Published November 23, 2012
Former detective charged with misconduct, embezzlement
By Sara Kandel email@example.com
EASTPOINTE — A former Eastpointe detective was arraigned on felony charges in 38th District Court Nov. 19.
Timothy Stopczynski, 41, a 14-year veteran of the Eastpointe Police Department, is accused of stealing seized items and selling them for personal gain. He is charged with one count of misconduct while in office, a five-year felony, and one count of embezzlement greater than $1,000 but less than $20,000, a five-year felony.
The Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office announced the charges against him Nov. 16 after reviewing Eastpointe’s internal investigation report.
“When we learned there was possible misconduct, we immediately began an investigation, and when we completed our paperwork and reports, we immediately forwarded them to the prosecutor’s office for review,” said Eastpointe Deputy Chief Scott Bourgeois, prior to the arraignment. “They determined they would be pressing charges against Stopczynski from the information in the report.”
The report detailed multiple instances in which Stopczynski is alleged to have taken rims, tires, slot machines, watches and other items from the department’s forfeiture shed and given them to a confidential informant to sell for drugs or money.
“Obviously, we take misconduct and theft very seriously, and we do not tolerate it in the department,” Bourgeois said.
Bourgeois was present but did not speak at the 1 p.m. arraignment Nov. 19 in front of Judge Roger La Rose, of the 32-A District Court in Harper Woods. La Rose was assigned the case by the state.
“Judge (Carl) Gerds disqualified himself because Stopczynski was an employee,” explained Karen Hydett, Eastpointe’s court administrator.
La Rose will continue to hear the case in Eastpointe until it is bound over to circuit court or a plea agreement is reached. Both seem a ways off.
Stopczynski’s defense attorney, Fred Gibson, entered a no contest plea that was rejected because La Rose stated that a plea could not be heard during an arraignment on felony charges. Gibson’s requests for discovery were referred to the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office for review.
“We are scheduled for a pre-exam conference to determine if there is a need for a preliminary exam, but there will be a preliminary exam. … Once I’m provided with anything and everything, I can make a determination on what steps need to be taken next,” Gibson said, following the arraignment.
Stopcyznski appeared broken up in court, struggling to fight back tears while being read his rights and crying into his hands while the charges against him were spoken aloud in front of a handful of his former co-workers and peers.
“I think that the criminal aspect of changing from one side to the other — being the person who’s engaged in law enforcement and enforcing the laws to now being charged as a criminal on the other side — is especially unique to law enforcement and really causes a great introspection in all of us that run public agencies,” said Eastpointe City Manager Steve Duchane, following the arraignment.
“If you are in a situation where you spend a lot of time with people who have made alternative choices in life, you can certainly be influenced or maybe even swept up in it. But here is a case where he was making deals for property that wasn’t coming back to the city and didn’t have an end game of coming back to the city. How do you get that type of perspective of self-gain out of doing this job? How do you create a relationship with felons that you are there to arrest? It’s hard to understand and it’s unfortunate,” he said.
Following the arraignment, Stopczynski was taken to the Police Department for booking, but he was later released on a $1,000 personal bond. He is scheduled to appear for a pre-exam conference in 38th District Court at 1 p.m. Dec. 4. Attempts to contact the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office were not returned at press time.