Ted Schendel is the Benzie County Sheriff. Schendel used a county account to buy tires for his personal vehicle. Because he used the tax-exempt account, he didn’t pay sales tax even though the purchase was for personal use.
Then-undersheriff David Tucker blew the whistle.
The investigation went to the Michigan State Police who “investigated” without ever talking to Tucker, the complaintant. Then-Grand Traverse County Prosecutor and 86th District Court Judge-elect Bob Cooney reviewed the report. Cooney not only declined charges but also publicly slammed Tucker for blowing the whistle. Cooney told the Record Eagle that “There’s a lot about this that didn’t smell right. I would say from Tucker’s end.” The charging disposition sheet goes on for about a page about what a bad guy Cooney thought Tucker was for asking MSP to look into it.
So what I don’t get is why the investigation was for “sales tax evasion.” There’s a much better charge that fits what Schendel did.
Michigan law 750.490a says this: “An officer…of any governmental agency shall not purchase…any goods…in the name of…the governmental agency for any other purpose than for use or resale in the regular course of the official business of the governmental agency…”
The Michigan State Police didn’t request charges for that. And Cooney didn’t address why he didn’t charge it.
So the thing with this is that Schendel must have known he was purchasing the tires through the county account. Because it said as much on the invoice. And if he didn’t know that it was being charged through the county account, how did the invoice even end up in county records? Schendel would have just taken the invoice home and that would have been the end of it. Also, Schendel was made aware of the issue and didn’t correct it for months. He had plenty of time to make it right and chose not to.
The other question is why was the undersheriff tasked with essentially doing personal assistant work for the sheriff.
Schendel ultimately found a way to fire Tucker and lob a criminal accusation of his own. It didn’t stick.