Former Alpena special education teacher accused of having sex with middle school student


ALPENA (CCN) — A 38-year-old former middle school teacher in the Aplena district was arraigned Monday on multiple felony counts for criminal sexual conduct. She was charged with allegedly having sex with a student after an investigation by State Police and the Alpena Police Department. Heather Winfield, who entered a not guilty plea, resigned from the school district in November 2016. She began teaching special education at Thunder Bay Junior High School in 2012. The arrest follows last week's charges against a 26-year-old special education teacher in the Rochester school district where Kathryn Houghtaling is accused of having sex with two high school students. Winfield faces up to life in prison, if convicted on charges of two counts of first-degree criminal sexual assault with a child under 13; one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct during the commission of a felony; one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct with a child 13-15; second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a child under 13; accosting a minor for immoral purposes; and using a computer to commit a crime.

​​​​​​New Attorney General says Todd Flood must answer to newly-appointed Solicitor General if he gets to stay on job of Flint cases


FLINT (CCN) — Todd Flood now officially has a new boss in the Flint water cases, if he gets to stay on the job. Newly-elected Attorney General Dana Nessel announced via a press release on Tuesday that her new Solicitor General will take over the lead in the cases from Flood who was appointed as Special Prosecutor in January of 2016 by outgoing AG Bill Schuette. Flood has so far made plea deals with six defendants, three more were bound over to Genesee County Circuit Court to face trials and six more are still at the preliminary exam stage in Genesee County 67th District Court. AG Nessel named career prosecutor Fadwa A. Hammoud to take over the lead in the cases a few hours after selecting her to become Michigan’s new Solicitor General. Nessel had announced last week that she was turning to Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy to consult on the cases and possibly take them over. No announcement was made Tuesday about Flood's future in the prosecution proceedings.   READ MORE

Thetford Township Police Chief Robert Kenney wins delay in felony case filed by Sheriff Pickell


THETFORD TWP. (CCN) — Prominent Flint defense attorney Frank Manley won a delay Tuesday in a felony case against embattled Thetford Township Police Chief Robert Kenney. Manley told Genesee County 67th District Court Judge Vikki Bayeh-Haley that the Genesee County Prosecutor's Office hasn't yet turned over all of its evidence  in the case against his client, and she rescheduled a preliminary exam for March 1. Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell held a press conference on Aug. 23 to announce felony charges against Chief Kenney for embezzlement and obstruction. He's accused of stealing $5,000 from the sale of some items among 4,000 military surplus items he obtained for the township under the federal Law Enforcement Support Office program. Sheriff Pickell said the 4,000 items were worth about $2.7 million. Chief Kenny was placed on unpaid leave by the Thetford Township Board of Trustees, pending the outcome of the criminal proceedings against him. 

Career criminal picked wrong place to pull burglaries; Farmington police arrest him 8 days after cri


 FARMINGTON (CCN) — A career criminal picked the wrong place to pull two burglaries on New Year's Day. The City of Farmington had only two burglaries in all of 2018 but started off the new year with two in a single day, and wasted no time cracking the case, according to a Detroit News story. Farmington Police arrested a Detroit man described as a "career burglar" as their suspect on Tuesday. David Reese, 55, is accused of burglarizing a downtown restaurant and an ice cream shop where he got away with about $1,000 combined from their cash registers. Reese has a criminal record that goes back four decades and was most recently paroled from prison in October of 2017, according to state records. Frank Demers, Farmington's director of public safety, told the Detroit News that Reese picked the wrong community for his robberies.  "Perhaps he thought, it's downtown Farmington, it's an easy target," Demers said. "This guy didn't do his scouting very well." 

