Former Ferndale DPW employee charged with embezzlement

By: Mike Koury | C&G Newspapers | Published December 20, 2020

 Tyronne Lewis

Tyronne Lewis

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FERNDALE — A former Department of Public Works employee in Ferndale is accused of embezzling money from the city.

Tyronne Lewis was arraigned Nov. 30 in the 43rd District Court on one charge of embezzlement, $1,000 or more, but less than $20,000. The charge is a five-year felony.

City staff filed a report with the Ferndale Police Department Oct. 19 in which they indicated that Lewis, 41, of Warren, had been instructed to return unused construction material to Menards Sept. 23.

Ferndale Police Community Engagement Officer Jill Mahlmeister said the city kept waiting to see if a credit for the unused material would pop up on its account, but it never did.

“When they asked (Lewis) about it, he explained that there was store credit issued,” she said. “The city never received that, so that’s when we started investigating it.”

The city wanted to return unused roofing materials purchased in June. The materials were worth $4,227. Mahlmeister said police learned that, after 90 days, Menards doesn’t give a full refund or credit an account, so store credit was awarded.

“The investigators were able to verify through Menards security that (Lewis) did indeed go to Menards back on Sept. 23, and he did return the items, and they were also able to show on their records that they issued the store credit.”

City Manager Joe Gacioch said Lewis was hired by the city in 2014. After the allegations were presented, he resigned in November.

“We were alerted to issues in late October … that there could be some concerns that are worth looking into,” Gacioch said. “I contacted our Police Department and we conducted an internal investigation, and the employee ultimately ended up resigning.”

Police stated that Lewis allegedly received store credit, and then sold it to a third party for an unknown dollar amount. Menards confirmed to police that the store credit was used on Oct. 8.

“There’s surveillance footage of Lewis with this third person at Menards when they used that credit,” Mahlmeister said.

Lewis’ next court date was scheduled for Dec. 21, after press time, at the 43rd District Court, which occurred after the Woodward Talk went to press. His attorney, Douglas Gutscher, could not be reached for comment.

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