By Rosemary K. Otzman
At his final conference on Oct. 15, disbarred Belleville attorney Thomas A. White asked Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Dalton Arnold Roberson to change his requested trial by jury, to instead, a bench trial.
The waiver of the jury trial was signed and filed by Judge Roberson.
The bench trial will begin at 9 a.m. Nov. 3 in the courtroom of Judge Margaret Van Houten, who is off the bench for three months recovering from knee and foot surgery. Judge Roberson, a retired judge, is filling in for Judge Van Houten.
The final conference had been set for Oct. 10, but reportedly the attorneys couldn’t be there, so they met instead on Oct. 9 before Judge Roberson and agreed to hold the final conference on Oct. 15.
White, 46, faces 20 felony charges including conducting a criminal enterprise while allegedly embezzling millions of dollars from trusting clients and their families.
He was a lifelong resident of Van Buren Township and had practiced law for 20 years in his office across Main Street from Belleville City Hall before he was disbarred more than a year ago. After disbarment he immediately filed bankruptcy and has been running his cleaning firm since then.
The first five felony charges were filed against White on Sept. 6, 2013 and the next 15 felonies on Dec. 18, 2013.
White’s attorney is Michael Vincent who has been successful with delaying court sessions for more than a year.
White’s preliminary exam on the first five charges was reset six times before being waived on April 9, when White was bound over to circuit court for trial. On May 2, Judge Van Houten approved a motion to consolidate the first five charges with the 15 charges so now the case has the combined 20 charges.
Judge Roberson said there will be no more plea deals after the final conference, since the final conference was supposed to be the last session before a jury trail. A bench trial is more flexible.
On Sept. 12, Vincent told Judge Roberson that so far there had been no plea deal offered, but they were working on “coming to an agreement.”
Judge Van Houten had said a two-to-three-week trial would be needed before a jury. Assistant Prosecutor Daniel Williams previously told the judge that 50-60 witnesses will be called if the cases go to trial.
David Ryan Brooks
At his final conference on Oct. 15, David Ryan Brooks, 25, of Van Buren Township, pled guilty to a new charge of Assault Family With Gun, a misdemeanor that could bring up to 93 days in jail and/or a $500 fine.
As part of the plea deal, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge James A. Callahan dismissed the original charges. Brooks had been charged with assault with a dangerous weapon (felonious assault), a four-year felony, and weapons-felony firearm, a mandatory two-year felony.
Sentencing has been set for 9 a.m., Nov. 5, before Judge Callahan. Brooks was ordered to give a DNA sample and was referred to the Probation Department for a pre-sentence report.
At the time of the incident, Brooks was a Romulus police officer who was fired after the Wayne County Prosecutor approved the two felony charges. Brooks’ attorney, Michael Vincent, said at a court session that Brooks had a court case and was seeking his job back.
Brooks, who was off-duty, was accused of pointing his hand gun at another motorist during a road rage incident on Belleville Road in VBT on May 29.
The plea deal was in the works when attorney Vincent met with Assistant Prosecutor Patrick Coletta in Judge Callahan’s chambers on Sept. 24. Judge Callahan rejected the first proposal for a plea and told them to come back on Oct. 15.
By Rosemary K. Otzman