Assault On Officer At Casino Results In 42 Month Sentence

GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN —Aaron Martin Vorac, 38, of Harbor Springs, Michigan, was sentenced to 42 months’ confinement followed by three years of supervised release for assaulting a Little Traverse Bay Band Police Officer, U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge announced today.

On January 15, 2017, Vorac and his wife, Carla Michele Weiskopf, were disruptive and appeared intoxicated at the Odawa Casino and Resort. Staff at the casino eventually asked them to leave. After the couple repeatedly disregarded their requests, they called Officer Closser of the Little Traverse Bay Band Police Department for assistance. When Officer Closser attempted to engage Vorac, Vorac refused to comply with instructions, wrestled Officer Closser to the ground, repeatedly punched him in the groin, grabbed the officer’s pen and repeatedly stabbed at his eyes. At one point, Weiskopf intervened on Vorac’s behalf. Officer Closser suffered numerous gashes to his head and face. Officers from the Petoskey City Police Department and deputies from Emmet Count Sheriff’s Department had to respond to the scene.

A federal grand jury indicted Vorac on charges of forcibly assaulting a law enforcement officer causing bodily harm, and Weiskopf on charges of forcible assault on an officer and disorderly conduct. Through plea bargaining, Vorac pleaded guilty to the assault and Weiskopf’s federal charges were dismissed in favor of her pleading guilty in state court to two counts of resisting and obstructing police officers. She was sentenced to 18 months’ probation and 6 months in jail with 60 days to be served on tether.

At Vorac’s sentencing, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Jonker commented on the professionalism exhibited by Officer Closser in attempting to diffuse the situation, noting that Officer Closser showed great restraint while the defendant and his wife ignored these efforts and escalated the situation to the violent assault.

U.S. Attorney Birge praised the work of law enforcement. “Officers like George Closser put their lives, safety, and health on the line every day. They work tirelessly to preserve order and ensure the safety of the people of the Western District of Michigan. On that day, Officer Closser demonstrated professionalism, courtesy, and sound judgment. He was met with brutal violence and was viciously assaulted. I am heartened to hear that he has returned to duty and grateful for his service. I commend the work by the Little Traverse Bay Band Police Department, the Emmet County Sheriff’s Department, the Petoskey City Police, and the FBI.

Law enforcement in this district works closely with the eleven federally recognized tribes investigating crimes that arise in Indian Country in the Western District. Tribal law enforcement officers are some of the most highly trained professionals in the district enforcing tribal, state, and federal law. This Office has and will continue to prosecute all assaults against tribal law enforcement to the full extent of the law.”

Jeff Cobe, Chief of Police for the Little Traverse Bay Bands Police Department, stated “This case shows the seamless enforcement efforts between the United States Attorney’s Office, the FBI, the City of Petoskey Public Safety Department, and Emmet County. These partnerships are important to the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians Tribal Police and demonstrate a true concern for officer safety.”

The FBI investigated the case in conjunction with Little Traverse Bay Band Police Department, Emmet County Sheriff’s Department, and Petoskey City Police. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff J. Davis prosecuted it. ###


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