LANSING (CCN) — Governor Gretchen Whitmer has canceled the sale of a former state prison in Ionia because she feared it could become a place to house illegal aliens who may be separated from their children, according to a statement from a spokesman for the newly-elected Democrat governor.
Gov. Whitmer nixed the sale of the former Deerfield Correctional Center to a private detention center operator in Viriginia because guarantees couldn't be given a guarantee that it wouldn't happen, according to Whitmer spokeswoman Tiffany Brown.
The Detroit Free Press revealed plans last October by former Governor RIck Snyder to sell the 166,000 square foot prison site to the private organization. His former Chief of Staff (Dennis Muchmore) revealed there would be a $35 million construction project at the facility by the proposed buyer and confirmed that the private firm was looking to get a contract with the federal government to hold between 500 and 600 immigration detainees there. The detainees, Muchmore told the Free Press at the time, would be held under only civil detention for Immigration and Customs Enforcement after detaining individuals pending administrative hearings on issues such as deportation. Muchmore is now a lobbyist working for the Virginia-based detention center company.
SOUTHFIELD (CCN) — A 34-year-old Detroit man was sentenced to prison for his involvement in sex trafficking, according to a press release from the office of newly-elected Michigan Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. Aaron Streety will spend between three years and 15 years in prison after pleading guilty last month to one count of human trafficking — forced labor causing commercial sex. It's the 24th successful human trafficking conviction since the Southeast Michigan Trafficking and Exploitation Crimes (SEMTEC) task force was created in 2011 to address the problem.
Streety was given the stiff sentence by Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Phyllis McMillen. He pleaded guilty early last month after being charged in May of 2018.
AG Nessel said in her press release that the Investigation into Streety was initiated by the SEMTEC task force after his alleged victim escaped from a Southfield hotel where she had been forced into prostitution after arriving in Southfield by bus from Georgia. AG Nessel said the victim was forced to perform sexual acts after Streety picked her up at the bus stop, took her phone and identification and then took her to the hotel where she was forced her to work as a prostitute until she escaped about a week later to call police. “This case only scratches the surface of our team’s commitment to fighting against this heinous crime.” Nessel said. “This should paint a clear picture that Michigan won’t harbor these criminals or anyone who lines their pockets by exploiting people and preying on our children.
PORT HURON (CCN) — A federal judge in Port Huron came down hard Wednesday on a former long-time powerful political figure who gambled on going to trial to beat felony bribery charges as part of a public corruption scandal in southeast Detroit.
Former Clinton Township Trustee Dean Reynolds was given 17 years in federal prison by U.S. District Court Judge Robert Cleland in one of the most harsh prison sentences in state history. It's only 11 years shy of the 28-year federal sentence given to disgraced former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in 2013. Federal prosecutors were asking Judge Cleland to send Reynolds to prison for 24 years. Federal prosecutors said Reynolds traded contracts for cash and his company known as Universal Training Center held a contract with the UAW that required Reynolds to pay about $100,000 in kickbacks to union officials every year in exchange for a training contract that grossed as much as $3.4 million annually for his company.
WARREN (CCN) — The former Macomb County clerk is in trouble again. The Warren Police Department arrested Karen Spranger on embezzlement and domestic violence charges on Thursday, according to a Detroit Free Press story posted on its online edition.
Spranger was removed as Macomb County's clerk in March of last year when court proceedings determined she had lied about her residency when filing to run for office in 2016.
Spranger was arrested, according to the Free Press, on charges of assaulting a 78-year-old Warren woman and stealing from her. Warren Police Commissioner Bill Dwyer told the Free Press that a warrant had been requested from the office of Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith for embezzlement of a vulnerable adult, $1,000 to $20,000 and domestic violence. The embezzlement count is a felony that could bring five years in prison, if convicted. The domestic violence charge would have Spranger facing up to 93 days in county jail on a misdemeanor.
FLINT (CCN) — More than 100 residents waited Saturday in the City of Flin tfor free bottled water that never arrived. A semi-truck load being delivered by Operation Hydration/Durty Burba Truck Club didn't make it to Flint because of breaking down in Kentucky, according to Flint City Councilman Eric Mays.
