Judge Orders Michigan Man to Scrub Veterans Memorial With Toothbrush

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Judge Orders Michigan Man to Scrub Veterans Memorial With ToothbrushMan who helped soak donors ends up all wet
by Amy Payne

Wearing a T-shirt bearing the phrase "I Stole From Veterans," Philip Kolinski wielded a toothbrush to scrub the veterans monument outside the Saginaw County Governmental Center.

For 20 minutes in Tuesday's pouring rain, Kolinski scoured the monument near the courthouse, on Michigan at Court in Saginaw, and wiped it down with a towel.

Saginaw County District Judge A.T. Frank sentenced the 73-year-old Carrollton Township man to the soggy task for his part in soliciting metal donations for a supposed sculpture dedicated to Iraq War veterans. Detectives said Kolinski and James M. Arnst, 45, sold the metal and kept the money.

Tina M. Szarenski, 48, stood nearby as Kolinski worked. She held a neon-yellow sign with rain-streaked letters: "BRUSHING UP ON HIS PATRIOTISM!!!"

"It's embarrassing, and I think that's good," the Spaulding Township woman said. "I thought, 'Of all the people to scam …' I wish I had my camera on me." (continued…)

     

Kolinski scrubbed the lettering, corners and base of the memorial as cars on South Michigan splashed through deepening puddles.

"My sign's not going to make it," Szarenski said and retreated to her car as the rain picked up.

Kolinski pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obtaining more than $200 under false pretenses from July to November. Kolinski has said that he had no knowledge he was committing a crime, and had agreed to haul the metal as a favor for Arnst.

Kolinski faced misdemeanor charges because his involvement was not as great as Arnst's, investigators said.

Arnst, 1607 Owen, faces a Tuesday, Dec. 4, trial before Circuit Judge Lynda L. Heathscott on felony fraud charges.

Frank originally sentenced Kolinski to wear a sign as he worked.

"In lieu of the placard, you have a T-shirt," Frank said as he pulled the white bucket with Kolinski's cleaning supplies onto the judge's bench.

After detailing the particulars of how and where Kolinski was to scrub the monolith outside the courthouse, Frank asked if Kolinski understood his sentence.

"I couldn't hear a word you said, judge," said Kolinski, who had asked Frank to speak up as he went over the sentence. "But whatever it is, it is."

Frank also ordered Kolinski, 4735 N. Michigan, to pay $9,000 in restitution and $2,095 in fees and fines.

The judge said he chose Aug. 7 — rain or shine — because it was on that date in 1782 that Gen. George Washington created the Badge of Military Merit, now the Purple Heart, an honor for those wounded or killed while serving in the U.S. military. v

Amy Payne is a staff writer for The Saginaw News. You may reach her at 776-9687.


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