Ex-officer to be sentenced in fraud case

Published 8:00 am Friday, November 22, 2013

A former Cass County Deputy Sheriff who pled guilty last month to fraud charges tied to staging a fake car accident will be sentenced Monday afternoon in Kalamazoo County court.

Steven Keene

Steven Keene

Steven Keene, of Dowagiac, recently pled guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, a felony count that carries a maximum of a 10-year sentence. Keene also admitted to a charge of neglect of duty, a misdemeanor. The guilty plea was arranged between Keene, his council and Kalamazoo County prosecutors, in exchange for dropping three other counts prosecutors originally charged him with.

Keene is expected to avoid jail time, as he entered into a Cobb agreement with Judge Alexander Lipsey during his sentencing. Under this arrangement, Lipsey will sentence the former deputy to probation, assuming that Keene doesn’t violate any laws before his formal sentencing on Monday.

Kalamazoo County Assistant Prosecutor Michael Kanaby, who handled the Keene case, was not involved in the Cobb agreement. The prosecutor recommended that officer be sentenced to probation as part of the plea agreement, in addition to restitution fees. Kanaby said that his office has also reserved the right to ask the judge for jail time.

The final decision on the amount of probation time Keene will serve, as well the amount of restitution he must pay, will be decided by Lipsey Monday.

The charges that prosecutors dropped against Keene included counts of insurance fraud and falsifying evidence, which stemmed from a staged deer-car accident the officer allegedly helped a friend set up earlier this year. Prosecutors claim that Keene later submitted a falsified accident report to his office, which Keene’s friend used to collect the insurance payout in order to pay for a new vehicle.

Keene was also accused of obstruction of justice, relating to an incident where Keene allegedly provided false information to police about a car accident concerning another of friends.

Due to Keene’s position with the Cass County Sheriff’s Department, his case was given to the Kalamazoo County Prosecutor’s Office.

Keene had served as a deputy sheriff with the county for 25 years and was even honored by the Board of Commissioners earlier this year. He retired from the position following his arrest. Keene also worked part-time with the Silver Creek Township Police.