TRAVERSE CITY — Plea negotiations in the felony criminal case against former Grand Traverse County Jail Administrator Todd Ritter will continue, following a two-week adjournment in 13th Circuit Court.
Ritter faces second degree criminal sexual conduct, embezzlement, larceny and willful neglect of duty charges stemming from investigations by the Michigan State Police and the Michigan Attorney General’s office.
The former captain is accused of abusing his leadership position at the jail.
He has pleaded not guilty.
“We are asking for an extension of the plea cut off to the court’s next criminal date of Dec. 4 to consider the plea offer,” said attorney Shawn Worden, representing Ritter by court appointment. “The jury trial is scheduled for mid January. We are not asking to move that trial date. We’re simply asking for two weeks to extend the plea cut off for Mr. Ritter to weigh his options.”
Danielle Hagaman-Clark, who is prosecuting the case on behalf of the AG’s office, agreed.
“I have no objection,” she said. “I have no intention of moving the trial date, I think if it’s going to resolve on that date then we have plenty of time to make sure the witnesses are called off.”
“If he doesn’t plea then we will have time to get them here as well,” she added.
Five days in January are currently booked on the court’s calendar, should the case progress to a jury trial.
The adjournment was granted by 13th Circuit Court Chief Judge Kevin A. Elsenheimer.
“I think there is good cause given that representations of council are that there were discussions this week regarding potential changes in the offer and this is a complex case,” Elsenheimer said. “It does require some time to do some scoring of potential sentences and as a result some additional time to weigh those options is appropriate.”
Ritter was arraigned on multiple charges in August, following a 20-plus-year history with the Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Department.
He was forced to resign April 11, 2019, after an internal investigation found lewd text messages and explicit photographs of former inmates on his department-issued cellphone and laptop, the Record-Eagle previously reported.
The case is being prosecuted by Hagaman-Clark, after Grand Traverse County Prosecutor Noelle Moeggenberg requested a special prosecutor.
She cited Prosecuting Attorneys of Michigan protocol and a desire to forestall the appearance of impropriety, for the decision.
The final conference is scheduled to reconvene Dec. 4 at 1 p.m.