TAWAS CITY – During his sentencing in Iosco County’s 23rd Circuit Court, Brandon Howard Mauk expressed concern for his Constitutional rights and double jeopardy protection. But the prosecutor was concerned about protecting the public from Mauk, whom he referred to as a serial sexual predator.
Mauk, 36, East Tawas, appeared on July 11 before Circuit Court Judge David C. Riffel, and was sentenced to custody of the Michigan Department of Corrections for a period of 39 years to 80 years, with credit for 368 days served.
This came after a three-day trial in May, where the jury found Mauk guilty on 13 counts of 1st-degree Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC) against a child, a female relative. The victim testified that the sexual assaults began around her ninth birthday in 2019 and continued to occur two to three times per week, for the next 2½ years.
As reported, Mauk was also convicted in 2017 of sexually assaulting a child in Huron County. That victim testified that the acts began when the child was 8 years old and continued until age 12.
It was indicated at Mauk’s latest sentencing, that he intends to appeal. As of press time, Iosco County Prosecuting Attorney James Bacarella hadn’t seen a signed request to appeal, but he said that this form was given to Mauk at sentencing, as required by the court.
“I am confident he will appeal the case,” Bacarella added. He said he thinks that most people in this situation would do so, hoping that there was some fatal mistake in the proceedings, since as it stands now, Mauk will be 75 years old before he can even be considered for parole.
In addition to the concurrent sentences, Riffel also ordered Mauk have no written, verbal, electronic or physical contact with the victim; that he comply with the Sex Offender Registration Act; and that he be ordered to lifetime electronic monitoring.
Mauk had filed six different motions ahead of his sentencing, but withdrew four. Bacarella said that the defendant ended up arguing a motion to dismiss and a motion for a new trial, both of which were denied by Riffel.
While explaining why he brought forth the motions, Mauk cited various case laws in an attempt to support his reasoning.
As he referenced the first example, Riffel asked Mauk how it was applicable to his case.
“That case is applicable to mine because of the carbon copy embedment that is exactly like my case,” he answered.
“My charges, your honor, I have two sets of charges,” Mauk began.
“You have a set of convictions, is what you have now,” Riffel pointed out, noting that Mauk has been convicted by a jury and was in court for sentencing.
He said he would give Mauk a brief moment to try to explain how the case he mentioned is in any way applicable to his motion to set aside the verdict.
Mauk said that in the first charge of his indictment, there are five words which do not resemble the statute that he is charged with. According to him, there are no specific incidents related to the first charge of his indictment.
Bacarella believed that what the defendant was trying to say is that he couldn’t figure out what the victim was actually accusing him of doing over that course of time. “But we all had the benefit of listening to the victim testify,” he remarked, and they also heard the very distinct periods in which Mauk sexually assaulted the child.
The defendant, who interjected earlier while Riffle spoke, as well, interrupted Bacarella. Riffel said that until he asks Mauk to say something, he is to remain quiet. “Do you understand that?”
“This is a violation of my Constitutional rights,” Mauk claimed.
“Do you understand what I am saying?” Riffel again asked, which Mauk confirmed.
Bacarella proceeded, saying that in order for this matter to be reversed on appeal, the judge would have to determine that some sort of grave error occurred during the trial. “And frankly, your honor, I don’t see that.”
Bacarella said he thinks that the child’s testimony was very compelling; distinct enough to tell which sexual assaults she was able to state. Moreover, there’s no requirement – and it’s even in the jury instructions – that the prosecutor prove a specific date in time for a sexual assault. “She was able to give us, I would say, a significant enough narrative on all 13 counts of the sexual assaults she endured.”
As reported, Mauk was initially charged with 20 felony counts of 1st-degree CSC. So Bacarella added that he would say even further that the defendant’s attorney, Stephen Raslich, was effective as counsel, “because I had to dismiss five of those counts.” And the jury found Mauk not guilt on two of the counts.
