Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Sunday

January 26, 2014

Leelanau raid 'excitement' winds down

SUTTONS BAY — Jim Cooper still fields questions about the “excitement” that struck Suttons Bay.

He lives across the alley from a North St. Mary’s Street house that dozens of FBI agents, some wearing HAZMAT suits, raided in October. The sealed federal warrants executed at the Suttons Bay home and another property in Leland Township appeared linked to FBI raids conducted on upscale homes near Houston, Texas.

Rumors about poison gas or explosives production swirled through Leelanau County and Texas, but officials kept silent on the raids’ true purpose. Four months later, what Cooper called the “excitement” has all but died down.

“It’s just back to normal life in Suttons Bay,” Cooper said. “We’re not disappointed about that. That’s OK.”

David Porter, a supervisory special agent with Detroit’s FBI field office, said he believed the warrants remain sealed and he couldn’t comment on the case. He said a sealed warrant doesn’t necessarily mean anything dramatic is on the horizon, but rather indicates authorities want to keep information from suspects before the investigation’s end.

“I don’t see why they wouldn’t be sealed still,” he said of the Leelanau County warrants.

About 60 federal agents descended on Suttons Bay and Leland Township, and cordoned off streets with help from local law enforcement before they detonated potentially hazardous materials. Authorities reassured residents they remained safe, even as details remained unclear.

The two Leelanau County properties were owned by a trust that appeared connected with Cecily Horton, an art consultant, and Andrew Schenck, who also owned three Houston area properties where federal agents conducted searches. A man who answered Cecily Horton’s phone said she’d “absolutely not” want to answer a Record-Eagle reporter’s questions before he hung up.

Neighbors and witnesses in Suttons Bay said federal agents’ questions focused on a college-age man who lived in the St. Mary’s Street house over the summer. Cooper, who often saw the young man wear protective gear as he walked from the house to a backyard garage, said things have been quiet since the raid.

Leelanau County Sheriff Mike Borkovich said he doesn’t know whether federal authorities have or will wrap up their investigation.

“From my perspective, I haven’t heard anything,” he said.

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