Former district court officer charged with four felony counts of embezzlement

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette Tuesday announced his Public Integrity Unit (PIU) has charged former Wayne County 36th District Court officer William Blake, 47, of Redford, with four felony counts of Embezzlement by a Public Official over $50.

The charges were filed following an investigation by the FBI's Detroit Area Public Corruption Task Force.

"Mr. Blake has taken personal advantage of the public position he was entrusted with," said Schuette. "He broke his oath of office and the law to pad his own pockets and now he must face the consequences. I want to thank the FBI and the Public Corruption Task Force for their assistance in this case."

Blake was arraigned before 36th District Court Magistrate Millicent Sherman on Tuesday, February 27, 2018. The court set a $50,000 personal recognizance bond. His next court appearance is a pre-exam conference set for March 6, 2018.

It is alleged that between September 2013 and April 2014, Blake, as an employee of the court and later independently contracted by the court, embezzled judgment money paid to him in his capacity as a court officer. In a lawsuit when the court determines that a plaintiff is owed money from a defendant the court issues a judgment. Court officers are assigned to collect these judgments from defendants and pay it to the plaintiff using the power of the court. As a court officer, Blake was assigned writs of executions as well as orders to seize property in order to collect funds such judgments. Blake allegedly collected judgment money from defendants. Instead of paying it to the plaintiff, he allegedly pocketed a judgment of approximately $15,000.

In one instance the investigation alleges Blake appeared, with his court issued badge and gun, to the East Lake Baptist Church in Detroit. Blake identifying himself as a court officer and allegedly demanded an immediate payment to him of $5,000 on an outstanding judgment. The pastor could only pay $1,000, which Blake allegedly took and pocketed. The investigation also alleges Blake did not file with the court the required documents about such collections. In this way the court would not know about his collections or his failure to pay the money to the court or the appropriate plaintiff.

The investigation also revealed that Blake had been trained by then Court Officer Marlon Cleveland. Cleveland was also investigated by the FBI's Detroit-Area Public Corruption Task Force and the Attorney General's PIU for similar conduct it is now alleged Blake engaged in it is alleged Blake engaged in by the FBI Detroit-Area Public Corruption Task Force and the Attorney General's PIU. Cleveland was charged and convicted by the U.S. attorney for his thefts of 36th District Court judgment monies and sentenced to prison.

Published: Thu, Mar 01, 2018