Guilty plea in stolen car chase case

ESCANABA — An 18-year-old Escanaba male — accused of stealing a car and leading police on a lengthy vehicle chase in Dickinson, Menominee and Delta counties in August — entered a guilty plea in Delta County Circuit Court last aweek.

Cory John LaBonte pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful use of a motor vehicle, a two-year high-court misdemeanor carrying a maximum fine of $5,000. His sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 27.

During his plea hearing Tuesday, LaBonte admitted to unlawfully driving someone else’s vehicle after observing the car was unlocked with the keys inside on Aug. 18.

Escanaba Public Safety responded to the report of a 2008 Buick LaCrosse stolen from the 800 block of North Lincoln Road at 9:46 p.m. on Aug. 18. About four and a half hours later, the stolen vehicle was located by Norway police who attempted to make a traffic stop.

According to Escanaba Public Safety, LaBonte failed to stop while police pursued him in three counties. The chase ended when the vehicle crashed at the intersection of U.S. 2 & 41 and M-69 in Delta County.

In addition to Escanaba and Norway police, other agencies assisting in the arrest and multi-jurisdictional chase were the Dickinson County Sheriff’s Department, the Menominee County Sheriff’s Department, the Delta County Sheriff’s Department, Hannahville Tribal Police Department, Michigan State Police, and dispatch centers from Dickinson, Menominee and Delta counties.

LaBonte remains lodged in the county jail in lieu of 10 percent of a $50,000 bond.

In exchange for LaBonte pleading guilty to unlawful use of a motor vehicle, the prosecution agreed to dismiss one count of unlawful driving away an auto, a five-year felony. The prosecution also agreed to not pursue a fleeing and eluding charge or an habitual offense notice.