TRAVERSE CITY — All three 86th District Court judges plan to disqualify themselves from a case involving the owner of drug and alcohol testing company accused of falsifying records provided to the court.
Ryan Matthew Gubbins, 30, is charged with felony obstruction of justice and conspiracy charges. Authorities said he provided the court with false reports about a woman on probation, claiming she took her daily alcohol tests when, in fact, she missed the tests over an eight-month period because she continued to use drugs and alcohol.
Judge Michael Stepka said Gubbins’ arraignment on Monday in his courtroom was the last time he or his 86th District Court colleagues would handle the case.
“The facts of the case involve the 86th District Court,” he said. “Technically we could be witnesses in the case and are victims, as is society.”
Gubbins’ company, Tri-County Monitoring Services, was one of two local companies that provided drug and alcohol testing for individuals on bond or probation through 86th District Court, which covers Grand Traverse, Antrim and Leelanau counties. The company started providing its services to the court in April 2011.
86th District Court Judge Michael Haley said that arrangement ended in May within “minutes” of the court learning of the allegations against Gubbins. Grand Traverse County Prosecutor Bob Cooney said the case “certainly raises a concern,” but investigators found no evidence there were other similar alleged incidents.
“The concern is that possibly there were others he covered for (or) otherwise failed to report a positive or missed test,” he said. “Keep in mind the clients are the ones benefiting from that, so it makes investigation more difficult. But I don’t have any reason to suspect there were any more than alleged.”
Court documents state Gubbins told a woman “we’ll work it out” after she missed one of her required daily urine screens and breathalyzer tests in October 2012. An investigation found the woman stopped the tests altogether but daily logs up to May were falsified to show otherwise.
The woman told investigators Gubbins didn’t ask for money or sexual favors, according to court documents.
“She felt that he was in too deep with letting her go and he just continued to not violate her on any of these no shows,” the document states.
Gubbins was released Monday from Grand Traverse County jail on a $25,000 personal recognizance bond set during the arraignment. Stepka said a preliminary hearing is “tentatively” scheduled for Aug. 30, but himself, Haley and Judge Thomas J. Phillips plan to file disqualification orders this week.
Jerome Kole, regional administrator for the State Court Administrative Office in Gaylord, said his office will select a replacement judge to handle the case once the 86th District Court judges sign their disqualification orders. Kole said another district court judge who’s relatively near will likely be appointed so they can be at a scheduled hearing within 14 days.
Gubbins could not be reached for comment.
The felony charges Gubbins faces carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison.