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Teen sentenced to two years probation for impersonating a firefighter

HOWELL — A local teen accused of impersonating a firefighter will serve two years of probation under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act following a sentencing Thursday, May 11, in front of Judge Michael P. Hatty in 44th Circuit Court.

Ethyn Clark, 18, previously pleaded guilty to impersonating a firefighter or emergency medical service personnel, and use of a police radio receiver or scanner in the commission of a felony. As long as Clark follows the terms of his probation, the charges will not be placed on his permanent record.

A local teen accused of impersonating a firefighter will serve two years of probation under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act. Patricia Alvord/Livingston Daily

Clark was arrested at a structure fire in Unadilla Township in February after posing as a Brighton firefighter, arriving on scene in a personal vehicle with emergency lights and a siren with firefighting gear including a helmet, safety vest and radio, according to Unadilla Police Chief David Russell.

Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Christina Richards argued the charges should remain on Clark’s record, particularly since he intends to pursue a career in emergency response.

“This was a very serious offense that this defendant committed and put in danger every first responder that was on that scene,” she said. “His statement that he was out of the way of what was happening contradicts his statement that he was then parked between the two fire vehicles. People’s belief is that this needs to be on his record.

“He has indicated that this is the career he intends to undertake in being a first responder and I believe this needs to be on his record, so that when he applies for jobs in the public service field as an emergency responder, the employers know about this and are able to make an informed decision about who he is. The people’s position is that this defendant’s actions make him not suitable for work in public service in his desired field.”

Clark’s attorney, Mark L. Sharrer, disagreed.

“He had a very good defendant statement, I thought,” he said. “I think that this is what HYTA is for, somebody who makes a mistake, admittedly a very dumb mistake and he points that out, as well. He fancied himself a firefighter, obviously that’s not what he was and as far as putting people at risk, that I don’t know. I obviously wasn’t at the scene, but I believe he should be given the chance on probation with HYTA with an opportunity to keep this off his record.”

Hatty noted there are multiple facets to the case.

“You want to be a fireman,” he told Clark. “You want to be a public helper, but you went around it in a way that may easily put other people at risk because you didn’t have appropriate training. You could have done something to hurt those firemen when they’re actually in there. I know you had a good heart, but you went (about it) the wrong way. You can’t do that.”

“From here on, I would like to finish my school to improve grades, attend college to get a career in the medical field and most importantly, take the time to think before I act now that I’m in an environment that can help with this. I’m constantly attending my therapy sessions. I’m working with a tutor for my schoolwork and I’m disappointed that I’ve let so many people, including myself down. I know that I am better than this.”

Hatty added his recommendation for HYTA is, in part, due to Clark being part of a decade-long domestic custody dispute as a child.

“I recognize you probably had a tumultuous childhood and I’m going to give you some credit on that,” Hatty said.

— Contact reporter Patricia Alvord at palvord@livingstondaily.com.

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