Preliminary exam for businessman accused of charity violation

There’s no decision yet about whether a charity fraud case against the owner of an Ishpeming Township business should move forward.

ABC 10 senior reporter Mike Hoey was in Ishpeming District Court for Scott Martin’s preliminary exam.

Scott Martin of Martin Sports Apparel printed and sold ‘Bubba’ Croley T-shirts in late 2012. Several witnesses testified that for every $15 T-shirt sold, $10 would go to the Croley family in memory of 13-year-old Christopher, or ‘Bubba’ Croley, who died in a drunk driving accident.

Special Prosecutor Karen Bahrman asked, “What’s your level of certainty that he (Scott Martin) promised to give you $10 from every shirt?” Bubba’s mother, Jodi Croley, answered, “That’s what he said. It was in the paper; it was in the news.”

That money has never been turned over to the family. Marquette County Sheriff’s Department Detective Todd Racine testified that he read a Facebook message, posted by Martin four days after Bubba Croley’s death, claiming that more than 500 shirts had already been sold. However, when he first contacted Martin, the store owner told him fewer shirts had been made.

“At that time, I believe he said there was 400,” Det. Racine said. “His numbers were so different every time either we had information or spoke to him. I believe at that time he said he made 400 shirts.”

Bahrman asked, “So on this first day, first contact with him, he says 400?” “Yes,” Racine answered.

Martin’s defense attorney, Raymond Gregory, asked Racine if he ever asked Martin for names of people that ordered shirts but didn’t pay. Racine said ‘no’. He also testified that Martin showed him the cash drawer set aside for proceeds from the ‘Bubba’ T-shirts but that he never counted how much money was in it.

Gregory asked, “Did you ever ask for it (the drawer)?” Racine replied, “That was the first visit when he showed me. I told him, ‘don’t do anything at this point; I will get back with you’.” Gregory reiterated, “So at that point, you instructed him not to do anything, is that correct?” “Correct,” Racine said.

Gregory claims that because Martin never received further instructions, the money is still in the cash drawer.

Scott Martin’s wife, Sarah Martin, testified that at their business, money is only collected when people come in to pick up shirts they’ve ordered. She also said she once had a list of people who ordered shirts but never picked them up and never paid for them. However, she testified that the list probably does not exist anymore and that she never counted the names on it.

Once again, no decision about Scott Martin’s case has been made. District Judge Roger Kangas said he would need to conduct a substantial review of the case before making a ruling, possibly including a review of the transcript from the prelim.