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Janitor arrested in Michigan school theft cases

The man accused of committing a series of thefts from a Michigan school district is a former contract employee who says that he needed the money to support his family. He was in custody as of Nov. 6 on $10,000 bond, for allegedly stealing $80,000 worth of a/v equipment and electronic tablets from two schools. Investigators credited the electronic reporting system that pawn shops use with leading them to the suspect.

The case first arose when a high school in the Fitzgerald Public Schools district was preparing for a school assembly back in September. The assembly required equipment such as cordless microphones, mixers and so on. But when school employees went to set up, they discovered that the equipment was missing. School officials estimated the value of the missing gear at around $79,000.

The next month, an elementary school in the same district called police to report that it was missing 19 iPads.

The law in Michigan requires pawn shops to enter the merchandise they buy into an online database. Police access that database to check for stolen items. When officers looked at the database, they found that the stolen items had been sold for about $6,000, allegedly to a 28-year-old man. He was hired in April as contract substitute janitor for the school district, but no longer has that job, according to the superintendent.

Under interrogation, the defendant confessed to the thefts, police claim. He allegedly said that he was forced to take the equipment to financially support his family.

In criminal defense cases like this one, the evidence may appear to strongly point to the defendant's guilt. Nevertheless, the criminal justice system is set up so that every defendant has access to a defense attorney. This is so that everyone's rights are protected during the investigation and trial process.

Source: Macomb Daily, "Warren school janitor accused in $80,000 theft," Mitch Hotts, Nov. 5, 2013

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