Trial begins for GOP official

ESCANABA – Jurors returned to the courtroom this morning for day two of the trial of an Escanaba man charged with extortion,

computer crime, stalking, and possession of drugs relating to alleged threats against his ex-wife.

Douglas Vero Sedenquist, 52, was arrested last December on the four felonies. He is accused of threatening his estranged ex-wife, Carmen Labute, Nov. 20-26, 2013. His three-day trial began Tuesday in Delta County Circuit Court.

Following jury selection on Tuesday, opening statements were presented by the prosecution and defense. The victim’s attorney, Russell Hall, was the first witness to take the stand.

Other witnesses expected to testify include Labute, her co-worker, family members, Escanaba Public Safety detectives, and an officer from the Green Bay Police Department.

According to Chief Assistant Prosecutor Philip Strom, Sedenquist and Labute were divorced in March 2013.

Strom cited several incidents during the past two years when Sedenquist allegedly repeatedly threatened, intimidated and stalked Labute in Escanaba and also Green Bay where she works as a nurse. Strom told jurors that Sedenquist’s behavior led to threats of extortion in November 2013.

Hall testified Sedenquist stated he was going to tell Labute’s employer that she had violated patient confidentiality rights unless she gave in to his demands for retirement funds, spousal support, and joint custody rights. Sedenquist also wanted first rights to buy their camp property.

Hall said he contacted Escanaba Public Safety, which investigated the threats and arrested Sedenquist. E-mails supporting many of the allegations were entered as evidence Tuesday.

Following execution of a search warrant on Sedenquist’s residence in Escanaba on Dec. 2, 2013, Escanaba Public Safety arrested him on four felonies. He was lodged in the county jail and was later released after posting $5,000, or 10 percent of a $50,000 bond.

On count 1, Sedenquist is charged with extortion, a 20-year felony with a maximum fine of $10,000. He is accused of maliciously threatening to accuse his ex-wife of a crime with intent to extort money or gain another advantage or to cause her to do or refrain from doing an act against her will.

On count 2, Sedenquist is charged with using a computer to commit a 20-year-or more felony. He is accused of using a computer to commit extortion. The charge carries a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

On count 3, Sedenquist is charged with aggravated stalking, a five-year felony with a maximum fine of $10,000. He is accused of repeatedly harassing his ex-wife by causing her to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened or harassed.

On count 4, Sedenquist is charged with controlled substance – possession of the analogue Hydrocodone, a two-year felony with a maximum fine of $2,000. Police confiscated the victim’s prescription medication from a lock box in Sedenquist’s apartment.

During a preliminary hearing in district court this past February, Hall testified Sedenquist had also asked Labute to write a letter to the Brown County prosecuting attorney to be lenient on him and do away with a personal protection order she had filed against him.

Sedenquist had been arrested in Wisconsin on charges of disobeying police, sending a threat, and disorderly conduct. These charges stem from an incident in March 2013 when Sedenquist was allegedly involved in an armed standoff with officers responding to his suicide threat.

Sedenquist failed to appear for his final divorce hearing on March 6, 2013 in Delta County because he was lodged in Green Bay, said his attorney Frank Stupak.

Sedenquist’s arrests have gained state-wide media attention because he has been a member of Michigan’s Republican State Central Committee and was the former vice-chair of the Delta County Republican Party.

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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143, jlancour@dailypress.net