January 15, 2021
LANSING – A former Grand Traverse County Jail administrator was sentenced to prison today for misconduct in office, embezzlement and willful neglect of duty, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced.
Todd Ritter, 48, of Lake Ann, was sentenced to at least 16 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution of roughly $11,300 and court fees by Judge Kevin Elsenheimer in Grand Traverse County 13th Circuit Court. Ritter pleaded guilty in December to embezzlement by a public official over $50, misconduct in office and willful neglect of duty. Ritter’s sentencings for each charge – which will run concurrently – are as follows:
“Whether elected or appointed to serve in the public’s interest, those doing so must maintain a high level of integrity and care in performing their duties,” Nessel said. “Mr. Ritter was tasked with overseeing the care of inmates at the Grand Traverse County Jail and to some degree taxpayer dollars. He neglected to meet those responsibilities with professionalism and respect for the trust placed in him by the public, and he must now answer for those crimes.”
Ritter was put on administrative leave by the Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Office in April 2019 after reports of his unprofessional conduct began surfacing, including inappropriate use of county-owned property and inappropriate sexual relationships and communications with female inmates housed at the jail he oversaw.
In one instance, following the completion of her sentence at the Grand Traverse County Jail, a female inmate should have been transferred to Kalkaska County Jail to serve an additional sentence in that jail. Instead, Ritter used his position of authority to keep her in Grand Traverse County. At the same time, Grand Traverse County inmates had to boarded – at taxpayer cost – at other jails due to overcrowding.
Michigan State Police led the investigation into the allegations following an internal review by outside legal consultants hired by the Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Office in May 2019. The Attorney General agreed in early April 2020 to review the case after a petition was submitted by the Grand Traverse County prosecutor, who requested the review to avoid any actual or perceived conflict of interest.