EDITOR’S NOTE: Newsmakers 2013 profiles people, places and events that made news in the Grand Traverse region during the past year.
TRAVERSE CITY — Accusations that the owner of a drug and alcohol testing service provided false reports to the 86th District Court led him to his own jail sentence and forced officials to tap a new company for court-required urine screens and Breathalyzer tests.
Ryan Matthew Gubbins, 31, of Lake Ann, owned Tri-County Monitoring Services, one of two companies that provided alcohol and drug testing for individuals on bond or probation through the court in Grand Traverse, Antrim and Leelanau counties.
Now the company is now defunct after 86th District Court officials severed that relationship in May, amid accusations that Gubbins falsified test reports for a female client.
Court Administrator Carol Stocking said the court started using New Direction Testing as its second testing service in October, but Gubbins’ case didn’t change anything else in the court.
“It was a very unusual situation, but if it was done by another agency they’ll get caught again,” she said. “Did it change our process at all? No. There was a violation and the probation officer followed up on it.”
Police reports state a probation officer found evidence a woman, 23, continued to use drugs and alcohol during her probation. The woman admitted she stopped regularly taking her tests in October 2012 when she missed a testing date and Gubbins told her “we’ll figure it out.”
Authorities said Gubbins provided the court with false daily alcohol test reports; prosecutors charged him with two felonies. Grand Traverse County Prosecutor Bob Cooney said any case involving false testimony or results being provided in court is serious because it undermines the judicial system.
“I think it’s important to pursue these cases and to do so vigorously,” he said.
All three 86th District Court judges excused themselves from the case, citing the Gubbins’ prior working relationship with the court.
Gubbins eventually pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice. In November, 13th Circuit Court Judge Philip Rodgers handed down a six-month sentence and Gubbins remains behind bars in Grand Traverse County’s jail.
Stocking said New Direction Testing approached the court after Tri-County’s demise and court officials vetted the company through background checks and an on-site inspection of its facility. She said the court still doesn’t have a written or signed agreement with the company -- a point of contention in one of Gubbins’ court hearings -- but is drafting a memorandum of understanding.
“This is the only one that approached the court,” Stocking said. “It’s not like there’s businesses in the community that do this and are waiting for us to call them.”