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Conservation Officer (CO) Jenni Hanson instructed an off-road vehicle (ORV) Safety Course at Gogebic Community College. Twenty-eight students successfully completed the course and earned their ORV Safety Certificate.

At the start of his shift, CO Alex VanWagner overheard dispatch advise of a medical call involving a male subject experiencing a heart attack or stroke in Iron River. CO VanWagner responded to the residence with an Iron River police officer. The subject was unconscious and not breathing. While on scene, a second male subject at the residence experienced a seizure. Emergency medical services (EMS) arrived on scene and resuscitation efforts led to the first subject regaining consciousness. Both subjects were treated, and the first subject was transported for further treatment.

In northern Menominee County, CO Steve Sajtar responded to a vehicle rollover. According to Menominee Central Dispatch, the single occupant of the vehicle was pinned under the vehicle following the crash. Due to the severity of the accident, an AirMed medevac was dispatched to the scene. CO Sajtar responded to the scene with local law enforcement and assisted local fire departments with freeing the occupant from the vehicle. The occupant was transported to the hospital and treated for their injuries.

In Menominee County, CO Steve Sajtar responded to assist local law enforcement with a physical domestic assault in progress. In the few minutes it took CO Sajtar and another officer to arrive, the victim had left the scene. CO Sajtar and the other officer interviewed the victim at a separate location. After interviewing the victim, the two officers interviewed the suspect at his residence. After obtaining a full confession, the suspect was arrested for domestic violence with an aggravating factor of strangulation.

In Menominee County, CO Steve Sajtar responded to assist local law enforcement with a physical domestic assault in progress. According to Menominee Central Dispatch, the husband had physically assaulted the wife and taken her phone to prevent her from calling 911. The wife escaped the house and called 911 from a neighbor’s house. The wife told Menominee Central Dispatch there was an AR 15 rifle in the house with the husband and children. CO Sajtar and other local law enforcement officers set up a perimeter around the house, ordered the suspect out of the house, and arrested him for domestic violence.

COs Jeremy Sergey, Jackson Kelly and John Kamps spoke at a law enforcement youth academy in Marquette County. The COs shared stories of their work experiences and provided guidance on what the participants could be doing right now to make them stand out as an applicant in the future. The COs also conducted a scenario for the participants so they could gain insight into what being a conservation officer is like.

CO Jackson Kelly responded to Lake Michigamme to assist in rescuing a man who had fallen through the ice while trying to retrieve his dog. Members from the search and rescue dive team were able to reach the victim who was about 100 yards from shore. Law enforcement and search and rescue members then pulled the victim and dive team members off the ice with rescue lines. The victim was transported to the hospital for hypothermia.

CO John Kamps responded to assist the Marquette County Sheriff’s Department with an unlawful disposal of solid waste investigation. A sheriff’s deputy was on patrol when they observed a large amount of black smoke coming from the back of a residence. He stopped to investigate and was surprised to find an individual who had intentionally started a fire to burn down two old sheds in his back yard. Fire was dispatched and the spreading fire was quickly put out. At the scene, CO Kamps observed shingles, siding and other construction materials that were burned in the fire. A citation was issued to the individual for unlawful disposal of solid waste.


Female COs from across the state, as well as dispatchers, attended a Michigan State Police (MSP) training in Grand Rapids. The two-day Women in Law Enforcement conference featured many speakers from across the country. Officers were told stories of resilience and were reminded of the importance of mental health and working together with other females in law enforcement.

COs Michael Evink and Steven Butzin assisted the Schoolcraft County Sheriff’s Department in contacting a suicidal male. CO Evink drove by the residence and noticed the individual was outside near his truck. CO Evink contacted the individual, had a conversation, and determined there was no immediate threat.

CO Michael Evink responded to an ORV accident around midnight on a back county road. CO Evink assisted EMS and the MSP on the scene. Both individuals were transported to the hospital with injuries. Alcohol and speed may have been factors.

