Osceola Co. courts closed due to COVID concerns

The Osceola County court docket Friday in 49th Circuit Court, which included the sentencing of a former Osceola County deputy Andrew Wernette, was canceled due to concerns with COVID-19.

REED CITY — The Osceola County court docket Friday in 49th Circuit Court, which included the sentencing of a former Osceola County deputy, was canceled due to concerns with COVID-19.

The Osceola County website also showed the prosecutor's office was closed through March 29. Osceola County Prosecutor Tony Badovinac said Friday his office was closed and the court was adjourned Friday due to four of the five people in his office testing positive for COVID-19, including himself.

He said Monday afternoon and into Tuesday, he started to feel under the weather. Although his office was closed, he said the hope is it will reopen next week, possibly as soon as Monday. He also said the hope is the court will be back up later next week.

As for the sentencing of the former Osceola County Sheriff's Office deputy Andrew Christian Wernette, a new date had not been scheduled as of Friday.

The 39-year-old Reed City man pleaded guilty last month to two counts of aggravated child sexually abusive activity, one count of using a computer to commit a crime, aggravated possession of child sexually abusive activity, distributing or promoting child sexually abusive material, larceny in a building, possession of morphine, possession of Oxycontin and maintaining a drug house for his connection with an incident on June 30, 2014, in Richmond Township.

As part of the plea, charges of child sexually abusive activity, using a computer to commit a crime, child sexually abusive activity and delivery or manufacture of morphine will be dismissed when Wernette finally is sentenced.

He faces up to 25 years in prison on the two counts of aggravated child sexually abusive activity and up to 20 years in prison for using a computer to commit a crime conviction.

The Michigan Attorney General's Office prosecuted the case following a request from the Osceola County Prosecutor's Office due to a conflict of interest, according to a press release from the AG's office.

Badovinac said at the time of the plea, he was made aware of the situation and received the investigation last September before it was handed off to the AG's office. Last month, Badovinac also confirmed none of the victims in the abusive materials were local children.

A tip provided to authorities led to the execution of a search warrant, which allowed police to discover more than 100 images and videos of child sexually abusive material on Wernette’s computers and cell phone, according to the AG's office. It also led authorities to the discovery of drugs that were illegally in Wernette’s possession.

Wernette used his position as a deputy in charge of the drug take-back program at the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office to procure various medications meant to be disposed of for his personal use, according to the AG's office.

Michigan State Police conducted the investigation and arrested Wernette on Sept. 14, 2020. 

Cadillac News