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Tractor digs up trouble for resident

by Trevor Keiser

August 03, 2011

Independence Township officials are looking for a tractor that looks like H. Wallace Parker's Ford 1910. Photo by Trevor Keiser
H. Wallace Parker of Independence Township was angry when he learned township officials thought he had their property.

But he also has "information that suggests" township employees took the property, a tractor, off his property, examined it, then returned it after finding it was not what they were looking for.

"That is theft in the worst kind of way," Wallace said. "That's what they did when they removed it from here."

Parker said parts to replace the clutch on the tractor's trailer were damaged when it was moved, and he had to buy new ones.

Township Clerk Barb Pallotta said Parker's assertion isn't true.

"I can't believe he would say that there is no way anyone here would do that," she said. "I don't know any of our employees who have stepped on his property at all."

Oakland County Undersheriff Mike McCabe said they are looking into Parker's allegations, as well as the township's missing tractor report.

"They (township officials) have given us information we are checking out and we are continuing to investigate the original missing tractor," McCabe said "When we're done with all of that it will again be turned back over to the prosecutor's office for a final determination."

Pallotta said a township employee was driving down Pine Knob Road, noticed the tractor, and called her. The Ford 1910 model tractor, sitting in a home driveway, looked like a missing tractor township officials have been searching for since January.

"No one knew who lived there," said Pallotta, who drove over to take a look at the tractor. "We looked at it from the street. Neither one of us stepped on the property that's what initiated checking into it (the tractor on that property)."

Parker attended the July 19 township meeting, saying he was upset because the Oakland County Prosecutor's Office called him, and sheriff's deputies and a private investigator were on his property. He has since been informed deputies were never on his property.

Parker's biggest question was "why me?"

"My reputation has been sterling all these years. Now, all of the sudden I'm in the midst of some theft situation," he said. "Someone is to pay for that."

Parker filed a trespassing complaint with Independence Township Sheriff's Substation. Lt. Dale Lebair, station commander, sent it to headquarters in Pontiac. Parker went to the township board "for the purposes of securing an apology and acknowledgement they were wrong and made a mistake," he said.

"People make mistakes, we're human, (but) after having prosecutor's office call me about it they have the intestinal fortitude to tell me that it isn't about me," he said. "That's stupid and I'm not that dumb."

Parker, an attorney, said he wants someone to fix the problem.

"I have the capabilities and I can and I will get to the bottom of this one way or the other," he said.

Pallotta said the board is not out to incriminate Parker.

"Mr. Parker is separate from what we're interested in," she said. "What I was assigned to do was to try and find the tractor and get an appraisal on it, so we can get restitution. That's all this boils down too. The fact it was on his property was just coincidence."

Last January, Trustee David Lohmeier told the board something he heard from a parks and recreation employee Supervisor Dave Wagner gave away a tractor donated to the township about 30 years ago, without township permission.

Pallotta said the township is looking for a Ford 1910 model tractor that was manufactured in the 1980's. The first repair they have on record was in 1984, to replace the clutch.

She doesn't know if Parker's tractor is the one she's looking for.

"He's not given us the chance to look at it," she said.

Parker said he bought his tractor new in 1987 from Munn Ford, Auburn Hills.

"Everybody in this area that has a Ford, a New Holland, or anything, they go to Munns Ford," he said. "Because that's where you're going to get parts unless you're going to go to a plant."