Warrant issued for Mich. couple who failed to pay library fines on Dr. Seuss book

Warrant issued for Mich. couple who failed to pay library fines on Dr. Seuss book. (WNWO)

TECUMSEH, Mich. (WNWO) - A Lenawee County couple is speaking out after a warrant was issued for their arrest in connection to their failure to return a library book.

Cathy and Melvin Duren say they are distraught after learning the warrant was issued last week.

"I can't believe I'm being charged with a criminal offense," Melvin said.

The charges stem from a library book the couple failed to return. The Durens say they were notified of the $55 late charge last December after failing to return a borrowed Dr. Seuss book to the Tecumseh District Library in the summer of 2014. At the time, the couple couldn't pay the fine and that's when they say they were turned over to the Lenawee County Prosecutor's Office.

"We received a letter saying that we would be prosecuted if these fees weren't paid," Cathy said.

The Durens received a letter from the Economic Crimes Unit, which typically handles petty theft crimes. The letter stated the couple must pay the library fines, along with a $105 diversion fee, or they would be criminally charged.

Cathy and Melvin say they are guilty of not paying the original fees right away, but recently did so.

The couple says they now feel they are being harassed by the detective in charge of the Economic Crimes Unit after receiving several threatening voicemails.

"I think a lot of people have paid these fees before because of his threats," Cathy said. "People are scared and I don't think it's right that he should be able to do this to anybody."

Lenawee County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Scott Baker says the $105 diversion fee is legal.

The Tecumseh District Library policy for lost or damaged materials does not mention being turned into authorities for unpaid fines.

"I don't think we should have never (sic) been held for a crime we didn't commit," Melvin said. "As of right now, they have the book, they have the fee, you know, I don't get it."

The Durens paid the library fee in February; however, they did not pay the diversion fee, because they did not think it was legal. After receiving the arrest warrant, the couple wanted to warn others of the possibility.

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