Request made for special prosecutor in threat cases

ESCANABA — Menominee County Prosecutor Jeffery Rogg requested Wednesday that a special prosecutor from the state attorney general’s office step in to prosecute a Dagget man who repeatedly threatened the Menominee County Prosecutor’s Office and who was linked to threats against three Delta County commissioners.

According to information released by Menominee County Prosecutor Jeffery Rogg, Peter James Sand, age 22, of W5036 County Road 358 in Dagget, confessed to the threats against Delta County commissioners Dave Moyle, Bob Barron, and Bob Petersen, as well as the City of Marquette Clerk’s Office following his arrest for threats made to the Menominee County Prosecutor’s Office earlier this year.

The Menominee County Sheriff’s Department indicated in a press release announcing the arrest of an individual, later identified as Sand, that the suspect had also been linked to threats made to Gold Resource Corporation, formerly Aquila Resources, the company behind the proposed Back Forty Mine project in Menominee County.

The threats against the Menominee County Prosecutor’s Office that led to Sand’s arrest were made via voicemails left overnight on the prosecutor’s office phone on Feb. 1 and Feb. 15. Both voicemails included threats of violence against Rogg, with at least one of the voicemails pointing towards Rogg’s prosecution of disgraced former Menominee County Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Helfert, who has been in court on multiple occasions for allegedly raping teenage boys while serving as a school liaison officer. Helfert is currently serving 9 to 15 years in prison after being found guilty by jury in March of raping a 13-year-old boy while carrying his service pistol.

“You tried to give him … a plea deal … you’re going to pay the price. Just wait until I get my hands around your f–ing throat,” the Feb. 1 voicemail said, in part.

Additional threats made to Rogg’s office in December of last year have also been linked to Sand, including one where Sand allegedly threatened to mail fentanyl to the office.

During the investigation, a number of search warrants were executed for telecommunication companies. According to the Menominee County Sheriff’s Office, Sand took numerous measures to conceal his identity, but the calls were ultimately traced to Sand following a multi-jurisdictional investigation that included the Nebraska State Patrol.

On April 9, a warrant was executed for Sand’s residence, ultimately leading to his arrest. After being read his Miranda Rights, Sand confessed to the threats.

Judge Robert J. Jamo arraigned Sand in the 95-A District Court of Menominee on April 10 on one count of False Report or Threat of Terrorism, one count of Terrorism – Using the Internet/Telecommunications to Commit, and one count of Computers – Using to Commit A Crime — all 20-year felonies.

Jamo then recused himself from the case, citing his professional relationship with the Menominee County Prosecutor’s Office.

In the petition filed with the Michigan Attorney General’s Office Wednesday, Rogg cited his status as the victim of the threats in Menominee, as well as “the larger, multi-jurisdictional nature of the broader alleged conduct.”

The petition also references a conversation between Rogg and Delta County Prosecutor Lauren Wickman, indicating Wickman would also likely recuse herself from a potential warrant request for the crimes in Delta County due to her ongoing civil representation of the Delta County commissioners. Wickman’s role in providing civil representation to the county has been hotly debated — particularly by the three commissioners who received the threats — however, she still serves as one of two attorneys who is authorized to represent the county in civil matters.

The threats against the Delta County commissioners took place on Thursday, March 7, around 11 p.m. Moyle, Petersen and Barron received emails containing only the message “Resign now or you will die next week.” The sender used a virtual private network (VPN) to mask his IP address, and other information that would have made him easily identifiable.

The email came from hicks@pissoff.com, and the sender name included with the email was “Chuck Hicks.” It is unknown if Sand’s pseudonym was an intentional reference to the late actor and stuntman known for playing The Brow in 1990’s “Dick Tracy” and whose television work included “Dallas,” “Starsky and Hutch,” “The Rockford Files,” and the 1960’s “Batman” series.

All three commissioners who received the email are the subject of a recall effort that will culminate with a special election on May 7. The commissioners have speculated that the individual responsible for the threats was associated with the group responsible for the recall, the Delta County Citizens for Ethical Leadership. While it is possible that Sand sympathized with the group, he is a citizen of Menominee County, would be unable to sign petitions for the recalls or vote in the May 7 election, and is not visible in the membership list for the Delta County Citizens for Ethical Leadership Facebook page.

Rogg noted that the jurisdiction and venue for the cases in Delta and Marquette counties may be appropriate in those counties or in Menominee County, as it was the source of the threats. His request to the attorney general’s office for a special prosecutor included the cases in all three counties.

“It is therefore respectfully requested, based on all foregoing reasons, that the Michigan Attorney General review … both the existing criminal case against Peter James Sand and further, any potential additional charges requested by the (Menominee County Sheriff’s Office), the (Michigan State Police) or other law enforcement agency relating to the criminal conduct alleged to have been committed by Mr. Sand against additional victims in Delta and Marquette Counties,” Rogg wrote.


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