BY BENJAMIN J. GOHS, EDITOR
A police investigation into Charlevoix County Prosecutor Allen Telgenhof’s questionable use of a municipal credit card recently came to an end.
According to Det. First Lt. Richard Simpson of the Michigan State Police, the case—which was opened in summer of 2017—was officially closed on March 5.
Prior to closing the case, the Michigan State Police had submitted the matter to the Michigan Attorney General Office for an opinion.
The Michigan Attorney General Office determined that, since there was no provable intent to permanently deny repaying the moneys spent using a Charlevoix County municipal credit card, no action should be pursued against Telgenhof.
Last summer, the Charlevoix County Board of Commissioners—concerned with what appeared to be a pattern of improper use—suspended Telgenhof’s credit card privileges and sent the matter to law enforcement officials for review.
According to county documents, Telgenhof had made numerous personal and “inappropriate” purchases using a credit card held by the county.
The first rash of incidents occurred back in 2014 with nearly a dozen unauthorized charges using county credit and/or taxpayer funds.
The last time this happened, Telgenhof was admonished by the board and required to repay the money … but no further action was taken.
With this most recent issue, the county board of commissioners decided the matter needed police intervention.
Charlevoix County Commissioner Chris Christensen (R-District 2) had said it wasn’t any particular charge but an “ongoing pattern” of violating the county’s credit card policy which caused the board of commissioners concern enough to involve the law.
“I don’t disagree with the AG but we’re watching these expenditures on behalf of the taxpayer. I think we did the right thing because we followed the policy, issued a letter to please cease and desist, and went to the next level when he refused to comply,” Christensen told the Boyne City Gazette last week. “Any other employer isn’t going to let you do those things—not without permission.”
He added, “Those (credit card) policies are in place and we’re doing what we can to make sure all employees adhere to the policies as they’re written.”
According to the clerk’s office, Telgenhof repaid all the moneys in question.
Charlevoix County Clerk Cherie Browe said Telgenhof has not been issued a new credit card and no request for such has been made.
“[T]here is no plan at the present time to return it to him,” Browe said.
Telgenhof did not respond to a request for comment by press time.