Thetford police chief cleared of embezzlement, obstruction charges

A Genesee County judge ruled there is not enough evidence to support charges of embezzlement and obstruction of justice charges against Thetford Township Police Chief Robert Kenny.
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THETFORD TOWNSHIP (WJRT) (9/9/2019) - All charges have been dropped against Thetford Township Police Chief Robert Kenny after a judge decided there wasn't enough evidence.

A Genesee County District Court judge ruled Monday that prosecutors didn't present enough evidence to support charges of embezzlement and obstruction of justice.

Kenny was charged after a Genesee County Sheriff's Office investigation into allegations that he benefited personally from selling surplus military equipment given to the Thetford Township Police Department.

He was accused of obtaining 3,000 pieces of surplus equipment from military's Law Enforcement Supports Office, selling some and pocketing the money himself.

Kenny's attorney, Frank Manley, was pleased with the judge's ruling to dismiss the charges.

"We respectfully agree with Judge Bayeh-Haley's findings," Manley said in a statement. "It is our sincere hope that Chief Kenny can now put this chapter behind him and move on with his life."

The sheriff's office investigation lasted a year, resulting in criminal charges in August 2018.

Kenny obtained a wide variety of military equipment, including a rock climbing wall, parachutes and an earthmover valued at $70,000. Sheriff Robert Pickell said Kenny sold some of the items and kept the profits for himself.

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Witness testimony during a preliminary hearing began in March of this year. The judge issued Monday's ruling, which declared there's not enough evidence to send Kenny to trial on either charge.

Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton was surprised at the judge's decision. He's not ready to give up on the case, despite Monday's ruling.

"I think that we did sustain our burden of proof and I've asked my assistants to look into the matter, get the transcript and determine whether this is something we can appeal to the circuit court, and ask a circuit court judge to reinstate the charges," he said. "So that's what's gonna happen next."

Kenny has been on unpaid administrative leave during the criminal proceedings. He's served as the Thetford Township police chief since 2009.