Police investigating allegations against local lawmaker

By: Kristyne E. Demske | C&G Newspapers | Published September 21, 2021

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“The unfortunate reality is that many people in our society have experienced domestic abuse, which often comes from someone we would never expect.”

Mari Manoogian, State Rep.

HARRISON TOWNSHIP — A local lawmaker has been stripped of his committee assignments and has been served with a personal protection order by a colleague in the state House of Representatives.

State Rep. Steve Marino, R-Harrison Township, was removed from his committee assignments Sept. 15 by Speaker Jason Wentworth, R-Farwell, after allegations of domestic abuse against Marino were made to the Michigan State Police Sept. 14 by Rep. Mari Manoogian, D-Birmingham.

“I will always prioritize the safety of state legislators and those who are serving their community at the state Capitol,” Wentworth said in a provided statement. “Once I learned of this situation, I took immediate action. Going forward, the House is honoring Rep. Manoogian’s request for privacy while others look into the allegations.”

In a statement posted to her Twitter feed Sept. 15, Manoogian said, “The unfortunate reality is that many people in our society have experienced domestic abuse, which often comes from someone we would never expect.”

“None of us are immune to a volatile relationship, regardless of our career. It can happen right here in our legislature, where abuse of power and threats to ruin a colleague’s reputation, as well as threats of public shaming, can be used to intimidate fellow members of the legislature. I am asking for privacy as I take steps to ensure my safety while I continue to represent my district and do the work of the people.”

Shanon Banner, manager of the public affairs section of the Michigan State Police, said she could “confirm that the MSP is investigating the allegations made by Ms. Manoogian. Because this is an ongoing case, we will be providing no further comment.”

On Sept. 17, Manoogian petitioned for and received a personal protection order against Marino, according to her attorney, Kelly McClintock, of Grewal Law.

“This PPO was granted based on the court determining that irreparable harm was likely to occur from the delay required to effect notice,” McClintock said in a provided statement. “Grewal Law is working with others to help ensure the representative’s safety as she focuses on her No. 1 priority — working on behalf of her constituents at the state Capitol.”

McClintock said PPOs are not open to the public in Michigan and so she would not be releasing the document.

“My client, Rep. Manoogian, does not wish to have our team be the one releasing this,” she said Sept. 21.

Marino’s attorney, Mike Rataj, said he accepted service of the PPO on Sept. 22.

“You can bet that we’re going to be moving to set it aside because there’s no basis for it,” he said. “There’s no grounds for it, and we’re going to move to set it aside.”

Rataj said Sept. 28 that he has until Oct. 6 to file a motion to set aside the PPO, which he planned to do.

Wentworth said more details would be released once the investigation was concluded.

“The House will continue to assist with the Michigan State Police investigation, take every precaution to ensure Rep. Manoogian’s safety and ultimately allow the legal process to play out,” he said.

In a Sept. 18 statement, Manoogian expressed her gratitude for the support she has received.

“I have placed my faith in the judicial system,” she said in a statement posted to her Twitter account. “I’m confident that Steve will be held accountable for his actions and that the truth will prevail.”