01-30-2020 Police Reports

By Annette Christie Annual Coloma Township Police Activity The Coloma Charter Township, providing police services to Coloma City and the township, investigated 2,371 Criminal Complaints in 2019. Their total number of reports was 2,950. The department made a total of 288 arrests, 53 felonies and 235 misdemeanors. Officers made 998 traffic stops and assisted at 121 vehicle accidents. Chief Wes Smigielski noted that this year the department purchased an additional vehicle for their fleet and added brand new in-car high definition (HD) cameras. Recently the department was encountering repeat problems with a subject who was harassing customers at local businesses and begging for money. Officers tried to offer him help but he would refuse every time. The subject, James Mason, was caught at Harding’s stealing food on two different occasions. Mason was subsequently arrested and taken to the Berrien County Jail on two retail fraud charges stemming from the incidents at Harding’s. The chief stated that his department has been working on curbing the speed violators in their coverage area. While many warnings have been given out, repeat offenders continue to speed in certain trouble spots as identified by the officers. The trouble spots are Paw Paw Street on the hill heading into and out of the downtown where the speed is 25 MPH. The Chief said that over a one-month period, speeds have been clocked at an average of 38 MPH. Another trouble spot is coming into the city on Church Street near the Speedway where the speed limit goes from 35 MPH to 25 MPH. This area is through a residential zone. Officers will continue to promote safe driving and stop more cars that are speeding. Teen car thieves facing charges Van Buren County Sheriff Daniel E. Abbott reports that Van Buren County Sheriff Deputies took a report of a stolen 2000 Ford Taurus which occurred during the nighttime hours of Jan. 22. A deputy while on patrol in Lawrence Village witnessed the stolen vehicle traveling southbound on Paw Paw Street approaching Corwin Road. The deputy attempted to stop the vehicle which then fled in attempt to avoid capture. The suspect driving the stolen car lost control of the vehicle and crashed. The 17-year-old suspect who had been driving the car then fled on foot with the deputy in chase. Several other law enforcement officers and a Michigan State Police K-9 Unit who were in the area quickly arrived on scene and were able to track the suspect to a nearby mobile home where he attempted to hide himself within. After a short time, the suspect did surrender himself from inside the home. This subject along with his 18-year-old brother is suspected in multiple motor vehicle thefts and larcenies from motor vehicles within the Village of Lawrence. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division assisted with drafting and executing a search warrant at the home the suspect had fled into which resulted in items being recovered which may link them to other crimes in the area. The 17-year-old Lawrence man (name withheld pending arraignment) was lodged in the Van Buren County Jail. license. The 18-year-old Lawrence man is being investigated further.

Clergyman sentenced to jail after restraining teenage boy

The second priest to be convicted through Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s clergy abuse investigation was sentenced Monday, Jan. 27, 2020 to jail time after he pleaded guilty to holding a teenage boy against his will in the janitor’s room of St. Margaret’s Church in 2013. The Rev. Brian Stanley was sentenced to 60 days in Allegan County Jail with credit for two days served, five years’ probation, and must register as a sex offender for 15 years. He appeared before Allegan County Circuit Court Chief Judge Margaret Bakker. Stanley, 57, of Coloma, pleaded guilty to one felony count of attempted false imprisonment on Nov. 20, 2019. He was charged in August after reportedly immobilizing the teenage boy by wrapping him tightly in plastic wrap and using masking tape as additional binding to cover the victim’s eyes and mouth. Stanley left the victim, bound and alone, in the janitor’s room for an extended period of time before returning and eventually letting him go. “Mr. Stanley took advantage of a vulnerable victim and today he is being held accountable,” Nessel said. “We continue to review information seized from all seven Michigan dioceses in 2018, and we will thoroughly evaluate accusations and complaints brought forth by victims. For too long, criminal behavior by members of the clergy has gone unnoticed, and that must stop.” To submit information that may assist investigators of potential clergy abuse, visit the Attorney General’s website or call the investigation hotline at 844-324-3374 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday-Friday. You may also submit information by email. In light of the sentencing of Rev. Brian Stanley, the Diocese of Kalamazoo has issued the following statement: “The Diocese of Kalamazoo continues to pray for all survivor-victims as well as all those impacted by this situation, including members of our Catholic faithful whose faith and trust may be shaken. We remain steadfast in our commitment to promote greater protection and safeguards of all people, particularly for children and vulnerable adults. Anyone with information related to misconduct should call the reporting number set up by the Attorney General’s office at: 844-324-3374. For any victim of childhood abuse or neglect seeking healing, comfort and support, we invite them to learn more about the Diocesan Trauma Recovery Program at 269-459-2121.”