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June 26, 2001

Police chief arraigned for alleged coat theft

-Paul Richard Klaus, of Sebewaing, accused of stealing woman's coat at Turtle Creek Casino on Sept. 8
By PATRICK SULLIVAN
Record-Eagle staff writer

      TRAVERSE CITY - A Thumb area police chief was arraigned on a felony charge Monday after police said he was captured on surveillance tape swiping a woman's coat at the Turtle Creek Casino.
      Sebewaing Police Chief Paul Richard Klaus, 48, faces one count of larceny in a building stemming from the alleged theft on Sept. 8.
      Grand Traverse Sheriff Lt. Scott Wooters, who led the investigation of Klaus, said a Beulah woman reported her coat had been stolen several days after she went gambling at the casino. She told police she may have had as much as $2,000 in it, though she was unsure.
      The woman said she left the coat on the back of a chair near a slot machine while she went to gamble at another slot machine, and when she returned the coat was gone.
      Wooters said the woman waited several days before she reported the coat stolen because at first she blamed herself for losing the coat.
      Investigators used surveillance video to identify Klaus taking the coat. They identified a woman he was with because she could be seen using a credit card. When police contacted the woman, she identified Klaus as a member of her party, Wooters said.
      Klaus has cooperated with investigators and has traveled to Traverse City three times for interviews from his home in Sebewaing, a small town in Huron County about 30 miles northeast of Saginaw.
      In one of those interviews, Klaus returned the woman's coat. He told police he originally thought it belonged to his wife, but when he learned it didn't he gave it to her and they took it from the casino.
      Monday, District Judge Thomas Gilbert set a $10,000 personal recognizance bond for Klaus. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing for July 6. Larceny in a building carries a maximum penalty of four years in prison.
      Klaus has been on disability leave since October for a knee injury, returning only briefly in May before he went back on disability for surgery, according to Richard Neumann, assistant chief of police for Sebewaing Police Department.
      Neumann said Monday he was surprised Klaus faced legal trouble in Traverse City.
      "I had absolutely no knowledge of this," he said.
      Patrick Sullivan is the reporter for crime, courts and public safety. He can be reached at (231) 933-1478, or at psullivan@record-eagle.com