Candice Mushatt, spokesman for Flint Mayor Dr. Karen Weaver, later released the following statement: “We are planning to do a water drive soon, and will definitely reschedule to ensure that residents can get free bottled water who need it, especially those that showed up. We are deeply, deeply sorry. It’s just one of those unforeseen things that occurred, but we’re so sorry we could not give out that water today.”
Community activist Arthur Woodson said it was frustrating for residents to wait so long until Councilman Mays showed up to break the bad news to them. "Someone at Flint City Hall should have figured a way to get water to these people who depend on it," said Woodson who criticized former Governor Rick Snyder when his administration ended bottled water giveaways late last year. Woodson said newly-elected Governor Gretchen Whitmer had vowed to resume the giveaways and stressed that it needs to happen.
Many of the city's residents have continued for years now to drink bottled water and to use it for showers and cooking after the city's drinking water supply was poisoned when switching to use Flint River water in April of 2014. The move was made by an emergency manager (Darnell Earley) appointed by Snyder to save money while waiting for the Karegnondi Water Authority's pipeline to be built to Lake Huron in Port Huron. The city stopped switched after years of price hikes on the system operated by the City of Detroit while the rest of Genesee County's customers stayed on the same system until the KWA was completed last year. Flint switched back to Detroit late in 2017 under former Mayor Dayne Walling and has stayed there under Mayor Weaver's administration while the rest of the county's customers now get water from the new KWA pipeline. Earley is among 15 who have so far been indicted for their roles in the Flint water crisis.
OWOSSO (CCN) — A 45-year-old Owosso man has been arrested by State Police on charges of allegedly accosting a minor for immoral purposes and using a computer to commit a crime.
The arrest was announced in a press release after an investigation by the Michigan State Police Computer Crimes Unit Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Chad Michael Stiff was arraigned in Shiawassee County 66th District Court after a forensic examination of digital evidence seized at his home in a surprise visit after State Police obtained a search warrant.
LANSING (CCN) — Michigan's director of the Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) has announced the appointment of a new fraud investigation unit manager. DIFS Director Anita G. Fox made the announcement in a press release that Joseph Thomas has been named to the position.
"Joe Thomas brings 31 years of law enforcement experience to the department’s anti-fraud efforts," Fox said. "I’m confident his background will be beneficial in helping the department combat fraud.”
Thomas is a retired First Lieutenant who most recently served as Michigan State Police Post Commander in Lansing from 2014 until his retirement in 2018.
OSCODA TWP. (CCN) — A 39-year-old Oscoda Township man has been arrested by State Police for alleged child sexually abusive activity and the distribution of child sexually abusive material. The Michigan State Police Computer Crimes Unit Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force announcing the arrest of Charles Williams in a press release after an investigation in which digital evidence was seized from his home. State Police say the investigation was initiated when it was learned that Williams was allegedly uploading child sexually abusive material to the internet. Following a forensic examination of the digital evidence, Williams was charged with two felony counts of child sexually abusive activity, two felony counts of distributing child sexually abusive material and one felony count of possession of child sexually abusive material. Williams was arraigned in Iosco County 81st District Court.
LANSING (CCN) — Newly-elected Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is going to bat for Upper Peninsula residents in their battle to stop the Upper Peninsula Power Company (UPPCO) from exorbitant rate increases. Her office filed testimony in the UPPCO's rate case by opposing most of the power company's request to increase electricity rates by nearly $10 million. AG Nessel urged the Michigan Public Service Commission to grant no more than $3.5 million of the $10 million, saying, “UPPCO’s customers have been burdened by extremely high electric rates —some of the highest in Michigan. UPPCO’s case to increase rates by nearly $10 million is simply unsupportable. As our state’s chief consumer advocate, I plan to make affordable energy prices for consumers and businesses a priority while ensuring our office continues to champion energy programs that achieve reliability and sustainability for everyone in our state.” UPPCO provides electricity to 54,000 retail customers in 118 UP communities, including cities, villages and townships located in the counties of Alger, Baraga, Delta, Houghton, Iron, Keweenaw, Marquette, Menominee, Ontonagon and Schoolcraft.
