School board member faces misdemeanor charge

Steven Kenneth Anderson charged with second-offense drunken driving

CADILLAC — A longtime board member at Cadillac Area Public Schools is facing his second drunken driving charge after authorities said he was tested at more than twice the legal limit to drive.

Steven Kenneth Anderson, 59, of Cadillac, is again accused of drunken driving after Wexford County sheriff’s deputies on Sunday stopped him on Mitchell Street where he tested a blood-alcohol content higher than 0.17 percent, court records state. He was formally charged Monday in 84th District Court.

District officials are keeping quiet about the recent arrest. Most board members — including Anderson and President Mike Stebbins — declined to comment. Others — like Superintendent Jennifer Brown — didn’t return multiple phone calls on Tuesday.

“We’re a pretty solid group of people and I was sorry to read (about Anderson’s criminal charge) this morning because I have a high level of admiration for Steve,” said board Trustee Judy Coffey.

Coffey and her colleagues weren’t certain how the criminal charge could impact Anderson’s tenure on the board. The district’s website noted Anderson assumed the publicly elected position in 2002. His term isn’t set to end until 2020 but a criminal conviction could expedite his eventual departure.

Board bylaws noted a felony conviction would force a board member to immediately vacate their position. Anderson’s operating while intoxicated charge is a misdemeanor that carries a potential one-year jail sentence, if convicted. The bylaws don’t specifically address misdemeanor crimes.

Records state Anderson in 2011 — while serving on the board of education — was convicted of a similar charge of operating while impaired. His prior record didn’t appear to impact his role at the district but it could enhance a possible jail sentence if convicted for his latest charge.

Anderson — who also owns and operates the Cadillac Tire Center on U.S. 131 South — was released on a personal recognizance bond ahead of his next court hearing in February. County Prosecutor Jason Elmore has yet to provide police reports pending a Freedom of Information Act request.

Visit for continued coverage as the criminal case proceeds in district court.

Sheriff’s son gets jail after supplying gun used in homicide

Nikolas Abbott, 23, was sentenced Tuesday, Jan. 30, to one year in the Berrien County Jail by Berrien County Trial Court Judge Scott Schofield. Schofield also ordered Abbott to serve four years of probation.

Abbott pleaded guilty Nov. 22 to three felonies: accessory after the fact to a felony; operating while intoxicated causing serious body injury; and receiving and concealing a firearm.

Abbott is the son of Van Buren County Sheriff Daniel Abbott.

Police say Abbott supplied the gun used in the Feb. 3 homicide of Eddie “E.J.” Holland in Bangor. Police say Abbott sold the gun in Benton Harbor the day after the homicide. It was later recovered by police.

“Prior to our recovery, actually the day after the homicide, Nikolas Abbott decided to report that his gun has been stolen and knowing full well through our investigation that he was actually the one that took possession of the gun and then got rid of it and then reported it stolen,” Michigan State Police Det. Sgt. Brian DeWyse testified during a probable cause hearing on June 27.

Thurman Fletcher is serving at least nine years in prison for manslaughter and felony firearm in Holland’s death.

A witness at Fletcher’s March 16 preliminary examination, Matthew Eide, said he met Abbott for the first time at a party at a friend’s residence at Apple Tree Apartments in Bangor the night Holland was killed. Eide said he heard Holland was mad at Fletcher because Fletcher used counterfeit money to buy marijuana from him.

Eide said he first saw a handgun in the pocket of Abbott’s hoodie then saw Abbott pull out the gun and hand it to Thurman.

“He said, ‘Use it if you have to,'” Eide testified at Fletcher’s preliminary examination.

In the operating while intoxicated case, Abbott seriously injured a woman in a crash Nov. 25, 2016. Abbott told police he was looking at his cell phone just prior to the crash. He said he may have crossed over the center line on C.R. 681 in Van Buren County’s Arlington Township when he hit another car head-on, according to probable cause testimony. Abbott admitted to using Xanax, for which he did not have a prescription. The driver of the other car reported had wrist injuries, bruising and whiplash from the crash.

