Special prosecutor appointed to Valente case
By Lisa Brody
Oakland County Chief Assistant Prosecutor David W. Williams has informed the victims in last year's larceny case involving a former Republican candidate for trustee in Bloomfield Township, Don Valente, for theft of campaign signs in last August's primary election, that a special prosecutor has been assigned to the case.
On Thursday, July 1, Williams notified several of the victims that assistant prosecutor Kanika Ferency had been assigned to the case.
Williams said Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald intends to proceed with the case following a review. In late July 2020, the Oakland County Sheriff's office submitted an investigation into multiple thefts of campaign signs by a candidate for Bloomfield Township Trustee, Don Valente, a retired attorney, to the Oakland County Prosecutor's Office for consideration of an arrest warrant after a complaint was filed with the Bloomfield Township Police Department by a citizen who recognized Valente and saw him taking campaign signs for township supervisor Leo Savoie and treasurer Brian Kepes in the vicinity of Long Lake and Telegraph. Bloomfield Township police initially investigated the complaint, with surveillance cameras confirming the thefts. They then expanded their surveillance review to other locations along Telegraph, where they saw numerous other signs for Savoie, Kepes, Tom Smyly, Eric Pernie, Neal Barnett and other candidates that had been taken.
Because Smyly is a Bloomfield Township police officer, the investigation was referred to the Oakland County Sheriff's Office to avoid a conflict of interest. Pernie, Savoie, and Valente all lost their respective races, and Smyly lost to Martin Brook in November.
Reports from both township police and the sheriff's office indicated that between 50 and 60 election signs were found in plain view by officers leaning against the outside of Valente's garage.