|Acting on orders from his wife, Spring Lake Township Clerk Carolyn Boersma, Tim Boersma steals 'Sjoberg For Mayor' signs from Sue Tuggle's yard in Spring Lake|
By Brandon Hall
(Email Him At WestMIPolitics@Gmail.com)
The Ottawa County Sheriff's Department sought criminal larceny charges against Spring Lake Township Clerk Carolyn Boersma and her husband Tim for stealing yard signs last fall during a heated Mayor's race in Ferrysburg, documents obtained by West Michigan Politics reveal.
The charges were rejected by Ottawa County Prosecutor Ron Frantz's office despite Boersma being busted by police with signs in her car, Boersma's husband repeatedly caught on a trail cam taking signs at the behest of his wife, as well as the fact Boersma's actions are in direct violation of Spring Lake Township's legal ordinance specifying procedures for how to deal with removing residential political yard signs.
Spring Lake Township resident Sue Tuggle was furious.
Tuggle was sick of someone repeatedly stealing her "Sjoberg for Mayor" yard signs, she emphatically wanted her friend Regina to win the upcoming Mayor's race in neighboring Ferrysburg against Rebecca Hopp.
Hopp, like Sjoberg, was a member of the Ferrysburg City Council.
When the first heist transpired, she reported the incident to the police. However, the second time, Tuggle decided to take matters into her own hands. Instead of calling the cops again, she bought a couple "trail cams" to try and bust the culprit in the act.
Little did Tuggle know, that new trail cam would soon implicate Spring Lake Township's top elections official, Clerk Carolyn Boersma, subsequently putting Boersma on the brink of criminal charges.
On the night of September 4th, the sign bandit struck again, clueless to the new trail cams documenting his every move.
Ottawa County Sheriff's Deputy Soto-Lopez was subsequently called to Tuggle's home. Upon arrival, he discussed the theft with her, as well as received a copy of the trail cam footage. Soto-Lopez then called Sjoberg to see if she wanted to pursue criminal charges, which she affirmed she did.
As he studied the footage, Soto Lopez knew he had seen the unknown perpetrator before: he recognized him from a Ferrysburg City Council meeting, but did not know his identity.
The next evening around 6, Soto Lopez hit the road in the area of Swiss Village/Woodland Ridge in an attempt to locate the suspect's vehicle. The plate wasn't clear from the cam video, but it was definitely a new Ford Escape, dark in color.
Soto-Lopez found the vehicle and then made contact with the owner, who turned out to be none other than Spring Lake Township Clerk Carolyn Boersma.
According to Soto Lopez's report:
"While checking the Woodland Ridge apartment, I observed a vehicle that matches the description of the suspect?s vehicle. The vehicle was parked on front of I then made contact with Henrietta at apartment 7. I explained Henrietta the situation. When Henrietta was asked if she knew where the signs were, she stated that it was inside her vehicle. I then followed Henrietta to her vehicle and retrieved the sign. Henrietta identified herself as the Spring Lake Township clerk. Henrietta stated that she asked her husband to grab the signs from the location. Henrietta identified her husband as Timothy. Henrietta stated that she grabbed a total of two signs. Henrietta said that the signs were located in the right of way area of the Township. Henrietta thought that the owner of the sign was in violation of the Township ordinance. Henrietta stated that she didn't intended to keep the sign. Henrietta told me that she was planning on contacting Regina reference the signs. Henrietta said that the sign was removed because the Ferrysburg political campaign doesn't involved the Spring Lake Township voters.
Soto-Lopez rebuked Boersma's offer to return the stolen signs, telling her he would return them himself.
"Henrietta stated that she was unable to contact Regina because she didn't have her phone number. When Henrietta was advised that the signs were located in private property she offered to place them back. I told Henrietta that it wasn't necessary because I will be returning the sign to the owner. "
That's when Boersma's husband Tim showed up to the apartment.
"Shortly after, Timothy arrived to the residence. I then made contact with Timothy. Timothy confirmed the same story as Henrietta. Timothy advised me that he just took another sign a few minutes ago today. I then asked Timothy to give the sign to me. Timothy stated that he had removed a total of three sign from the same location. Timothy stated that he was acting on behalf of his wife. Timothy thought that the signs were in the Township right of way. "
Both Boersma's provided written statements confessing to the sign heists.
"I was with Tim on several occasions (taking signs)," Carolyn said. Tim admitted to taking signs three times, "two of which were in the presence of my wife," he said.
Soto-Lopez's report notes that Boersma violated Spring Lake Township's ordinance on yard sign removal.
"Sandra advised me that the Spring Lake Township ordinance 801/802 in section K (is) the right procedure of signs removal. According to Sandra, the Spring Lake Township is required to send a letter before the removal of signs in private property. "
Criminal charges were requested on September 13th, but the Ottawa County Prosecutor's office refused to move forward despite significant evidence.
>>>VIEW THE POLICE REPORT BELOW:
Editor's Note: WMP broke the story last fall, and was outrageously (and erroneously) accused by the Grand Haven Tribune (a paper I respect overall) in an editorial of peddling "fake news" and utilizing "alternative facts."
In this case, "citizen journalism" and the truth prevailed over the corporate media at the end of the day.
Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.