GENESEE TWP. (CCN) — A 41-year-old Genesee Township man has been arrested by State Police for allegedly sharing child sexually abusive materials on the internet. The Michigan State Police Computer Crimes Unit Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force announcing the arrest of Christopher Lee Champagne in a press release after an investigation in which digital evidence was seized from his home.
Following a forensic examination of the digital evidence, Champagne was charged with five counts of child sexually abusive activity, five counts of possession of child sexually abusive material and 10 counts of using a computer to commit a crime.
Champagne was arraigned in Genesee County 67th District Court on Monday by Judge Christopher Odette. A personal bond of $10,000 was set on each of the 20 counts filed in the case by the office of Genesee County Prosecuting Attorney David Leyton.
REYNOLDS TWP. (CCN) — The Detroit News reported that a man was killed early Sunday after losing control of his snowmobile and hitting a tree in northern Michigan, near the intersection of Mackinaw Trail Drive and Saginaw Trail in Reynolds Township.
State Police did not release the man's age or hometown, according to the Detroit News story.
HOLLAND TWP. (CCN) — The Detroit Free Press reported that West Michigan authorities are seeking an 18-year-old man in what they believe was a "gang related murder" at a hotel in Holland Township.
The Ottawa County Sheriff's Department has issued warrants for the arrest of Juan Sandro Cabrera in the shooting death of the 14-year-old male. Cabrera will be charged with open murder, using a firearm during a felony and being a gang member. The suspect should be considered armed and dangerous, according to authorities. The victim was Troy "TJ" Wells Jr. of Holland, according to a Detroit Free Press story that quoted authorities as saying the shooting took place on Saturday night after two groups of teens rented rooms at the Hampton Inn in Holland Township.
LANSING (CCN) — The Lansing State Journal reported that an officer at the Lansing City Police Department has been charged with sexual assault in connection to his duties at Lansing Eastern High School. Matthew Priebe was placed on administrative leave on May 31 as the school's resource officer after several students came forward with accusations against him about inappropriate behavior, including sexual assault and distributing obscene material to children.
Priebe was charged Tuesday by Livingston County Prosecutor William Vailliencourt with second-degree criminal sexual conduct, attempted fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, misconduct in office, two counts of assault and battery and one count of distributing obscene material to children. Prosecutor Vailliencourt took the case after Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Siemon recused her office.
STERLING HEIGHTS (CCN) — A Sterling Heights woman pleaded guilty Friday for her role as a patient recruiter in a scheme involving about $1.2 million in fraudulent Medicare claims for home health care procured through the payment of kickbacks.
The announcement about the plea deal with Ghalia Savaya, 50, was made by Assistant U.S. Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider of the Eastern District of Michigan, Special Agent in Charge Timothy Slater of the FBI’s Detroit Division and Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Chicago Regional Office. Savaya pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to receive kickbacks in connection with a federal health care program before U.S. District Judge David Lawson of the Eastern District of Michigan. Sentencing has ben scheduled for May 30.
Savaya was indicted in June of 2018 and she admitted as part of the plea deal that she obtained illegal kickbacks in exchange for referring Medicare cases to Franklin Health Care of Troy between April of 2015 and November of 2017. Medicare paid out more than $1.25 million for claims related to beneficiaries referred by Savaya, which included claims for beneficiaries who were not eligible to receive home health care services.
The FBI and HHS-OIG investigated the case which was brought agasinst her as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan.
DETROIT (CCN) — The FBI has arrested three Detroit men and continues investigating possible terrorism ties after charging that they operated a scam by using fake businesses to wire more than $88 million overseas. the Detroit Free Press reported that an attorney for the trio say the money was delivered to individuals of relatives who wanted money going to them. The charges were filed because federal prosecutors say the trio went to great lengths to keep the wire transfers secret, including filing multiple business names with phony addresses to use as fronts to transfer the money to Yemon and other countries.
Authorities say the trio created 13 phony business bank accounts to access the banking industry's wiring service between 2011 and 2016. New businesses continued to be created as banks shut down accounts associated with large cash transfers.