Bail remains $600,000 for fired Genesee County Sheriff's Department Deputy in kidnapping / rape case


CLIO  (CCN) — Bail remained at $600,000 for the former Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy accused of kidnapping and raping a shoplifting suspect in Clio. Genesee County 67th District Court Judge Mark McCabe rejected a request to lower the bond by a Bay City attorney now representing George Zofchak who was fired by Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell after the Christmas Eve incident. Zofchak is accused of taking a woman to a motel after calling another deputy to take her friend to the Genesee County Jail. READ MORE  

Attorney General Dana Nessel announces Executive Team


LANSING  (CCN) — Michigan's newly-elected Attorney General announced the  rest of her executive team on Tuesday to go with Kelly Rossman-McKenney who was revealed last week as her Communications Director. The others named Tuesday included Kelly Keenan as Deputy Attorney General, Fadwa A. Hammond as Solictor General, David Knezek as Director of Legislative Affairs, Keisha Glenn as Auto Insurance Fraud Specialist, Ron Robinson as Civil Rights and Civil Litigation Practice Manager, Derrick Anderson as Special Assistant to the Attorney General and Laura Moody as Chief of Staff.  READ MORE 

Warm weather hampers ice making efforts, causing Caro Winter Fest & snowmobile race to be cancelled


 CARO (CCN) — Anybody planning to visit the 10th Caro Winter Fest at the Tuscola County Fairgrounds will need to wait a year. Organizers of the Caro community's biggest event made a decision Tuesday to cancel the festival scheduled for this weekend (Jan. 19 and Jan. 20) because of warm weather hampering efforts to make ice thick enough for the annual snowmobile race. A press release indicated that the cancellation was done "despite all efforts made by the Caro Winter Fest Board of Directors, volunteers, and community sponsors, event organizers." Caro Winter Fest President Monica LeValley said, "After several days of volunteers working diligently to build the necessary ice race track it became evident that Mother Nature won this race with her mild winter conditions. Though snow is not necessary for our event, cold temperatures are required. Winter temperatures finally arrived last week but despite the efforts of the volunteers who build the race track, we just can’t build a solid base for racing. Under normal winter conditions, volunteers begin to build the ice race track for the event early in January. Ideally, the goal is to have a foot or more of ice for the two-day race format. The ground being frozen and snow help to ensure the track maintains it’s base until the event. Unfortunately, with the mild winter temperatures and more sunshine than usual, it’s been a challenge to build a track with the minimum requirement of at least six inches in the time allowed." The snowmobile races at the Caro Winter Fest are overseen by the Midwest International Racing Association (MIRA), who held their first event on Jan. 5 at Kinross in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where they encountered similar problems with the event’s track. Caro's event is funded primarily by race sponsors and race fans who come to watch the action. “We hate to cancel the event as we know it impacts our community as a whole, including businesses,” LeValley said. “But it’s just not feasible or cost effective for us to hold the event without some sort of racing format.” She added that event organizers hope to return the event to the third weekend of January in 2020.   

Michigan Public Service Commission approves rate increases for Consumers Energy

LANSING  (CCN) — The Michigan Public Service Commission approved an electric rate increase settlement agreement Thursday for Consumers Energy and authorized the utility to launch the state’s first electric vehicle infrastructure pilot program. A $99 million increase will result from Thursday's settlement where Consumers agreed to a $24 million rate decrease as well as the elimination of $123 million by ending the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Credit A rate reduction. 

The action will cause the average bill of Michigan consumers to rise $1.62 per month if using 500 kilowatt ours of electricity.  uses 500 kilowatt hours of electricity a month will see their monthly bill increase by $1.62. Consumers will also be required to spend at least $200 million annually on its electric distribution reliability capital program and $53 million annually on clearing vegetation and trimming trees around distribution lines. Consumers will also launch its PowerMIDrive pilot program, a three-year, $10 million effort to support the growing electric vehicle market in Michigan through new rates, rebates and customer education. 

The program includes a Nighttime Savers Rate to encourage electric vehicle drivers to charge their vehicles between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. by offering a $500 rebate for each electric vehicle. Consumers will also offer $5,000 rebates for chargers installed in public areas such as workplaces and multi-unit dwellings, and up to $70,000 in rebates for the installation of a DC Fast Charger.

Michigan prepares for early issuance of February food assistance designed to help federal workers

LANSING  (CCN) — The Michigan Department of Health and Humans Services (MDHHS) plans to issue Food Assistance Program benefits early for February. 

