Larceny charge dismissed against Village Apartments construction supervisor | news


BELLAIRE — A felony larceny charge this year against a construction supervisor was dismissed earlier by an assistant county prosecutor, who said in court documents the state could not prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Deborah Wright, who relocated to the Pittsburg Michigan after the positiony position with Okemos-based Oakwood Construction, was accused of stealing resident’s cell phone Apartments, which is accepting supervisor at a Village facility-wide rehab.

Antrim County Assistant Prosecutor Angela Ferrara Wilber on July 29 filed a motion of nolle prosequi in 13th Circuit Court, and an order dismissing the case was signed Monday by Judge Kevin Elsenheimer, records show.

‘Nolle prosequi’ is a legal term for voluntary dismissal of a case, in this instance, by the prosecutor’s office.

The prosecutor’s office did not return a call seeking comment Wednesday.

“This case should never have been prosecuted,” said attorney Jesse Williams, who represented Wright. “She’s a 62-year-old African American woman with no criminal history who made an honest mistake, she was never given the benefit and, frankly, it’s disheartening.”

Williams declined to comment when asked whether he believed the prosecution was racially motivated.

In a probable cause hearing last month, 86th District Court Judge Robert Cooney bound the case against Wright over to the 13th Circuit Court for trial, after stating he found the testimony of Wright and of Mary Pecar, owner of the cell phone, to be credible.

Sin said Thursday she was disappointed in the dismissal, and believed home security video she’d provided to law enforcement was good evidence, but said she accepted the prosecutor’s decision.

“The video showed my phone was lit up when it was in her pocket,” Pecar said. “It seemed very clear that she had not just picked up my phone, but that she had used my phone.”

Williams said in court that Wright had a personal cell phone and a work cell phone, picked up Pecar’s phone by accident, and since Wright was accustomed to having two phones with her at work, did not realize she’d picked up a phone belonging to someone else.

Williams also said snippets of security video, and not the entire footage, were used in court as evidence and, if shown, the additional video would likely have shown the incident was a misunderstanding.

Wright confirmed she picked up the cell phone by mistake, and said she enjoys construction work, continues to be employed by Oakwood Construction and credited the employer with supporting her throughout the court case.

“This was completely accidental,” Wright said. “I was hired, in part, to help make sure people there felt comfortable, felt like good work was getting done.”

Prior to Wright’s arrival at the Village Apartment job site, more than a dozen residents and their families repeatedly complained about the workmanship of the rehab project, documenting damaged countertops, new kitchen cupboards that fell off the walls within days of being installed, and closets with inoperable doors and shelving, among other problems.

Residents also previously reported their possessions being damaged by movers, when tenants were temporarily relocated as work was being done, and a disorganized work schedule that repeatedly disrupted their home lives.

Leadership at PK Companies, longtime owner of Village Apartments, previously reported these problems, and said staffing and supply-chain issues, which arose during the COVID-19 pandemic, were to blame.

As of Thursday, notice of the court order dismissing the case did not appear in public court filings in either 86th District or 13th Circuit courts, which Williams said he found unusual, since a list of other court actions in the case, including Wright’s arraignment and her now-canceled bond conditions, remain public in 86th District.

A copy of the dismissal order provided to the Record-Eagle shows Wilber filed the motion seeking dismissal July 29, a judge signed it Aug. 1, although on Thursday at noon Williams said he was still waiting for a copy.

A staff member in Williams’ office later confirmed they received the dismissal order Thursday afternoon.

Even if a court document has been removed from the public record, attorneys who represent someone involved in a case and are listed as an attorney of record, are entitled to a copy, rules on the state court administrator website show.

The order states the case has been dismissed without prejudice, meaning in the event additional evidence comes to light, the prosecutor could refile charges.

The order also states bond is canceled and must be returned, and the Michigan State Police must destroy the arrest record and any entry into LEIN, a law enforcement database.

A call and email to the 13th Circuit Court administrator’s office was not returned Thursday.

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