VAN BUREN TOWNSHIP, Mich. - It was a fight from the start.
On Monday, eight top defense attorneys representing former Romulus police chief Michael St. Andre, his wife, Sandra, and former members of the Romulus Police Department's Special Investigations Unit, squared off against Wayne County prosecutors and investigators bringing charges of stealing, sexual activities and corruption.
The preliminary hearing is being held in a boardroom at the Van Buren Township Council Chambers because it is much larger than the Romulus courtroom. The hearing had to be moved there because of the number of defendants in this case. The judge said the hearing could take days and maybe even weeks.
Among the prosecution's evidence are 20,000 pages of what prosecutors say are the Police Department's own paper work for St. Andre and his men who are accused of dipping into drug forfeiture money several times.
Joyce Clay, the long-time assistant to the chief, said St. Andre and the officers accused took money and expensed it to Subway. The figures were as large as $70,000, Clay said.
Prosecutors say St. Andre and his wife took cash and placed it in their own accounts and used the money to buy Sandra St. Andre her own business -- a tanning salon.
The other officers are accused of launching a fake investigation into strip clubs and using the money for parties and prostitution.
Prosecutors say the officers' expense reports were a cover up.
Confidential informants of the Romulus Police Department are expected to spill what they allegedly know about the former top cops who face the serious charges.
Recap of charges against former Romulus police members:
St. Andre and detectives Richard Balzer, Richard Landry and Donald Hopkins face numerous charges, including conducting a criminal enterprise and embezzlement.
Detectives Jeremy Channells and Larry Droege are charged with misconduct in office and neglect of duty.
Sandra St. Andre faces acquiring and maintaining a criminal enterprise, conspiracy and tax charges.
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