CO Steve Butzin responded to a “be on the lookout” for a vehicle attempting to run another vehicle off the roadway. It was reported that the vehicle was purposely following the caller and driving erratically. CO Butzin located the vehicles and was able to conduct a traffic stop on the suspect vehicle. Further investigation discovered that the driver was operating under the influence of alcohol. The driver was arrested for operating while intoxicated (OWI) and lodged at the Delta County Jail.

CO Steve Butzin was on patrol in Garden Township when he responded to a report of a grass fire. The fire ultimately burned approximately five acres of a grass field in a populated area. Further investigation discovered that the fire had been set intentionally. With assistance from the MSP Audio-Video Analysis Unit, a suspect was developed through several security cameras in the area that caught one suspect throwing several items that were on fire into the field. A report is being submitted to the Delta County Prosecutor’s Office pending charges.

CO Scott Pankow assisted several agencies with rescuing a lost person in the Hiawatha National Forest near Raco. Chippewa County Dispatch was able to talk to the lost individual via cell phone and CO Pankow activated his patrol vehicle siren. Shortly thereafter, the suspect walked out to the sound of the siren and was in good health.

COs Scott Pankow and Mike Olesen taught a Hunter Safety Class to 20 students in Chippewa County.

CO Justin Vinson checked several anglers along the Two Hearted River. While patrolling the river, CO Vinson located an unmarked campsite on state land. Later in the patrol, CO Vinson contacted an angler camping at the site. A verbal warning was given for camping on state land without posting a camping registration card.


COs Chad Baldwin and Kyle Cherry attended a career day at Vanderbilt Public School and spoke with both middle and high school students about what the process is to become a CO as well as describing the duties they perform on a normal day. The COs displayed equipment and the gear they carry with them and allowed students to try on and get hands on experience with some of the gear. Overall, the COs spoke with over 60 students, received many questions, and had great interaction and conversations with many of the students.

CO Adam LeClerc was on patrol in Emmet County when an alert came out over the radio for two missing hikers in Wilderness State Park. CO LeClerc was first on scene and located the vehicle of the missing party at a trailhead. With the assistance of Wilderness State Park staff, the trails were patrolled by using a side-by-side to look for the hikers. Charlevoix, Cheboygan, and Emmet County 911 dispatch was able to get a global positioning system (GPS) location from the cell phone used to call 911. The location was four miles from the start point and closer to a more southern trailhead off Lakeview Road. State Park employees came in from the north, CO LeClerc and Emmet County Sheriff’s deputies came from the south and were able to find the missing hikers. They refused medical attention and were given a ride back to their vehicle; they were very appreciative.

CO Andrea Albert stopped a pickup truck full of fresh cut firewood while patrolling on state land. The subject had just cut and collected the firewood from state land without a required fuelwood permit. A ticket was issued for the violation and information on how to obtain a state land fuel wood permit was given.

CO Andrea Albert was finally able to catch up with a suspect at a relative’s house after two months of looking for a suspect on a littering complaint. Last fall, the subject had dumped a dozen or more bags filled with household garbage and diapers over a hill on property he was renting a house at. Unfortunately for him, his truck registration was in one of the bags with his name on it making it very hard to dispute his responsibility for the garbage.

CO Kyle Cherry responded to a report of a dead elk found on state land in Crawford County. CO Cherry located the bull elk and was able to determine that the elk had gotten his neck wedged between two trees and was unable to get out, which eventually resulted in its death. No criminal activity was suspected, and the head was collected and sent to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wildlife Laboratory in Lansing for standard disease testing.

CO Tom Oberg received the disposition of a case he investigated during firearm deer season involving a subject hunting with a rifle while being a convicted felon. The subject was arraigned on felony charges for felon in possession of a firearm. The subject was found guilty and was sentenced to nine months in jail as well as condemnation of the firearm.

During a nighttime patrol, CO Alex Bourgeois was checking anglers coming into the Alpena harbor. CO Bourgeois conducted a routine check on one of the anglers and it was discovered that the angler did not have any personal flotation devices (PFDs) onboard. The man stated that the United States (US) Coast Guard had given him a ticket for not having a throwable PFD before. CO Bourgeois issued the angler a ticket for not having a lifejacket and educated him on the importance of having them.

