Michael LaJoice turns himself in for embezzlement

Tess DeGayner, Online Assistant Editor

Michael LaJoice is sitting in the Oakland County jail for embezzling almost or more than $20 million from the Clarkston Brandon Community Credit Union. However, if LaJoice’s name was heard about a month ago, one might have recognized him as the man who was honored as a community hero for going out of his way to help others and the community.

LaJoice’s construction company, LaJoice Enterprises Inc., had been funding the plans for the new Riverview building as well as the demolition of the former Topps Fruit Market. This would have given the Chasse Ballroom and Latin Dance Studio a larger building to operate in. LaJoice closed on the property in June and had not announced when construction on the new building would begin.

To help this project move along, LaJoice purchased junior Blake Garrison’s home, along with two of his neighbors. Forced to move out, they purchased a new home. Shortly after, the Garrison family heard the news of LaJoice’s charges. Although they have decided to stay in their current home, Garrison says they basically “moved for no reason.”

“LaJoice bought our house to expand his land,” Garrison said. “We were supposed to move out by March, but we decided to move earlier. Not even a week after we moved, Lajoice turned himself in for embezzlement. Now that the building that was supposed to go in downtown Fenton isn’t happening, my old house isn’t getting torn down. Basically, we moved for nothing but we did move to a better place, so there is some good in it.”

The plan including a two-story restaurant, a fresh market, condominiums, a parking structure and retail space along the Shiawassee River has no funding to be brought to life. LaJoice never disclosed the cost of the project but said construction should start in Feb. or March and was expected to take 18 months. A sign promoting the project has since been removed, confirming the town’s uncertainty.