MUNDY TWP. (CCN) — The longest-running, continuous morning radio show in the Metro Flint air market has apparently ended. The Mike & Stephanie Show is off the air on WWCK 105 FM after 15 years of entertaining audiences as one of the market's top-rated programs.
The Morning Gazette Radio Show on CCNRADIO.net reported that the duo is out of a job, according to multiple sources. A bio page on WWCK 105 FM's web site has been removed. Cumulus Media owns the radio station that operates out of studios in Mundy Township. Cumulus also ended its morning talk program a few years ago on Super Talk 1570 AM when firing morning man Michael J. Thorp. An industry magazine, All Access, reported a few hours after the story on CCNRADIO.net that Cumulus officials have not responded to their request for a comment about the situation and what the station's future plans are without them. Music played on Monday morning without the popular Mike & Stephanie duo.
LANSING (CCN) — Parents worried about vacation plans being wrecked by Michigan's worst winter in memory for school cancellations may get some relief. An Owosso Republican (Ben Fredrick) has introduced a bill to forgive Michigan's K-12 districts from making up days missed because of bad weather. While Fredrick wants the House of Representatives to act on his proposed legislation, State Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, a Flint Democrat, introduced the same legislation in the opposite chamber.
Sen. Ananich told Lansing radio station WKAR, "We’re just getting crushed in January and February and I just don’t think a superintendent should have to weigh, do I have to go to school today because I don’t want to make the day up or get penalized for it. This is kind of a freak incident and we should take care of this year and then we can have a conversation about the future. Maybe the amount of days we give just isn’t enough.”
State law requires Michigan's K-12 public school districts to make up any days after six cancellations in a school year and requires a minimum of 1,098 hours of instruction over 180 days. Sen. Ananich says any days cancelled during a state of emergency should be forgiven from the requirement.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer declare a statewide state of emergency two weeks ago when most Michigan districts cancelled classes every day for an entire week. Many districts across Michigan have now missed more than double what's allowed under state law.
Rep. Frederick told the Detroit Free Press, "In kind of a unique situation like we have now, where it's a pretty extreme situation — the state government's closed down, things are closed down — is it reasonable to have those days count?"
LANSING (CCN) — Governor Gretchen Whitmer's initial State-of-the-State address Tuesday night didn't draw the traditional canned response immediately afterward by someone on behalf of the opposite party. But Republican leaders in the state legislature responded Wednesday morning with a press conference to respond to newly-elected Democrat Whitmer who delivered her message to a state-wide TV audience of viewers on several channels.
Doing away with the traditional TV response cost Republicans some viewers, but House Speaker Lee Chatfield and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey went to social media to deliver their message on behalf of Republicans who again won control of the State Senate and State House of Representatives in the 2018 election although losing the Governor's race and the races for Secretary of State and Attorney General.
House Speaker Chatfield of Levering praised the new governor for her pledge to reach across the aisle to work with Republicans but the third-term northern Michigan legislator complained that he heard lots of "campaign rhetoric" and said, "It is important to note that the campaign trail has ended, and now it’s time to govern.”
The governor laughed when both Chatfield and Shirkey rose from their seats during applause to her vow to work to lower vehicle insurance, noting that it took that topic to "finally get them out of their seats." Chatfield's response press conference on Wednesday noted: “I believe last night there were some missed opportunities to talk about several issues that we in the House and Senate have identified as large challenges that are facing our state. Chief among them is lowering the cost of car insurance as well as updating our criminal justice system.”
Clarklake Republican Shirkey stressed that Republicans "embrace the priorities" outlined during Whitmer's speech at the Capitol on Tuesday night, but added, "We have differences on how."
Shirkey served four years in the State House before being elected in 2018 to his second four-year term in the State Senate in Michigan's 16th district. Chatfield, who invited President Donald Trump to deliver his originally schedled State-of-the-Union speech from the Michigan House after Nancy Pelosi revoked his invitation to speak at the U.S. House of Representatives, represents the 107th House district that includes the counties of Cheboygan, Chippewa, Emmet and Mackinac counties.
LANSING (CCN) — Governor Gretchen Whitmer's initial State-of-the-State address was
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