By Mary Drier
THUMB AREA — Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton ended months of accusations, finger pointing, and a criminal investigation involving State Rep. Kurt Damrow and Huron County Sheriff Kelly Hanson.
“From our analysis of the reports submitted to us, it is our conclusion that there ‘is not sufficient evidence’ to sustain a prosecution of a charge of ‘false report of a crime,’” said Genesee County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Randall Petrides in a report.
Petrides explained while there won’t be criminal charges, “there are other legal remedies available” for Hanson and others aggrieved by Damrow’s acts, such as a civil suit.
“I really haven’t had time to pay much attention to what was going on with that. I just heard about their decision,” said Damrow. “I think it clears up a few questions that the review of these charges by Mr. Hanson was a clear and concise decision.
“And, any questions of political favoritism were eliminated in the decision as the prosecutor was a democratic candidate for attorney general.”
The issues between Hanson and the Republican 84th District Rep. started last summer when Damrow had the Michigan State Police (MSP) investigate Hanson, his department, several Huron County officials and residents.
MSP’s D/SGT Brian Ferguson, who handled all of the allegations presented Damrow’s five-page report, determined they were all “unfounded and untrue” accusations.
Because no criminal activity was found, Hanson then asked for an investigation into Damrow’s accusations, and charges of “making a false police report.”
Hanson did so in an effort to further clear his name and his department, and to hold Damrow accountable.
Because the initial investigation started at the MSP Post in Caro, Hanson’s complaint was given to the Tuscola County Prosecutor’s office. From there, it was turned over to the Michigan Attorney General’s office, which subsequently assigned it to Leyton, a Democrat, to handle.
“I am disappointed that the Genesee County Prosecutor’s office has apparently condoned Mr. Damrow’s actions,” said Hanson. “My suspicion is that if one were to research past convictions in Genesee County, or even locally, that results from the charge of filing a false report of a crime, or equivalent, one would find Mr. Damrow should have been charged.”
According to Hanson, before he initiated charges, he sought legal opinions on the matter, and that is why he took action.
“As indicated by Chief Assistant Prosecutor Randall Petrides, the option of other legal remedies definitely exists. That option could be explored at a later date,” said Hanson.
If such civil action is sought against Damrow, it must be filed in either Tuscola or Huron county courts; and the amount of compensation sought, would determine which court would handle it.
Damages sought up to $3,000 would be in small claims, and over that amount would be district court. A request of compensation of $25,000 or more, would go to circuit court.
If that happens, other legal issues could arise. Among Damrow’s unfounded complaints were accusations against a family member of the Huron County Circuit judge.
“Regardless of my disagreement with his decision, the Genesee County Prosecutor’s office has the final say about the criminal portion of this incident,” said Hanson.