The day after a Michigan State Police detective completed an investigation of a Van Buren Township police officer and turned the evidence over to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office for review, VBT Trustee Al Ostrowski filed a request for a Personal Protection Order against the officer.
Last summer, Trustee Ostrowski had been the target of a series of harassing calls on his home telephone, which escalated to chilling death threats on his cell phone.
The calls were saved and taken as evidence by MSP Detective/Sergeant Robert Weimer who investigated the case in great detail.
“I have a fear of retaliation,” said Ostrowski who filed his PPO request on April 13 and was before 3rd Circuit Court Judge Charlene Elder in Detroit on April 26.
When Judge Elder asked him why he waited so long to seek a PPO, Ostrowski said he was waiting for Weimer to complete his lengthy investigation.
Also in court April 26 was the object of the PPO request, VBT Police Officer Marc Abdilla, who stood mute as his attorney Gregory Graessley, of the Michael Vincent law firm in Ypsilanti, explained to the judge that his client would not be talking or answering any questions.
Before court began, Abdilla’s attorney Graessley asked for a conference out in the hallway with Ostrowski and Diane Madigan, who also was in court seeking a PPO against Abdilla.
Ostrowski and Madigan refused to meet with Abdilla and his attorney, with Madigan explaining to the attorney, “I don’t want to ever talk to him again, after the death threats.”
She referred to the death threats received by Ostrowski on his township cell phone. The last and most vicious of the calls was electronically manipulated to give Madigan’s name on the caller ID with her phone number. Actually, that phone number is in her husband’s name and his name comes up on a legitimate caller ID.
The threat that was supposed to have originated with Madigan’s phone was, “Keep pushing a– hole and you’re gonna be dead.” The call came at 4:06 p.m. on Sept. 16, just hours after Ostrowski made a request of the VBT police department about when the Drug Enforcement Authority agent would be at the township for a review of drugs used by the animal control officer.
In Madigan’s official PPO request against Abdilla, she told of an incident that happened in the first week of February 2010 when Abdilla “cornered me against wall with [his] arm by my head” in front of a witness. She told the judge that Abdilla was very agitated and confrontational and she felt threatened.
This incident happened after Madigan gave a report on fatigue, written by a former police chief and associate professor of criminal justice, telling how fatigue negatively affects the work of police officers and fire fighters.
She gave this report in connection with a discussion on blended rates and how some cross-trained police officers go straight from their police shifts to their fire shifts. Abdilla is a cross-trained officer and the person with the second-highest income in the township.
Judge Elder asked if Madigan filed a police report after she was confronted by Abdilla and Madigan replied, “He WAS the police.”
Also, in her PPO request, Madigan wrote, “Because of my appointment to the Van Buren Public Safety Committee and my report on salary/overtime issues at township meetings, reports on citizens’ concerns about staffing levels and animal control operations, Officer Abdilla has on more than one occasion accosted me and made me and my family feel threatened.”
The judge adjourned the proceedings briefly and went into her chambers. When she returned, she said she could not grant the requested PPOs because there was “no imminent threat” because the threats were more than six months old.
She recommended the two retain an attorney and issue a subpoena for Det./Sgt. Weimer to come to court and testify. Ostrowski and Madigan said Sunday that they have retained an attorney and will be determining what their next steps will be.
The judge gave a verbal order to Abdilla, telling him not to contact the two complainants in any way or to get anyone else to do it for him, including not to call them, drive by their houses, send emails, or anything else.
She said Abdilla could attend open meetings, since they are public, but was not to interfere with Ostrowski’s duties on the township board or Madigan’s duties on the Public Safety Committee.
The judge stated if he did any of these things, there would be no waiting period and the PPOs would immediately be granted.
Ostrowski and Madigan were told by Judge Elder to leave the courtroom first and they were under the impression the PPO requests were left open. But, the court records show the PPO was denied because of the length of time since the threats.
“I can tell you two are very scared,” the judge said to Ostrowski and Madigan when they stood before her.
Ostrowski said Public Safety Director Carl McClanahan was also in the courtroom, sitting with Abdilla. Ostrowski said McClanahan did not greet the two complainants.
Ostrowski, who was one of the board members that voted to hire McClanahan in a split vote, said he called Township Supervisor Paul White as soon as he got out of court.
Ostrowski said he asked for McClanahan’s resignation for not being there to support the victims, but to support a police officer, instead.
He said Supervisor White told him McClanahan was at court so if Abdilla had a PPO against him, McClanahan could go into a side room with the officer and Wayne County Sheriff’s deputies to relieve Abdilla of his gun, badge, and police ID.
In his PPO request, Ostrowski wrote: “Considering the time line, the only thing left to do is for him (Marc Abdilla) to actually carry out his threat. I have feared for my life since the calls started coming in and have been seeing a psychiatrist since they began.
“It has affected my decision-making process regarding matters that come before the Board of Trustees, of which I was duly elected to.
“I fear that Marc Abdilla has the means to carry out his threat and may possibly do so in the near future,” he wrote.
Later he said he is in fear of retaliation not only from Abdilla, but from other members of the police department.
Details of the MSP investigation will be released if the Wayne County Prosecutor signs official warrants in the case. Ostrowski said the prosecutor’s office has assured him a warrant will be issued.
Under Michigan law a person is entitled to seek a Personal Protection Order (PPO) through Circuit Court. It is intended to allow police to prevent a crime before it happens by preventing the other person from purchasing a fire arm or interfering with daily activities.
A lawyer is not a requirement to seek a PPO and Ostrowski and Madigan appeared at court without counsel on April 26. Abdilla had his attorney Graessley and what appeared to be another attorney with him at the court hearing.