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Detective gives opinion on Paad's acquittal



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June 20, 2012 - The Michigan State Police detective who investigated former Oxford Village Deputy Clerk Marion Patricia Paad briefly discussed the outcome her embezzlement trial with council members last week.

In a nutshell, Det. Sgt. Joseph White explained to village officials why he believes Paad was acquitted April 30 of the five felony embezzlement charges brought against her.

"The (Oakland County) Prosecutor's Office and myself thought that we surely had enough evidence to convict on this," he told council. "Unfortunately, the jury saw otherwise. For whatever reason, they felt that there was not enough solid evidence. We had circumstantial evidence."

White explained that "in most cases where there is not a smoking gun or videotape evidence," what's presented to the jury is considered "subjective."

Due to the lack of a paper trail, the prosecution's case was forced to rely heavily on the testimony of Councilwoman Maureen Helmuth.

In January 2011, after remaining silent for four years, Helmuth disclosed to the village manager that Paad had allegedly stolen more than $3,300 in property tax payments from three residents in 2006-07.

Helmuth, who was employed as the village's deputy treasurer back then, admitted to discovering the alleged embezzlement, loaning Paad money from her own pocket to cover the allegedly missing funds and not reporting the alleged theft to officials.

Helmuth claimed Paad told her she took the tax money to make mortgage payments because she was in danger of losing her home. Helmuth admitted she loaned the money to Paad and kept quiet about the incident because they were friends.

"(The jury) chose to ignore or down-play some of the statements of witnesses that we presented," White said.

Paad was also accused of embezzling nearly $600 in funds from the village police department. Ultimately, Paad was found not guilty of all five counts of embezzlement by a public official over $50.

Although Paad cannot be retried for any of the above criminal allegations because that would constitute double jeopardy, White noted she could be sued in a civil court by the village. The burden of proof is a lot less in a civil case as opposed to a criminal case. In a criminal case, the evidence must show beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty. In a civil case, all that's required is a preponderance of the evidence.

Paad could also be the target of a civil lawsuit or criminal prosecution if any evidence is discovered linking her to the approximately $20,000 in 2010 property tax monies that the village is currently missing (see related story on Page 1).

"If there are other funds missing that (Paad) was not put on trial for, whoever did that, whether it's her or somebody else, they could be criminally prosecuted," White said.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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