Thursday, April 17, 2008

Sheriff Scott Fewin - Grand Traverse SD

Also See:

Deputy Justin Revnell [Sheriff Scott Fewin's nephew] - Charged with domestic violence



Lawsuit Against Record-Eagle Dismissed
Interlochen Public Radio
Date: July 16, 2009

A Benzie County Circuit Judge has dismissed a suit against the Traverse City Record-Eagle. Former Grand Traverse County Sheriff Scott Fewins charged the paper defamed him in an April 2007 editorial.

Editor Mike Tyree wrote that Fewins was tampering with the victim in a domestic violence case. It involved Fewins' nephew, who was at the time a sheriff's detective.

The Court found Fewins did not clearly show the paper acted with malice. Since Fewins had several conversations with his nephew's accuser, it could not be proven that he didn't influence her decision to move away from the area. After than, the domestic charges were dropped.

Judge James Batzer said the editorial contained sharp language and hyperbole, but was not knowingly false.

As a public official, former Sheriff Fewins faced a strict standard to prove the paper defamed him.

Grand Traverse Sheriff sues The Record Eagle
Posted: 08.01.2008 at 3:34 PM

The Grand Traverse County Sheriff is suing The Traverse City Record Eagle for libel. Friday afternoon, Sheriff Scott Fewins, along with his his attorney Christopher Cooke, announced they have served the newspaper with a lawsuit for "defaming the Sheriff's good name". The original complaint was filed in Benzie County Circuit Court on April 17th, but the Sheriff waited until July 17th to serve the newspaper with the lawsuit. On July 18th the case would have been automatically dismissed. When asked why they waited so long to have the suit served, Cooke told 7&4 news anchor Diana Fairbanks "We waited because We wanted to give The Record Eagle time to retract their statements." The Record Eagle has not yet commented on this lawsuit only saying they were working on a response. The sheriff is up for re-election on Tuesday.

In fairness to the two other Republican candidates 7&4 News contacted Tom Bensley and Brian Weese for comment on this story.

Brian Weese told us that " I am sure that the timing has something to do with the election. If it was actually legitimate in his mind he should have done it long ago. "

Tom Bensley told us. "It's unfortunate this had to occur. It's evident with the timing that it's for political purposes


Theft investigation leaves another blemish on sheriff
The issue: No charges likely in jail fund thefts
Our view: Another black mark for sheriff
See related story:
Probe of Grand Traverse County jail thefts proves fruitless
April 7, 2007

For more than a year, someone used an account reserved for Grand Traverse County Jail inmates as a personal ATM.

Someone stole $16,120 from that account during a 14-month span, from December 2003 until January 2005.

It was an inside job, committed by one or more members of the Grand Traverse County Sheriff's Department. And it appears the culprit is home free.

A Michigan State Police detective this month all but raised the white flag on the thefts case, finally acknowledging what had become increasingly apparent over the past year:

The crime will go unpunished.

Well, unpunished if you don't count taxpayers who had to foot the bill to replenish the account.

Unpunished, if you don't consider the honest sheriff's department employees who had nothing to do with the thefts, yet were tarnished by the crime.

Unpunished, if you ever believed in Sheriff Scott Fewins but now can't help but know a ruddlerless, ill-equipped administration when you see one.

A sheriff's employee notified sheriff's brass of a problem with the inmate accounts in early 2005, about the same time Fewins was running interference in a criminal domestic violence case against his nephew Justin Revnell, who also happened to be a Grand Traverse County sheriff's detective.

It's unclear whether Fewins was too busy tampering with the victim/witness in Revnell's case to focus on the inmate accounts, but the fact is the thefts case mostly sat fallow for months, until mid-August, when state police were invited to join the investigation.

By then, it was far too late.

Whoever stole the money had plenty of time to conceal evidence and cover tracks. And the same systemic holes in sheriff's department procedures that created opportunity for the thief came back to haunt the state police investigator; he couldn't pin the case on one particular person, in part because slack rules created opportunities for multiple sheriff's employees.

Beyond those limitations, Fewins' office was slow to face facts. As late as September 2005, sheriff's officials were still hoping to pin blame on employees of the bank that housed the inmate cash.

Those were false hopes, though, and state police Detective Sgt. Mark Henschell, who called the case "enormously frustrating,” said he's confident a jail employee is responsible. A handful remain under suspicion, but all can breathe easier.

The public can't, though, not with yet another example of Fewins' failures to competently administer his department. It's little wonder the sheriff increasingly has tried to circle his wagons and shield his decisions from public view.

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