The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Township treasurer has bond reduced, new charge added

 


By RICHARD JENKINS

rjenkins@yourdailyglobe.com

Bessemer — While Thursday’s appearance in Gogebic County District Court made it easier for former Ironwood Township Treasurer Jyl Olson-DeRosso to get out of jail, she now faces a 10th felony charge related to her alleged embezzlement of township funds while in office.

Olson-DeRosso, 47, is being held in the Gogebic County Jail on what was a $100,000 cash bond. Her attorney, Jim McKenzie, successfully argued Thursday to have that changed to a $100,000, or 10 percent bond — meaning only $10,000 would have to be posted before she can be released.

Olson-DeRosso had been charged with five counts of forgery, one count of embezzlement by a public official, refusing to turn over records to the successor treasurer, removal and destruction of public records and using public money for her own use.

During Thursday’s appearance, she was arraigned on another charge — diversion of taxes or public money by a public official, a five-year felony.

The charges stem from the period from 2011 to 2016, when Olson-DeRosso lost the November election to current treasurer Maria Graser, according to Gogebic County Prosecutor Nick Jacobs.

In a press release announcing the original charges, Jacobs said the alleged crime came to light after Graser took office.

Jacobs alleges Olson-DeRosso issued checks to herself and took cash funds in the amount of $114,470 from the tax fund and $81,392 from the trust and agency fund — for a total amount of $196,862 in the five-year period between 2011 and 2016.

Potential theft of money prior to 2011 remains under investigation, according to Jacobs.

“Additional charges remain a possibility if the investigation discloses new crimes not already reported,” he told the Daily Globe.

Olson-DeRosso served as treasurer from 1998 to 2016.

During Thursday’s hearing, McKenzie said he was requesting the bond reduction as Olson-DeRosso is a native of the area and owns property in the county.

“(Olson-DeRosso) is not a danger to flee, nor does she, in any way, have even a suspicion or hint of danger to the community,” McKenzie said.

Jacobs argued against the bond reduction. He cited the serious nature of the crime and argued every resident of the township could be considered a victim in the case.

He also said while Olson-DeRosso remains innocent until proven guilty, he is relatively confident of a successful prosecution.

“We can’t look into a crystal ball,” Jacobs said. “But, as to the issue of probability of conviction — I will say … she has admissions that are incriminating that go to the charges brought against her.”

In granting McKenzie’s motion, District Judge Joel Massie said the two main factors were considering the potential chance of flight and the danger to the community. As Olson-DeRosso voluntarily went to speak with Michigan State Police troopers prior to her arrest, he judged there to be no prior indication of flight. He also noted the nature of the crime wasn’t violent, limiting the potential threat to public safety.

Massie also made it clear that anyone who posts the 10 percent would be liable for the full $100,000 if Olson-DeRosso fails to appear at an upcoming appearance.

A number of conditions were imposed on Olson-DeRosso, should she post the required 10 percent, including: A limited travel range of within 100 miles, no contact with township officials or entering the township hall and no disposal of real property or assets over $1,000.

While Jacobs had also requested she no longer be allowed access to the Internet as a condition of bond, Massie simply restricted her to no online gaming or entering a casino, as McKenzie said Olson-DeRosso’s primary source of income at the moment is selling items on Ebay.

Each forgery charge carries a potential maximum sentence of 14 years in prison; the embezzlement charge is punishable by up to 10 years in prison or $5,000; refusing to turn over records to the successor treasurer is punishable by up to four years in prison and/or $5,000, and removal or destruction of public records and using public money each have a maximum potential sentence of up to two years in prison or a $1,000 fine.

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