In exchange for Abbott’s pleas, felony charges of reckless driving causing serious impairment of a body function, felony firearm, false report of a felony, and a second count of receiving and concealing a firearm were dropped.

Passed out driver arrested for DWI in Mariners Harbor

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y.– Police arrested a 51-year-old man — found passed out behind the wheel Saturday afternoon near the entrance to the National Grid building in Mariners Harbor — and charged him with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI).

Jesus Moran, of Kyle Court in Arden Heights was charged with (DWI) in connection with the incident at 200 Gulf Avenue, according to a written statement from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Port Authority Police Captain Steven Yablonsky spotted a 2008 silver Nissan Altima with Pennsylvania plates blocking a section of road at about 2 p.m. Yablonsky approached Moran, who had his eyes closed, keys in the ignition and the car in park, the spokesman said.

When Moran awakened, he waved his arms as he attempted to exit the vehicle, and he smelled of alcohol and was unsteady on his feet, said the spokesman.

Police said Moran’s blood alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit.

Woman arrested after pursuit


Woman arrested after evading police

An area woman has been arrested and charges are pending after she allegedly attempted to evade police Saturday afternoon in Farmington.

Farmington Police Chief Rick Baker said at 4:30 p.m. Saturday dispatchers received a call about a possibly impaired driver in the area of Eagle Mart, located off Karsch Boulevard.

“When the officer arrived at the scene he saw a silver Ford Mustang matching the description given to dispatch,” Baker said. “The officer got out of her vehicle and attempted to make contact with the female who was driving.”

Baker said the woman made some kind of comment to the officer and then began to slowly pull back onto Karsch Boulevard.

“The officer got back into her car and while she was doing so, the driver of the Ford Mustang started driving eastbound,” said Baker. “She then began doing circles in the middle of Karsch Boulevard. The driver then drove in reverse in the eastbound lanes of Karsch.”

Baker said the driver of the Mustang spun the car around in a 180-degree turn and headed west on Karsch at a high rate of speed. He added she reportedly ran a stoplight at Karsch and Washington and continued westbound passing Potosi Street.

“Evidently it was a green light at Potosi and Karsch and then she made a left turn onto Walton Drive, running the red light,” Baker said. “She then continued south on Walton Drive and then made a right turn into the Walmart parking lot approaching the grocery side doors.”

The chief said she reportedly stopped the car, exited and took off running toward the center of the parking lot. A foot chase ensued and the officer were able to subdue her in the parking lot, placing her under arrest.

“She was taken to the St. Francois County Jail and will be charged with failing to obey a traffic control device two times, failure to drive in a single lane and driving while intoxicated (by) drugs,” Baker said. “She will also be charged with careless and imprudent driving, resisting arrest by fleeing, property damage in the second degree, failing to yield to an emergency vehicle, driving while suspended and assault on a law enforcement officer.”

The chief said the report was sent to the prosecutor for review of the charges. He added officers were scraped up and bruised from the scuffle while taking her into custody. Additionally, he said, at one point while she was driving she swerved in an attempt to hit a patrol car.

“When I first heard it I was thinking at 4 or 5 p.m. on Karsch Boulevard … Saturdays are less congested than during the week,” Baker said. “It could have been bad with people coming home from work. You just don’t see that every day.”

Her name is not being released at this time pending the filing of formal changes.

Virginia Senate Republicans kill bill to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana

Republicans on a Senate committee Monday killed a bill that would decriminalize small amounts of marijuana by changing the punishment from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil penalty.

The Virginia ACLU and a representative of the Northam administration both backed Senate Bill 111 from Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, and the bill was opposed by the Virginia Association of Commonwealth’s Attorneys.

The vote to defeat the bill was party line, with nine Republicans on the Senate Courts of Justice Committee voting to kill it and six Democrats voting for the bill. Republicans in the House had already killed a similar measure from Del. Steve Heretick, D-Portsmouth.


Advocates for marijuana reform had hoped that this would be a year for change following a Virginia State Crime Commission study, which found that police in Virginia made 133,256 arrests in the past 10 years for marijuana possession. Eighty-four percent of those were for a first offense.

