Prosecutor: "Insufficient Evidence" To Justify Charges In Veterans Investigation
December 6, 2018
No criminal charges will be filed in connection to the alleged misappropriation of donated funds by a member of the Livingston County Veterans Services Committee.
The investigation began in August after a woman said she was unable to obtain documentation for a $400 check she wrote Committee Chair Hansel Keene in October of 2017. The donor says when she wrote out the check to the Livingston County Veterans Department, Keene instructed her to include his name on the check, alleging he was authorized to cash county checks and could more easily deposit it. The woman says that over the next 9 months, every time she asked about the receipt Keene would repeatedly say he forgot it, finally leading her to contact then-Veterans Services Director Adam Smiddy on August 22nd. But Smiddy was fired by the committee five days later, he says in retaliation for his efforts to determine exactly what happened to the donation. A check for $400 was eventually provided to the donor’s attorney by the law firm of Kevin Nagle, a fellow committee member who is representing Keene. A Michigan State Police investigation involving donations to the Livingston County Veteran’s Services office was eventually launched.
Livingston County Prosecutor Bill Vailliencourt says his review of that investigation has now been completed. He says Michigan State Police did not request charges, but sought a review of their investigation. Based on that review, Vailliencourt says it has been determined that there is insufficient evidence to justify any criminal charges in this matter. He says while there may have been non-compliance with applicable county policies, he says that non-compliance does not constitute a criminal violation of the law.
The Livingston County Democratic Party earlier called on Vailliencourt to bow out of any decision on charges citing a conflict of interest, since Smiddy has filed a whistleblower protection lawsuit against the county for his firing. Party Chairwoman Judy Daubenmier issued the following statement to WHMI: "This decision gives a green light to county officials to put government money into their own bank accounts for nine months and not surrender it until asked about it. This failure to prosecute will have a chilling effect on any donations by the public to the Veterans Services Committee because the public will have no confidence that the money and donations will go for the intended purpose, and that will hurt our veterans in the long run. But unfortunately, this is what one might expect from a county government where all the members belong to the same club – where everybody agrees to sweep everything under the rug in the name of protecting fellow Republicans. The ball is now in the county commission’s court. Will it insist on compliance with “applicable county policies” or will it pretend everything was handled just fine? I fear I know the answer.” (JM)