District court officer pleads guilty to two counts of embezzlement

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette on Monday announced that former Wayne County 36th District Court officer William Blake, 47, of Redford, has pleaded guilty to two counts of Embezzlement by a Public Official - $50 or more.

“Mr. Blake broke the law for personal monetary benefit,” said Schuette. “His plea today means he will now be held accountable for his actions. I applaud my Public Integrity Team as well as the FBI’s Detroit-Area Public Corruption Task Force for their continued hard work in making sure public officials obey the law and are held accountable when they do not.”

Blake pleaded guilty before Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Vonda Evans on Monday, Sept. 24. As part of the plea, Blake who was formerly both a Detroit Police officer and Highland Park Police officer, will relinquish his MICOLES certification. A sentencing date has been set for January 14, 2019.

The charges were filed by Schuette’s Public Integrity Unit in February following an investigation by the FBI’s Detroit-Area Public Corruption Task Force.

Between September 2013 and October 2015, Blake, first as an employee of the court, and later independently contracted by the court, embezzled judgment money paid to him in his capacity as a court officer. In a lawsuit when the court determines that a plaintiff is owed money from a defendant the court issues a judgment. The court then issues orders to seize property. Court officers are assigned to collect these judgments from defendants and pay it to the plaintiff using the power of the court. As a court officer, Blake was assigned writs of executions as well as orders to seize property to collect funds such judgments. Blake collected judgment money from defendants. Instead of paying it to the plaintiffs, he pocketed a judgment of approximately $19,700.

In one instance the investigation found that Blake appeared, with his court issued badge and gun, to the East Lake Baptist Church in Detroit. Blake identifying himself as a court officer and demanded an immediate payment to him of $5,000.00 on an outstanding judgment. The pastor could only pay $1,000.00, which the pastor paid Blake took the money and pocketed it. The investigation also revealed that Blake did not file the required documents about such collections with the court. By not filing the proper documents, the court would not know about his collections or his failure to pay the money to the court or the appropriate plaintiff.

The investigation also revealed that Blake had been trained by and worked with then Court Officer Marlon Cleveland. Cleveland was also investigated by the FBI’s Detroit-Area Public Corruption Task Force and the Attorney General’s PIU for similar conduct that Blake engaged in. Cleveland was charged and convicted by the U.S. Attorney for his thefts of 36th District Court judgment monies and sentenced to prison.