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Kent County Commissioner charged with embezzlement


 

N-Commissioner-charged-Michael-Wawee-webThe Montcalm County Prosecutor’s Office has charged Kent County Commissioner Michael Jay Wawee, 43, with two felonies—embezzlement of $1,000 or more but less than $20,000 from a non-profit, and false pretenses of $1,000 or more but less than $20,000.

The charges stem from his work for the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids selling cemetery plots, funeral services and memorial services.

The investigation was undertaken by the Grand Rapids Police Department, at the request of the Diocese. The case is being prosecuted by the Montcalm County Prosecutor’s Office to avoid any impropriety, since Wawee is a Kent County Commissioner representing Walker and part of Grand Rapids.

Wawee was arraigned on the charges on Monday, February 3, in 61st District Court in Grand Rapids. His bond was set at $10,000  (10 percent) and he bonded out Wednesday, February 5. He has a preliminary exam scheduled for February 11, at 11 a.m. The first charge is punishable by 10 years and/or $15,000, and the second is punishable by 5  years and/or $10,000.

Meanwhile, Kent County Board of Commissioners Chairman Dan Koorndyk removed Wawee as Chair of the Legislative and Human Resources Committee, and named Commissioner Shana Shroll (District 19) to the lead role. “Duties on the Legislative and Human Resources Committee are crucial to the people of Kent County,” Koorndyk noted.  “Members develop legislative priorities, study proposed legislation that could affect the county, and review county personnel policy and procedure manuals.  It requires a great deal of time and commitment, and I felt the change in leadership was necessary to assure continuity and success.”

Wawee remains a member of the Board of Commissioners.

“Commissioner Wawee has been charged with a crime, and, as due process allows, is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law,” Koorndyk stated.

Wawee is the second commissioner charged with a crime in the last few months. Former Commissioner Gary Rolls resigned January 1 after being charged with four counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct in November.

 

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Kent County Commissioner resigns amid CSC charges


Commissioner Gary Rolls

Commissioner Gary Rolls

A Kent County Commissioner charged with four counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct announced last week that he is resigning as of January 1, 2014.

Kent County District 4 Commissioner Gary Rolls, 47, represents the townships of Oakfield, Grattan, Cannon, Vergennes, and the City of Lowell. He was arraigned last month on the CSC charges, three of which involve a child, and one involving the victim at age 17. He is also charged with tampering with evidence and using a computer to commit a crime. Bond was set at $500,000 cash or surety, and Rolls bonded out.

The victim, who is now 28, was reportedly a former neighbor of Rolls, who he began assaulting when she was nine or ten, and it continued for 13 years. She filed a restraining order against him in 2012, which brought the crime to light.

In his resignation letter, Rolls thanked the citizens of Kent County for allowing him to serve them. “I will use this time to prepare for trial and prove my absolute and complete innocence,” he added.

Dan Koorndyk, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners, said they accepted his resignation. “We appreciate that he recognizes it is better for the

Board of Commissioners to select a new member who can represent District 4 without distraction.”

The Board of Commissioners has 30 days from the effective date of resignation to select an individual to replace Rolls through the rest of his term. The person selected for that seat will hold it through December 2014. Those seeking the appointment to District 4 to replace Rolls should send a letter and resume to the Board of Commissioners Office, 300 Monroe Avenue, NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503, by January 6, 2014.

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