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New team at NLA “cross-checked” by criminal history of investor

Submitted by on April 16, 2010 – 11:59 amNo Comment

The past has caught up with one of the investors of a proposed new junior hockey team for Northern Lights Arena.

Joseph Kolodziej, 43, was in Alpena Wednesday night to work out the details of bringing a new Junior A Tier III team to the arena to replace the IceDiggers.  NLA Manager Jeff Gilmet said a tentative deal was reached with Kolodziej, but the deal was not inked. 

The following day Gilmet started hearing rumors about Kolodziej’s past.

True North Radio has learned Kolodziej has an extensive criminal history in at least three states.  He was discharged from a Michigan prison in August 2009 after serving nearly 5 years on a forgery charge out of Emmet County.  At that time, prosecutors dropped five other felony counts.  He was also convicted of check fraud in 1991 in Washtenaw County; fourth-degree grand larceny in 1988 in New York; and of auto theft in 1993 in Florida.

Joe Kolodziej seen here shortly before his release from a Michigan prison in 2009

“It’s a blow to the arena,” said Gilmet, “but I’m glad we found out before a deal was signed.  I think the deal may be dead.” 

Despite his concern, Gilmet and MPAC have given Kolodziej a chance to defend himself.  As of press time he had not returned Gilmet’s call.

If the deal with the new team is dead, Gilmet said he will start to look for a new team, but a contract would have to be signed by mid-May for that team to be ready for play this year.  If that doesn’t happen he will try to expand some current leagues, work with the existing user groups to increase ice time, and explore new opportunities such as developing a curling league.