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Politics

Tribal police official who pleaded guilty to fraud can’t run for office

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A state appeals court says a former tribal police chief who pleaded guilty to fraud charges can’t run for state or local political offices. The case will now go to the state Supreme Court.

Fred Paquin pleaded guilty seven years ago to mismanaging federal grants while serving as the police chief and elected board member for the Sault Sainte Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. The state constitution says public officials found guilty of fraud are barred from holding an elected or appointed government office for 20 years. Paquin was twice denied a chance to run for the Saint Ignace city council.

That’s because the Michigan Constitution says a government official found guilty of violating the public trust can’t run for an elected position for 20 years.

Paquin’s attorney says they will appeal to the state Supreme Court after lower courts ruled that tribes in Michigan are essentially local governments, and their officials are subject to that provision in the state constitution. He says they’re also hoping other tribes will join the lawsuit.