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Plea Bargains and Corruption – Maintaining Innocence in the US

'These men not only intimidated and threatened me, but broke my husband’s plea agreement and sentenced him - a non-violent, first time “offender” - to 10-20 years in prison.'

In May 2022, a worldwide, million-dollar company in Hastings, Michigan, accused my husband Ryan of a financial crime. His accuser was his direct report. The direct report's future mother-in-law worked in the Finance Department, and he took his suspicions directly to her. Stacks and stacks of excel worksheets were generated without ever checking inventory. There was never a search of our home or bank accounts. When the company terminated Ryan they immediately promoted the direct report who turned him in.

My husband attempted to cooperate with the investigation, to resolve it the best he could and protect our family. An upper-level executive in the company then texted his friend, a Michigan State Trooper, to investigate.

Rather than recuse himself, he investigated anyway, generating sloppy police work and including US constitutional violations. Barry County, Michigan, is rural, and unfortunately rural departments do not invest in as much training for their officers. They are also less likely to have professional degrees.

In October 2022, Judge Michael Schipper of the Barry County Michigan Circuit Court offered my husband a strong-arm plea bargain. He and Assistant Prosecutor Chris Elsworth said if he did not take the plea for three-years of probation, and instead exercised his constitutional right to go to trial, they would put him away for 20 years. I was not there to talk him out of it; I was at home with our children. The assistant prosecutor then failed to document the specific elements of the plea bargain on the appropriate documentation, as required by Michigan law. The Judge was present and helped develop terms. This is not only considered coercive, but is judicial interference.

When court came into session on January 12 2023 for sentencing at 10:00 AM, Judge Schipper had never met me and yet began attacking me on court record, accusing me of criminal activity. He railed on, stating I was “oblivious” and “stupid.”

Both he and Christopher Elsworth continued threatening me; even threatening to take my home and vehicle. For a person in a position of power to do this to you in court in a case that is not even yours, is terrifying. I also realized at this point they would lie and cheat to get the outcome they wanted.

Prior to sentencing, Judge Schipper and Christopher Elsworth also knew about other Michigan State Police misconduct and a failed turn-in arrangement. It was in my husband’s file. Judge Schipper said:

"That’s between you and the Michigan State Police. I don’t care.”

They knew from those records that I have Complex PTSD from childhood abuse. They attacked me anyway. These men not only intimidated and threatened me, but broke my husband’s plea agreement and sentenced him - a non-violent, first time “offender” - to 10-20 years in prison. I immediately knew I had to fight back.

I reported both the Judge and Prosecutor to the appropriate investigative bodies. I ramped up my efforts on my blog,, and began exposing the judicial and prosecutorial corruption in Hastings, Michigan. Amazingly, I had stumbled into my calling, and am now helping others fight wrongful convictions through criminal defense investigation work.

During Ryan’s incarceration, he has been subjected to unimaginable treatment by Corrections Officers, and even lost hearing in his right ear due to Medical Malpractice. I haven’t seen my husband’s face in six months; we’re still trying to get approved for visits.

While Ryan is still not home yet, we are hopeful he soon will be. He plans to help me fight this good fight, and level the playing field in the United States legal system.

By Rita Williams

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