DETROIT (WXYZ) - A big decision today in a police corruption case first exposed by the 7 Action News Investigators. A State Police Lieutenant and two others will stand trial for allegedly stealing property seized in drug raids.
It as a sweep for the prosecution.
A District Court judge in Monroe ordered the three men, two cops and a civilian, to stand trial on all thirty four felony counts. But the judge indicated it might not be as smooth sailing for the prosecution when this case moves on to a full trial.
It was back in December of 2010 when the 7 Action News Investigators laid out details of the alleged scheme involving Luke Davis , then a highly respected Lieutenant with the Michigan State Police.
At the time Davis ran a drug task force in Monroe known as Omni. He'd been suspended and under investigation for two years but still drawing full paycheck.
Two months later the hammer dropped .
Lieutenant Davis, Sergeant Emmanual Riopelle and a civilian, Lawrence Dusseau, were charged with turning the police drug forfeiture unit into a criminal enterprise. They allegedly stole property seized in drug raids, kept some of it for themselves and sold some for cash: everything from cars and boats to designer purses and big screen TV's.
Today, after hearing days of testimony and reviewing written arguments from attorneys on both sides, Judge Terrence Bronson bound the three defendants over for trial on all 34 counts.
But the judge noted that the burden of roof at this stage of the proceeding,a preliminary hearing, is very low, and it gets much higher when the case goes to a full trial. Then, the prosecution will have to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. Judge Bronson said that in his opinion some of the thirty four counts might not meet that standard.
Defense attorneys who grilled many of the prosecution witnesses during the preliminary hearing agree the trial could be a different ball game.
"Because then,credibility of witnesses is significant. Jurrors consider that and can completely disregard someone they think is lying," said Luke Davis' attorney Kimberly Stout.
"I don't think any of the witnesses were believable after they said their name. They're gonna have a real problem at trial, absolutely. We're gonna go hard and present a vigorous defense," added attorney Rick Convertino, who represents Emannual Riopelle.
Luke Davis' ex-wife provided critical information to police during their investigation and testified for the prosecution. She says the case has dragged on for too long.
"I cling to the hope that justice will finally be served. There's a lot of people that have been affected by Luke and the things that he's done," Davis told 7 Action News .
Prosecutors say some of people who had their property seized were never even charged with crimes. And they say property that should have been auctioned off to raise money for police services wound up being skimmed.
The case now moves onto circuit court July 24th when a trial date will likely be set.
Luke Davis and Emannual Riopelle are both suspended without pay.
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