CO Alex Bourgeois was checking anglers at the 9th Street Dam in Alpena when he observed one of the anglers, up the river, throw a large lure. CO Bourgeois contacted the angler and conducted a routine check. During the check, it was discovered that the man was using a single point hook that was too large for trout streams during this time of the year. A ticket was issued to the man for using a single point hook greater than one-half inch.

COs Jack Gorno, Matt Theunick, Tim Rosochacki, Kyle Cherry, Nate Beelman, Sidney Lalonde, Dan Liestenfeltz, and Sergeant (Sgt.) Paul Fox conducted a hunter safety field day for online students. The event was held at the Gaylord Customer Service Center. Over 30 students attended and were able to take their exam and receive their hunter safety certificates.

COs Sidney LaLonde and Dan Liestenfeltz followed up on a complaint in Montmorency County of a subject selling baby raccoons online. The COs went to the residence in question to which the subjects had no clue of the situation. The online ad was found to be a scam to get people to send down payment money for purchasing baby raccoons. Purchasing wild animals is against the law.

CO Alex Bourgeois was patrolling in the area north of Hubbard Lake when he observed a four-wheeler driving down the road. The four-wheeler did not have an ORV license and the operator did not have a helmet on. CO Bourgeois initiated a traffic stop and during the investigation, it was discovered that the operator had a warrant out of Oakland County for owing $16,000 in child support. CO Bourgeois also observed signs of intoxication while talking to the operator. The operator was subsequently arrested for OWI and for his warrant. The operator later took a breath test at the Alpena County Jail and blew a .19 (BAC), over double the legal limit.

CO Alex Bourgeois was patrolling Wolf Creek in Alpena when he observed a group of kids fishing at Wolf Creek Park. CO Bourgeois contacted the young teens and advised them that Wolf Creek was currently closed due to trout stream regulations. It was then discovered that the young teens’ dad was fishing upstream and was heading back. Once the dad arrived, CO Bourgeois discovered that the man did not have a fishing license. A ticket was issued to the man for fishing without a license and for fishing on a closed trout stream.


While on patrol in Lake County, CO Josiah Killingbeck observed an ORV operating on the roadway with flashing red, blue, and purple lights resembling emergency lights. Contact was made with the occupants who claimed they were unfamiliar with ORV regulations. CO Killingbeck found that the passenger in the ORV had open intoxicants. The subjects were educated on ORV regulations and citations were issued for both violations.

While on patrol, CO Josiah Killingbeck heard a local fire department being dispatched for a structure fire. CO Killingbeck realized that he was less than a mile from the address. CO Killingbeck observed heavy smoke and responded to the location. Upon arrival, CO Killingbeck ensured no one was in the structure and observed that the fire had spread into the woods and threatened a second structure. CO Killingbeck requested DNR fire be dispatched. When the local fire department arrived, CO Killingbeck assisted by taking a hose and knocking the fire down until additional fire personnel arrived.

CO Kevin Bunce was on patrol in Osceola County when he observed a brush fire burning during a state-wide burn ban. Doubling back, CO Bunce then observed a wood boiler fully engulfed along with a stack of pallets/firewood. Working with the homeowners, who arrived at the blaze at the same time as CO Bunce, the group was able to contain the fire before it spread to any nearby structures. The scene was turned over to the local fire departments that arrived shortly after.

Acting Sgt. Ben Shively was driving towards federal land to patrol for ORV activity in Oceana County when he passed a mixed group of nine ORVs leaving federal land. He observed the last three ORVs were not displaying valid ORV licenses and had other ORV violations. He conducted a traffic stop on the three ORVs which had passed the other six ORVs. While contacting and citing the three ORVs, another group of ORVs came out of the federal land and upon seeing the patrol truck’s emergency lights, quickly made a U-turn and accelerated at a high speed back into federal land. Sgt. Shively was able to contact CO Anna Cullen who was just south of the federal land in Muskegon County, and she was able to contact part of the group of ORVs and issued a citation for no ORV license.


