Latest Michigan news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. EST

SPINE DOCTOR-FRAUD

Long prison sentence upheld for doctor who hurt patients

DETROIT (AP) — A federal appeals court has affirmed a nearly 20-year prison sentence for a doctor who performed unnecessary spinal surgeries in California and Michigan. Prosecutors referred to the procedures as “plain butchery.” Aria Sabit pleaded guilty to conspiracy and fraud but argued that the sentence was excessive. He had a financial stake in Apex Medical Technologies and made money when he used its spinal devices. He worked at Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura, California, until moving to suburban Detroit in 2011. The appeals court noted that some patients are permanently disabled after seeing Sabit.

TRUMP-IMPEACHMENT-DEMOCRATS

Vulnerable Democrats fall in line behind Trump impeachment

WASHINGTON (AP) — Vulnerable House Democrats are announcing they’ll vote for President Donald Trump’s impeachment even if it means losing their seats in Congress. About a dozen lawmakers from competitive districts say they will vote in favor of the abuse and obstruction charges against Trump. The exception is New Jersey congressman Jeff Van Drew, a Democrat who opposes impeachment and is poised to become a Republican. A cascade of announcements Monday came ahead of the House vote later this week. If the articles pass, Trump will become the nation’s third impeached president. 

AP-US-TRUMP-IMPEACHMENT-SLOTKIN

Michigan Rep. Slotkin says she will vote to impeach Trump

ROCHESTER, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin says she will vote to impeach President Donald Trump. The freshman Democrat, who represents a swing seat, explained her decision Monday during a raucous town hall in suburban Detroit. Slotkin, a former national security official, says Trump used the power of the presidency for his own advantage and she has a duty to protect and defend the Constitution. The House will vote Wednesday on the impeachment articles approved last week by the House Judiciary panel. Slotkin’s district backed Trump in 2016 but elected her over a Republican incumbent in 2018. 

FRESHWATER MUSSELS DIE-OFF

Scientists seeking cause of huge freshwater mussel die-off

KYLES FORD, Tenn. (AP) — Scientists are working to quickly discover what is killing hundreds of thousands of freshwater mussels on the Tennessee-Virginia border. Mussels are extremely important to rivers for their ability to filter algae, silt and even heavy metals. Their populations everywhere have declined steeply from pollution, habitat loss and climate change. The current decline looks like it might be something different _ infectious disease. Similar mussel die-offs have been reported on at least five U.S. rivers and in Spain. Scientists say they are working quickly to identify the culprit because if all the mussels die, the rivers will never be the same.

CATHOLIC SCHOOL-HAZING

De La Salle says football coach is out; 3 students sue

WARREN, Mich. (AP) — A highly successful football coach is out at a Detroit-area high school, weeks after De La Salle Collegiate forfeited a playoff game amid hazing allegations. De La Salle told parents in an email Monday that Mike Giannone is no longer at the school. Giannone hasn’t spoken publicly about his job status or the controversy. Police have been investigating allegations that some De La Salle players were hazed with broomsticks. The findings have been submitted to prosecutors. Police Commissioner Bill Dwyer has said Giannone denied any knowledge.

MICHIGAN COUPLE-SAME DAY DEATH

Michigan couple married 70 years dies minutes apart

JACKSON, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan couple who family members say did everything together for 70 years up to their final breaths — died 20 minutes apart in the same hospice care. MLive.com reports that Les and Freda Austin, both 90, from Jackson both entered hospice Dec. 6 and died the following day. Their beds were side-by-side. They met in high school. Their first date was prom and they married in 1949. Their funeral service will be Tuesday. Sandy Maes tells the newspaper she thinks her parents “they knew each other was passing and they are eternally together” … “and I think it was beautiful.”

POLICE SHOOTING-DETROIT

Man shot dead by Detroit police identified as 65-year-old

DETROIT (AP) — A man killed in a shootout with Detroit police officers has been identified. The Detroit News reports police in suburban Redford Township said 65-year-old Louis Patrick Veal died in the Saturday shootout. Veal was a suspect in the shooting deaths Friday of two women, ages 18 and 49, in Redford Township. Detroit police have said officers confronted the man on Saturday afternoon on the city’s east side. When officers found the man on Saturday afternoon, he began firing at police, who shot back, police said. He died on the way to a hospital. No officers were hurt in the exchange of gunfire.

WINTER STORM-TRAIL HAZARDS

Trail hazards remain in Michigan weeks after snowstorm

MARQUETTE, Mich. (AP) — The snowstorm that swept across parts of the Midwest and dumped as much as 2 feet of snow in Michigan last month formed ideal conditions for skiing and snowmobile riding, but crews are still clearing up fallen trees that are blocking trails. The Iron Mountain Daily News reports that many trails remain open. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is cautioning people to be extra alert for logs, rocks or stumps that could be obscured under the snow. Riders should also look out for low-hanging tree branches, rough trail conditions and water holes. 

GOLF COURSE SOLD

Golf course in SW Michigan sold, could be turned into homes

NILES, Mich. (AP) — A golf course in southwestern Michigan has been sold and could be turned into a residential development. Signal Point Golf Club near Niles in Berrien County has been around since the 1960s. The South Bend Tribune reports that it was recently sold to local real estate broker Jim Ringler and partners. Ringler says it might remain a golf club. But he noted that Signal Point’s previous owners at Blackthorn Golf Club in South Bend, Indiana, decided to get out.

AP-US-IFF-DUPONT

IFF to merge with DuPont Nutrition and Biosciences unit

NEW YORK (AP) — International Flavors and Fragrances is merging with DuPont’s Nutrition and Biosciences unit in a $26.2 billion deal that would form a new company. The deal announced Sunday would give DuPont shareholders 55.4% of the new company’s shares, while IFF shareholders will get 44.6%. When the deal closes, DuPont will get a $7.3 billion cash payment, the companies said in a statement. The deal was unanimously approved by the boards of both companies.