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May 17, 2013

Law clerk sentenced to probation for taking cash at court

By Brian Louwers
C & G Staff Writer

WARREN — A college student who previously worked as a law clerk at the 37th District Court has been sentenced to probation and ordered to pay a total of $1,100 in fines and restitution after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor embezzlement charge.

Wasim David Mikho, 26, of Sterling Heights, appeared on video from the jail at the Warren Police Department at 2:45 p.m. May 16 for an arraignment before Judge Jennifer Faunce.

Accompanied by defense attorney Thomas Tomko, Mikho also pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement between $200 and $1,000, a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail.

Mikho was fired in April after Warren police investigated an allegation that he pocketed $300 given to him by a woman who appeared in court to clear up two outstanding traffic matters.

At the arraignment immediately before the guilty plea was entered, Warren Police Detective Sgt. Stephen Mills told Faunce Mikho took possession of a white envelope containing $300 in cash on the morning of March 26. Mills said the investigation revealed Mikho directed the woman to give him the envelope and that the money was never turned over to the court.

Mills said the woman realized something was amiss when she went to the counter to pay the balance of her fines and was told she still owed $665.

“Mikho denied receiving money from (the woman), even though video had captured the exchange,” Mills said. “Mr. Mikho then gave a confession to myself, admitting he took the money due to financial difficulties.”

Tomko told Faunce his client realizes the adverse effect the conviction would have on his life and career path but that Mikho wanted a chance to “get back on track with his schooling and employment, and also to move forward.”

Police said previously Mikho attends law school locally and was permitted to handle low-level cases in the 37th District Court through the office of Warren City Attorney James Biernat.

Mikho’s employment with the city was suspended immediately March 26 and he was fired in April after the Warren Police Department completed its investigation and turned the case over to Macomb County prosecutors.

“Judge, my client’s a young man. We’ve gone over this. This has had a big impact on him in his personal life and his personal goals,” Tomko said. “Knowing that this would be a conviction on his record I think has had an impact on him.

“We’ve sat and talked on numerous occasions about what this is, what this means for him and how it’s going to affect his future, and he realizes that it has a negative impact,” Tomko said.

In addition to probation, Faunce ordered Mikho to pay $800 in fines and court costs plus $300 in restitution and to complete 200 hours of community service.

She also ordered him to maintain a full-time schedule of work and school.

“Obviously what you’ve done has affected everyone here in the city. It’s more than a little disappointing,” Faunce said. “It’s not for lack of education. You’ve been through school, college and law school. It’s really quite baffling.”

Call Staff Writer Brian C. Louwers at (586) 498-1089.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Brian Louwers at brianlouwers@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1089.