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Two charged with faking breath test inspection

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published June 8, 2020


BEVERLY HILLS — It was just after the new year when the village of Beverly Hills was notified by the Michigan State Police that the breath test in their station might not be performing optimally because two inspectors allegedly had fudged their paperwork.

Following a four-month investigation, the Michigan Attorney General’s Office filed charges against two technicians contracted by the MSP to service all of the DataMaster transportable testing machines, or DMTs, used to measure the alcohol level of drivers suspected of being under the influence of alcohol.

The attorney general alleges that two inspectors, responsible for inspecting hundreds of machines in person every 120 days, created fictitious documents to show they had completed certain diagnostic tests and repairs that they didn’t perform last spring, between January and June of 2019. Two of those machines — one of which is located in the Beverly Hills Public Safety Department — went unchecked, potentially skewing test results. The other machine was at the Alpena County Sheriff’s Office.

Those fraudulent documents were uncovered when the MSP noticed some discrepancies in reports during routine reviews of its breath alcohol program, and the machines were then swapped out, according to Village Attorney Tom Ryan.

“We weren’t aware until the State Police found out and notified us,” Ryan said. “It’s unfortunate that it happened, but it’s the state inspectors that are at fault in this. (The DMT) was tested in January by an actual State Police (officer) right after we got the notification, and then it was tested again within the last week or two by an inspector, and it’s considered to be in order and properly functioning.”

Col. Joe Gasper, the director of the MSP, said that once the issue was revealed, his team worked quickly to investigate and make sure the DMT machines were working appropriately. He added that throughout the investigation into the matter, the department has been transparent about what the implications could mean for past and future intoxicated driving charges.

“We recognize the critical role these instruments can play in drunk driving convictions and we are confident that a properly calibrated and maintained DataMaster remains an extremely reliable instrument,” Gasper said in a prepared statement.

Ryan said nine cases in the village were impacted by potentially erroneous DMT readings, and he said those involved have been notified.

“Two of the cases hadn’t entered a plea yet, and seven of them had. Some of (the cases) were reviewed, but I don’t think we made any changes, ultimately,” he said. “At this point, everybody that wanted to talk to me about it as a village attorney, I spoke with them.”

The two inspectors, a 59-year-old Kalamazoo man and a 53-year-old Oxford man, are facing 15 felony charges between them from the AG’s Public Integrity Unit. As of early April, the state had terminated its contract with Intoximeters, the corporation tasked with servicing the DMTs. The contract began in September 2018.

“Those who hold positions of trust and responsibility at any level within our overall system of justice must be held to a high standard. When that trust is betrayed, it is incumbent upon my department to ensure accountability on behalf of the people of our state,” state Attorney General Dana Nessel said.