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Latest Michigan news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. EDT

Last Updated Jul 23, 2021 at 12:21 am PDT

VIRUS OUTBREAK-NURSING HOMES

Justice Department won’t probe Michigan nursing home deaths

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Justice Department will not open a civil rights investigation related to COVID-19 deaths in Michigan’s nursing homes. The notification to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday came nearly 11 months after the department’s Civil Rights Division requested data from the Democratic governors of four states, including Michigan, and said it was considering whether to investigate under a federal law that protects the rights of people in public nursing homes. Most nursing homes are privately owned. Republicans have criticized Whitmer for allowing recovering COVID-19 patients to return to nursing homes, but she has said doing so complied with federal guidance.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-BONUSES

Officials in Michigan county used virus money for bonuses

CORUNNA, Mich. (AP) — Elected officials in a Michigan county gave themselves bonuses with federal relief money related to the coronavirus pandemic. The money, described as “hazard pay,” included $25,000 for Jeremy Root, chairman of the Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners. Shiawassee is a mostly rural county between Lansing and Flint, with a population of 68,000. Commissioners — all Republicans — voted last week to award money to dozens of county employees. It ranges from $25,000 for administrators to $2,000 for cleaning staff. All workers got at least $1,000. Commissioner Marlene Webster says she didn’t know she voted to reward herself and plans to return the money. Meanwhile, a resident has filed a lawsuit to try to rescind some of the bonuses.

FLINT-POLICE HELICOPTER

Flint police might patrol from sky with a helicopter

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — Flint is taking steps toward renting a helicopter for the police department. Officers told the city council that a helicopter could help them find reckless drivers, crime suspects and missing children. A plan to lease a helicopter for $304,000 for three months could win final approval as early as next week. Violent crime in Flint is up slightly compared to the same period in 2020, but homicides have increased 40% as of July 18. Police Chief Terence Green says three months should be enough time to judge the effectiveness of having a helicopter.

MASKS-CASINO THEFTS

Man in ‘Hollywood-esque’ masks gets prison for casino thefts

DETROIT (AP) — A Detroit-area man who wore realistic masks while robbing $125,000 from cash kiosks in casinos has been sentenced to four years in federal prison. Prosecutors say John Colletti of Harper Woods pulled off an elaborate scheme while wearing “Hollywood-esque disguises.” Colletti admits that he obtained personal information from people who had accounts with Global Payments Gaming Systems. He had false IDs made overseas and then withdrew money from kiosks at casinos while wearing prosthetic masks. Colletti was sentenced in federal court in Detroit, three months after pleading guilty to wire fraud and identity theft.   

FATAL FALL-MACKINAC ISLAND

Police: Man jumps to death from Mackinac Island’s Arch Rock

MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. (AP) — Police say an investigation reveals that a man who was found dead at the base of a popular Mackinac Island tourist destination intentionally jumped from the top and left a note indicating plans to take his own life. Mackinac Island Police Chief Doug Topolski says Thursday that a passerby found the man’s body about 9:15 a.m. Wednesday at the base of Arch Rock. Arch Rock is a unique natural limestone arch that rises 146 feet above the Lake Huron shore in northern Michigan. Climbing on it is strictly prohibited and viewing platforms are available at the site. The name of the man, an Upper Peninsula resident in his 40s, wasn’t immediately released.

ELECTION 2022-MICHIGAN GOVERNOR

Ex-Detroit chief all but launches Michigan governor campaign

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Republican ex-Detroit Police Chief James Craig has all but launched his campaign for governor, seeking to become Michigan’s first Black governor with a “law-and-order” message and emphasis on his leadership abilities. Craig, the eighth Republican to form a candidate committee, is the best known and is considered a serious contender. A former Democrat, the 61-year-old would be just the second Black major-party gubernatorial nominee if he wins the 2022 primary and would face Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Craig, who retired in June, released a video Wednesday and announced the formation of an “exploratory committee” that lets him begin raising and spending money. His campaign says a formal launch with events and rallies will likely occur after Labor Day.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-GOVERNOR POWERS

Michigan Legislature kills law Whitmer used for virus rules

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Republican lawmakers have killed a law that underpinned coronavirus restrictions issued by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020, after Michigan’s Supreme Court declared the measure unconstitutional. The Democratic governor is powerless to veto the citizen-initiated bill. A group that organized the ballot drive now is targeting a different law that enabled her administration to keep restrictions intact. The Republican-led House voted 60-48 on Wednesday to repeal the law that gave governors broad emergency powers. A separate law remains in place. It lets a governor declare an emergency, but it cannot last for longer than 28 days without legislative approval.

MICHIGAN GOVERNOR-KIDNAPPING PLOT

Agent involved in Whitmer probe accused of assaulting wife

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — An FBI agent who was a key investigator of an alleged plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is accused of assaulting his wife after returning home from a party. The Detroit News says details are in a Kalamazoo County court filing accompanying a felony charge against Richard Trask. Police said Trask’s wife had lacerations on her head and blood on her chest, arms and hand Sunday. Trask is charged with assault with intent to do great bodily harm. The FBI has declined to comment about Trask’s job status since he appeared in court and was released on bond Monday. A defense lawyer has not filed an appearance in the case.

SHERIFF-FUNERAL

Funeral set for Saturday at Michigan Tech for UP sheriff

HOUGHTON, Mich. (AP) — The funeral for a longtime Upper Peninsula sheriff will be held Saturday at Michigan Tech University. The service for Brian McLean will be held at 2 p.m. at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts, following a four-hour public visitation. McLean was the Houghton County sheriff for 25 years. The 63-year-old died Monday after a weekend accident at his home. McLean was affectionately known in Houghton by his nickname, “Slim.”

RACIAL INJUSTICE ARREST-LAWSUIT

Lawsuit: Michigan Black man wrongfully detained during walk

A Black man has filed a $10 million civil rights lawsuit against a suburban Detroit police department and one of its officers, alleging the white officer wrongfully detained him as he took an early morning walk along a commercial street. Brian Chaney says in the complaint that Keego Harbor Officer Richard Lindquist called him a “dog” and detained him for more than 20 minutes July 14. He was only released when he asked if Lindquist planned to put a knee on his neck, referencing the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year. The federal lawsuit was filed Monday and names Lindquist and the Keego Harbor Police Department as defendants.

The Associated Press