Driver sentenced in fatal Bloomfield Twp. crash

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

A former Coast Guard worker charged in a drunken driving crash that left an Oakland County woman dead last winter was sentenced Thursday to at least 25 years in prison.

Gregory Allen Belkin, 44, had pleaded no contest to second-degree murder and operating while impaired causing death in the Jan. 24 incident, court records show. He was sentenced Thursday to 25-40 years for second-degree murder and 10-15 years for operating while intoxicated, causing death.

He had been driving a 2014 Maserati that authorities estimated reached nearly 130 mph before striking Rhonda Williams’ Subaru Legacy near Square Lake Road in Bloomfield Township.

Investigators say alcohol also was a factor in the incident. Belkin’s blood-alcohol content exceeded the legal driving limit. The Bloomfield Hills resident just had been rejected by his girlfriend, who recently ended their relationship, township police reported.

Defense attorney Loren Dickstein said his client was “extremely remorseful” about the crash.

“He was in a terrible place at the time of the accident and will forever regret getting behind the wheel,” said Dickstein in an email. “Mr. Belkin is sick over the loss of Mrs. Williams and he has been grieving since his arrest many months ago. He has cried in my presence every time I’ve met with him and said, sincerely, that if he could trade places with her that he would without hesitation. Mr. Belkin’s family and children are also devastated over the loss of Ms. Williams and also Mr. Belkin.”

Williams’ relatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday.

A Facebook page listed as belonging to the 53-year-old Oakland Township woman identified her as a financial adviser.

In a Facebook post shortly after the crash, her sister-in-law described Williams, 53, as a “beautiful” married mother of two college-age sons.

“We are so thankful that Rhonda was a believer, as she is now in the presence of her Savior,” Susanne McMichael Williams wrote.

Belkin had been a Coast Guard employee since 2002 and was assigned to Sector Detroit, where he managed the storage and the transfer of aids-to-navigation equipment, officials said.

Dickstein, who planned to appeal, called the prison sentence “excessive when considering the totality of the circumstances and Mr. Belkins’s life.”

Court documents show Belkin, a divorced father of three who joined the Navy in 1991 and earned numerous honors during his military service, also was diagnosed with clinical depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“The loss was immeasurable and punishment was necessary,” Dickstein said. “He faithfully and dutifully served in the United States Navy and Coast Guard and gave the overwhelming majority of his adult life to his country. He is widely respected as a son, father, coworker and member of his community. These important facts were not fairly considered.”

Oakland County Circuit Judge Denise Langford-Morris, who sentenced Belkin, and Oakland County prosecutors could not be reached for comment Thursday night.

At the time of his arrest, the Coast Guard was investigating Belkin for another alcohol-related incident from December 2016, the agency said.

He was disciplined after the Bloomfield Township crash then eventually terminated, Sector Detroit staffers said late Thursday.