AP NEWS

Michigan man sentenced in theft from casket

October 18, 2017

In this Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015 photo, Director of School and Community Relations Art Wenzlaff answers questions in a conference room at International Academy in Flint, Mich. Wenzlaff, a neighborhood advocate in Flint has been charged after items reportedly were taken from a casket. The Flint Journal reported Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017, that Wenzlaff faces larceny and disrupting a funeral charges. Wenzlaff was arraigned Monday, Oct. 16. Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton says a Detroit Pistons hat, a watch and two bowling rings allegedly were missing from the casket at a Mundy Township funeral home following a memorial service. (Sam Owens /The Flint Journal-MLive.com via AP)

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — A community advocate in Michigan has been ordered not to attend open casket funerals as part of a plea deal reached in a theft case.

Art Wenzlaff, 76, was accused of taking a Detroit Pistons hat, a Timex watch and two bowling alley rings from a casket during a funeral service for his coworker’s father in Mundy Township. He was sentenced Monday to one day in jail and five years’ probation, the Flint Journal reported .

Wenzlaff pleaded no contest in August while facing charges of larceny in a building and disrupting a funeral or memorial service.

The larceny charge, which can carry a prison sentence, will be dismissed if Wenzlaff completes the probationary period without further issues, according to his attorney, Michael Manley.

Wenzlaff reached the plea deal because he “did not want to put the family through the stress of a trial,” Manley said.

Family members spoke out during the sentencing hearing.

“I know they were very, very upset and they were very vocal,” Manley said. “We certainly understand their emotion and Mr. Wenzlaff publicly apologized.”

As part of his sentence, Wenzlaff also was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine to the Humane Society as requested by the victims.

Wenzlaff is the former director of school and community relations for the International Academy of Flint. He also served as the chairman of the South Side Business and Resident Association of Flint.

Manley said he hopes Wenzlaff “will be able to continue to perform the community service for the citizens of Flint which he has been known for decades.”

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Information from: The Flint Journal, http://www.mlive.com/flint

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