By Judy Reed
A member of the Cedar Springs City Council has been charged with theft of property from the building he operated a former business from.
According to Cedar Springs Police Chief Roger Parent, Sgt. Ed Good took a larceny complaint on August 31 involving theft from the upstairs level of Stein Brothers Pizza, 77 S. Main Street. Former owner Raymond Michael Huckleberry, 30, of Cedar Springs, had closed the pizza place earlier in the summer due to the economy. Huckleberry was buying the business on a land contract, and leasing the building, and told the Post last summer he was working on an amicable agreement to return the business to the previous owners. That agreement, however, fell through.
Parent said that because their initial investigation identified Huckleberry, a Cedar Springs City Council member, as a possible suspect, the case was turned over to the Kent County Sheriff Department’s detective bureau.
“Having another police agency take over an investigation to avoid any conflict of interest is a common practice,” explained Parent.
Detective E.J. Johnson conducted an investigation, and made an appointment to meet with Huckleberry. On November 16, the case was submitted for review by the Kent County prosecutor’s office, and a warrant was issued for one count of larceny over $200, but less than $1,000. Huckleberry cooperated with detectives throughout the investigation and voluntarily turned himself into authorities on November 18. He was booked into the Kent County Correctional Facility and later bonded out.
Huckleberry was arraigned on December 2 in 63rd District Court and pled not guilty. He had a pretrial conference on Tuesday, December 22, and is scheduled for another pretrial conference on January 14 at 10:45 a.m. A jury pick is set for January 19.
Huckleberry has been active in the community since childhood, including serving on the DDA board as a small business owner, was past president of the Cedar Springs Rotary Club, and is a member of the Planning Commission, and the City Council. While he would like to explain his side of the case, he said he couldn’t talk about it right now.
“My reputation in this community speaks for itself. I cannot discuss details of the case right now, but when I can, I will gladly share,” he told the Post Wednesday.