Man sentenced after attempted embezzlement from Manistee living facility build – Manistee News Advocate

MANISTEE TWP. — A Zeeland man was sentenced on Monday after stealing building materials while working as a subcontractor on the construction of Maple Ridge Manor assisted living facility in Manistee Township.

Gregory Petroelje, 54, of Zeeland, appeared in person on Monday in front of Judge David Thompson in Manistee County’s 19th Circuit Court. 

Petroelje was sentenced on a charge of embezzlement attempted by an agent or trustee of $1,000 or more but less than $20,000. The charge is a felony punishable by up to 2.5 years in prison. 

He was sentenced to 90 days in the Manistee County Jail with three days served, and two years probation.

According to court documents, Petroelje committed the crime from Aug. 15-17, 2020.

“A considerable amount of building materials were taken and then sold to another individual or traded to another individual for a trailer and then that individual then sold those items,” Thompson said.  

Thompson said Petroelje was a subcontractor for the Maple Ridge assisted living facility project in Manistee Township. The project was completed earlier this summer. 

Petroelje’s attorney said Petroelje is also currently involved in a “large-scale construction project.” 

Thompson said though recent criminal justice reforms would presume that Petroelje would be placed on probation and not necessarily serve time in jail, those guidelines were only advisory. 

Thompson said he had considered Petroelje’s health, his current project in southwest Michigan, the way that Petroelje took responsibility for his actions and his criminal background. 

“Not to impose a jail (sentence) in this case would be really, a miscarriage of justice,” Thompson said adding that it would not be proportionate to the crime.

After sentencing, Petroelje’s attorney asked if Thompson would consider delaying the start of the jail sentence. 

“Somebody with the very criminal record that your client presents with and really the audacity that he engaged in in this crime, it requires, in this court’s opinion some punitive consequences,” Thompson said. 

Petroelje was originally charged with two counts: embezzlement by an agent or trustee $1,000 or more but less than $20,000; and attempted embezzlement by a trusted agent or trustee of $1,000 or more but less than $20,000.

In October, Petroelje pleaded no contest in return for the count one embezzlement charge’s dismissal and the fourth offense habitual offender notice dismissal. 

Petroelje is considered a habitual offender, but his fourth offense habitual offender notice was dismissed after the plea agreement.

Thompson pointed out that he was concerned by Petroelje’s criminal record.

According to Thompson’s comments and court documents, Petroelje has previous convictions such as:

• Being noncompliant with sex offender registry requirements on three occasions;

• Felony breaking and entering a building with intent in Ottawa County in 2017;

• Operating without insurance in 2016;

• Breaking and entering a building with intent to commit larceny therein in 2016;

• Retail fraud in 2015;

• Child sexually abusive activity in Livingston County in 2008; and

• Felony larceny in a building in Kent County in 2007. 

While Petroelje was ordered to pay $4,000 in restitution. The original restitution amount sought by Rodney Barriger was about $21,617. Barriger is the president of the Barriger Construction Group, which is the company responsible for the Maple Ridge project.  

During his statement to the court prior to sentencing on Monday morning, Petroelje said he was most remorseful that he hurt Barriger who had trusted him. Petroelje said he had failed Barriger through his actions. 

“That’s what hurts me the most, that I did that and I know that I can’t undo it,” he stated in court.

Per sentencing orders, Petroelje is not allowed to have contact with Barriger. 

He is also not allowed to use or possess alcoholic beverages, or illicit controlled substances. He is expected to have random drug and alcohol testing. 

He is expected to complete a cognitive behavior based program. Thompson said the court would authorize a work release but he said the Manistee County Sheriff’s Office would ultimately be the deciding agency for work release.

Petroelje was also ordered to pay $500 fine, court costs of $750, crime victim assessment of $130, $68 in state costs, a DNA testing fee of $60 and $4,000 in restitution.

After sentencing on Monday morning, Petroelje was taken into custody of the Manistee County Sheriff’s Office.