For food assistance clients, Michigan will begin issuing February benefits on Saturday, Jan. 19. Clients who don’t receive their benefits on that date should receive the funds the following week. That means the 1.2 million Michigan residents who receive food assistance will have benefits to feed their families in February even if the partial federal government shutdown continues. 

The early food assistance benefits are not additional benefits and there will be no food assistance payments in February. MDHHS officials strongly encourage families to budget the funds they receive in January so they can meet their food needs through the entire month of February. 

“MDHHS is pleased that the department is able to work with its federal partners to make sure Michigan families have food on the table in February,” said Terrence Beurer, MDHHS deputy director of Field Operations Administration.


Wayne County judge sets men free from prison in two separate cases after they were wrongly convicted

DETROIT (CCN) — A Wayne County judge threw out two separate convictions Thursday against men who have been in prison for decades. Kevin Lackey was ordered set free after spending 22 years in prison for a 1992 rape against an 11-year-old girl authorities now believe he never committed. Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Kelly Ramsey dismissed the charges after ruling that the canine evidence used to convict the now 45-year-old Detroit man was faulty. Judge Kelly also ruled that perjury was used by a witness in the 2006 murder conviction against Michael Powels of Detroit. 

Federal workers protest in downtown Detroit over financial hardships caused by government shutdown

DETROIT (CCN) — A rally by federal employees was held Thursday in downtown Detroit to protest the government shutdown. They were calling attention to their financial hardship caused by not getting paychecks as the government shutdown reached its 20th day. President Donald Trump and Democrats in Congress are deadlocked over Trump's push to get $5.7 billion in funding to build a wall on the Mexican border. 

Northville family of 5 killed in wrong-way Kentucky crash struck by apparent drunken truck driver

NORTHVILLE (CCN) — The driver of a truck that smashed into a Northville family on a Kentucky highway may have been drunk, according to authorities there. All five members of the Abbas family were killed in the crash when the truck driver smashed head-on into their SUV on I-75 in Lexington.  An official determination has not yet been made, pending toxicology results. The truck driver was also killed along with the Northville family he slammed into — Issam Abbas, 42, his wife, Dr. Rima Abbas, 38 and their three children, Ali, 13, Isabella, 12, and Giselle, 7. They were returning from a Florida vacation in their Cadillac Escalade when hit by the wrong-way driver in a white Chevrolet pickup truck.

Ford to end production at two plants in Europe as part of ongoing global restructuring moves


DEARBORN (CCN) — Ford Motor Company announced Thursday that production will end at two plants in France and Germany while possibly ending a joint venture in Russia. The moves are directed at trying to turn around unprofitable operations in Europe as part of CEO Jim Hackett's ongoing global restructuring of the Dearborn-based automaker. The move follows the decision by General Motors CEO Mary Barra to sell off her company's European business in 2017. Ford has lost hundreds of millions in Europe in recent years and had lost $119 million there during 2018 after its third quarter financial report. "We have a good core to our business, but we need to get to sustainability," said Steven Armstrong, who is Ford's group vice president and president of its operations in Europe, Middle East and Africa. "We need to reset the business today and redesign the business for the future," Armstrong added.

Marquette TV station reports missing snowmobile rider in UP found dead at crash site in Mcfarland


 MCFARLAND (CCN) — A Marquette TV station reported that authorities say they have found a snowmobiler who had been missing since the weekend in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. He was found dead, according to a report by WLUC TV in Marquette. The TV station quoted Marquette County Sheriff Greg Zyburt as saying the the body of Dennis Pellinen of Ishpeming was found Wednesday by deputies at the scene of a snowmobile crash in the unincorporated community of Mcfarland, located in Marquette County. Pellinen's disappearance on Sunday led to days of searching by friends and community members after his family filed a missing person's report. Heavy snow made the search for Pellinen more difficult, according to what Sheriff Zyburt told WLUC TV. 