Therefore, Bacarella told Riffel that he thinks there was sufficient information to keep the judgement and to distinguish the different charges. “And of course, I haven’t seen anything where I would be concerned that, in your opinion, the jury is flat-out wrong.”
When Mauk was able to speak again, he said that an indictment is only sufficient if it contains the element of the charged offense, gives the defendant adequate notice of the charge and protects the defendant against double jeopardy. “Your honor, none of the charges in my indictment protect me against my Constitutional right of double jeopardy.”
He also said that none of the charges in his indictment are related to a certain incident.
Riffel said he was going to try to be patient with Mauk but, again, stressed that he was convicted by a jury. “We’re not going to talk about your indictment.”
“I’m talking about my Constitutional rights,” Mauk contended.
Riffel advised that the defendant had a right to a preliminary exam, and he waived that right. Mauk was bound over to Circuit Court, where he then had a trial by jury and was convicted on several counts. He told Mauk that the jury instructions which were provided, as well, laid out the elements of the offenses.
Mauk went on to quote from three more court cases and, while beginning to detail a fourth, Riffel said he was going to stop him. He advised Mauk to not just read from a case. “Tell me how that is applicable to your case.”
Mauk referred to his indictment which states that, being 17 years of age or older, he did engage in [sexual acts] with a child under 13 years of age. “Your honor, that’s all the information I was given in my indictment. That is counts one through 10.”
“You were given much more information than that,” Riffel asserted, saying that this included police reports and any information the prosecutor had, “and then we had a trial.”
Bacarella explained that in every initial complaint that’s filed, a statement of support is attached which lays out the factual basis, or at least a thumbnail of the factual basis. And this isn’t even close to the “mountains of evidence that we provided to him through discovery,” that lays out what the basis for those charges are.
Bacarella said that this resembles the same argument that was presented before, and sounds a little bit like a rehash of the motion for a bill of particulars earlier on in this case. “And it still doesn’t rise to what you would have to find, to be able to dismiss these charges,” he told Riffel.
The judge ultimately denied the motion for a new trial or for overturning the jury verdict, with one reason being that he didn’t feel there was anything presented which supports the motion.
When discussing the motion for withdrawal, Mauk said that due process requires the criminal charges be specific enough to protect the defendant from the danger of double jeopardy. “Your honor, I’m asking for a very plain and simple thing – my Constitutional rights here. All I’m asking for, is for these charges in this indictment to be so specific, specific enough that you can identify the incidences that they’re related to.”
“How’s this for a specific,” Riffel responded, before describing Mauk’s acts against the victim, and then questioning how much more specific it can be.
“That’s fine,” Mauk said. “How about this, your honor. For double jeopardy standards, for my Constitutional rights, what if the victim comes forward again and says, ‘oh, by the way, I remember one more incident.’ How are you going to charge me? It’s going to be double jeopardy. There’s nothing tying these charges to incidences.”
Bacarella said that not only did the points the court raise touch on why Mauk’s motion should be denied, but the victim was able to testify to this occurring in multiple jurisdictions, two to three times per week, over a period of years. Mauk was not charged with what amounted to more than 100 assaults a year, as this was pared down to the times that the victim was able to relate to and give that information.
“And I believe that the decision by this jury was correct,” Bacarella said. “I believe there was more than enough information from Mr. Mauk to discern what he did wrong, even though he knows, and to defend himself.”
As for the lack of specificity item and how it relates to the charges, Riffel said that the jury deliberated, was able to determine what Mauk was charged with and what the prosecutor was able to help prove, and came back with their verdict.
While Riffel continued, he had to tell Mauk three more times to stop interrupting him, before reiterating that he was found guilty on numerous 1st-degree CSC counts.
Riffel added that the motion lacked the proper authority. Mauk was able to argue it, but there was nothing provided for which Riffel would grant a new trial. “And for the reasons also stated by the prosecutor, that motion is denied.”
Raslich requested that Mauk be given the mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years, which he says falls within the range advised by the legislature.
He said that all Mauk was asking, was for the court to do what the legislature intended and sentence him to the mandatory minimum of 25 years, which is within the scale. “We’re not asking you to deviate. But it’s within those guidelines in this particular case, because he’ll be in his 60s.”
