Charlevoix County prosecutor sued

Telgenhof Wide
The election battle between former Charlevoix County Prosecuting Attorney John Jarema and current prosecutor Allen Telgenhof was settled roughly six months ago, but the two are at it again … sort of.
Allen Telgenhof
Allen Telgenhof

The election battle between former Charlevoix County Prosecuting Attorney John Jarema and current prosecutor Allen Telgenhof was settled roughly six months ago, but the two are at it again … sort of.


According to Charlevoix County 90th District Court documents dated Jan. 11, Jarema’s new law firm Jarema & Mendham, PLC is representing Telgenhof’s former landlords David and Laurie Kane of Littleton, Colo., in a landlord-tenant dispute over at least $3,537 in alleged unpaid rent, missing property, late fees and damage to the rental unit in question.

“Throughout the course of defendants’ two-year tenancy, rent payments were consistently paid late … the first check written to plaintiffs by defendants ‘bounced,’ or failed to … clear the bank upon which the checks were drawn, incurring bank charges to plaintiffs,” the suit alleges…. “At this time there remains $1,375 outstanding in unpaid rent, including late charges of $275.”

The suit stems from claims by the Kanes that Telgenhof rented a condominium located at 12153 Cottage Lane in Charlevoix with a lease agreement intended to exist from Dec. 1, 2010 until Nov. 30, 2012. “When defendants surrendered the premises upon expiration of the term of the lease, plaintiffs examined the premises and discovered extensive damage which exceeds that considered ‘normal wear and tear,’” the suit stated.

Some of the alleged damage to the rental property includes the following:

  • $149 in damage to the lawn caused by a vehicle
  • $538 for a missing glass shower door
  • $352 in damage to a wooden door
  • $75 for a damaged pantry door
  • $150 for damaged cultured marble top
  • Unspecified amount for garbage left strewn on lawn and sidewalks

When given the chance to comment on the suit, Telgenhof responded via e-mail.
“When will the Boyne (City) Gazette cover anything about Jarema?” he stated in a Friday May 3 e-mail.

Editor’s note: Public officials are held to higher standards by news agencies than are private citizens. When Jarema was the Charlevoix County Prosecutor, the Boyne City Gazette covered every valid allegation, lawsuit and issue involving Jarema that this news agency was aware of; and, it will produce an update on the case involving Jarema and the county being sued by his former chief-assistant prosecutor once the matter is out of the deposition phase and actually goes to trial or is settled out of court.

In a counter-suit filed by Telgenhof on Jan. 25, he denies most of the allegations, admitting that a step stool, kitchen wastebasket and iron were “inadvertently” mixed in with the Telgenhofs’ personal possessions.

According to the suit, the Kanes had left several personal items in the condominium—for use by the Telgenhofs—which are now missing. “Defendants subsequently admitted that they had some of plaintiffs personal property but continued to deny that they had other items and that defendants have refused to return said personal property despite demands for its return,” the suit claimed.

According to Telgenhof’s counter-suit, he asked the Kanes, in writing, how to go about returning the items since the Kanes live in Colorado and the condominium in question has been rented to other people. The approximate alleged value of the items is $398.

“Allen Telgenhof told plaintiffs that if they (plaintiffs) would sign a full release to absolve defendants of any further liability, and accept a payment of $300 to clean the premises and for all damages, that defendants would then return the personal property to plaintiffs,” the suit alleges…. “Defendants have stated to plaintiffs that they may keep the security deposit for the unpaid rent.”

The Kanes’ suit also alleges that they have incurred additional cleaning and repair expenses totaling $500.
The suit does not include court costs or attorney fees.

The suit names both Allen and his wife Judy Telgenhof. Telgenhof’s counter-suit requested the court dismiss what it called a “frivolous action” and award him actual costs, interest and attorney fees.

Telgenhof’s counter-suit also claimed that the Kanes failed to file their suit with the court within the statute of limitations, which would have been by Jan. 8. Further, Telgenhof is counter-suing the Kanes for allegedly violating the Michigan Security Deposit Act—which the Kanes, in their answer to the counter-complaint, deny exists. They claim this act is actually the Landlord and Tenant Relationships Act of 1972.

Telgenhof’s suit claims the Kanes failed to deposit and maintain the security deposit in a regulated institution; and failed to provide the Telgenhofs with an inventory checklist at the commencement and conclusion of the tenancy.

“Failure to comply fully with the act constitutes waiver of all claimed damages and makes the landlord liable to their tenant for double the amount of the security deposit retained,” Telgenhof’s counter-suit alleges.

“Despite the fact that it was not referenced at all in the counter-defendants’ (Kanes’) complaint, counter-plaintiffs paid an $1,100 security deposit … and they have retained said deposit.”

His counter-suit further states, “(Telgenhofs) respectfully request that this honorable court enter judgment in their favor and against
the counter-defendants in the amount of $2,200 together with costs, interest and attorney fees.”

Telgenhof’s counter-suit claimed the Kanes violated the Michigan Consumer Protection Act by allegedly causing a probability of
confusion or misunderstanding as to the obligations or remedies of a party or transaction; representing that a consumer will receive goods or services “free,” “without charge,” or words of similar import without disclosing any prerequisites to the use or retention of the goods or services; making a representation of fact or statement of fact material to the transaction such that a person reasonably
believes the represented or suggested state of affairs to be other than it actually is in; and failing to reveal facts which are material
to the transaction in light of representations of fact made in a positive manner.

According to Telgenhof, the Kanes’ alleged deceptive actions included e-mail and text messages stating that he did not have to pay late fees prior to September 2012; claiming the Telgenhofs could have a fold-out chair and then claiming damages to the chair; originally claiming damages of $300 which then escalated to $500 and then to $3,037 and finally to $3,537; increasing the original cost of cleaning the home from $300 to $500; charging damages to the Telgenhofs that were in allegedly “common areas” owned by the Charlevoix Country Club.

Charlevoix County 90th District Judge James Erhart recused himself and a new judge—Maria I. Barton, of Cheboygan’s 89th District Court—has been assigned to handle the case.
The matter has been referred to mediation.