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Misconduct Bounces County Prosecutor From Pot Case

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LAPEER- Judge Holowka said the words: “The Court at this point in time would recuse the Lapeer County Prosecutor’s Office from further involvement in this matter.”

With that, newly-appointed Lapeer County Prosecutor Tim Turkelson’s office was removed from the prosecution of Jamie Fricke, a onetime resident of the city of Lapeer, by Judge Holowka in 40th Circuit Court today. Fricke is facing marijuana charges stemming from a raid on her residence in 2011.

Turkelson and his office were removed from the case for two reasons: conflict of interest and prosecutorial misconduct. The accusations were made by Southfield attorney Michael Komorn, who brought the issue to the court’s attention with some discomfort. “I did not sign up for this,” Komorn explained to the Court. “This is appalling.”

The conflict of interest arises from work Turkelson did in 2010 and 2011 while acting as legal adviser and defense counsel for the owners and workers at a medical marijuana dispensary in Dryden that had been raided by county law enforcement. The Compassionate Care Center of Michigan was raided three times, and each time Jamie Fricke was present as a member of the Center’s team. The prosecution of that 2010 raid stretched into 2012 and overlapped the raid on Fricke’s home; charges in the Fricke raid were filed in March of 2012.

Statements made during those legal defense discussions with the Center’s team has allegedly been shared with the 2014 County Prosecutor’s office, per Komorn’s brief seeking the recusion. Although he granted the recusion of the Prosecutor’s Office from the case, Judge Holowka did not make a finding on the legitimacy of that suggestion.

The gross misconduct arises from that same set of circumstances, and an officer named Lieutenant Gary Parks. Parks swore out the warrant used to raid the Fricke home but he also led the team that raided the Center in 2010; on a second raid Parks allowed himself to be filmed while searching the Center’s offices. He famously looked at the camera while rifling through a filing cabinet and said, “Patient records are a good source of intel.”

A series of additional adventures in Lapeer County from 2010-2013 brought Parks into contact with the Center’s personnel- including Turkelson and Fricke. During testimony at today’s hearing, Komorn said there was mention in 2011 of Parks performing a raid on Turkelson’s office and home. During those trying times, and in many encounters afterwards, Turkelson “constantly and consistently spoke of his (Parks’) lack of honesty and integrity,” Komorn explained to Judge Holowka.

As County Prosecutor, Turkelson cannot allow anyone to participate in testimony or in submission of evidence if they know that person to be dishonest or untrustworthy. Despite this legal obligation and burden of office, Turkelson has refused to remove Parks from the Fricke case.

Attached to Komorn’s brief were four affidavits sworn by people that heard Turkelson disparage Parks’ honesty. Two of those affidavits were signed by attorneys and a fifth individual, whose name was well-known in the Lapeer County Courthouse, was mentioned as someone who was prepared to offer a similar sworn statement. During the hearing today Komorn related several incidents detailed in the affidavits where Turkelson had challenged Parks’ honesty- including in the issuance of search warrants.

Although the Center’s court case has long since been resolved, those issues of integrity are still relevant in current prosecutions involving Parks, including Fricke’s case. “Power corrupts… There has been a taint to the system,” Komorn said in his opening statement, adding later that, “This is misconduct like I’ve never seen before.”        

When offered an opportunity to defend his boss, Assistant Prosecutor Hodges replied, “There is absolutely no conflict here.” He added: “This motion should be denied. Let’s just go to trial.”

Komorn pointed out that the Hodges rebuttal contained no reply to the substantive accusations of impropriety; Judge Holowka seemed to agree. After delivering the decision to recuse the Prosecutor’s Office he added, “I will ask that the Lapeer County Prosecutor’s Office go through the proper channels, that being the Attorney General’s office or the Prosecuting Attorney’s Association, to have a new prosecutor appointed to proceed in this matter.”

No date was set for the next round of hearings in the case. The Prosecutor’s Office asked for a two month delay in a second marijuana case involving Fricke, being heard on the same day by another judge in the same building, which was granted with some shock and surprise. When informed of the reason why the Prosecution had made the unusual request, the Judge said to Komorn, “Those are very serious charges.”

“Yes, Judge, they are,” Komorn somberly replied. 



Edited by bobandtorey
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