AG to decide death plot prosecution
The office of Attorney General Bill Schuette will decide whether to prosecute an Aramark food services worker accused of plotting the killing of an Upper Peninsula prison inmate.
State Police spokeswoman Shannon Banner confirmed that the agency has an ongoing investigation into an allegation by an inmate at the Kinross Correctional Facility in Kincheloe. That inmate claims an Aramark Correctional Services employee asked him about arranging the killing of another inmate in July.
Police forwarded a warrant request to Chippewa County Prosecutor Brian Pepplar to consider charges against the Aramark employee. But Pepplar told The Detroit News Friday he passed the request along to the Attorney General’s Office in late August because of the circumstances surrounding the case.
Attorney General spokeswoman Joy Yearout declined to comment on the matter.
Aramark has been at the center of controversy since December, when the Michigan Department of Corrections angered unions by laying off 370 state prison food workers and shifting the provision of food for inmates to the Philadelphia-based company under a $145 million, three-year contract.
Gov. Rick Snyder fined the company $200 million in July for problems that have included food shortages, questionable relations between workers and inmates, drug smuggling and maggot infestations.
“I didn’t think the Chippewa County Prosecutor’s Office should be in the eye of that storm,” Pepplar said. “Let the big boys down in Lansing handle it.”
Michigan’s Department of Corrections has banned the Aramark employee from the prison’s property — making him one of 90 workers with the company dismissed for various problems — but he has not been arrested. State Police and Corrections Department officials declined to identify the worker and have provided few other details.
“A stop order was issued for an Aramark employee who worked at the Kinross Correctional Facility in July 2014 for circumstances involving alleged criminal behavior,” Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan said. “I cannot provide any additional comment as there is a pending criminal investigation into this situation.”
Democrats have called for ending Aramark’s contract, while legislative Republicans who required the food privatization in the budget have said the arrangement should be given a chance to work. The Snyder administration has appointed a former Indiana prison chief to oversee the contract and says it is on track to save $14 million a year.
Schuette, a Republican, is in a hotly contested re-election battle with Democrat Mark Totten, a Kalamazoo attorney and Michigan State University law professor.
“Bill Schuette approved this prison contract, yet despite multiple reports of misuse of taxpayer funds, he refuses to investigate.” Totten said Friday about the Aramark situation.