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Contempt motion over city of Fraser’s badges dismissed

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published February 6, 2018

FRASER — A motion for contempt filed by the city of Fraser against former Mayor Joe Nichols and former Councilman Matt Hemelberg has been dropped.

According to Macomb County Circuit Court records, the motion was originally filed Jan. 8. The city, through attorneys, Kirk, Huth, Lange & Badalamenti, PLC, filed the motion for contempt due to city badges allegedly not being returned by Nichols and Hemelberg.

A hearing originally scheduled for Jan. 22 in front of Judge Richard Caretti was later rescheduled for Feb. 26. The motion was dismissed Jan. 30.

On Jan. 11, attorney Robert Huth said the order would “end the issue once and for all,” indicating that city-issued badges are only for elected officials currently serving on the council. 

“The motion for contempt has been dismissed because Mr. Hemelberg and Mr. Nichols responded to the motion with sworn statements stating the badges have been lost,” Huth confirmed Jan. 31. “Therefore, the LIEN (Law Enforcement Information Network) system will note the badges as lost. Now, anyone using the badges will be subject to criminal prosecution. Further legal fees on this issue are unnecessary.”

Angela Mannarino, the attorney representing Nichols and Hemelberg, originally called the motion “ridiculous.” She stated that Huth filed the motion prematurely, without ever attempting to contact her to resolve the issue.

On Jan. 30, she said Huth again contacted her regarding the motion’s dismissal, and he was OK with her clients entering the badges into the city’s LEIN system.

Since the badges are replicas of those that police officers possess, the concern on the city’s behalf was that lost or stolen badges could result in someone impersonating law enforcement.

“(Huth) ignored my request for the city to cover the attorneys’ fees my clients incurred,” Mannarino said Jan. 30. “He did not mention anything about the fees.”

Nichols said he lost one badge last summer when it fell out of his cargo shorts while at a Toledo Mud Hens baseball game. He said he returned the replacement badge he received. Hemelberg said he lost his original badge, was later given a smaller badge, and then returned that.

The ex-mayor called the motion “another example of wasteful spending of taxpayer money.” He claimed that “at least 8 to 10 badges” possessed by former city elected officials are “floating around.”