As the late Paul Harvey used to say, "And now for the rest of the story."
While I preferred to let this matter rest, I must respond to The Mining Journal's April 24 story about my plea agreement. To begin with, it is unusual for you to splash my name and face on the front page of this newspaper twice in two and one half months because of two minor misdemeanor charges. Furthermore, you used my jail mug photograph instead of the file photo you have of me.
Because of my political activism, I face a more intense level of scrutiny and have been singled out in an apparent effort to discredit me. For example: Back in February, this newspaper published unsubstantiated allegations contained in a complaint report submitted to the prosecutor by the Huron Mountain Club before I had my day in court and without being given an opportunity to defend myself. Unfair? You bet!
I guess that is the price I must pay to challenge big money and the political influence it buys; even if it's the right thing to do.
As for my responses to personal attacks, it is not necessary for you to defend my critics by offering to correct my statements. That is the purpose of rebuttal.
I want to emphasize, that I didn't plead guilty to the trespass charge. I pled no contest out of necessity. I wanted to take this to court and spent a lot of time and effort to gather evidence and line up witnesses. The reason I accepted a plea bargain, is because I couldn't afford to go to trial. Having paid my attorney $1,000, he wanted $1,000 more two days before the trial date. Justice has a high price, and for poor people like myself, it is often unaffordable.
There appears to be a cozy relationship between local law enforcement and the Huron Mountain Club. Those who follow the fishing controversy on the Salmon Trout River, are well aware of a long history of complaints of harassment by club guards from legal fishermen and the reluctance of the Marquette County sheriff and prosecutor to address those complaints.
In most cases, criminal complaints are investigated by the police who file reports with the prosecutor's office. In my case, I was not contacted and made aware of the charges against me or that a warrant was issued for my arrest.
Had I known, I would have taken care of this matter. In fact, they waited more than four months and acted only in response to my appearance before the Marquette County Commission two days earlier, when I submitted five legal questions and embarrassed the sheriff and prosecutor. The timing of my arrest is not a coincidence.
I spoke with The Mining Journal and asked where it got the information for the February news article in which I was humiliated. I was told it came from a Huron Mountain Club Complaint Report that was given to him by the prosecutor's office. Interesting.
I checked with the Michigan State Police and Marquette County Sheriff's Office, that have jurisdiction, to confirm my suspicion that neither police agency investigated this complaint or filed a police report.
Instead, the prosecutor relied on the information in the HMC report. It is outrageous, that private security guards, acting on behalf of and as agents for the club, can submit their own police reports to the prosecutor, who makes charging decisions and issues arrest warrants based on that information.
In response, I made a criminal complaint against the two guards who arrested me, alleging assault and false arrest while acting under color of law; using their complaint report as evidence of wrongdoing. The state police investigated my complaint and filed a police report with the prosecutor who declined to act.
I believe that this is selective prosecution and exercising a double standard. I am playing against a stacked deck that is the result of big money perverting the rule of law.
Editor's note: John Hongisto resides in Deerton.