Schuette: U.P. man sentenced for running cocaine operation


LANSING — Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette on Friday announced Kenneth Brunke, 47, of Schoolcraft County, was sentenced to 225 to 360 months in prison, according to a release issued by the Michigan State Police post in St. Ignace.

Brunke pleaded no contest to three felony counts related to the delivery of cocaine in March.

“Mr. Brunke’s drug crimes were very serious and his sentence today reflects that,” Schuette said. “While no prison sentence will undo what happened in 2015, I hope this sentence provides some sense of closure to the local community and serves as a reminder that criminal activity comes with consequences.”

In February 2016, Schoolcraft County prosecuting Attorney Timothy Noble filed drug charges against Brunke based on evidence obtained during a 2015 triple homicide investigation involving Brunke. The Attorney General’s office was asked to assist with the drug case in May 2016. Brunke was sentenced last year in relation to that triple homicide that occurred at his home and is currently serving 40 to 60 months in prison.

Brunke pleaded no contest to one count of controlled substance — delivery / manufacture (cocaine) 1,000 or more grams; one count of conspiracy controlled substance — delivery / manufacture (cocaine) 1,000 or more grams; and one count of controlled substance — delivery / manufacture less than 50 grams and was sentenced to 225 months to 360 months in prison as well as fines and costs totaling more than $500,000 for the two counts of more than 1,000 grams. Brunke was sentenced to 752 days for the delivery less than 50 grams count. 

Brunke was sentenced Thursday by Judge William Carmody in Schoolcraft County Circuit Court. Brunke’s sentences will be served concurrently. 

In the spring of 2015, a triple homicide was committed in Schoolcraft County. The bodies of the victims were discovered inside a victim’s car, which had been lit on fire. Brunke was one of three suspects charged in relation to the murders.

Before the case reached trial, one of the suspects passed away. In exchange for testimony against the third and final suspect Gary Cordell, Brunke pleaded to one count of lying to a peace officer and one count of obstruction of justice. Brunke was sentenced in 2016 to 32 to 40 months for the lying to a peace officer count and 40 to 60 months for the obstruction of justice count in the Michigan Department of Corrections.

Cordell pled guilty to three counts of first degree murder and is currently serving three non-parolable life sentences.