Michigan Couple Face Jail Over Late Dr. Seuss Book

They say it isn't criminal to take so long paying late fees
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 18, 2016 7:50 AM CDT
Michigan Couple Face Jail Time for Late Dr. Seuss Book
This image provided by 20th Century Fox shows a scene from the CG animated feature, "Horton Hears a Who."    (AP Photo/20th Century Fox)

A Michigan husband and wife are beside themselves after having been warned they could face up to 93 days in jail and a $500 fine over two unreturned library books. It all started in the summer of 2014, when their son checked out a Dr. Seuss book for the couple's granddaughter at the Tecumseh District Library. It was somehow misplaced and the son, then a minor, didn't tell his parents about the notices the library was emailing to his account, reports ABC News. Catherine Duren, 44, says she first found out about the ordeal in October 2014, when the library told her the late charges would hit her credit report. Still, "we had no intent of not paying the fees," she says of herself and her husband Melvin, 63. With Catherine battling stage three kidney disease and Melvin being tested for cancer, the couple faces hefty monthly medical bills and by May 2015 had not paid the late fees.

The library sent a notice asking to replace the book, and around this time the couple checked out The Rome Prophecy, and soon couldn't find it, either. Though they found and returned that book in January, they were soon being investigated by Lenawee County's Economic Crimes Unit, which is helping the library deal with an annual $10,000 worth of unreturned books, reports the Daily Telegram. When the couple finally tried to pay what Catherine says was $55 in fees in February 2016, the library refused because a $105 "diversion fee" for each book had not yet been paid to the ECU. All of this resulted in the couple appearing in court last week to plead not guilty to larceny of rental equipment. Catherine says she was treated "like a criminal"; she and her husband are due back in court May 3. (This high school library book was returned 65 years late.)

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