MUSKEGON — Muskegon County Sheriff Dean Roesler admitted to making repeated withdrawals from the account of a charity golf outing but said they were inadvertent and paid most of the money back, according to a state police report obtained by Target 8.
The withdrawals started in June 2008 and continued through 2011, totaling nearly $2,300, the report states.
Roesler told police he used the money to pay for his children’s college books or their gasoline, but said he thought the money was coming from his personal account.
A state police investigator has turned over the case to the Eaton County Prosecutor’s Office to determine whether to file embezzlement charges.
Roesler on Wednesday refused to comment, saying his attorney advised him not to.
Michigan State Police started investigating in January, based on a complaint from Roesler’s former political opponent, John Jurkas.
“Public officials should be held to a higher standard,” Jurkas told Target 8. “It hasn’t been done here in this case. Elected officials and employees of the county, the laws are made for everybody, not just for private citizens.”
The case was assigned to MSP’s Paw Paw post because the sheriff’s brother, Capt. David Roesler, is the commander of the state police Sixth District, which includes the Muskegon area.
Jurkas, a retired Muskegon County deputy who lost to Sheriff Roesler in 2012, said the complaint had nothing to do with politics.
“It’s all about integrity,” Jurkas said. “It’s the reason I ran against him for sheriff in 2012. No sour grapes. It’s just right is right and wrong is wrong.”
The allegations involve the Muskegon County Sheriff’s annual charity golf outing.
The outing has raised more than $17,000 since 2008 for Muskegon charities, including the Hackley Cancer Center, according to bank documents.
State police reports show Roesler and former sheriff records clerk Connie Wyant opened the charity’s checking account together in 2007.
In 2008, according to the reports, Wyant confronted Roesler after discovering money was missing from the account.
State police used a search warrant to obtain bank records that show Roesler made nine withdrawals from the charity account, anywhere from $50 to $400, from June 2007 to August 2008.
They totaled $1,950.
In November 2008, records show, Roesler transferred $1,650 from his personal account into the charity account.
He later told police he made the transfer after being confronted by Wyant.
Then, in early 2012, Wyant confronted Roesler again after discovering more money was missing.
Records show he had made another three withdrawals in 2010 and 2011 totaling $340.
They also show he repaid $200 of that in January 2012, after being confronted by Wyant.
Roesler at first told witnesses his wife must have made the withdrawals, according to reports.
But a credit union official told police that couldn’t have happened because she’s not on the account.
When state police interviewed Roesler in April, the account was still $440 short, reports show.
In that interview, Roesler promised to “make the account whole.”
He called the withdrawals “inadvertent,” said he “screwed up,” and thought the money was coming from his personal account, which was attached to the charity account.
He told police he spent the money on his children’s college textbooks or their gas money.
Jurkas said he doesn’t believe Roesler’s withdrawals were accidents.
“I don’t know, is it possible?” Jurkas said. “If you look at all the documentation in the police report, it shows 13 different screw-ups. Is it possible? I don’t know.” I didn’t see one mistake deposit made into that account, just cash withdrawals. If there’s money stolen and wrong-doing [has] been done, the person should be held responsible for such — even if it’s the sheriff.”