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Gomery wants second look at murder-for-hire case

Court motion asks for fresh look at murder-for-hire case involving two local attorneys

A former Traverse City lawyer and prosecutor is serving time in prison after being convicted in 2015 of trying to hire someone to kill another attorney.

Clarence Gomery is now asking for the court to take a second look at his case involving fellow attorney, Chris Cooke.

The Motion for Relief from Judgment, was filed in 13th Circuit Court late Tuesday afternoon.

It contains the case for why Gomery, his family, and his attorney say he's not guilty.

This, despite his guilty plea almost three years ago.

"I solicited Dale Fisher to get a gun and kill Chris Cooke. I was absolutely wrong. My life was falling apart."

That's what Gomery told the court on February 6, 2015 when he plead guilty to trying to hire another man to kill Cooke.

He was sentenced to 6-20 years in prison.

But Gomery and his attorney, Dennis Swain, are now calling the guilty plea, "involuntary."

In fact, they're challenging the whole case.

According to the motion filed, Gomery and Swain say there's new evidence that points to a "conspiracy" in the case.

They're alleging the conspiracy to be between the principal witness, Dale Fisher, and Cooke.

According to these documents, Fisher came forward in February 2017 and said, "I met with Cooke at Cooke’s 10 acre property on the peninsula several weeks before we notified the police, and he developed a plan to entrap Gomery.”

Fisher, who is currently serving time in prison for other charges, claims that Cooke blackmailed him to do this over a CSC case involving a family member of Cooke's.

"I was blackmailed by Cooke with threats that I would be prosecuted with CSC in that regard if I refused to help Cooke to entrap Gomery," said Fisher.

Fisher said the alleged scheme began because Gomery owed Cooke some money.

"Gomery owed Cooke approximately $300,000.00, and Gomery has just gone thru Chapter 13 Bankruptcy proceedings, for which Cooke missed a deadline to challenge the bankruptcy, thereby causing Gomery's $300,000.00 debt to him to only be included in the $2600.00/month that Gomery was ordered to pay pursuant to the bankruptcy," Fisher said in the document. "Cooke told me that by having Gomery locked up for an extended period and unemployed, Gomery would be unable to make his monthly required Chapter 13 payments, and thereby he needed to convert his bankruptcy to a "Chapter 7 Bankruptcy". The start of a new bankruptcy thereby allowed Cooke to raise anew his claim to the $300,000 which he previously forfeited."

Fisher says he's coming forward now because Cooke broke his promise to him and had him charged for the CSC anyway.

“After he had finished using me for his purpose to send away Gomery, he “threw me under the bus,"”Fisher said.

The motion also claims Gomery's guilty plea was "involuntary," because "...the Defendant’s mental and physical status was impaired by 208 continuous days of solitary confinement in a punishment cell from July 14, 2014 to February 6, 2015 in the Grand Traverse County Jail.”

It goes on to say that, “...this is evidenced by the fact that Defendant was immediately released from the punishment cell and placed in general population upon changing his plea to guilty.”

Richard Robbins, a current court officer for 86th District Court, 13th Circuit Court and previous detective sergeant with the Grand Traverse County Sheriff's Department, was also quoted in the documents.

There he recalled a conversation he had with Prosecutor Bob Cooney:

“Um, I had told him that I-you know, I didn’t trust Gomez (Detective). You know, I didn’t even trust Fisher, and I said-you know, basically told him-you know, come right out and told Bob. I said “This case stinks.” I saw-I read the report,” Robbins said.

Robbins goes on to say that he told Cooney that he needed to "make this thing go away."

Cooney told 7&4 News that they receive motions and appeals like this in their office often. He says if anything moves forward with this one, they'll handle it as necessary.

Swain didn't feel it was comfortable to comment on the matter at this time.

Chris Cooke also declined to comment because he hadn't been made aware of the motion yet.

Gomery's family had this to say:

"The Gomery family is very grateful to the team of incredible lawyers who believe in Clarence. With their guidance and support we have been able to begin the process of untangling the web of deception that placed Clarence in a position to take a plea for a crime he didn't commit. We have confidence that Clarence's nightmare will soon be over and he will come home to us so we can begin to repair the damage caused to our family."


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