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Thetford Township has to return its military surplus after police chief arrest

Tracy Samilton
Michigan Radio

Thetford Township will have to return its federal military surplus - if it can locate it - to the government, if there are no other police departments that want it.

That's after Thetford Township police chief Robert Kenny was arrested for allegedly embezzling from the program.  

Kenny acquired a large amount of federal military surplus since 2012 - nearly 4,000 items, with a retail value of $2.7 million. 

He was arrested in late August for allegedly pocketing the proceeds from selling some of it. 

Larry Goerge is the state coordinator for the surplus program. He says today, it's unlikely Kenny would have been able to get so much.

"There's been a lot of changes in the program since he was originally participating," says Goerge.  "We've covered a lot of those little loopholes that departments would have in the past."

Kenny faces up to five years in prison for the embezzlement. He was also charged with obstruction of justice after he staged a fake "discovery" of missing money.

Yet another problem came to light after Kenny's arrest.  The police department wasn't paying back a loan on a truck it purchased. The loan came from the township's sewerage department.  

Township supervisor Gary Stevens says he may have to reduce the hours of one of the police department's two remaining employees, in order to fix the budgets for the police department and the sewerage department.

There are some other consequences from Kenny's arrest. A day after the arrest, the township's clerk, a Kenny supporter, resigned.   

There may have to be a special election to replace her, because township trustees who supported Kenny wanted to hire one person and trustees who were instrumental in exposing Kenny's alleged crimes wanted another.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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