But after advocating decriminalization, Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment, R-James City, flipped positions, saying he changed his mind because a decriminalization bill would not survive House committee.

The Senate courts committee unanimously passed Norment’s Senate Bill 954, a measure that allows someone charged with first-offense marijuana possession to have the charge expunged.

Norment’s bill now goes to the Senate Finance Committee. Virginia State Police would create a new database of people who were beneficiaries of the new law, which would be accessible to prosecutors and the court system.

Norment told the committee he was trying to be practical.

“There are always those enthusiasts who want to lambaste you for having no guts,” he said.

Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, executive director of the Virginia ACLU, said her group supports legalization of marijuana. She supported Ebbin’s bill and opposed Norment’s, calling it “the illusion of progress.”

She said marijuana arrests disproportionately affect blacks and that many people would not have the money to pay an expungement fee under Norment’s bill.

As far as costs of enforcing marijuana as a crime, she said, Norment’s bill “probably increases the cost by setting up new systems and data management systems that don’t currently exist.”

Jae K. Davenport, deputy secretary of public safety and homeland security under Gov. Ralph Northam, said the administration backs decriminalization and Ebbin’s bill.

David Ledbetter, Waynesboro commonwealth’s attorney, spoke on behalf of the prosecutors’ association. He said decriminalization would lead to more people driving while impaired by marijuana, would lead to increased use by adolescents and an increase of ingestion by toddlers.

“It’s an issue that isn’t going away,” said Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Rockingham. “We’re going to be talking about it for a long time.”

Senators voting for decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana: Creigh Deeds, D-Bath; John Edwards, D-Roanoke; Janet Howell, D-Fairfax; Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth; Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax City; and Dick Saslaw, D-Fairfax.

Senators voting against decriminalization: Ben Chafin, R-Russell; Ryan McDougle, R-Hanover; Norment; Obenshain; Mark Peake, R-Lynchburg; Bryce Reeves, R-Spotsylvania; Bill Stanley, R-Franklin County; Richard Stuart, R-Stafford; and Glen Sturtevant, R-Richmond.

National booze group targets Utah governor

National booze group targets Utah governor and other ‘impaired’ older drivers to show ‘how silly’ Utah’s strict DUI law is

Drunken driving • Full-page ads to feature Herbert, lawmakers.

A national alcohol lobbying group continues its assault on Utah’s strict, new drunken-driving law, this time with a full-page newspaper advertisement suggesting that senior citizens — including Gov. Gary Herbert and some state lawmakers — are a bigger risk than consumers who have had a cocktail before getting behind the wheel.

The advertisement, paid for by the American Beverage Institute (ABI), asks in a satirical headline “Too Impaired to Drive?” and suggests that drivers 65 and older “are more impaired ANY TIME they drive” than consumers with a blood-alcohol content of 0.05.

Earlier this year, Utah lowered its blood-alcohol content limit for DUI from 0.08 percent to 0.05 percent, becoming the first state in the country to adopt the stricter standard.

“Our point is to illustrate how silly the law is,” Sarah Longwell, ABI’s managing director said in a telephone interview. “It’s absurd that you would keep people over 65 from driving and it’s absurd that a person who has had one drink and a low level of impairment would be put in jail.”

The advertisements, to be published Thursday in The Salt Lake Tribune, include photographs of the governor and 10 Utah lawmakers who are 65 and older.

“If Utah legislators believe drivers at .05 should go to jail, should those over 65 be arrested for DWO (Driving While Older)?” the ad asks.

The ABI said it used research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to make its claims.

Almost anything increases the risk of a car accident, even something as simple as listening to the radio, Longwell said. “In fact, a driver who is talking on a hands-free cellphone or who slept a several hours fewer than usual the night before is more impaired than a driver at the former DUI arrest level of .08.”

Utah needs to put traffic-safety threats into perspective and apply finite resources to problems backed up by logic, Longwell said. “That way we can actually make Utah’s roads safer.”

Because the law doesn’t take effect until Dec. 30, 2018, Longwell said the ABI will continue to push for full repeal. It also is hoping the issue, being lobbied actively by the National Transportation Safety Board, doesn’t get proposed in other states.

