. 14, 2017

According to Charlevoix County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Caitlin Borchard, the offense took place just three months after Swadling had finished serving a 15 year sentence on another criminal sexual conduct charge involving a child.

Borchard argued for the maximum sentence that could be given and Judge Roy C. Hayes III granted the request.

Justin Raymond Stolt, 27, of East Jordan, was sentenced to 23 to 240 months in prison for delivery of heroin and 23 to 60 months for fleeing and eluding, third degree. His sentences will run concurrently. He pleaded guilty to both charges.

Stolt admitted delivering heroin to a friend on May 25, 2017, causing a drug overdose requiring first responders to utilize NARCAN to save her life.

He also admitted fleeing on Aug. 24, 2017, when a Michigan State Police trooper attempted to make a traffic stop, driving 58 miles per hour in a 25 mile per hour zone in East Jordan.

At the sentencing, Charlevoix County Prosecuting Attorney Allen Telgenhof emphasized text messages obtained from Stolt’s cellphone by a search warrant which indicated that while on felony bond, Stolt was regularly driving to Detroit to buy heroin and cocaine to resell in Charlevoix County.

Both Hayes and Telgenhof stated that Stolt was bringing “poison” into the county which in part justified a sentence at the high end of his sentencing guidelines.

William Harley Daniels, Jr., 37, of Boyne City, was sentenced to 17 to 48 months in prison for resisting and obstructing a police officer causing injury.

Daniels pleaded guilty on Jan. 12, 2018. According to the probable cause affidavit in the case, Daniels ran from and later assaulted a state police trooper. Daniels said that he was attempting to avoid being arrested on an outstanding warrant.

Daniels had previously been convicted of five felonies and six misdemeanors and had been sent to prison twice before.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

CHARLEVOIX MAN SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Joseph Martin Reedy, 40, of Charlevoix, was sentenced to 24 to 60 months in prison on a charge of domestic violence, third offense. In exchange for the Defendant’s plea, a charge of assault by strangulation was dismissed.

Reedy was sentenced by Judge Roy C. Hayes III at the high end of his sentencing guidelines which recommended a minimum sentence of 12 to 24 months incarceration.

The conviction arose out of an incident in the City of Charlevoix on August 23, 2017 where according to an affidavit filed in the case, Reedy grabbed the victim as she attempted to leave his apartment, dragged her into the bedroom and assaulted her by choking and headbutting her and threatened to kill her.

Reedy was convicted of domestic violence three times previously as well as six prior felonies.

“I want to commend the bravery of the victim in the case and the job done by Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Kerry Zahner and City of Charlevoix Police Officer Andy Flickema in this case,” Charlevoix County Prosecuting Attorney Allen Telgenhof said.

“At sentencing Kerry spoke passionately about the victim’s transformation from living in fear, being unsure of whether she could assist in prosecution to a position of strength where she was able to be in the courtroom and face her attacker. Kerry does a wonderful job of working with and empowering victims.”

“Officer Flickema did an excellent job with the investigation, not only interviewing the victim and documenting her injuries, but also probing other domestic violence incidents involving the defendant. This is critical information in a prosecution like this.”

Posted in Uncategorized