Lindle case has continuance to find resolution

ALPENA – A preliminary hearing for a local businessman and his daughter was halted Friday after attorneys for both sides asked for a continuance.

“The case was adjourned so the prosecutor and defense can look at a possibility of resolving the matter,” said Dan White, attorney for Phil Lindle and daughter Vanessa Lindle.

Alpena Prosecutor Ed Black made the same comment.

The Lindles were arrested November 2013 on charges of welfare fraud. Authorities allege that Lindle permitted the sale of synthetic marijuana and other ineligible items to Michigan Bridge Card holders at his truck stop, Z’s Crossroads.

During the preliminary examination Feb. 20, U.S. Department of Agriculture special investigator Mark McClutchey he conducted a sting operation and testified that Z’s Crossroads employees would get permission from Lindle to sell cuts of meat for $50 to $200. Included as promotional gifts were packages of bath salts, potpourri and other synthetic drugs, which have since been banned.

However, the February examination was halted after about 2 1/2 hours of testimony because Black had other cases to handle in the afternoon.

The purpose of a preliminary examination is to provide a showing of the evidence so a judge can determine if it meets the burden of proof for a trial. However, these hearings can be waived or halted and other actions can take place.

On Friday, after a 90-minute delay, 88th District Court Judge Theodore Johnson allowed a continuance and gave White and Black two weeks to come back with a resolution.

In a telephone interview later, White said he couldn’t explain the issue further because it is early in the process. However, he said Vanessa Lindle hadn’t been in court for her appearance, because she had been running late. When the case was adjourned, “we decided to call her off,” he said.

As White and Black conferred in a office, Lindle chatted with bystanders as he sat waiting at the defense table.

“After this one is over, I’ll turn all the fraud people over to you,” he said to McClutchey. “You’ll be arresting all of your witnesses, and it will be a solid case.

“I never would have sold that potpourri if I knew it was that unpopular.”

Lindle said he would be leaving the country in 10 days and going to Belize as soon as he got his passport, because they don’t have an extradition agreement with the United States.

When asked to comment about his case, Lindle said he didn’t talk to news people, something he learned 35 years ago. Then he told a reporter he hired a private detective for $5,000 to investigate her.

“You should investigate, before you write about me,” he said.

Betsy Lehndorff can be reached via email at blehndorff@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Betsy on Twitter @bl_alpenanews.