Large drug bust goes to court

BARAGA — Three cases in a large December drug bust in Baraga County have hit a snag.

41-year-old Thomas Bianco, 55-year-old Brenda Maki, and 32-Corey Haataja appeared in Baraga County Circuit Court for pretrials. Bianco is charged with delivery or manufacture of suboxone and has a trial scheduled for July 23rd. Bianco’s attorney, David Gemignani said he hopes to have a resolution agreed upon by his client that he can present next week.

Maki is facing the same charge and was previously being represented by the court-appointed attorney Gemignani. She appeared in court with her recently retained new attorney George Hyde. Hyde requested his client’s trial be delayed so he would have more time to familiarize himself with the case.

Prosecuting Attorney Joseph O’Leary indicated a plea agreement had been presented but Hyde said his client never agreed to it. Her trail was moved to August 6th.

Haataja is charged with delivery or manufacture of morphine and seemed prepared to enter into a plea agreement for a drug charge with a lesser sentence with the promise that incarceration would be limited to the county jail.

Then Haataja objected to the reading of the charge which said his interaction with undercover officers happened on the Baraga side of the county line…not Houghton’s.
Haataja said, “All this, I don’t agree with a lot of it. The pills were exchanged as soon as I got back in the vehicle which is in Houghton County. The undercover officer’s facts are…”

Then Judge Charles Goodman interrupted, saying, “I don’t want to hear any more.” The judge rejected the plea agreement and said the trial would commence as scheduled on July 23rd. Haataja requested more time to hire another lawyer but the judge said a motion would have to be filed by his new attorney when he is able to retain one.