Drunk-driving case headed to federal court

L’ANSE — A Wisconsin man accused of killing a Baraga man in a drunk driving incident in Baraga last month will face federal charges.

Christopher LaBlanc was charged in state court of driving while intoxicated – causing death in Baraga County. After a discussion with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, it was determined the federal government had jurisdiction, due to the death of a Native American on tribal land, Baraga County Prosecutor Joseph O’Leary said.

“Arguably I could prosecute the drunk driving, but although a serious crime, it pales next to the crime in federal court,” he said. “I didn’t want to interfere in jurisdiction in anyway.”

LaBlanc allegedly hit Orlando Moreno, 29, of Baraga, with his pickup truck on Superior Avenue in Baraga on the morning of June 8.

The Federal Bureau of investigations was conducting a follow-up investigation. The case appears likely to go to a federal grand jury this month or August, O’Leary said.

A message was left with the Western District of Michigan Attorney’s Office seeking comment Tuesday.