“We don’t want bad ideas to spread,” she said.

Rep. Norm Thurston, R-Provo, who sponsored HB155 and doesn’t see the law being repealed, is surprised by the continued push from the ABI.

“It’s not going to affect Utah policy,” he said, calling the advertising campaign ”pandering” and “fear mongering.”

“It’s an attempt to make people think that this is bad policy,” he said. “But the data is on our side that show it is a good policy.”

He said there is significant research that shows older drivers self regulate — they don’t drive at night, they don’t drive on highways or in bad weather. They also tend not to drink and drive.

“We know you can’t prevent people from getting older,” he said. “But you can prevent people from drinking and driving.”

The new ad is the latest strike in ABI’s war against the new state drunken-driving law.

Since the Utah law was passed and signed by the governor, the group has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars placing full-page ads in Idaho and Nevada newspapers as well as USA Today.

The group also launched a petition drive urging repeal of the law. To date more than 15,000 people have signed it.

Deputy charged with DWI after crashing into parked tractor-trailer


— A Durham deputy was charged with driving while impaired following a crash Monday afternoon.

The Durham County Sheriff’s Office said Deputy Ryan LaDuke, 34, backed into a parked tractor-trailer at the intersection of Geer Street and Midland Terrace at about 2 p.m.

Another Durham County sheriff’s deputy responded to the crash and determined LaDuke was driving while impaired.

Authorities said LaDuke was driving a Durham County Sheriff’s Office vehicle at the time of the crash.

LaDuke, who has been with the department since January 2012, has been placed on administrative leave without pay, pending the outcome of an internal investigation.

Man in skeleton mask leads police to DUI, drug suspect

A report of a man wearing a skeleton mask Sunday night in Lower Macungie Township led police to another man who allegedly was driving under the influence and had drugs in his car, according to court records.

State police were dispatched at 11:18 p.m. to Watermill Drive and Jarrett Farm Road after residents saw someone in the area wearing a trench coat and a skeleton mask.

 When troopers arrived, they saw the masked man walking with another man they knew as Bryan L. Rotenberger, 37, of Emmaus, records show. Police were aware that Rotenberger had his driver’s license suspended on a past drunken-driving arrest, so they stopped him when he started to drive away, police said.

Rotenberger had bloodshot and glassy eyes when he was stopped and police could smell marijuana in his car, records show. Police found drug paraphernalia in the car, along with methamphetamine and prescription pills, court records show.

He failed field-sobriety tests and told police he had smoked marijuana about two hours before he had been stopped, records show.

Rotenberger was charged with possession with intent to deliver methamphetamine, three counts of possession of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was also charged with driving under the influence, driving on a suspended license and careless driving.

He was arraigned by District Judge Tom Creighton and sent to Lehigh County Jail under $30,000 bail.

ICE deportations to Poland rare as jailed Michigan doctor awaits fate

KALAMAZOO, MI — Immigrations and Customs Enforcement performed 466,374 removals of people over a two-year period through Fiscal Year 2017, ending in early October, and removals of Polish citizens make up a small fraction.

Dr. Lukasz Niec, a physician at Bronson HealthCare, was arrested last week and placed in jail in Calhoun County. Family and friends fear he could face deportation to Poland, where he came to the U.S. from at the age of 5.

Removals by ICE of people with Polish citizenship accounted for 235 of the total number of ICE removals, or about .05 percent, according to ICE’s annual report covering fiscan years 2016 and 2017.

Mexico, with 278,586 citizens removed, was highest on the list, followed by Guatemala with 67,510, and Honduras with 44,375, ICE reported.

Through an executive order and accompanying memonderum issued in early 2017, President Donald Trump expanded ICE’s enforcement focus to include removable aliens who have been convicted of any criminal offense.

“ICE no longer exempts classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement,” the document states, referencing Trump’s directives.

The policy change is reflected in the 2017 fiscal year statistics, covering Oct. 1, 2016 through Sept. 30, 2017, which show an increase in enforcement actions, ICE said.

