MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — A woman under investigation for fraud said she felt she had no choice but to submit to the sexual advances of the Muskegon County detective investigating her.
That detective, Darric Roesler, has since been fired and this week was charged with a felony.
“It definitely felt like I had no choice,” Liz Paloma told Target 8 on Friday in a tearful interview. “It definitely felt like I had to do it. It felt like that man had this control over my life. I didn’t want to get taken away from my kids.”
Roesler was assigned to the county’s Elder Abuse Task Force. It was his investigation that led to felony fraud charges against two suspects, including Paloma, who was facing possible prison time.
Her alleged accomplice, Anthony Martin, posed as a patient needing heart surgery, then conned an elderly man into helping him pay for it. It was Paloma, records show, who picked up the $1,890 payment from the victim in December 2021.
Her accomplice pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year in jail.
She admitted to picking up the money but claims she didn’t know it was part of a scam.
She was arraigned in June 2022 and said that Roesler reached out to her shortly after that through a mutual friend.
“I was in shock, because I’d only seen him when he called me in for questioning,” Paloma said.
Soon, she said, he was visiting at her home, with his badge and his gun. The sexual relationship lasted about eight months, she said.
“I didn’t expect any special favors,” she said. “I just didn’t want them, I didn’t want nothing worse to happen to me.”
“He didn’t have to do that,” she continued. “He didn’t have to come to my house. He didn’t have to come in with his gun and his badge and everything. He knew what he was doing.”
She said he joked about how funny it would be to be with her at night, then testify against her the next day.
Often, she said, he left $40 or $50 on her TV stand. He also sent her money through a cash transfer app, she said.
“I think that was his way of telling me not to say nothing,” she said. “I was scared. I was scared to tell anybody. How do you tell people what’s happening when this is a detective, this is a police officer? Who am I supposed to tell?”
She said she finally told her attorney, who brought it to the prosecutor’s office. That led to a state police investigation.
Records show the alleged misconduct ended in February. Muskegon County Sheriff Michael Poulin placed Roesler on administrative leave in April, suspended him in May and fired him in June. Roesler was arraigned Monday on a charge of misconduct in office, which carries up to five years in prison. He was released on a $5,000 bond and ordered to stand trial.
Terry Nolan, the attorney for Roesler, disputed the woman’s account. He said she was the aggressor and that she was looking for a way out of trouble.
Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. Hilson has told Target 8 he’s frustrated that he couldn’t charge the detective with a sex crime. While it’s illegal when it involves teachers and students and therapists and patients, it’s not illegal between detectives and suspects.
Paloma said she feels like a victim.
She has pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge and will be sentenced in December.