Dennis Lee Hass and Walloon Lake Water System, Inc. were each ordered to pay $25,000 in civil fines for violating an agreement they entered into with Charlevoix County Prosecuting Attorney Allen Telgenhof in 2013.
The agreement, called an Assurance of Discontinuance, prohibited Hass and WLWS from taking “any retaliatory actions” against its customers who had been victims or alleged victims with respect to criminal charges that were previously filed against Hass.
Hass and WLWS filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court this summer against Melrose Township and a number of individuals, including five of the customers involved in the criminal investigation and prosecution: Bunny Marquardt, Todd Reeves, Gale Charbonneau, Lena Carlile and Maud Bray.
In that suit, Hass and WLWS accused the customers of engaging in a conspiracy with deputy sheriffs, an assistant prosecutor and the township to use the criminal charges in an attempt to force Hass to sell his private water system which services the Walloon Lake area.
Telgenhof sued Hass and WLWS alleging the lawsuit was retaliatory and a violation of the Assurance of Discontinuance.
33rd Circuit Court Judge Roy C. Hayes granted Telgenhof’s motion for summary disposition and fined Hass and WLWS both the maximum amount allowed by law for the violations, saying that their actions were a “blatant violation of the parties’ agreement” which were an “obvious violation by any reasonable interpretation (of the Assurance of Discontinuance).”
Telgenhof argued for the maximum fine of $5,000 per violation for both Hass and WLWS and Hayes agreed, calling the filing of the lawsuit against the customers “egregious and deplorable.”
“The Assurance of Discontinuance was supposed to be the end of the dispute between Mr. Hass and Charlevoix County…but instead (Hass) blatantly violated it,” Hayes concluded.
“While I’m very happy with the Court’s decision, I wish that this money could go to the customers who have been forced to defend this lawsuit,” Telgenhof said. “Because this is a separate action brought by my office on behalf of the state, the money cannot go to them. Hopefully they can obtain repayment of their attorney fees and dismissal of the Federal case on another day in another court.”
The loss for Hass and WLWS does not end the Federal suit as the state court has no jurisdiction over that matter. Hugh “Buck” Davis, the attorney for Hass and WLWS, indicated on the record that he expects the customers to file motions to dismiss that lawsuit.