By Francis X. Donnelly
The Detroit News
July 04, 2007
Michael Sessions' youth earned him national publicity in 2005 as he
became one of the youngest mayors in the United States.
On Tuesday, the 19-year-old mayor of Hillsdale blamed his youth for
garnering the wrong type of attention -- a misdemeanor conviction.
A day earlier, Sessions pleaded no contest to sending an e-mail under
someone else's name to the mother of a former friend, accusing him of
drinking and running around with women.
In return for the plea, prosecutors dropped a more serious charge: that
Sessions had hacked into the friend's MySpace and America Online
accounts to delete his lists of personal contacts with their addresses
and phone numbers.
"Young people make mistakes," he said. "We all make mistakes."
Sessions, who was convicted of malicious annoyance by writing, was
ordered by a Hillsdale County district judge to perform 40 hours of
community service and pay $850 in restitution and $100 in court costs.
His actions stem from a falling-out with Brandon Thomas, 19, a childhood
friend who had run Sessions' mayoral campaign.
Sessions said the falling-out occurred shortly after his election in
November 2005 but declined to elaborate. Thomas couldn't be reached for
Sessions referred questions to his attorney, David Blanchard, who wasn't
available because of a trial.
Sessions unwittingly initiated the probe that led to the criminal
charge, Hillsdale County Prosecutor Neal Brady said.
Posing as the concerned parent of a student earlier this year, Sessions
wrote an e-mail to Eastern Michigan University, where Thomas had been a
He told college housing officials that Thomas had dropped out of school
but was still living on campus and partying with students, hurting their
grades, Brady said.
When the school contacted Thomas, he told them what Sessions had done to
his computer accounts. The school relayed the information to the
Michigan State Police, whose investigation led to the filing of charges
Thomas told the police that Sessions was savvy with computers and could
easily get into other people's accounts, Brady said.
"It was done out of anger and frustration," Brady said. "I think
Sessions let it get the best of him."
After his election, Sessions was interviewed by newspapers across the
county and appeared on the "Late Show with David Letterman" and was
parodied on "Saturday Night Live."
Now a student at Hillsdale College, he said he didn't believe his
indiscretion would hurt his reputation or make his age a political
target. The next mayoral election is November 2009.
"This is another chapter in my life," he said. "There are three ways to
handle a problem: ignore it, jump over it or face it head-on. I faced
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