CO Jacob Hamilton was patrolling Kalkaska County when he observed two subjects riding an ORV, without helmets, on the shoulder of County Road 612. CO Hamilton stopped the ORV and contacted the subjects. The operator stated they were riding double because their other ORV had broken down. The two were trying to get back to where they came from. Both the operator and passenger were issued citations for no helmet on an ORV. Warnings were issued for riding double on a machine not designed to have more than one person at a time. The operator was also arrested and lodged for a felony warrant in the Kalkaska County Jail.

CO Jacob Hamilton was patrolling Kalkaska County when he contacted an angler fishing from a kayak on Manistee Lake. CO Hamilton asked the angler where his life jacket was. The kayaker admitted he did not have one. CO Hamilton also asked to see the angler’s fishing license and the angler said it was somewhere on his phone but was not able to produce it. A citation was issued for failing to produce a PFD and a warning was issued for fishing without a fishing license.

COs James Garrett and Matthew Zultak attended The Whitetails Unlimited Banquet at The Northern Center in Houghton Lake. The COs answered questions from the public on a variety of different topics.

While on patrol in northern Clare County, CO Ryan Weakman came across a large group of ORV riders who were operating in a closed area. CO Weakman cited the group leader and informed them about the proper locations to operate ORVs in the county. Later that same day, CO Weakman observed the same group operating in another closed area. Upon contacting the group, CO Weakman realized that it was the same group he had stopped earlier. He had a conversation with the group again and showed them the signs that clearly indicated the trail was closed.

CO Ryan Weakman investigated a Report All Poaching (RAP) complaint of illegal ORV operation in a closed area and a camper being dumped in the same state land area. CO Weakman was able to contact the responsible party and conduct an interview. The owner had dumped the abandoned camper on state land because the township was after him for blight complaints. CO Weakman issued a citation for littering. 


CO Mike Eovaldi was patrolling northern Sanilac County when he spotted a houndsman pulled over on the side of the road. CO Eovaldi stopped and made conversation with the hunter who was running rabbits. When CO Eovaldi asked about the hunter’s firearm the hunter stated it was in his backseat. A loaded .22 handgun was located uncased in the backseat of the hunter’s vehicle. The hunter admitted to not having a valid concealed pistol license. CO Eovaldi issued the hunter a citation for having a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle and educated the hunter on Michigan’s concealed carry laws.

While traveling in central Isabella County, CO Mike Haas witnessed a vehicle approach a stop sign and accelerate, failing to stop. The CO carried out a traffic stop, and the driver admitted to always running the stop sign because no one was usually on the road. CO Haas pointed out that he was on the road and the driver stated that was why she sped up and drove faster through the intersection. For obvious safety reasons, CO Haas recommended that the driver stop at future stop signs and issued a citation to the driver.


CO Carter Woodwyk received a complaint of shots fired in the evening hours in Allegan County. The complainant believed the suspect was shooting at deer. When the CO arrived on scene, he interviewed the suspect who indicated he was not shooting at deer, but that he did shoot a firearm around the time the complainant called in. While interviewing the suspect, the CO observed an antlered deer head which appeared to be from the 2023 deer season. The antlers on this deer head did not have a kill-tag attached to them. Further investigation revealed the suspect never tagged the deer, never validated a kill-tag, and never reported the deer harvest to the state. Enforcement action was taken.

CO Travis Dragomer responded to a call of a group of men, with long guns, who appeared to be hunting. CO Dragomer contacted one of the individuals in the group and he stated that he was using a BB gun in attempt to take squirrel. He advised the other men didn’t speak English and that he was the only one with a gun and hunting. After further investigation, two .22 caliber pellet guns were located hidden in the woods as well as one dead gray squirrel. A citation was issued for taking squirrel during the closed season and not wearing hunter orange. Multiple other warnings were given.

