State Police Investigation Completed On Disputed Veterans Services Donation
November 27, 2018
A State Police investigation has been completed into 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. Livingston County Prosecutor Bill Vailliencourt says his office has received the report from the Michigan State Police, but could not give a time frame on when a decision will be made on whether or not charges will be filed in the case.
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. His position was recently filled by Mary Durst of Brighton, a Coast Guard veteran, whose appointment by the committee was unanimously ratified earlier this month by the Livingston County Board of Commissioners.
As to the missing donation, a check for $400 was eventually provided to the donor’s attorney by the law firm of Kevin Nagle, a fellow member of the veterans committee, who said he was representing Mr. Keene. Documents obtained by WHMI through a Freedom of Information Act request indicated Nagle received seven disbursements made from the Veterans Services Relief Fund to either himself or his law firm between May of 2016 and February of 2017 totaling $4,900. While the payments were ostensibly for veteran-related legal representation, they raised questions about the propriety of a committee member receiving payments approved by a committee that he sits on.
Meanwhile, the terms of Keene and fellow committee member Joe Riker are due to expire next month. While the county has advertised for volunteers to join the committee, Livingston County Administrator Ken Hinton says it does not indicate either is actually leaving the committee, but rather that they are legally required to post the positions per Michigan law, MCL 35.621(4). (JK/JM)