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Emergency financial manager pleads no contest to misdemeanor

A man who was accused of embezzling money from Highland Park while he served as the city's emergency financial officer pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge just recently. The man's plea, which is not considered an admission of guilt, even though he would be sentenced as if he entered a guilty plea, caps off a three-year legal battle against him.

Prosecutors in Wayne County accused the man of embezzling money by paying himself over $200,000 to serve as emergency financial manager. Upon taking the position, the man had agreed to accept only $1 per year to play the crucial role for Highland Park.

However, the man argued that he agreed to a $1 salary for his first year, and that Michigan's governor at the time agreed that he would be paid a full salary for the years following his first. The man's legal team even pointed to the fact that they had documentation proving the governor knew of the payments and that he was not unethically taking the money from the city.

He was originally charged with embezzlement in 2009. His recent no contest plea was in answer to a safe keeping of public money charge.

Even though the man entered a no contest plea, prosecutors seemed to chalk it up as a victory for them and admission of his guilt, even though it is anything but. A member of the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office said that because the man did not contest the allegations, he admitted to the acts.

The man will face sentencing this spring.

The prosecution in this case was a bit delusional as no contest pleas are specifically designed for people who no longer want to fight charges even though they still believe they are innocent. This is a form of working with the courts, which can often lead to leniency in sentencing.

Source: Detroit Free Press, "Ex-Highland Park emergency financial manager Arthur Blackwell II pleads not contest to misdemeanor," Melanie Scott Dorsey, March 13, 2013

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