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Teens enter plea agreements Boys broke into parked cars, stole property, police say By Art Aisner Special Writer

Three Milan teens have entered into plea agreements for their roles in a spree of vehicle burglaries that plagued the city last fall. William James Riggs, 18, and Eric Von Taubert, also 18, recently pleaded guilty as charged with three counts of larceny from a motor vehicle and breaking and entering a vehicle to steal property valued between $200 and $1,000, court records show. Co-defendant Joseph James Gnotek, 18, pleaded guilty to two counts of larceny and two counts of breaking and enter-

ing a vehicle to steal property valued at less than $200. Each has sentencing agreements with Washtenaw County Circuit Court Judge Melinda Morris that were not disclosed in court documents. Riggs faces sentencing this week, and Gnotek and Von Taubert are scheduled to appear for sentencing hearings April 26 and May 10, respectively. The trio was released on personal recognizance bonds after arraignment in January and was given court-ordered nightly curfews. Milan police arrested them after a lengthy investigation into the 10-day crime spree that started late last September. Reports stated they were responsible for burglarizing multiple vehicles parked along Greentree

Lane, as well as Lee, Canfield and Meadow Brook streets, and taking small electronic devices and other personal property. The vehicles were all parked in driveways or in the streets outside residences overnight, and the suspects entered them through unlocked doors. The teens were particularly interested in global positioning systems, which helped lead to their capture, police said. After comparing notes from reports in each theft, officers were able to trace three GPS devices taken from the vehicles because they were posted for sale at www., The Internet-based classified sales Web site run out of the consignment shop that used to occupy the former

tion,” she said, frustrated by gation was delayed by the intense criticism from Casey’s criminal court proceedings and other factors outside of the vocal supporters in the comFROM PAGE `1-A munity. city’s control. “I just wish this was over. Other than speeding up the notified city administrators. I didn’t want to ruin his life. process, Muckler said if given Casey, 45, was placed on paid the opportunity, But when administrative leave while an employee the only change the incident was investigated does that she would make internally. An independent in any job, in how the criminal investigation by the they’re going issue was hanMichigan State Police revealed to get into a dled would be Casey retrieved the firework heap of trouto issue a press from a desk drawer and intended release shortly ble. People to ignite it while Officer Tory are saying tax after the inciTerrill used the bathroom. He dollars were dent. It would said he believed the device was wasted and help residents a whistling-type of firework and understand the I agree, but MAYOR KYM MUCKLER not an exploding firecracker. that belongs possible violaHowever, authorities designated tions to city to the person it as a Class C device, and illegal standards and who misbeunder Michigan’s criminal code. educate the public about the haved at work.” Monroe County prosecutors Representatives with the city’s process to address percharged Casey with a misPolice Officers Labor Council sonnel matters, she said. demeanor count of illegal could not be reached for com“There would have been a fireworks possession, and better understanding over what ment Friday. allowed him to enter a diversion happened and what happens Casey is currently one of two program for first-time offendsergeants in the department. next without any of the emoers. The case was resolved last month after Casey paid a fine and took a class. It is a common practice for participants who want to have the charges dismissed, said Jack Simms, the county’s chief assistant prosecutor. City officials said the police department completed its internal investigation last week and formally told Casey of the decision at a chief ’s hearing. Several witnesses were interviewed. Braun and Helmer Auction Service Lewis deferred comment to city administration. with Washtenaw Farm Council Specific details were not present the available, but the demotion would impact Casey’s salary and pension benefits. “We completed a thorough • Auction • Tractor & Engine Show • Tractor Pull investigation into the mat• FFA Toy Show • Large Flea Market • Petting Farm ter and issued a discipline based on the findings of the • Kids Free Pedal Pull • Working Displays • Lunch & 4H internal investigation,” City Bake Sale • Trade Show • Lawn & Garden Section Administrator Ben Swayze said • Free Give-Aways Every Hour • Much More! in a written statement, without Saturday, May 1st, 2010 - 10am-4pm elaborating. Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds - Ann Arbor, MI “We have a very high stan5055 Saline - Ann Arbor Rd., Ann Arbor, MI dard of conduct for our police department, and we fully For questions on participating, exhibiting, or consigning items for the auction call David Helmer @ 734-368-1733 expect Casey to uphold those standards upon his return to For questions on Flea Market space or trade show call Stan Poet @ 734-260-1070 the force.” Adults will be $2.00 and Children 12 and under FREE But that may not happen Exhibitors will have free entry (Exhibitor plus one) anytime soon now that the At close of day there will be a Pot Luck for all exhibitors and auction buyers. Chelsea resident has challenged the decision, which is likely headed to arbitration. “I’m sure Tim Casey will exhaust his union rights under the collective bargaining agreement between the POLC and the city of Milan. I am confident in the process laid forth in the agreement,” said Milan City Councilman Michael Armitage, who is Casey’s friend. Armitage said he felt the investigation took too long and that the entire matter should have been handled internally. “The manner in which this was handled has cost our city taxpayers way too much money,” he said in a written statement. “I do not condone the actions of Tim Casey that night; however, I am also not pleased with the manner in which it was handled.” City Council had no involvement in the decision and does not have authority to dictate personnel matters, officials said. Muckler said she didn’t expect the decision to be popular, but fully endorsed Lewis’ conduct and said the discipline was appropriate. “(Casey) deserves to have a job and be a police officer in our community, but the shenanigans in the police station that night told me that this is not someone who should be in a leadership position,” she said. She also said the investi-

Milan Lumber showroom on Main Street. Investigators found the devices at the store and quickly determined Gnotek, Riggs and Von Taubert were responsible for the vehicle break-ins. Darius Smith, the former owner of, was charged with three counts of possessing stolen property for having the GPS devices. He told police he didn’t know they were stolen and charges were ultimately dismissed. The charges and suspicion of illegal activity wasn’t good for business. Smith sold the

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store and the remaining merchandise inside to a Dearborn resident in November, and the store and Web site were closed permanently within a few weeks. “There was quite a bit of investigation done over these crimes, and the officers were able to put together who was who and determined figured into it,” Milan Police Chief Jeff Lewis said. “It’s just too bad (the business’ original owner) got involved because we obviously want to have businesses here in town that operate, but do so legitimately.


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