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Attorney General Nessel: 2 breathalyzer technicians falsified equipment service records

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FILE - In this March 5, 2020 file photo, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel addresses the media during a news conference, in Lansing, Mich. Nessel on Tuesday, May 5, 2020, is backing Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, telling local law enforcement officials that her stay-at-home directive and restrictions on places of public accommodations are valid and enforceable. Tuesday's letter comes days after Republican lawmakers refused to extend an emergency declaration. (AP Photo/David Eggert, File)

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced charges against two technicians after she said they faked repair service records on two breathalyzer machines used by law enforcement agencies in Michigan.

Andrew Clark, 53, of Oxford, and David John, 59, of Kalamazoo, were charged with a combined total of 15 felonies after the Attorney General's office said they created fictitious documents to show they completed certain diagnostic tests and repairs on two breathalyzer machine instruments in which they had responsibility for its calibration and performance.

"The alleged forgery nonetheless casts doubt on the accuracy of breathalyzer tests preformed during the period in question," Nessel said in a prepared video statement.

Clark and John were two of the three technicians employed with Intoximeters Inc, a St. Louis, Missouri based company that contracted with Michigan State Police for maintenance and repairs on 203 Datamaster DMT breathalyzer machines across the state. Each technician was required to physically visit each site to conduct various diagnostic verification, calibration and repairs, according to Nessel's office.

The machines are used by law enforcement across Michigan to measure the alcohol level of motor vehicle drivers suspected of being under the influence of alcohol.

Nessel said one incident involved a DataMaster DMT instrument at the Beverly Hills Police Department and the other incident involved a DataMaster DMT instrument located at the Alpena County Sheriff’s Office.

"Rather than perform routine maintenance of these instruments, these individuals are alleged to created fictitious documents to show they completed certain tests and repairs on the state's 203 DataMaster devices. Maintenance of these devices is serious work that demands careful attention and the utmost integrity, precisely because public safety depends on it," Nessel said.

Michigan State Police entered into a contract with Intoximeters Inc. in Sept. 2018, Nessel said the state terminated the contract with the company on April 2020.

Michigan State Police launched an investigation Jan. 13, 2020, after the department discovered discrepancies during a review of the Michigan State Police breath alcohol program.

The agency ordered departments to stop using breathalyzers until they were re-examined. That process is still on-going.

Certified police staff have been performing the ongoing maintenance, repairs and 120-day inspections for all DataMaster instruments since Jan. 10, 2020, and will continue to do so.

“We recognize the critical role these instruments can play in drunk driving convictions and we are confident that a properly calibrated and maintained DataMaster remains an extremely reliable instrument," said Michigan State Police Col. Joe Gasper.

Kalamazoo County Undersheriff James VanDyken said his department's breathalyzer machine has been out of service since February.

Some departments including Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office have utilized blood draws instead of using breathalyzers in cases of driving under the influence.

"We will draw blood until it's resolved," VanDyken said.

Clark faces six felony charges: two counts of forgery of a public record, two counts of uttering and publishing, and two counts of using a computer to commit a crime. Clark has been arraigned in the Eaton County District Court and was given a personal recognizance bond. He is scheduled for a probable cause conference at 4 p.m. June 1.

John faces nine felony charges: three counts of forgery of a public record, three counts of uttering and publishing, and three counts of using a computer to commit a crime. John will be arraigned at a later date due to reduced court operations related to COVID-19.

Both face up to 38 years in prison, if convicted.