MICHIGAN GOVERNOR-KIDNAPPING PLOT
Lawyers: FBI lured men for Michigan Gov. Whitmer kidnap plot
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Attorneys for four men charged with planning to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer are telling jurors they were swayed by informants and federal agents who targeted them for their anti-government views. They have portrayed the men as big talkers, wannabes and, in one case, a “misfit” manipulated by an FBI informant. Attorney Joshua Blanchard said Wednesday in federal court in Grand Rapids, Michigan, that the FBI lined up an informant with a long criminal history to reach out to Barry Croft Jr. and lure him to militia meetings. Four men face trial: Croft, Adam Fox, Brandon Caserta, and Daniel Harris. Prosecutors say the men plotted to snatch Whitmer in 2020 because they were angry about pandemic restrictions and that they went well beyond talking.
MICHIGAN GAS TAX-FREEZE
Michigan Legislature starts voting to pause state gas tax
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Republican-led Legislature has started voting to lift, for six months, Michigan’s 27.2-cents-a-gallon gasoline and diesel taxes amid pump prices that exceed $4 per gallon. Republican leaders announced the plan Wednesday, after Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer urged Congress to suspend the federal 18.4-cents-a-gallon gas tax and 24.4-cent diesel tax. Her office has not embraced temporarily halting state fuel taxes, saying it would hamper road repairs. The state legislation would save drivers approximately $725 million. The federal legislation would transfer general funds so transportation funding to states is not cut. Republicans said they would do something similar in Michigan.
HEALTH CARE FRAUD
Dozen doctors get prison in health care fraud, opioid scheme
DETROIT (AP) — A dozen doctors are among 16 people in Michigan and Ohio sentenced to prison for a health care fraud that included the distribution of 6.6 million opioid doses and $250 million in false billings. The Justice Department says Wednesday that a multi-state network of pain clinics participated in the scheme from 2007 to 2018 in which doctors refused to provide patients with opioids unless they agreed to expensive, unnecessary and sometimes painful back injections. Authorities described the clinics as “pill mills” and said they were frequented by people suffering from addictions and drug dealers seeking high-dosage prescription drugs like oxycodone. The injections were selected because they were among the highest reimbursing procedures, rather than based on medical need.
GENERAL MOTORS-ELECTRIC VEHICLE PLANTS
Michigan lawmakers finalize $666M transfer for GM projects
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Lawmakers have authorized a $666 million transfer of state funds to finalize incentives for General Motors to locate an electric vehicle plant and an electric vehicle battery factory in Michigan. The deal was approved by the state’s economic development board in January but still needed the blessing of legislators. The Senate Appropriations Committee voted 14-4, the House Appropriations Committee 18-9. GM plans to spend up to $4 billion converting and expanding its Orion Township assembly plant to make electric pickups and $1.5 billion to $2.5 billion building a battery cell factory with a joint-venture partner in Lansing. The moves will create up to 4,000 jobs.
RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR-MICHIGAN DIVESTS
Board directs Michigan pension funds to dump Russian assets
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Opposing the war in Ukraine, a state board has directed Michigan’s retirement systems to dump assets invested in Russian companies and securities. Before the invasion, the $98 billion pension fund portfolio had 0.06% of its holdings tied to Russia. It largely is in international index funds managed by outside firms and is likely worth far less now due to sanctions and Russia’s closed stock market. The State of Michigan Investment Board’s resolution, adopted Wednesday, also applies to Belarusian companies and securities. The vote came after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer requested that the board act.
Police seize cash, 82 gambling machines in Lansing
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Police raids have led to the seizure of more than $91,500 in cash and 82 gambling machines from two illegal storefront casinos in Lansing. The Lansing State Journal reports Wednesday that the raids followed an investigation by Michigan’s Gaming Control Board, the state Attorney General’s office and Lansing police. Most of the machines, including 28 slot machines and a virtual blackjack table, were removed Feb. 28 from a storefront in a shopping center. Thirteen full-size slot machines and seven other games were removed March 4 at the other storefront. Mayor Andy Schor said in a release that “unregulated, illegal gambling operations in Lansing invite crime” into city neighborhoods and business corridors.
Michigan deputy shot, wounded while serving felony warrant
BROWN CITY, Mich. (AP) — Authorities say a Michigan sheriff’s deputy was in stable condition after he was shot and wounded while serving a felony warrant at a home. Michigan State Police say the Lapeer County deputy “was shot multiple times” and hospitalized. State police said the shooting occurred in Brown City, a community of about 1,300 residents about 40 miles northeast of Flint. State police spokeswoman Lt. Kim Vetter says the status of the person or persons involved in the shooting was not immediately available for public release. State police said that the agency was investigating the shooting at the request of Lapeer County Sheriff’s Office and that “there are no suspects at large and no threat to the community.”
Michigan announces 1st charges in Boy Scouts investigation
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan authorities have announced the first criminal charges stemming from the state’s review of child sexual abuse lawsuits against the Boy Scouts of America, charging a former troop leader before his release from a New York prison on separate crimes. Mark Chapman, 51, is accused of sexually assaulting two boys at the time he was the scoutmaster in the Detroit suburb of Roseville, where he also worked in and attended The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Starting in 2000, one victim was abused at the church — where the troop sometimes met — and other places, Attorney General Dana Nessel said. The second victim was assaulted for years beginning when he was about 11.
FATAL PLANE CRASH-FLORIDA
Small plane crash kills 2 near Panama City Beach airport
PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Officials say the head of a Michigan healthcare system and her husband are dead after their small plane crashed a short distance from an airport in the Florida Panhandle. The Federal Aviation Administration says the single-engine Cessna 182 crashed Tuesday night in a wooded area some two miles from Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport in Panama City, Florida. The Bay County Sheriff’s Office identified the occupants as MyMichigan Health President and CEO Diane Postler-Slattery and her husband, Donald Slattery. Sheriff’s officials say the plane was approaching the airport around 7 p.m. when it disappeared from the radar. The aircraft was eventually found using drones in a densely wooded area.
EXPLAINER: Charges in alleged plot to kidnap Gov. Whitmer
CHICAGO (AP) — Four members of anti-government groups are facing trial this week on federal charges accusing them of plotting to abduct Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020. The headline charge in the case is kidnapping conspiracy. It’s likely to be the focal point of testimony in a trial that is expected to last at least a month. Charging documents accuse the men of plotting from June to October 2020 to abduct the Democratic governor at her second home in northern Michigan because they were furious by what they saw as Whitmer’s overly restrictive policies during the pandemic. Two co-defendants pleaded guilty before trial and are expected to be key prosecution witnesses. If convicted of the most serious charges, the defendants face maximum life prison terms.