While incarcerated, Raslich said that Mauk will be able to either sink or swim, and may spend the rest of his life in prison. So, the hope is that after the 25-year period, Mauk at least has the opportunity to approach the parole board, tell them what he’s changed, that he’s rehabilitated, and that he deserves at least an opportunity to be reintegrated into society.
“Your honor, Mr. Mauk is a serial sexual predator,” Bacarella said in his closing remarks. “Every child he comes in contact with is in immediate danger of being sexually assaulted by Mr. Mauk.”
Bacarella said that the defendant sexually assaulted two young girls on multiple occasions, for his own deviant pleasure. “In my opinion, that’s not something you ‘fix.’ It’s something you protect the rest of the society from.”
As previously reported, an East Tawas Police Department (ETPD) officer initially received the complaint about a child being sexually assaulted in East Tawas and in Baldwin Township. Since this was a multi-jurisdictional case, it was handed over to the Michigan State Police (MSP). They utilized the services of the Northern Michigan Children’s Assessment Center, as well as the MSP Crime Lab, and obtained DNA and computer evidence linking Mauk to the crimes.
“Upon discovering there was a warrant for his arrest, the defendant fled the area in a kayak, in what appears to be a plan he had developed over the course of years,” Bacarella said at the time of Mauk’s trial in May.
Mauk evaded capture for 11 days until he texted a family member on a burner phone, and investigators were able to use cell phone and GPS data to locate him.
Mauk was found by the Huron Undercover Narcotics Team (HUNT) in northern Alpena County, where he had kayaked from Tawas Point in East Tawas.
“It is scary, because the defendant’s conduct was escalating,” Bacarella noted after the trial. “He used a dating app to meet women, some are young mothers and he could have gained access to dozens of children.”
Numerous agencies played a role in Mauk’s arrest last year, for which the county prosecutor issued a multiple-count warrant on June 28, 2021.
The MSP Technical Services Unit (3rd District) was contacted to find Mauk via technical means, and he was located in the Alpena area, apparently on foot and making himself scarce. HUNT was enlisted to track Mauk down and, on July 8, 2021, intelligence indicated that he was on a beach in a desolate area. HUNT requested the assistance of the Alpena County Sheriff’s Office’s Unmanned Ariel Surveillance, as well as the MSP Alpena Post Canine Team.
Mauk, who was hiding in a tent, was arrested by HUNT members and then lodged in the Iosco County Jail in Tawas City, where he was held without bond.
Following the sentencing this past week, Bacarella was asked whether Mauk would be charged with any other offenses related to this case, as he was allegedly trying to avoid capture when he took off on the kayak.
“We are not planning to charge him with any other crimes, although in one of his motions he states that he lied on the stand,” Bacarella said. “He did not admit to the crimes, he just changed his story to better fit the evidence.”
He also explained that the fleeing and eluding statute does not fit Mauk’s conduct after the arrest.
The prosecutor argued in court that one of the offense variables (OVs) that Mauk’s leaving the area knowing that he was going to be charged, or that charges were authorized, should have been scored.
“The offense variable is OV 19 that he interfered with the administration of justice,” Bacarella advised. The judge felt there was insufficient information to justify the additional 10 points that Bacarella asked to be scored; however, it would not have made a difference at sentencing, because Mauk was maxed out on OVs.
Following the sentencing, Bacarella commended the victim. “She is one of bravest people I have ever met. If it was not for her, [Mauk] would still be on the street hurting her and endangering other children.
“Every day I drive past the spot she disclosed the abuse to her grandmother and think about how brave she was and how much courage it took for her to stand up and do the right thing,” he continued. “You do not see that kind of courage every day. I can only imagine how many children she saved from being abused by him.”
Bacarella said he believes that Riffel handed down the appropriate sentence. The court is statutorily limited by the Michigan Sentencing Guidelines, and the judge gave Mauk the maximum sentence as allowed by state law.