CO Cameron Wright responded to a call of a White Pigeon police officer who had been assaulted and the suspect fleeing on foot. CO Wright arrived a few minutes later and helped secure a perimeter. A K9 track was initiated, and the suspect was quickly located hiding in a large pile of downed trees. The suspect then got up and took off on foot running towards US 12. The K9 was ineffective at stopping the suspect so CO Wright engaged in a foot pursuit with him. After a few minutes of pursuing the suspect, CO Wright was able to deploy his TASER and safely apprehend the suspect without further incident. The suspect was transported to the hospital for assessment and was later lodged in the St. Joseph County Jail for a litany of charges, including Assaulting a Police Officer and Resisting and Obstructing Arrest.

CO Casey Varriale assisted Kent County Sheriff’s Department and the MSP in the manhunt for a fleeing felon who was responsible for crashing into multiple vehicles on Southbound US 131 in Kent County. After approximately one hour of searching, CO Varriale located the suspect exiting the woods near a trailer park where his mother was waiting to pick him up. CO Varriale arrested the suspect and turned him over to the MSP.

CO Casey Varriale was patrolling 6th Street Dam in Kent County where he witnessed a man fishing for approximately 30 minutes. CO Varriale attempted to contact the man, but the man picked up his bucket and walked away quickly from CO Varriale. CO Varriale followed him to his vehicle in the parking lot where an unattended child was sitting in the backseat. CO Varriale asked how old the child was, and the man stated the child was 14 months old. CO Varriale asked for a fishing license and the man did not have one. CO Varriale addressed the issues and gave him a warning for fishing without a license.


CO Elliot Worel was patrolling Calhoun County when he spotted a vehicle being operated with only three tires. The vehicle was being driven on one of the rims, causing damage to the roadway. A traffic stop was conducted, and CO Worel learned the driver was in an altered mental state. CO Worel was able to detain the driver and communicate with him. Contact was made with the driver’s father who stated the subject had mental issues and hadn’t been taking his medication. EMS and local police assisted at the scene, and the driver was transported to the hospital. CO Worel was able to petition the hospital to treat the individual.


CO Cody Bourgeois was patrolling the Huron River at Proud Lake. He contacted 20 people fly fishing along the river. As he was leaving, he had an angler run past his patrol vehicle and noticed a spinner attached to the end of the rod, which would be illegal in the fly-fishing zone. The CO pretended to leave the area and then walk back around to the area where he thought the angler was going. CO Bourgeois observed the angler who was fishing off the dam at Proud Lake and catching trout with the spinner bait. CO Bourgeois continued to observe the angler to see if he was keeping any of the trout. After a few more fish were caught and released, the CO contacted the angler. The angler also did not have a fishing license. The angler was cited for no fishing license, fishing with illegal equipment, and fishing a closed stream.

COs Cody Bourgeois and Griffin Korican conducted an ORV patrol in Lapeer County. Throughout the evening, they encountered many ORVs, and most of them were following the law and enjoying the beautiful evening. The COs decided to move their patrol from the road to the Lapeer State Game Area. The game area is off-limits to all ORV activity; however, people still bypass gates and fences to feel the thrill of the dirt trails. The COs ended up stopping about a dozen ORVs, which all received citations for operating in a closed area. Several ORV operators also received an additional citation for open intoxicants while operating an ORV.

COs Joseph Deppen and Zackary Cardinal conducted a follow up investigation that resulted in five raccoons being discovered at an unpermitted residence. All raccoons were removed from the residence and the homeowner received a citation.

While patrolling for anglers using illegal lures below the Holloway Dam, COs Justin Muehlhauser and Zackary Cardinal discovered two subjects fishing off the wall using swim baits that had treble-hooks attached. As soon as the subjects saw CO Cardinal on the other side of the river, they quickly packed up and headed for their vehicle in the parking lot. CO Muehlhauser was able to catch up with them before they left. Enforcement action was taken.


