Court of Appeals rules against former corrections officers in pot butter case

Posted at 2:34 PM, Dec 09, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-09 14:35:54-05

KENT COUNTY, Mich. —  The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled against Michael Frederick and Todd VanDoorne, two of four former Kent County corrections officers accused of illegally having marijuana butter.

The court ruled that the original search and “knock and talk” procedures were legal, and threw out the officers’ argument.

However, the Michigan State Police Crime Lab report in this case reflects the issue that FOX 17 has been investigating: that the pot butter was labeled “origin unknown,” opening these men up to the possibility of felony synthetic marijuana conviction.

Frederick and VanDoorne were charged after the Kent Area Narcotics Enforcement Team (KANET) searched homes in March 2014 and found marijuana plants, edibles and pot butter.  Three of the four officers, including Frederick and VanDoorne, and an officer’s wife had medical marijuana cards at the time.

Two pleaded guilty to marijuana charges in the case, and one of the men charged, Sgt. Tim Bernhardt, took his life before sentencing.

Frederick and VanDoorne are fighting the charges.   Their attorney argued that the KANET officers illegally used the “knock and talk” approach to then search their homes, but the Court of Appeals ruled that the searches were constitutional, and did not violate their fourth amendment rights.

However, another issue in this case is the group’s State Police crime lab report.   Some of the pot butter and edibles were reported as Schedule 1 THC with the “origin unknown” statement: in this case the crime lab analyst wrote, “The origin of the Delta-1-THC identified, where from plant (marijuana) or a synthetic source, was not determined by this laboratory.” This opens the officers up to felony synthetic marijuana charges, as we’ve seen in Ottawa County.

As of now, there is no trial date set for Frederick and VanDoorne.

Stay with FOX 17 for updates on these cases.