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Former LiUNA lobbyist pleads guilty to aggravated assault

Jonathan Byrd had been charged by the state with one count of 4th-degree criminal sexual conduct
2022-01-04 Nessel video still
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.

Jonathan Byrd, 40, of Battle Creek, today pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated assault accompanying a sentencing agreement that asks the judge to sentence Byrd to 90 days incarceration, announced Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.   

The plea includes a sentencing agreement between the two parties which includes a period of probation, mandatory alcohol testing, and sex offender counseling, as well as no contact with the victim. The sentencing agreement accompanying the plea was reached by prosecutors and defense counsel but must yet be agreed to by the judge, who maintains broad sentencing discretion.   

Byrd had been a prominent figure in Michigan politics and governmental lobbying on behalf of his employer, the Michigan Laborers District Council, of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, or LiUNA. In June, the state charged Byrd with one count of 4th-degree criminal sexual conduct. 

 “Today’s guilty plea and upcoming sentencing will put a predator behind bars,” said Nessel. “I am grateful for our prosecutors who held accountable a public figure, and especially for the victim whose bravery may put an end to one man’s predation of young women in politics. My office will continue to seek justice for victims of assault regardless of how well-connected their assailant may be.” 

Byrd forcibly moved a female victim's hand onto his penis at a social gathering in Kalamazoo County in April of 2022. Byrd held a position of much influence in the Capitol and around the state in the realm of government and politics that provided a significant power imbalance between him and the victim. 

Byrd has since resigned from his employment as director of external affairs for the Michigan Laborers’ District Council of LiUNA and his role as president of the South-Central Michigan Area Labor Council of the Michigan AFL-CIO.   

 He will next appear for sentencing on Jan. 8, 2024, before Judge Bridenstine in the in Kalamazoo County Circuit Court.