PETOSKEY MI Jan 26 2017 — A Northern Michigan man who is accused of fighting with and stabbing a tribal police officer with a pen at the Odawa Casino Resort recently is facing a federal criminal charge.
Aaron Martin Vorac, 37, is facing one count of assaulting, resisting, or impeding a federal officer in connection with the incident authorities said happened on Jan. 15 at the casino just south of Petoskey.
Depending on the circumstances, the charge can be punishable from up to one to up to 20 years in prison. In this case, because police said the officer was injured in the incident, the charge is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
The case is being handled in the federal court system because the casino land is held in trust by the federal government on behalf of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians.
According to an FBI complaint filed in the case, the incident happened around 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 15. According to the complaint, around that time Vorac and his wife, Carla Michele Weiskopf, were in the casino near the craps table when Weiskopf urinated in her clothes and was denied further alcohol service.
Police said Vorac and Weiskopf left the casino and were believed to have left the property, but returned a short time later at which time they were told they would not be admitted back into the casino.
In the complaint, authorities said Weiskopf then allegedly drove around the casino property in her vehicle, returned to the front entrance, and attempted to re-enter the casino again. Casino security then requested assistance from the tribal police department and waited for police to arrive.
Authorities said tribal police officer George Closser arrived at the casino and made contact with Vorac and Weiskopf and requested identification. Vorac replied that he and Weiskopf were leaving, but Closser told them that there was a complaint that Vorac may possibly have been intoxicated and that they were not free to leave.
The complaint reads, "Vorac exited the vehicle and approached Closser. Weiskopf also exited the vehicle. Closser put out his hand to keep Vorac from getting too close. Vorac walked into Closser’s hand approximately three times. Weiskopf made a statement indicating she intended to protect her husband."
Police said Closser asked Vorac to remove his hands, which were hidden inside the front pocket of a hooded sweatshirt, so the officer could see them. Police said Vorac said that he was a former member of the military and just wanted to leave and made a statement indicating there was going to be a problem and that he was not going to be arrested for something he did not do.
Police said when Vorac next approached Closser, he decided to place Vorac under arrest and a physical altercation ensued with both Closser and Vorac falling to the ground.
Authorities said when he was on top of Closser, Vorac grabbed an object and was heard saying “I’m going to stab you with a pen,” and was seen making stabbing motions toward Closser.
Authorities said casino security personnel called 9-1-1 for assistance, prompting a response from a Petoskey Department of Public Safety officer and an Emmet County Sheriff's deputy, who assisted in taking both Vorac and Weiskopf into custody.
In the complaint, authorities said the casino’s security surveillance video was reviewed by tribal police officers who reported that the video footage appeared to be consistent with the casino security personnel’s account of the incident.
"The video appeared to show Vorac punching Officer Closser in the groin several times and then stabbing the officer in the chest and face with what is believed to be a pen," the complaint reads.
Authorities said during the altercation, Closser sustained multiple injuries that required treatment at McLaren Northern Michigan hospital. A casino security employee also suffered an injury to his thumb while attempting to keep Weiskopf away from Closser.
Vorac is free from custody on a $25,000 unsecured bond. On Friday, Vorac waived his preliminary hearing in the case in Federal District Court in Grand Rapids. The case is now set for a scheduling conference on Jan. 27.