Emmet Co. Prosecutor Explains Why Rep. Chatfield Won’t Be Charged for Bringing Loaded Gun into Airport

“A person should be fairly appraised no matter what the criminal law is that they might be breaking, this statute doesn’t do it.”

No criminal charges are being filed against the Northern Michigan lawmaker who brought a loaded, un-registered handgun into the Pellston Regional Airport.

Emmet County prosecutor James Linderman says an issue in Michigan’s code of law is why Representative Lee Chatfield is not being charged.

Linderman says the Michigan statute defines the sterile area of an airport, by referring to a federal code.

That specific federal code has since been changed and no longer defines “sterile area.”

We also dug up this campaign finance data and it shows Linderman helping Chatfield’s campaign for several years.

“I’ve contributed to a lot of peoples’ campaigns, not just Lee Chatfield’s,” Linderman said.

The data shows Emmet County prosecutor James Linderman has given more than $600 to Chatfield’s campaign efforts since 2015.

Linderman says while he has donated to the speaker pro-tem, it in no way affected how he looked at the case.

“It’s not a question of Democrat or Republican in this matter, it’s a question of the law, if the rule of law is fair. A person should be fairly appraised no what the criminal law is that they might be breaking, this statute doesn’t do it,” Linderman, explained.

The prosecutor says in the past he tried charging someone under similar circumstances to no avail.

“I found at that time the statute had the defect, I said to myself ‘how can I charge somebody under a statute that doesn’t define the improper conduct,’” Linderman said.

In a statement Representative Chatfield said:

“I’m sorry for my irresponsible mistake and for causing any distraction to the people of Northern Michigan. Whether an elected official or not, nobody is above the law, and prosecutor Linderman treated this case no differently than he has others in the past dealing with the Pellston Regional Airport. I will receive my fine from the TSA and will pay it in full, and I remain committed to continue fighting for the hard-working people of Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.”

“We are pleased to hear that, he’s our man,” Chatfield Supporter Louis Schomberger, said.

The news of Chatfield not being charged has resonated with his supporters.

“I’m elated, I’ve been praying so hard for him, I’m certain that was a mistake, he’s a good man,” Mary Schomberger, added.

But others are beyond disappointed.

“Don’t think he’s being held accountable. I certainly hope voters hold him accountable if the prosecutor is not going to,” Democrat Voter Stephen Bede, said.

Linderman says if an incident like this happens again, it will remain unchargeable until that code of law is updated.