BY MATT TROUTMAN firstname.lastname@example.org
Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — A visiting judge had two words to describe a felony case involving the owner of a drug and alcohol testing company who is accused falsifying records supplied to the 86th District Court:
Judge Monte Burmeister bound Ryan Matthew Gubbins, 30, of Lake Ann, over to 13th Circuit Court after an hour-long preliminary examination Friday in the very court for which Gubbins’ company, Tri-County Monitoring Services, once provided drug and alcohol tests for individuals on bond or probation.
That relationship ended after allegations emerged that Gubbins allowed a woman on probation to skip daily Breathalyzer and weekly urine screens.
Gubbins faces felony obstruction of justice and conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice charges, which carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
His attorney Kenneth Petterson argued the charges don’t match the facts. He said Gubbins’ company, which is no longer active, did not have a contractual relationship with the county and his client did not attempt to defraud the court.
“In general, my belief is the case is not necessarily supported as a felony offense,” Petterson said.
The company was selected by 86th District Court officials to provide drug and alcohol screening services in 2011, but was paid through fees from the individuals on bond or probation.
All three 86th District Court judges disqualified themselves from the case based on Gubbins’ prior relationship with the court. The district court covers Grand Traverse, Antrim and Leelanau counties.
Assistant Prosecutor Kit Tholen called three witnesses, including a 23-year-old woman who testified she missed her drug and alcohol screens because she knew she’d fail the tests. A probation officer testified Gubbins admitted he let the woman skip the tests because he felt sorry for her.
Burmeister argued Gubbins’ alleged actions “usurped” the authority of the court which relied on the accuracy of the company’s tests.
“Deception based on sympathy for somebody is not a defense for the crime charged here,” he said.