By Rosemary K. Otzman
The case against Curtis Cooper Russ was dismissed by 34th District Court Judge Tina Brooks Green after a March 19 preliminary exam because of insufficient evidence.
The charges were FTD (financial transaction device/credit card) stealing and FTD illegal sale, for using the card for a purchase at Meijer in Van Buren Township.
Donald Vann was the only witness testifying in the case and he told how several purchases he didn’t make turned up on his credit card. The charges were made at the Meijer store in Van Buren Township where he shops for groceries.
Vann said no one else had authority to use his credit/debit card from TCF Bank, but purchases he didn’t make were charged On Oct. 9 for $884.87; on Oct. 9 for $475.94; and Oct. 10 for $475.94, along with charges on Oct. 12 and 19.
VBT Police Det. Ken Toney had a surveillance tape from Meijer’s ready to run for Judge Green to show a man he said looked like defendant Russ exiting the Meijer store near the time of the illegal charges.
Judge Green got down from the bench to watch the video, but then backed off after she realized they were going to ask her to identify someone exiting the store.
“How does that make him guilty?” she asked.
Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Ryan Lukiewski said they did not have tape of anyone at the cash register at that time.
Court-appointed defense attorney David Lankford encouraged them to show the tape, noting all they will see is a large black man that was there at the same date and time of the crime.
Judge Green asked VBT Det. Toney how they happened to arrest this defendant and Det. Toney told Judge Green that there was a Meijer employee involved in the identification, but they can’t locate the employee.
“Just because he was there? A lot of people were there,” said Judge Green. “Probably 100 people were there … Without someone testifying he used the card at the front … I have to have some evidence.”
Judge Green dismissed the charges and ordered Russ’ bond returned. She said charges could be refilled in the future.
Judge Green said all their evidence was off the video and that wouldn’t show enough.
By Rosemary K. Otzman