New Attorney General announces multi-million dollar settlements with Fiat Chrysler, Robert Bosch


LANSING  (CCN) —  New Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Thursday that multi-million dollar settlements have been reached with Italian automaker Fiat Chrysler and supplier Robert Bosch. The settlements will provide compensation for Michigan consumers who purchased or leased Fiat Chrysler vehicles allegedly containing illegal defeat devices and more than $5 million to the State of Michigan.  Payments of more than $171 million from Fiat Chrysler and supplier Robert Bosch will be made to consumers in 52 jurisdictions nationwide for the software devices that changed the way a vehicle performed on emission control lab tests.  Bosch allegedly supplied and helped program the illegal emissions “defeat device” software used by both Fiat Chrysler and Volkswagen in their diesel vehicles.

Lansing consulting firm executive named as state's Deputy Treasurer by new cabinet member of Governor Gretchen Whitmer


LANSING  (CCN) — Governor Gretchen Whitmer's new State Treasurer has selected the vice president of a Lansing consulting firm as her deputy treasurer. Rachael Eubanks made the announcement in a press release Thursday. She revealed that Dr. Jeff Guilfoyle will begin his new job on Jan. 22 to provide expertise on state and local tax policy and to oversee department operations. Dr. Guilfoyle previously worked at the State Treasury from 1998 until 2009 in several positions, including as director of the Economic and Revenue Forecasting Division and as director of the Office of Revenue and Tax Analysis (ORTA). “Jeff’s expertise as an economist, K-12 policy and Michigan’s budget and tax system will be a great complement to Treasury’s administrative team,” Treasurer Eubanks said. “I am excited that Jeff has agreed to return to Treasury to work with us to serve Michigan’s local government units, schools and taxpayers.” Dr. Guilfoyle served as the President of Citizens Research Council of Michigan from 2009 until 2014 and then became Vice President of Lansing's Public Sector Consultants. The firm is a force in public policy by delivering its clients problem-solving strategies and creative solutions to influence policy making. Dr. Guilfoyle holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from University of Michigan, and both a master’s degree and a Doctorate’s in Economics from Michigan State University. 

Gretchen Whitmer keeps campaign promise to women with executive order requiring equal pay guarantee as men for state jobs


LANSING (CCN) — Newly-elected Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer checked off a campaign promise Tuesday when signing an executive order to guarantee equal wages for women working in state government. The directive says hiring managers at state departments and state agencies can no longer ask job applicants about their current or previous salaries until after they make a conditional job offer and they're also now prohibited from accessing those figures through public databases or by asking applicants' previous employers. She said in a press release that asking about salary histories perpetuates gender wage gaps because employers can continue to offer lower salaries to women. "It's pretty simple, women deserve equal pay for equal work,” Whitmer said. "Women in Michigan earn 78 cents for every dollar men make for doing the same job, and it’s time for that to change." The most recent work force report for state government showed that 53.4% of the state's 49,000 employees are women. Newly-elected Attorney General Dana Nessel praised the move, saying, "I am so proud to be working with Governor Whitmer and I am grateful for her swift action on pay equity.  Women have been short-changed for years and it’s time we led by example. Governor Whitmer’s commitment to making our state the gold standard of equity and equality on all fronts is refreshing.  I have directed my HR department to immediately comply with the Governor’s directive. Women in the state of Michigan can look forward to the next four years with confidence, knowing that their state executive officers will not engage in or permit discrimination against them.”  

Freshman congresswoman from Detroit still refuses to apologize for vulgar comment about President Trump; Calls it 'teachable moment'


DETROIT (CCN) — Newly-elected Detroit Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib remained defiant about not apologizing for using profanity regarding President Donald Trump shortly after taking her oath of office last week in Washington D.C. At a press conference Tuesday on the government's 18-day shutdown, the new member of the United States House of Representatives called her decision to use a vulgar word to describe President Trump as a "teachable moment" after telling supporters it was "time to get to work and we're going to impeach the mother (expletive)." Her comment went viral on social media and had many Detroit radio show hosts blasting her foul language as unprofessional. She said last week that she would "never apologize for being me" and the Detroit Democrat said at Tuesday's event: "The use of that language was a teachable moment for me. I understand I am a member of Congress and I don't want anything that I do or say to distract us. That is the only thing I apologize for, is that it was a distraction. We have a course that we have to stick to, and nothing I say should distract us from that. The shutdown has to be at the forefront. That's what I am here for, to shift to. This is so much more important."