City prosecutors cut deals, they do this all the time. For every case that goes to trial, several more, depending on the size of the city, are dealt with by way of plea deals. It often saves both the prosecution and the defense time, money, and resources. So I doubt that Otsego, Michigan’s prosecutor, Stephen Kastran, thought much about it when he cut a deal with Melissa “Carli Ray” Lesterhouse, owner of the Bewitching Wares shop.
“Lesterhouse, who owns Bewitching Wares at 128 E. Allegan St. in Otsego, and her employee, Jacqueline Janeczek, were each cited in late December for providing a psychic reading for money, a misdemeanor punishable by up to $500 in fines and 90 days in jail. Janeczek, of Kalamazoo, pleaded guilty on March 5 in Allegan County District Court. Her sentence included $310 in fines. She also said, if she did not offer any psychic readings for money in the next six months, her conviction could be expunged. Kastran, a partner at Burnett, Kastran & Klein P.C. in Allegan, said that because of Janeczek’s guilty plea, he and Otsego Police Chief Gordon Konkle agreed the charge against Lesterhouse should be dropped. The charge against Lesterhouse, of Plainwell, was dropped on March 5.”
Aside from Otsego’s asinine law against fortune telling, this all seems rather business as usual. What’s unusual is what happened next.
“The city of Otsego’s former prosecutor says he was fired after dropping a charge against a woman who had been accused of violating a 93-year-old city ordinance that prohibits the offering of psychic readings for money … The charge against Lesterhouse, of Plainwell, was dropped on March 5. Kastran said the following week he received a letter from the city of Otsego saying he had been fired from his job as the city’s prosecutor … [City Manager Thad] Beard denied Kastran was let go because of his decision to drop the charge against Lesterhouse.”
The fact that Otsego Police Chief Gordon Konkle agreed that the charge against Lesterhouse should be dropped, and then worked with the City Manager to have Kastran fired for it is somewhat suspicious. Did Konkle agree to drop the charges under protest? Was it a set-up? Is Kastran simply jumping to conclusions? Perhaps a throw-away bit of background at the end of the article can shed some light on the subject.
“Lesterhouse, whose name previously was Melissa Cronin-Warfield, was at the center of a flubbed 2003 prostitution sting by the Kalamazoo Valley Enforcement Team. She was never arrested in the case, which prompted changes at the top of the command structure of the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety, which runs KVET.”
Is this less about fortune telling and more about an old grudge resurfacing? I mean, why were cops doing a sting operation on a couple of local psychics in the first place? Were they hoping to have their old prostitution theories vindicated? Is there no real crime in Otsego? Shouldn’t they be more worried about the meth-labs in downtown Otsego? Did Stephen Kastran accidentally interject himself into the middle of a personal crusade? There are more questions than answers here, but the more you dig, the less this seems like a simple case of breaking a 100-year-old fortune telling ordinance.