2017-08-13 / Front Page

Marathon’s Nolan Kinder bound over

BY ANDREW DIETDERICH
810-452-2609 • adietderich@mihomepaper.com

LAPEER — The case of an embattled former treasurer in Marathon Township accused of embezzling public funds was bound over to Lapeer County Circuit Court during a probable cause hearing on Thursday.

Nolan Kinder is charged with one count of embezzlement by a public official of more than $50, and one count of willful failure to uphold law as a public official.

If convicted, Kinder could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000. He had not served in township offices since early May, before resigning effective Aug. 1. He has pleaded not guilty.

The case involves a check for about $300 that was supposed to be refunded to the township, but instead allegedly was taken by Kinder while he served as township treasurer.

Lapeer County Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Larry Kozma called three witnesses to the stand during a probable cause hearing held Thursday in front of Lapeer County District Court Judge Laura Cheger Barnard.

After they testified, Kozma argued the state had met the burden of proof that a crime had been committed.

“(Kinder) received the document of the check, deposited it into his own account at another bank — it wasn’t even in the same bank — and he also gave false statements to the clerk saying he hadn’t received it when, in fact, he had received it,” Kozma said.

Witnesses called by Kozma Thursday were Dawn Johnson, clerk, Marathon Township; Lori Hollis, acting treasurer (former deputy treasurer), Marathon Township; and Joe Worden, vice president, security/ operations, Lakestone Bank & Trust.

During testimony, Kinder listened intently with his elbows resting on the defendant’s table, often appearing nervous, and fidgeting with a pen.

The circumstances surrounding Kinder’s alleged embezzlement were detailed in an affidavit filed by Johnson on May 26. During Thursday’s hearing, Kozma essentially asked witnesses questions consistent with the affidavit.

The situation involving the funds in question allegedly began with a canceled trip to a Michigan Townships Association (MTA) conference.

Kinder and Johnson signed up to attend the MTA conference at the cost of $294 each, and while Kinder went to the conference, Johnson was unable to attend.

“After canceling my reservation for the MTA conference, I was looking to make sure that MTA refunded my reservation fee of $294 so in early April I asked Nolan Kinder if he had seen a check arrive from MTA,” said Johnson in the affidavit. “He said he hadn’t.”

According to the affidavit, Johnson said she followed up with MTA inquiring about the refund and was informed a check had been sent on March 23. Johnson again asked Kinder if he had received the check, and again he said he hadn’t.

On May 3, Kinder said that he had received the check but mistakenly deposited it into the township’s tax account instead of the general fund account in which it belonged. Kinder transferred an amount equal to the missing check, $294, from the tax account to the general account, but after inspecting the tax account records,

Hollis testified Thursday that she had reviewed the tax rolls and a deposit for $294 had not been made.

Johnson said on May 4 she obtained a copy of the refund check, which was made payable to Marathon Township, Attn: Nolan Kinder, Treasurer.

“Nolan Kinder’s signature was on the back of that check along with a stamp from Lapeer County Bank & Trust showing that it had been presented to the bank on March 27,” said Johnson in the affidavit. “Marathon Township does not have any bank accounts at Lapeer County Bank & Trust, now Lakestone.”

Lakestone Bank’s Worden testified Thursday that Marathon Township doesn’t have any checking accounts with the bank. He also testified that the check had been deposited into Kinder’s account.

Kinder’s attorney, Bernard Jocuns, called one witness to the stand — Marathon Township Deputy Clerk Amanda Krause.

During Thursday’s hearing, Jocuns spent a lot of time asking Krause and other witnesses how mail addressed to the township was handled.

Further, in defending his client, Jocuns noted “the very low threshold” of proof that the prosecutor needs to establish during a probable cause hearing.

“Nolan is well aware of that,” Jocuns said. “And as the court brought to my attention, there were some things that might not have been most appropriate for exam and I guess that’s something that another court will make a determination.”

Barnard then ordered the case bound over to circuit court with an arraignment set for 1:30 p.m., Aug. 28, in front of Lapeer County Circuit Court Judge Nick Holowka.

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