CO Nicholas Ingersoll was patrolling for activity on Belle Isle, when he observed a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed. CO Ingersoll was able to utilize his department issued radar and verify that the vehicle was traveling 47 miles per hour (mph) in a 25-mph zone. The vehicle then proceeded to disregard the stop sign and drive through it without coming to a complete stop. CO Ingersoll stopped the vehicle and determined that the driver was from Guatemala and did not have any form of paperwork to be in the United States. CO Ingersoll was assisted by US Border Patrol on scene. After an identification check was completed of both occupants of the vehicle by the agents on scene, both were arrested for failure to comply with immigration requirements. The driver was also issued a citation for speeding 47 mph in a 25-mph zone and cited for disregarding the stop sign he failed to stop at.

CO Nicholas Ingersoll worked a busy Belle Isle shift and during his shift, he observed a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed. CO Ingersoll utilized his department issued LIDAR unit and verified that the vehicle was traveling at 22 mph over the posted speed limit of 25mph. The vehicle also had two males in the back of the pickup truck and a passenger that wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. CO Ingersoll advised the driver of the numerous violations. During the traffic stop, it was also determined that the female passenger had an outstanding felony warrant for larceny from a building out of Detroit. CO Ingersoll verified the warrant through Detroit and ultimately the female was released on scene due to the Detroit Police Department not being available to pick her up. CO Ingersoll issued the driver a citation for going 47 mph in a 25-mph zone and warned him for the other traffic violations.


Corporals (Cpls.) Brett DeLonge and Tom Peterson attended the Lake Superior Citizens Fishery Advisory Committee (CFAC) meeting at the Michigan Technical College Great Lakes Research Station in Houghton. A bi-annual report of Law Enforcement Division (LED) and GLEU activities was provided, and several questions from participants were answered. Other members of GLEU attended the Lake Huron and Lake Erie/Lake St. Clair CFACs as well.

Cpls. Mike Hammill and Chris Lynch responded to a complaint of anglers illegally spearing walleye on a remote part of the Escanaba River. Utilizing a patrol vessel to cross the river, patrolling on foot to the area, and utilizing night vision to observe the suspects, the COs contacted the three anglers spearing walleye. Each received a citation for possessing walleye during the closed season and taking walleye by illegal method.

Cpls. Jon Busken and Troy VanGelderen attended a preliminary exam in Muskegon for the suspect who fled and eluded and resisted and obstructed the COs last fall. The suspect has been lodged with the Michigan Department of Corrections on a parole absconding violation since the incident. The suspect pleaded guilty to attempted resist and obstruct and will continue to serve his sentence in state prison.

Cpl. Jon Busken was returning from a routine patrol when Muskegon County Dispatch requested a conservation officer to contact them. Contact revealed that a 911 hang up was received from an emergency phone or life ring at or near Duck Lake State Park. Cpl. Busken arrived at the park and attempted to locate the line that was used for the call. While searching, he contacted multiple people in the area who did not see any emergency. The emergency phone was found ringing and the call is suspected to be false.

Cpl. Mike Hammill was checking subsistence anglers in the Nahma area when he was run off the road by a car traveling at a high speed in the opposite direction.  Cpl. Hammill turned around and observed the vehicle pulling into a residence.  Cpl. Hammill contacted the driver, who was highly intoxicated.  He arrested and transported the driver to Delta County Jail, where the subject was determined to have a blood alcohol level of .16.


Detective (Det.) James Zellinger reports, on 4/26/24, a 46-year-old Allegan County man entered into a plea agreement with the Allegan County Prosecutors Office.  As part of the plea agreement, the man pled guilty to one misdemeanor count of contracting with an unregistered scrap tire hauler for the removal of scrap tires.  The two other misdemeanor charges, failing to maintain records of scrap tire disposal on site for 3 years and failing to provide records of scrap tire removal to a Law Enforcement Officer upon request, were dismissed.  The man was ordered to pay $525 in court fines and costs.

In January 2023, the Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) staff met with the man on the property of a former automotive recycler for an inspection.  The man was managing the property and overseeing the cleanup efforts.  During the inspection EGLE identified approximately 1200 scrap tires on the property and notified the man the scrap tires must be cleaned up and disposed of properly and provided information on how to do so.

