By Diane Madigan
Independent Court Reporter
Arrests, convictions and sentencing for three men responsible for break-ins to homes in the Denton neighborhood in Van Buren Township in 2011 and 2012 have come to a close.
Surveillance and police investigations by Van Buren Township’s Special Investigation Unit (SIU) led to the April 4, 2012 apprehension of Thomas Michael Johnson, 52, of VBT and Sheldon Brummette, 28, both charged with receiving and concealing stolen property.
At the time of the arrests Brummette was on probation for a 2011 drug charge.
When Johnson was arrested he had been seen carrying a stolen flat-screen TV to his then-residence in Town and Country Mobile Home Park. A search warrant was executed at his residence by Van Buren police. A large cache of jewelry and electronics were seized along with prescription narcotic bottles from prior break-ins in the Denton neighborhood.
Johnson was charged with three counts of possession of stolen property and pled guilty to one.
34th District Court Chief Judge Tina Brooks Green postponed sentencing for two months because Johnson said he was to have heart valve surgery.
On June 7, 2012 Johnson was sentenced to one year probation for possession of stolen property by Judge Green. Johnson had five convictions between 1979 and 1985 for breaking and entering, home invasion and intent to commit larceny.
On July 5, 2012 Johnson was a no-show for a pretrial exam on another case in 34th District Court Judge David Parrott’s courtroom. The Independent later learned that Johnson was incarcerated on a federal charge of a felon knowingly and unlawfully in possession of a firearm, in this case a Colt .45 pistol with a laser sight which had previously traveled in interstate and foreign commerce.
The firearm had been stolen in a home invasion on Old Michigan Avenue in VBT.
At the time of his July 2, 2012 arrest he was in the company of two other felons: Sheldon Willie-Earl Brummette (a/k/a Famo) and Javon Franklin Ellis, both of whom were listed as defendants in the case.
Court records say police allege Johnson sold the Colt .45 with laser sight, which was stolen Jan. 27, 2012, to Willie-Earl Brumette for $200 and Brummette sold it to Javon Ellis for $250.
Ellis was arrested by Eastern Michigan University Police on charges of possession of marijuana and possession of the Colt .45 handgun with laser sight stolen from VBT.
The federal weapons case took some time making its way through the system. Johnson’s court-appointed attorney, Mark Magidson, asked for more time to locate, interview or subpoena witnesses for Johnson’s defense
Thomas Johnson and Sheldon Brummette finally accepted felony plea agreements for possession of a firearm and are facing 10-year minimum sentences in federal prison.
VBT Police Lt. Charles Bazzy reports that Javon Ellis refused a plea agreement and demanded a trial in U.S. District Court. A jury trial began on Aug. 19, 2013 before Judge Denise Page Hood in Detroit.
On Aug. 22, the case went to the jury. The jury deliberated for about 1½ hours before returning with a guilty verdict on all counts: felon in possession of a firearm, armed career criminal, and possession with intent to distribute marijuana.
Ellis is looking at a sentence of 20 years to life in the federal prison system. Sentencing is scheduled sometime in December, Lt. Bazzy said.
By Diane Madigan