Presque Isle County's prosecutor has stepped down from the Huron Undercover Narcotics Team's board of directors, citing his lack of trust in three individuals in a position of authority on the team.
Richard Steiger, who served as board member since 2006, announced his resignation Thursday at a HUNT board meeting. The following day, Steiger said he believes in the four-county drug enforcement team's mission but can't be a part of a team that includes three people he believes to be untrustworthy. Ed Black, board chairman, said he's disappointed in Steiger's decision, and HUNT will continue to move forward.
Steiger said he tried to handle "unlawful and deceptive" issues involving the same three individuals during his time as board member.
"I believe I was retaliated against because of my attempt to clean it up, and that's why I stepped aside," he said.
In 2011, Steiger was charged with prescription fraud, a charge issued by the state attorney general's office and stemming from an investigation by Michigan State Police personnel, some of whom were involved with HUNT. The charges were dismissed by two Alpena County judges, both at the district and appeals court level.
"My statement was, either you lead - and I attempted to - or you follow, and I cannot follow an organization that has these individuals in positions where they have a large voice and control and power," Steiger said.
On Tuesday, Black said he believes Steiger should remain on the board, adding he believes in working with an organization to make changes.
"I think that it's unfortunate, but ultimately the board knows the direction we're headed in, and I think that ultimately we are a family of communities, and while the family may not always get along, the fact of the matter is we will always be a family, and we hope to continue to work and receive support from all of the communities," he said.
In response to Steiger's accusation of retaliation, Black said the board of directors had no involvement with the case. He also stressed that any officer on the team could not have authorized the charge against Steiger.
"An officer is not the one who issues a warrant. It was issued by the attorney general's office," he said. "No officer can issue a warrant, and no prosecutor from HUNT was involved.
"There's obviously been a wound between the communities, and I'm hopeful of moving past this so that we can be a family of communities again in the future."
Jordan Travis can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5688.