State Police begin investigation of Muskegon probation officers
By John S. Hausman | Muskegon Chronicle
February 03, 2010, 7:58PM
MUSKEGON — Michigan State Police detectives on Wednesday launched a criminal investigation into allegations of fraud by Ronald D. Malone, Muskegon County's chief probation officer, and another fired probation officer, Brandon Kantola.
The state police agreed to conduct the investigation after consulting with officials of 60th District Court and the Muskegon County Sheriff’s Office, according to Lt. David Roesler, commander of the state police Grand Haven post.
The outside agency is taking it over “in order to remove (Muskegon) County employees from being involved in the investigation,” Roesler said in a statement. Details of the allegations were not released.
Probation officer Ronald D. Malone was ordered to go on paid administrative leave Jan. 28. Fired a day earlier was probation officer Brandon Kantola. Both were escorted from the Michael E. Kobza Hall of Justice by sheriff’s deputies.
Both officers were involved in Muskegon County’s Sobriety Court, which recently won a two-year, $500,000 federal stimulus grant to expand the jail-diversion program.
That program involves intensive, court-supervised probation and oversight of participating criminal defendants, mostly people charged with driving while intoxicated. Malone, the county staffer who has overseen it since it was launched in 2006, has been described as the court’s main organizer and “architect.”
Meanwhile, the Muskegon County Sheriff’s Office has completed its criminal investigation of another fired county official, former Deputy Treasurer Dan Joslyn. It is seeking an arrest warrant, according to an assistant prosecutor.
Sheriff’s detectives have asked the Muskegon County Prosecutor’s Office to issue an arrest warrant for the county’s former second-ranking treasury official on a charge of embezzlement.
“A warrant request has been submitted by the sheriff’s department for embezzlement,” said Chief Assistant Prosecutor Brett Gardner. “We’ll be reviewing the investigation.”
In a third case of alleged corruption by a county employee, Muskegon County Sheriff’s detectives are investigating an employee of 14th Circuit Court’s Friend of the Court office, which handles child-support payments.
The female employee, whose name has not been publicly released, is suspected of stealing public funds. She was placed on administrative leave Friday and escorted from the courthouse by deputies.