ICE Enforcement and Removal operations arrested 105,736 criminal aliens in FY 2017, a 12 percent increase over FY 2016, the agency reported. An administrative arrest of a criminal alien is the arrest of an alien with a known criminal conviction.

An ICE spokesman said Neic is eligible for removal proceedings because of two convictions on his record from 1992.

Niec’s wife, U.S. citizen Rachelle Burkart-Niec, said she thinks his arrest is wrong because the two misdemeanor convictions happened decades ago, when her husband was 17.

Besides the two convictions, ICE said Niec most recently came under agency scrutiny because of 18 encounters with local law enforcement.

Kalamazoo County District Court records show Niec has 22 cases generated from 18 contacts with police. Violations include four violations for having no proof of vehicle insurance, seven speeding tickets, failure to change addresses on his license, causing an accident, careless driving, a seat belt violation, driving without due care, and parking near a fire hydrant.

Niec pleaded guilty to a 2008 operating impaired by liquor offense in Kalamazoo County. He completed probation, and the conviction was set aside, the plea withdrawn and the case dismissed, as part of a plea agreement.

He was charged with domestic violence in 2013 and a jury found him not guilty after a trial, records show.

ICE says Michigan doctor had 18 police encounters before arrest

The ICE report shows driving under the influence was the top criminal charge category associated with removal proceedings in FY 2017.

Dangerous drugs, immigration, traffic offenses and assault are among the next most common categories, considering the combined total number of criminal charges and criminal convictions of people removed, according to the ICE report.

People with “stolen property” charges/convictions total 4,344, while people with crimes categorized as “damage property” total 4,102, the ICE statistics show.

Niec, now jailed for a week, is awaiting a hearing before a judge, and his family is doing what it can to expedite it.

Susan E. Reed, managing attorney of the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center in Kalamazoo, said it has been taking several weeks to get a bond hearing in ICE cases.

“This is the longest wait for bond hearing I’ve seen,” she said on Monday.

The Detroit Immigration Court hears all bond cases and defendants appear via televideo from one of four facilities that house ICE inmates in Michigan, including the Calhoun County Jail, she said.

The MIRC has received questions about Niec’s case, Reed said, though it is not handling the case. She said the case shows how noncitizens can be vulnerable to deportation at any time.

“For the last several decades, Congress has stripped a lot of the discretion out of immigration enforcement,” she said.

“The underlying immigration law is incredibly harsh,” Reed said. “Noncitizens, regardless of education level and equitable factors in their lifes and families, can be very vulnerable.”

Under the Obama administration, ICE operated by rigid definitions of priorities, Reed said, and would take into consideration certain factors about a person while processing a case.  Under the Trump administration, that’s changed.

“Everyone is sort of on notice now,” she said, and there’s nothing built into the immigration system that says any offense was too long ago.

Niec, who was arrested Jan. 16, remained jailed Tuesday, Jan. 23, according to Calhoun County Jail staff. He was moved to an area where he was allowed access to television, according to his colleague at Bronson, Penny Rathburn.

Rathburn, who has been collecting letters from coleagues in support of Niec to be forwarded to an immigration judge, said she had about 60 letters by Tuesday morning.

Brush Truck Driver Charged With Meth Possession

A man charged Wednesday with driving under the influence and possession of methamphetamine by the Tennessee Highway Patrol after a traffic stop on Baileyton Road had a first appearance Friday in General Sessions Court.

Richard Lynn Greenwell, 37, of 1409 Daisy St., had a hearing date of Feb. 12 set. Greenwell was charged with DUI, felony possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Greenwell was also cited for speeding after being pulled over while driving a Ford brush truck owned by Wolf Tree service, Trooper Vince Mullins said in a report.

Greenwell was speeding and allegedly crossed the road center line three times. He “was slow to pull over and appeared impaired by drugs,” the report said.

Greenwell did poorly on field sobriety tests. A search of the truck turned up a small plastic bag containing about two grams of suspected methamphetamine and another plastic bag containing a smaller amount of suspected meth, the report said.

Also found in the truck was a torch-style lighter and a sunglasses case that held a glass pipe with white residue, a cut straw and “two implements to crush drugs,” the report said.