Original Case Details
Former Grand Traverse County Jail Administrator is facing serious accusations involving the sexual assault and explicit relationships with current and former female inmates. Allegations involving Ritter having inappropriate relationships with female inmates surfaced last year during an internal investigation that uncovered sexually charged text messages and explicit photographs of former and current inmates on his government-issued cell phone and laptop. He is accused of taking a former inmate to a Lansing hotel and then expensing it to the County, as well as signing onto a corrections department computer to a single mother dating website and further saving a profile as “Big Tex.” He is also accused of stealing drug test kits neglecting his duty to make sound financial decisions with county money by costing Grand Traverse County nearly $10,000 in keeping a specific female prisoner past her sentence while sending other inmates to other jails at the County’s expense. His bond was set at $50,000 at his arraignment.
Criminal Charges and Potential Penalties
Ritter was arraigned in the 86th District Court in front of Magistrate Tammi Rodgers for both felony and misdemeanor charges, they include:
• Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Second Degree: This is a felony charge that carries a maximum penalty of up to 15 years in state prison. A conviction will also result in the requirement to register as a sex offender and face electronic monitoring.
• Embezzlement by a Public Official over $50: This is a felony charge that carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in state prison and a maximum fine of up to $5,000.
• Misconduct in Office: This is a felony charge that carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in state prison and a maximum fine of up to $10,000. This is a common law rule that applies to misconduct that is not expressly covered in a Michigan statute.
• Larceny in a Building: This is a felony charge that carries a maximum penalty of up to four years in state prison.
• Willful Neglect of Duty: This is a misdemeanor charge that carries a maximum penalty of up to one year in the county jail and a maximum fine of up to $1,000.
The case is not being tried by local Grand Traverse County prosecutors as the Attorney General’s office has taken over the case due to the obvious conflicts of interest that exist with prosecuting the former administrator of the Grand Traverse County jail. Assistant Attorney General Danielle Hagaman-Clark is representing the people in this case.
What Happens Next?
Ritter’s next court date will be a preliminary exam conference which will determine if he holds a preliminary examination which will put the burden on the prosecutor to prove the charges above at the probable cause standard. What this means is that in a preliminary examination hearing, the prosecutor will have to prove probable cause that these crimes were committed and probable cause that these crimes were specifically committed by Ritter. A preliminary examination runs very similar to a trial where witnesses are called and put under oath to testify in front of a District Court Judge. The main differences are that there is no jury and a finding in the prosecutor’s favor simply continues the case to the Circuit Court level for future proceedings and potential trial. If the prosecutor is unable to prove probable cause at this hearing for any of these charges, it can lead to the dismissal of any charges where the probable cause standard is not met by the prosecutor. A preliminary examination hearing can be an extremely important hearing for the defense if used correctly.
Any Further Questions?
If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime or being investigated for one, then it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Grabel & Associates, our attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience in successfully defending criminal cases all over the state of Michigan. This experience extends not only to adult cases, but also to juvenile charges. We are not a general practice firm. We are a team of criminal defense attorneys; it’s all we do. We offer a FREE consultation to anyone with questions relating to a possible or existing criminal charge against them or a loved one. Feel free to contact us on our 24/7 defense line at 1-800-342-7896. You can also contact us online or come visit us at one of our three statewide locations. We can also come to you.