LANSING (WWJ) - Two former Michigan State Police lieutenants and a civilian accomplice have been sentenced for their roles in an extensive property embezzlement scheme.
Ex-cops 50-year-old Luke Davis, of Monroe, and 44-year-old Emmanuel Riopelle, of Grosse Ile, appeared for sentencing this week in Monroe County’s 38th Circuit Court.
Davis was sentenced to 2-20 years in prison after earlier pleading no contest to one count of racketeering, a 20-year felony.
Riopelle was sentenced to three years probation and 28 hours community service after earlier pleading no contest to one count of misconduct in office, a five-year felony. Because Riopelle’s misconduct occurred while he served in a position of public trust, state law requires him to also forfeit his pension.
Lawrence Dusseau, a 44-year-old Monroe County resident, was also sentenced in the case, last month, to two years probation after earlier pleading guilty to two counts of title jumping to avoid the State Use Tax, a five-year felony.
Davis, along with Riopelle and Dusseau, was charged in February 2011 for coordinating an extensive scheme to systematically embezzle property and money seized from suspects from March 2006 to Dec. 2008.
The alleged embezzlement was uncovered by state police following a Nov. 28, 2008 complaint from a suspect alleging Davis stole property from his home. According to court records, a search of Davis’ home on Dec. 4, 2008 revealed the stolen property, as well as Vicodin, Oxycotin, steroids, a wall covered with a large quantity of men’s and women’s jewelry, 30 designer purses, 22 cell phones, computers, televisions, motorcycles and a golf cart, among other property.
Subsequent investigation revealed that Davis allegedly developed a system of embezzling seized property from the unit he commanded.
According to Michigan State Police policy, seized property is to be sold at public auction, put to official use or destroyed. However, in March 2006, prosecutors say Davis – with the help of Riopelle and Dusseau – began diverting some property for his own use or giving it away rather than selling it at auction.
Attorney General Bill Schuette said Davis used Dusseau as a “straw buyer” at the auctions, falsifying receipts to show Dusseau purchased the property at auction, but Dusseau would later sell the property to a third-party and then split the profits with Davis. Embezzled items included flat-screen televisions, designer purses, furniture, cell phones, automobiles and electronics.
“Law enforcement officials who abuse their position for personal gain dangerously undermine public safety for everyone,” Schuette said in a statement. “No matter your title, if you break the law, there are consequences, and we will hold corrupt officials accountable.”
Upon issuance of the charges, Davis and Riopelle were placed on unpaid suspension. The felony convictions received by both will result in the permanent revocation of their Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards certifications, bringing their careers in law enforcement to an end.