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May 7, 2013

Prosecutor says Warren mayor’s remarks broke no laws

By Brian Louwers
C & G Staff Writer

WARREN – Mayor Jim Fouts won’t face criminal charges for profane and violent statements he made during a pair of phone tirades recorded by an administration appointee and turned over to Michigan State Police investigators last month.

In a prepared statement, Chief of Warrants Dean Alan of Macomb County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Smith’s office said the mayor’s statements “violated no statute and do not form a criminal act under Michigan law.”

A review of the audio, recorded by an unnamed Fouts appointee in early April, revealed the mayor saying he’d beat a former city appointee and political nemesis with a baseball bat if he saw him on the street. He also mentioned getting a gun to blow the former employee’s head off.

Fouts also repeatedly lashed out with profanity and disparaging remarks against a former assistant city attorney, whom the mayor blamed for creating political trouble.

The mayor’s rants also touched on edits to his Wikipedia profile, which Fouts alleged had been “savaged” by his political enemies, and on content posted to an online message board devoted to city politics. 

Sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the appointee who recorded the conversations grew concerned about the violent nature of the mayor’s remarks and turned the material over to Michigan State Police investigators in late April.

State Police detectives handed the case to Macomb County prosecutors May 1, and Alan said the decision of Smith’s office was based on the findings of a thorough investigation.

Reached for comment May 6, the mayor said he was “humbled and appreciative” after he learned of the prosecutor’s decision.

Fouts, who had maintained he broke no laws, apologized publically and told a crowd of hundreds gathered for the city’s annual observance of the National Day of Prayer May 2 that he was “ashamed and embarrassed” by his profane words revealed in the leaked tirades.

The mayor also said he viewed the release of the private phone conversations recorded by an appointee who works for him as a betrayal and a violation of confidentiality.

“My mother, she’s no longer living, but if she were here she would have given me a bar of soap to put in my mouth,” Fouts said. “Obviously I’ve been very embarrassed and frankly humiliated by it.”

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