By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
TRENTON — A city worker charged this month — along with a Flat Rock police officer — with operating an illegal sports betting ring while on duty will have a Garrity hearing Feb. 1 before further employment decisions are made.
Trenton Department of Public Works employee Kevin Sargent, 35, and Flat Rock Police Sergeant Charles Sanders Jr., 46, were arraigned Jan. 11 in 33rd District Court on racketeering charges following a year-long investigation of illegal gambling conducted by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The two face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of racketeering and 14 counts of illegal gambling.
Investigators claimed that the men collected bets and communicated with gamblers and each other on company time, to include Sanders’ having done so while driving his patrol car. Since the arraignment, Sargent has used accrued personal time as agreed upon by his attorney and city officials.
“He’s using time he’s entitled to,” City Administrator Jim Wagner said, adding that Sargent has enough days accrued to remain off duty until Feb. 1 and a scheduled Garrity hearing.
Under the provisions of a Garrity hearing, a municipal employee may be questioned without the discussion being allowed in any subsequent trial or court proceedings.
Wagner said that city attorneys proposed the hearing, and Sargent’s attorney asked for time to review the background of the situation.
“The Garrity hearing will be a very important key as to how we proceed or don’t,” Wagner said. Sanders was placed on administrative leave by the Flat Rock Police Department. A preliminary examination is scheduled for Feb. 24 before 33rd District Court Judge James K. Kersten.
(James Mitchell can be reached at [email protected])