Trial delayed for Buchanan man charged with 14 counts of sex crimes

Published 10:54 am Tuesday, May 30, 2023

NILES — The criminal case against Buchanan attorney Lanny Fisher has been delayed until late July. 

That news came last week at a pre-exam conference before Van Buren County District Judge Michael McKay. Judge McKay is presiding over the cas as all Berrien County judges recused themselves since Fisher has appeared before them previously.  

Fisher was initially arraigned April 25 in Berrien County Trial Court before Judge Jennifer Smith who was the first Berrien County judge to recuse herself. 

A pre-exam conference held last week via Zoom from Judge McKay’s Paw Paw courtroom resulted in new dates being set for another pre-exam conference and a preliminary hearing. Another pre-exam conference is now set for July 26 and a preliminary hearing for Aug. 1, court personnel reported. 

The preliminary hearing had been set to occur this week on May 30 at the Niles courthouse before last week’s action. Fisher remains free on $150,000 cash or surety bond. He has been ordered to surrender his passport and any enhanced driver’s license. He is on GPS electronic monitoring tether. 

Fisher is being represented by St. Joseph attorney Kevin MacKin who worked in the Berrien County Public Defender’s Office until earlier this year. Berrien County Prosecutor Steve Pierangeli is handling the case for the people. 

Fisher is being charged with 14 counts stemming from his alleged actions to force women to have sexual relations with him instead of paying him legal fees. The incidents allegedly occurred over 12 years, dating back to 2010.  

Fisher, 54, of Woodland in Buchanan, was arraigned in late April on nine counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct, one count of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct and four counts of misdemeanor prostitution related offenses. The incidents are alleged to have occurred between Aug. 1, 2010 and Feb. 28, 2022. 

The nine third-degree CSC counts include seven involving women he allegedly forced to have sex with him at his office and his home and two counts involving a female age 13 to 15. The maximum penalty for those offenses is 15 years in prison. 

The one fourth-degree CSC count involved sexual contact with a woman and is a high court misdemeanor carrying a maximum penalty of two years in prison.  

The four remaining misdemeanor counts allege that he did “being a male person, engage or offer to engage the services of another, not his or her spouse, for the purpose of prostitution, lewdness or assignation.” Those counts carry a maximum penalty of 93 days in jail. 

A Michigan State Police complaint stated that detectives began interviewing a number of women about Fisher’s alleged criminal actions last October. Detectives found evidence of alleged actions by Fisher dating back to 2010 and continuing into the present where he is alleged to have forced or coerced women to perform sex acts.