A Howell restaurant owner accused of choking an employee who wasn’t following work rules says he did nothing wrong.

Michael Bouffard, 42, of Saline, is charged with one count of felony assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder, according to court records. He owns The Original Mikey’s Burgers and Fries at 1025 E. Grand River Avenue. The charge carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.

Bouffard got into an argument with a male employee inside the restaurant about 3:30 p.m. July 10, according to police, and the argument continued outside the business before Bouffard choked the employee. The employee reported the incident to police a short time later.

Bouffard said the employee was working behind the grill without a uniform and the argument started after he confronted the employee about not following the rules. He admits yelling at him.

“Yes, we had an argument. I did not strangle him,” Bouffard said. “He got in my face and I had to put him away from me. I did nothing to this kid except for restraining him from attacking me. I’ve done nothing wrong.”

Bouffard said he learned he had been charged Tuesday morning. He said has retained a lawyer and plans to turn himself in to police.

“I will be in either today or tomorrow morning to address this,” Bouffard said. “I don’t have anything to hide.”

The restaurant was closed Tuesday. A sign on the door implies the business has been closed since the July 10 incident.

The sign indicates the restaurant will reopen July 11.

Bouffard declined to say why the business is closed, but said he has no immediate plans to reopen.

The restaurant opened earlier this year. Bouffard was previously a partner at the former Mikey’s restaurants in Genoa Township, Brighton and Hartland which closed in 2015.

Contact Livingston Daily reporter Jennifer Eberbach at 517-548-7148 or at jeberbach@livingstondaily.com. Follow her on Facebook @Jen.Eberbach and Twitter at JenEberbach.

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