Legal Ruling

Written by Nexcerpt on July 24th, 2012 in Life & Lessons, Patterns & News.
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Antwerp Township Supervisor Dan Ruzick has been cleared by Van Buren County Prosecutor Juris Kaps, of all allegations made against him by Harold Cirino, former Township Building Inspector.

Kaps’ language is direct and unambiguous:

"After careful review of the facts, I have concluded that there is absolutely no evidence of violation of any criminal statutes."

The Prosecutor calls attention to the fact that Cirino did not take reasonable steps to validate his original allegations:

"It would seem that if there was a question regarding the propriety of compensation, then it would have been addressed with the township attorney. Apparently that never occurred. One can only speculate why this issue was not explored initially by seeking a legal opinion from the township attorney rather than making unfounded accusations of criminal wrongdoing."

I can narrow the need to speculate: Cirino decided to avoid prudent research.

On February 2, 2012 — nearly a week before he filed his complaint with Michigan State Police — I advised Cirino in person and repeatedly that it was inappropriate to approach any investigative agent before inquiring directly of the Township. In the past, I pointed out, Cirino and Township Attorney Harold Schuitmaker had been business partners, so Cirino could make such an inquiry easily.

After repeating that advice in several different forms, I even offered to inquire of the Township Board or Township Attorney myself, on his behalf. Cirino declined my offer to provide appropriate due diligence for him.

Kaps goes on to cite Michigan Attorney General Opinion 6743 of 1992 as a reason for declining any action. This is the same Attorney General Opinion detailed in my previous post. I described that opinion to him, so Cirino knew all this by the first week of February, 2012.

The Prosecutor bases this dismissal on that citation — the one Cirino knew about in February. Even after I had made him aware of the legal basis for Antwerp Township compensation, Cirino allowed an unnecessary State Police investigation to continue for five months.

Juris Kaps ends with an echo of still another warning I provided Cirino in February:

"...everything done in Antwerp Township regarding this issue was done openly at public meetings, with the approval of the board, and with no attempt to hide anything from the public. This would negate any suggestion that there was any intent by anyone to wrongfully convert public funds."

You may read Juris Kaps’ entire letter closing the complaint against Antwerp Township Supervisor Ruzick.

The three different warnings I gave in February should have been sufficient. I wish the State Police and County Prosecutor hadn’t been forced to repeat that effort. I do hope that everything is clear now.


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