ESCANABA - An Escanaba man will face charges of extortion, computer crime, stalking, and drug possession in Delta County Circuit Court as a result of a bindover of the felonies from district court on Thursday.
Douglas Vero Sedenquist, 51, was arrested in December on four counts stemming from alleged threats directed to his estranged ex-wife in November. His preliminary examination was held in district court Thursday.
The case has gained state-wide media attention because Sedenquist has been a member of Michigan's Republican State Central Committee and was the former vice chair of the Delta County Republican Party.
According to testimony presented from witnesses Thursday, Sedenquist allegedly threatened to accuse his ex-wife of a crime unless she gave in to his demands for retirement funds, spousal support and joint custody rights.
The victim's divorce attorney, Russell Hall, testified he received a phone call from Sedenquist on Nov. 20 when the defendant said he had letters about his ex-wife violating patient confidentiality rights as a nurse.
Sedenquist told the attorney the letters would not be sent to individuals and her employer if she waived her right to his retirement account, provided him $1,000 a month in spousal support, and gave him joint custody of their son, Hall testified.
Sedenquist also wanted the first right to buy the couple's cottage on Bass Lake if the property was ever sold, added Hall.
"I felt that he was serious, that this was a threat he was going to do," the attorney told the court.
After the call, Hall notified his client and the police because he viewed Sedenquist's demands as extortion, the lawyer testified.
In a second telephone conversation on Nov. 22, Sedenquist provided Hall with his e-mail address to send him information on meeting his previous demands.
Sedenquist also asked that his ex-wife write a letter to the Brown County prosecuting attorney to be lenient on him and do away with a personal protection order she had filed against him, said Hall.
Sedenquist had been arrested in Wisconsin on charges of disobeying police, sending a threat, and disorderly conduct. These charges stem from an incident in March when Sedenquist was allegedly involved in an armed standoff with officers responding to his suicide threat.
Following the Nov. 22 phone conversation with Hall, Sedenquist sent the lawyer four e-mails which were entered into evidence during Thursday's preliminary examination.
The fourth e-mail asked Hall to provide evidence of good will that Sedenquist's ex-wife would waive receiving his retirement funds; he also requested a chainsaw, a filing cabinet, and a call from his son.
In addition to the e-mail, a text message sent to the victim's co-worker was also entered as evidence. The text included accusations slandering the victim, according to her attorney.
Two detectives from Escanaba Public Safety testified Thursday. One officer said Hall was directed to continue to stay in contact with Sedenquist via e-mail.
During closing statements, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Philip Strom said the facts supporting extortion "are quite clear," saying the phone calls and e-mails requested money in exchange for the allegations against the victim.
"He was threatening her employment and threatening potential criminal consequences," said Strom.
Defense attorney Trent Stupak said evidence supporting stalking and using a computer to commit a crime were questionable. He also questioned if the extortion and computer crime counts were one in the same charge.
Following the lawyers' statements, District Court Judge Glenn Pearson bound the four felonies over to circuit court where Sedenquist may make a plea or go to trial. Pearson said he found probable cause the four crimes were committed and the defendant was involved.
Following execution of a search warrant on Sedenquist's residence on Dec. 2, he was arrested on the four counts and lodged in Delta County Jail. He has since been released from police custody after posting $5,000, or 10 percent of a $50,000 bond.
The alleged crimes occurred from Nov. 20-26 and are described as follows:
On count 1, Sedenquist is charged with extortion, a 20-year felony with a maximum fine of $10,000. He is accused of maliciously threatening to accuse his ex-wife of a crime with intent to extort money or gain another advantage or to cause her to do or refrain from doing an act against her will.
On count 2, Sedenquist is charged with using a computer to commit a 20-year-or more felony. He is accused of using a computer to commit extortion. The charge carries a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison and a $20,000 crime.
On count 3, Sedenquist is charged with aggravated stalking, a five-year felony with a maximum fine of $10,000. He is accused of repeatedly harassing his ex-wife by causing her to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened or harassed.
On count 4, Sedenquist is charged with controlled substance - possession of the analogue Hydrocodone, a two-year felony with a maximum fine of $2,000.
Police confiscated the victim's prescription medication from a lock box in Sedenquist's apartment. The victim testified she stored her medications in the box while they were married.
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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143, email@example.com