Prosecutor: Ford tomb vandals get alternative punishment

Grand Rapids
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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Two people accused of vandalizing the gravesites of President Gerald R. Ford and his wife Betty Ford are getting an alternative punishment.

Alexis Brinkert and Christian Johnson turned themselves in to police shortly after Grand Rapids city officials shared surveillance video and images of them sitting atop the gravesite where one of them tried to rip out a letter.

Johnson, who previously pleaded not guilty to malicious destruction of tombs or memorials and larceny,  told the Grand Rapids Press that he didn’t know what the gravesite was and that he was sorry.

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Brinkert was charged with receiving and concealing stolen property.

Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker says Brinkert and Johnson qualified for Kent County’s Diversion program because they had no prior record and were willing to admit responsibility for the March 27 crime.

Becker said his office was in contact with the Ford family in deciding their punishment. The prosecutor said as part of the pair’s community service requirement, the court decided Brinkert and Johnson should visit and work with staff of the Ford Presidential Museum to learn more about President Ford and his life.

Becker says if they successfully complete this program, Brinkert and Johnson will avoid having a conviction on their record. If they fail, the prosecutor’s office will consider refiling charges.

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