State prosecutors have struck a plea deal with a former Grand Traverse County jail administrator charged with abusing his office. In the 13th Circuit Court Friday, Todd Ritter pleaded guilty to three charges, including embezzlement and willful neglect of duty.
Ritter admitted in court that he facilitated sexual relationships by using his county-owned cell phone. He told Judge Kevin Elsenheimer that he used the phone to download pornography, and to send and receive sexually explicit images.
He also admitted to using his county-owned truck for personal travel, like driving to his son’s basketball tournaments in different counties, and using a county credit card to pay for a hotel room in Lansing in 2017.
Originally, prosecutors had charged Ritter with second degree Criminal Sexual Conduct, alleging he had sexual relations with several female inmates at the jail over a period of four years. Those charges were dropped as part of the plea deal.
Kevin Sandvig, a former jail employee who has been vocal about Ritter’s case, says he’s disappointed the sexual misconduct charge was dropped.
But he’s glad Ritter admitted his crimes.
“Ritter is being held accountable, finally,” said Sandvig. “He’s being held accountable and we’re also looking at consequences for his actions. It looks like he’s going to get some consequences.”
Ritter worked for the Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s office for over 20 years until his resignation last year. County Sheriff Tom Bensley did not respond to a request for comment in time for this story.
Two of Ritter’s crimes are felonies punishable by up to ten years in prison. His sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled.