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Grosse Pointe City

Shores Council member accepts plea agreement

September 17, 2013

» click to enlarge «
From left, Gary Bresnehan, an attorney with the Wayne County Prosecutors’s Office, and Grosse Pointe Shores Detective Lt. Scott Rohr take part in a preliminary examination Sept. 11 for, at right, Grosse Pointe Shores City Council member Daniel Schulte, accompanied by his attorney, Patricia Galvin. The hearing took place at Grosse Pointe City Municipal Court in front of Judge Russell Ethridge, not pictured.

GROSSE POINTE CITY — Grosse Pointe Shores City Council member Daniel Schulte, 59, will be on probation for the next 12 months for a domestic violence incident involving his wife at the family home on Hampton at 10:22 p.m. Aug. 7.

Schulte — whom the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office charged Aug. 8 with resisting and obstructing, preventing a crime report and domestic violence — faced those charges during a preliminary examination Sept. 11 in front of Grosse Pointe City Municipal Court Judge Russell Ethridge. The hearing — which was moved up from its original date of Sept. 12 — took place in the City’s court because Grosse Pointe Farms and Shores Municipal Court Judge Matthew Rumora recused himself from the matter. Prosecutors decided to drop the crime-report prevention charge.

Schulte was given 12 months of reporting probation and ordered to pay $2,250 in fines and costs for pleading guilty to a reduced charge of attempted resisting and obstructing a police officer and no contest to domestic violence, both of which are classified as misdemeanors. Court officials said a conviction for resisting and obstructing would be a felony offense, but attempted resisting and obstructing is a lesser charge.

In addition, Schulte was told to fulfill 24 hours of community service — not related to his City Council duties — over the next 90 days. He’s also required to complete an anger-management program and is to have no contact with his wife unless she initiates it, according to the court. Upon successful completion of the aforementioned, Gary Bresnehan — an attorney with the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office — said the case would be dismissed, and Schulte would have no criminal record.

“I think this is a fair and balanced resolution,” Bresnehan said

Schulte — accompanied by his attorney, Patricia Galvin — often found himself at odds with the judge as he responded to questions from his attorney, Ethridge and Bresnehan.

Schulte and Ethridge engaged in a bit of verbal sparring, not unlike some of Schulte’s exchanges around the council table.

“I went to make a 911 call,” Schulte said of heading into his office inside the house after police arrived on the scene.

“Well, the police were already there, were they not?” Ethridge asked.

Schulte acknowledged this was true.

“Did the police give you any verbal instructions, Mr. Schulte?” the judge asked.

Galvin whispered “yes,” to Schulte, seeming to indicate a response to the question, but Schulte responded otherwise.

“I don’t remember what they said — I’m saying that with absolute sincerity,” Schulte said.

“Let me ask you: Why would you make a 911 call for the police when the police were already at your house?” Ethridge asked him.

“Because I didn’t think they had the right to come into my house,” Schulte said.

“I’m not sure, Ms. Galvin, I have sufficient factual basis,” Ethridge told Schulte’s attorney. “This defendant doesn’t seem to have any acknowledgement that he was given a lawful command by a police officer that either he ignored, or ….”

His voice trailed off at that moment.

At that point, Galvin and Schulte were allowed to speak privately during a brief recess, and Galvin said her client had been unclear about what he said and when on that August evening.

“The police were coming into the house, and I ran into the house and closed my office door because I wanted enough time to dial 911,” Schulte told the court.

“And so you locked the door?” Ethridge asked.

“The door was in a locked position when I slammed the door,” Schulte said. “I didn’t physically lock the door.”

Ethridge told Galvin he was “really struggling with this factual basis” for Schulte’s plea agreement. In order for the judge to accept Schulte’s plea, Ethridge told Galvin, “It needs to be a knowing and voluntary plea in which he acknowledges that he was instructed by police officers … to stop … and did something that was an attempt to thwart” their efforts.

But Schulte insisted he “absolutely did not” resist arrest after police broke down the door, leading Bresnehan to question him about the factual elements of the incident again. When the prosecutor was able to elicit positive responses from Schulte, Ethridge said the court “finds that there is a sufficient factual basis” to accept the plea, “albeit with some difficulty.”

Ethridge acknowledged that as a council member, Schulte’s case was getting more attention than similar incidents by other defendants.

“The reality is, you’re under a microscope,” the judge said. “The world is watching.”

Schulte said he and his family are undergoing counseling — something he and Galvin said Schulte initiated — and Schulte said he believed he was making progress as a result.

“I’m aware of the fact that I want my family to be restored,” Schulte said.

Schulte’s wife, who was present for the hearing, agreed, saying they were going to “try to restore” their relationship.

Ethridge urged Schulte to use the coming months to work on his family dynamic.

“Take this opportunity to repair your relationship with your wife and family; develop some new coping skills,” he said.

Ethridge also warned the council member that if the court finds him in violation of his probation, Schulte could be thrown in jail.

“I think you’ve got control issues,” the judge told Schulte. “I think you want to control things.”

In this instance, however, Ethridge said, “The court is in control.”

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