Man accusing police of disclosing HIV status pleads guilty

The Dowagiac man who alleged that Dowagiac police illegally disclosed his HIV status pleaded guilty to breaking several terms of his probation sentence Thursday.

Corey Rangel

Corey Rangel

Corey Rangel, 29, appeared before Cass County Circuit Court Judge Michael Dodge in Cassopolis, where he submitted guilty pleas to several violations of his two-year probation sentence, including driving on a restricted license, making a false report to his probation officer, being dishonest with Adult Treatment Court (ATC) staff, and failing to complete the ATC program. Rangel is set to reappear before Dodge on Friday, June 17, where he will be sentenced for failing to complete his probation, facing up to five years in prison.

Rangel’s case has generated local and national attention after he accused a Dowagiac police officer of illegally disclosing the fact he was HIV positive to pair of contacts on his cellphone following his arrest in March for violating the terms of his probation — a claim that department leaders say is untrue. The allegations caught the attention of several LGBT advocacy groups, including the Michigan ACLU.

Rangel had been on probation since his conviction for three methamphetamine-related crimes in the summer of 2015. He agreed to participate in the court’s ATC, an intensive drug rehabilitation program, as part of the terms of his sentence.

The Dowagiac man was expelled from the program March 18 by Cass County District Court Judge Stacey Rentfrow, due to failing to comply with the court’s orders on police contact, curfew violations and license violations, according to transcript of the hearing.

“The level of deception that you displayed to the court, the dishonesty, I can tell you that the level of manipulation is the worst that I’ve seen in the program,” Rentfrow said, according to the transcript.

According to Chief Assistant Prosecutor Frank Machnik, county Probate Judge Susan Dobrich upheld the expulsion in a hearing held Monday and Tuesday this week, after listening to evidence presented by ATC staff and Rangel’s probation officer, Craig Wittenberg.

Among the evidence presented were photos from Rangel’s cellphone that showed him at a number of restaurants located in Indiana, where he was not allowed to travel without prior authorization, as well as pictures with him at a bar in Kalamazoo surrounded by people holding alcoholic beverages, a violation of the terms of the ATC program, Machnik said.

“He was given every opportunity in Adult Treatment Court, yet through his repeated deceptions he demonstrated that he was not amenable to treatment,” Machnik said.

While admitting guilt to the other violations during Thursday’s meeting, Rangel maintained his innocence to claims that he was pictured around others with alcohol.

Following Rangel’s plea, Dodge ordered that his bond be revoked and that he be placed back into police custody to await sentencing.

Machnik said that the prosecutor’s office would likely recommend Rangel serve a prison term at the midpoint of his state recommended guideline for his methamphetamine charges of 36-60 months.

The Dowagiac Daily News has reached out to Rangel’s attorney, Blair Johnson, for comment.

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