May 29, 2024

EAST TAWAS, MI — The attorney representing an East Tawas city councilman accused of trying to hire another man to kill two people over an inheritance says he is anticipating disproving the charges against his client.

Michael A. Mooney, 65, is charged with two counts of solicitation of murder, a life offense. Police alleged Mooney was the executor of a deceased man’s estate and told the man’s son he would get him a $400,000 if he killed his father’s widow and his own half-brother. The Georgia man Mooney allegedly made the offer to alerted police to the matter.

Mooney is represented by East Lansing attorney Michael J. Nichols, who said he’s seen no evidence so far to support the state’s case against Mooney.

“Obviously, (the witness’) credibility is going to be the key in this whole thing,” Nichols said. “If they’re going to prove this, they’re going to have to have a credible witness or witnesses to testify about all this.”

Nichols declined to delve into specifics on the charges, saying he does not litigate cases in the media.

“We look forward to proving these charges are not true,” he said.

Mooney was the executor on the estate of Donald F. Clark, with whom Nichols believed Mooney was friends. Clark, an Oscoda resident, died Dec. 9, 2017, at age 84.

Michael A. Mooney

East Tawas Councilman Michael A. Mooney.

According to an affidavit written by a Michigan State Police detective sergeant in support of a warrant, the case began with a son of Clark in Georgia contacting his deceased father’s wife to inquire about an inheritance. The widow told her stepson to reach out to Mooney.

This man called Mooney on Feb. 11, 2021, only to be told he could not help him as the $300,000 dowery set aside for him was being contested by his deceased father‘s wife and his half-brother, Donald L. Clark.

Mooney told the man if he killed the widow and his half-brother, he would ensure he received the six-figure sum, plus an extra $100,000, the affidavit states.

The man did not act on the offer. On June 10, 2021, he again reached out to Mooney, who again suggested he kill his half-brother, the affidavit states.

“After having the second conversation with Mooney, (the man) felt that his half-brother’s life could be in legitimate danger,” the sergeant wrote. The man then contacted police.

The sergeant on June 24, 2021, worked with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to record a phone call between Mooney and the man. The call in numerous incriminating statements from Mooney, including him confirming his offer, while still trying to distance himself from the plot, the sergeant wrote.

Mooney told the man to search online tax records to find out where the targets lived. The man told Mooney he wanted to see the murder through but wanted to be sure he’d get his money after the funeral.

“When they pass away, it all goes to me and I know what (your father) wanted and I’ll take care of it,” Mooney assured the man, according to the affidavit. Mooney also told the man they should have no further contact until “things got done,” the sergeant wrote.

The sergeant later interviewed Mooney, who initially denied knowing the Georgia man. Pressed further, he admitted to knowing of him, but said he had never spoken to him.

The sergeant went on to tell Mooney he had phone calls and logs between him and the Georgia man. At this, Mooney described the other man as “crazy” and asked the sergeant if he thought he had done something wrong. The sergeant replied he thought he had.

“He then asked me, ‘Why? Did he kill someone or something?’” the sergeant wrote. “I had never mentioned the reason for my questions or what (the Georgia man) was alleging.”

The younger Donald Clark, 64, died at his home on July 20, 2021, as the investigation was ongoing. Neither of the Clarks’ obituaries mention the Georgia man who filed the police complaint.

Police arrested Mooney on Oct. 5 and he was arraigned in Iosco County District Court the same day. The arraigning judge sets Mooney’s bond at $100,000 or 10%, which he has since posted.

Mooney was elected to the East Tawas City Council in November 2016, having previously served on the Tax Increment Finance Authority. He is also the owner of Mooney’s Ben Franklin, a variety store located at 138 Newman St. in East Tawas.

A lifelong East Tawas resident, he graduated from Tawas Area High School in 1975.

“Mike is very active in the community especially in the East Tawas Business Association,” states his biography on the city’s website.

Mooney is to appear for a preliminary examination on Oct. 25.

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