Latest Michigan news, sports, business and entertainment at 1:20 a.m. EST

WINTER WEATHER-MICHIGAN

Michigan expected to see subzero wind-chill start to March

DETROIT (AP) — Michigan is in store for a bitter-cold start to March with temperatures 20 to 30 degrees below normal forecast Sunday through Wednesday.

The National Weather Service says an arctic air mass will move across Michigan bringing temperatures in the northern part of the state as low as minus 13 on Sunday evening into Monday morning. Lake effect snow showers also are possible. The weather service office in Grand Rapids says temperatures will only reach the teens and 20s in west-central Michigan.

In Detroit the high on Monday and Tuesday is forecast at 19. The high temperature is expected to be 15 on Monday in Flint and Saginaw. Wind chills are expected to dip as low as minus 13 in Sandusky and Bad Axe on Monday night into Tuesday morning.

MICHIGAN BUDGET

Whitmer prepares 1st budget: ‘There are no easy answers’

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wants to spend billions more to fix the roads and boost a lagging education system.

But as the Democrat prepares to deliver her first budget proposal to the Republican-led Legislature, she faces fiscal pressures that are complicating her task.

She notes that the general fund — Michigan’s second-biggest account — has not grown much from 20 years ago. Inflation-adjusted revenue, in fact, is down during that period after a series of tax cuts.

She says there are “no easy answers.”

Tuesday’s budget presentation is her opportunity to detail just how she plans to “fix the damn roads” and pay for priorities like letting high school graduates attend community college for free.

TESLA CRASH

Second federal agency to probe fatal Florida Tesla crash

DETROIT (AP) — A second federal agency is dispatching investigators to a fatal crash involving a Tesla electric car that drove beneath a semitrailer that was crossing a Florida roadway.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Saturday that it’s sending a team to the crash that killed 50-year-old Jeremy Beren Banner on Friday.

The crash in Delray Beach is eerily similar to another one involving a Tesla in 2016 near Gainesville, Florida.

The National Transportation Safety Board sent a three-person team to the crash. The traffic safety administration can issue fines and seek recalls. The NTSB makes recommendations to prevent crashes.

Both agencies likely will be looking into whether Tesla’s Autopilot semiautonomous driving system was in use on Banner’s Tesla Model 3 at the time.

THREATENING CALL-BOOKER

Kentwood man admits threatening call to Sen. Booker

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A western Michigan man has pleaded guilty to making a threatening phone call last October to presidential hopeful Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey.

In a news release, the FBI says that 52-year-old Rick Simmons of Kentwood entered his plea this week in federal court in which he admitted to leaving a profane voice mail message at Booker’s Camden, N.J. office that included a threat to put a gun into Booker’s face.

When Simmons returns to court on June 5 for sentencing he faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.

Booker officially announced last month that he was seeking the Democratic nomination for president.

ANIMAL CRUELTY PENALTIES

Michigan laws to increase penalties for animal abuse

(Information from: The Detroit News, http://detnews.com/)

DETROIT (AP) — Michigan will have stiffer penalties for animal abuse through legislation signed by former Gov. Rick Snyder.

The Detroit News reports that the two state laws taking effect this month increase the maximum penalty for killing or torturing an animal from four years to 10 years in prison.

Judges will also be able to sentence those who harm or kill animals to cause emotional distress to another person to as much as 10 years.

Republican state Rep. Tommy Brann of Wyoming sponsored the bills. He says the bills urge judges to take animal abuse seriously.

An analysis by the state’s Senate Fiscal Agency found that animal abusers in Michigan typically avoid long prison sentences. There were 40 violations in 2016, with no offenders sent to prison and five sent to jail.

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LANSING SHOOTING

Lansing police investigating shooting that injured 3 men

(Information from: Lansing State Journal, http://www.lansingstatejournal.com)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Police in Lansing say three men suffered gunshot wounds and were taken to the hospital after a vehicle they were in crashed in a mobile home park.

Lansing police Sgt. Cedric Ford tells the Lansing State Journal that no one was in the car when officers arrived at the scene Friday evening. Ford says residents helped police locate the men. One had critical injuries and the other two were in stable condition. Ford says it’s unclear when the shootings took place. Police say the shootings don’t appear to be random.

Police say another man is believed to be involved, but he wasn’t located Friday night.

Lansing police say detectives are continuing to investigate. They are asking anyone with information to come forward.

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MASERATI-FATAL CRASH

25-year prison sentence will stand in fatal Maserati crash

BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan appeals court has affirmed the 25-year prison sentence of a man who was drunk when he crashed a Maserati at high speed and killed another motorist in suburban Detroit.

The court says an Oakland County judge made some errors when she sentenced Greg Belkin for second-degree murder, but the punishment won’t change. He’ll be eligible for parole after 25 years.

Belkin was driving 134 mph when his car struck Rhonda Williams’ vehicle in Bloomfield Township in 2017. His blood-alcohol level was about four times the legal limit.

Belkin was a member of the U.S. Coast Guard at the time. His attorney said he got drunk after a woman rejected his request for marriage.

SUBARU RECALL

Subaru recalls 1.3M vehicles in US for brake light problem

DETROIT (AP) — Subaru is recalling 1.3 million vehicles in the U.S. because the brake lights may not illuminate properly.

The recall covers certain 2014 to 2016 Forester, 2008 through 2016 Impreza and 2013 through 2017 Crosstrek vehicles.

Subaru says cleaning products containing silicone can emit a gas that can seep into the brake lamp switch and cut off the electrical contact. That can stop the brake lights from working but brakes will still function.

The automaker says the problem doesn’t happen very often. It has only 33 reports in the U.S.

Subaru says it discovered the problem. It will reach out to affected customers and replace the switch.

The recall is being done worldwide, but information about the number of vehicles affected and the models wasn’t available Saturday.

NEO-NAZI-BLACK LEADER

Black activist: I took control of neo-Nazi group to kill it

MORENO VALLEY, Calif. (AP) — A black activist says he has taken the helm of one of the nation’s largest neo-Nazi groups to put it out of business.

Corporate records show James Stern of Moreno Valley, California, is now president of the National Socialist Movement. He replaces previous leader Jeff Schoep.

In an interview with The Associated Press , Stern says he took advantage of a yearslong dialogue he established with Schoep. Stern said he convinced Schoep to transfer the organization to him when Schoep said he planned to disband it.

Stern said he prefers to control the group and neuter it rather than see it disband and reconstitute in the shadows.

Schoep did not return messages Saturday seeking comment, but a post under his name on a Russian social media site claims Stern tricked him.

BC-US-NEO-NAZI GROUP-BLACK LEADER

Neo-Nazi group’s new leader? Black man vowing to dissolve it

One of the largest and oldest neo-Nazi groups in the U.S. appears to have an unlikely new leader: A black activist who has vowed to dismantle it.

A court filing Thursday suggests James Hart Stern wants to use his new position as director and president of the National Socialist Movement to undermine the Detroit-based group’s defense against a lawsuit.

The extremist group was sued over bloodshed at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. Stern’s filing asks a federal court in Virginia to issue a judgment against the neo-Nazi group before trial for a rally violence lawsuit.

Michigan corporate records indicate Stern replaced Jeff Schoep as the Detroit-based group’s leader in January. Corporate and court records don’t explain how or why Stern got the position.

Stern and Schoep didn’t respond to requests for comment.