EGLE again inspected the property in June of 2023 and all scrap tires had been removed from the property.  The man failed to provide the name of the individual and/or company used for the disposal of the scrap tires and would not provide the required records for disposal of scrap tires upon request.  EGLE sent violation notices requesting the name of who was used for the scrap tire removal and the records of the removal.  The man refused to communicate with EGLE further.

Detective Zellinger received a referral from EGLE and began an investigation.  The man told Detective Zellinger he paid a guy $1 per tire to remove them from the property but would not provide the name of the guy or any required records of the scrap tire removal.  The man then refused to communicate with Detective Zellinger further.  Detective Zellinger submitted a report to the Allegan County Prosecutor’s Office who authorized three charges against the man for violations of Part 169 (Scrap Tires) of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act.

In May of 2023, the EGLE Water Resources Division (WRD) Grand Rapids District received information that a sewer force main had been ruptured under Gun Lake, Barry County, by a local contractor who was installing a seawall.  This rupture released untreated sewage into Gun Lake and required the local water authority to close the main and truck sewage around the break until it could be repaired.  The Gun Lake Sewer and Water Authority ultimately settled with the contractor for $80,000 in restitution.  It was learned, however, that the contractor was installing the seawall without a permit.  This prompted EGLE to refer the case to Detective Dan Lee of the Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division’s Environmental Investigation Section, for further investigation.

EGLE WRD had also been working with the contractor for several years on multiple applications in Barry and Kent counties.  EGLE WRD found that 12 additional seawall projects by the contractor had been installed without the required permits.  It was found that these seawalls would not have been permitted as constructed.  Detective Lee’s investigation found that he had forged signatures of the landowners on all the incomplete applications.
One additional case involved the construction of a permitted broad side dock.  The contractor installed the dock in violation of the permit.  He also altered the construction placard posted at the site to match the installed structure, and not the permitted structure.  He also removed an existing seawall at the site without a permit.

Detective Lee referred one case to the Kent County Prosecutor's Office and a total of 11 in the Barry County Prosecutor's Office totaling 26 requested misdemeanor charges.  The contractor was ultimately charged a total of seven counts for violations of the Natural Resource Environmental Protection Act (NREPA), Act 451 of 1994, Part 301 Inland Lakes and Streams.  In April 2024, he pleaded guilty to the seven counts and was fined a total of $2975.00 and $900 restitution to landowners who paid for permits and materials after the incidents.  As part of the plea deal, the contractor has been placed on six months’ probation in both counties for him to bring all sites into compliance with permits and properly constructed seawall.

In November 2020, EGLE staff received a National Response Center report of a discharge of an unknown amount of an unknown oil from a sinking barge in Grand Traverse Bay.  EGLE staff responded along with the United States Coast Guard (USCG), who oversaw the spill clean-up efforts. The barge was moved to Hull Bay in July 2021. 

In January 2022, Detective Holly Pennoni received a complaint that the barge had sunk in Hull Bay. Detective Pennoni confirmed the barge was sitting on state-owned bottomlands and notified EGLE, who attempted to work with the owner to remove the barge from the state-owned bottomlands. In July 2022, Detective Pennoni contacted the Leelanau County Prosecutor’s Office who advised to take the case to the State of Michigan Department of Attorney General’s (AG) Office. 

In June 2023, the AGs office filed charges in the 86th District Court of Leelanau County. Meanwhile the owner moved the barge to a different location in Suttons Bay where it sank again. Eventually the owner dragged the barge to shore to conduct repairs. The barge remains partially on private property and partially on state-owned bottomlands. The case was bound over to Circuit Court where a plea agreement was entered that the owner has one year to move the barge to a legal location and the felony count would be reduced to a misdemeanor. 

On 4/22/24, the Grand Traverse County man responsible entered into a plea agreement with the 13th Circuit Court of Leelanau County. As part of the plea agreement, the man pled guilty to one felony count under Part 31 of NREPA, Discharging a Substance that may be injurious to the public health, safety, or welfare, into Grand Traverse Bay. Six other misdemeanor charges, including filling submerged state-owned bottomlands, watercraft pollution, and trespass will be dismissed upon meeting the requirements of the plea agreement, which includes moving the vessel to a legal location within one year.