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JAIL OVER PROBATION
Court says drunken driver can choose jail over probation
ADRIAN, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan appeals court says a man convicted of drunken driving can seek a jail sentence over probation.
Joseph Bensch pleaded guilty to two separate drunken driving cases in Lenawee County. In one case, he was sentenced to six months in jail followed by six months in an in-patient treatment program. In the other case, he was sentenced to two years of probation with many conditions.
The sentences were supposed to run at the same time. But Bensch’s lawyer objected to probation in the second case.
The appeals court says the “issue rarely arises.” But in a 2-1 opinion, judges Douglas Shapiro and Jane Beckering says a 1975 legal precedent allows someone to decline probation in favor of jail. Judge Jonathan Tukel dissented.
Grants available to battle invasive plants in Michigan lakes
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — State funding is available for local efforts to control or get rid of invasive plants in Michigan’s inland lakes.
The Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy says a new grant program will reimburse permit fees required for projects that use physical, biological or chemical controls targeting the unwanted species. A total of $100,000 will be awarded this year.
Details on eligibility are available online .
The department’s Water Quality Division is developing a handbook and application procedures, which will be posted June 1. Applications for grants will be accepted from June 1 through July 1.
Michigan’s Invasive Species Program is operated by the departments of Agriculture & Rural Development; Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy; and Natural Resources.
Whitmer orders study of insurers’ use of non-driving factors
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is ordering a review of how Michigan auto insurers use non-driving factors to set rates and how they price policies in which medical coverage is coordinated with drivers’ health insurance.
The Democratic governor made her directive to the Department of Insurance and Financial Services Wednesday. The move comes as Republican lawmakers prepare legislation designed to lower auto premiums that are the highest in the country.
Whitmer says the state must take a “hard look” at how insurers are setting rates to ensure that the use of non-driving factors such as education, home ownership and credit scores is legal.
The insurance department says it will consider actions to ensure that insurers are reducing premiums for motorists who make their health insurance their primary policy and no-fault benefits secondary.
Conflict in Michigan AG’s office over Flint water records
DETROIT (AP) — A dispute over 23 boxes of records found in the basement of a state building is taking a strange turn: Lawyers on the civil side of the Michigan attorney general’s office say nothing was withheld from prosecutors in the Flint water criminal investigation.
Those prosecutors now are led by Fadwa Hammoud, who is a high-ranking official — in the same attorney general’s office.
Assistant Attorney General Christina Grossi says the records are from the Department of Environmental Quality. She says there’s “no indication” that they’re connected to Nick Lyon, who was the state health director.
Lyon is charged with involuntary manslaughter in an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease. Hammoud’s team says it needs a six-month delay in his case so it can look at the boxes.
But defense attorney Chip Chamberlain says the Wednesday court filing is proof that a stay is unnecessary. A court hearing is planned for Friday.
MUMMIFIED TORSO FOUND
Detroit homeowner finds mummified human torso in basement
DETROIT (AP) — Detroit police say a mummified human torso has been found in the basement of a home on the city’s west side.
Police say the small torso was discovered Wednesday afternoon while the homeowner was working on the home. It was found in the basement near a bar area.
Cmdr. Brian Mounsey says the homeowner bought the property two years ago as an investment and nobody has lived there since.
It’s difficult to tell how long the torso has been in the house because of decomposition, but Mounsey says it probably has been in the basement since the current homeowner bought the property.
Police said it’s unclear what gender the person was.
Former Macomb County clerk charged with larceny
WARREN, Mich. (AP) — A political novice who rode President Donald Trump’s popularity to a countywide office in suburban Detroit has been charged with withdrawing $1,660 from an elderly woman’s bank account.
The Macomb County prosecutor announced a larceny charge Wednesday against Karen Spranger.
Spranger was the county clerk for 15 months before a judge removed her from office in 2018 . A judge said she wasn’t living at a Warren house when she filed to run for clerk in 2016. The house had no utilities.
Police say Spranger’s whereabouts are unknown. Investigators haven’t been able to find her for an interview. Prosecutor Eric Smith says, “Do the right thing and turn yourself in.”
Spranger was unknown before she won the clerk’s race as a Republican. She benefited from Trump’s popularity. He got 53 percent of the vote in Macomb County.
POLICE CHIEF CHARGED
Mid-Michigan police chief charged with lying to detectives
CHARLOTTE, Mich. (AP) — A mid-Michigan police chief has been arraigned on official misconduct and other charges for allegedly lying that his wife had been sexually assaulted by a sheriff’s deputy.
Potterville Police Chief Shane Bartlett also was arraigned Wednesday on charges of lying to police in a violent crime investigation and making a false report of a felony.
His attorney, Matt Newburg, says he’ll vigorously challenge the allegations.
Authorities say the charges stem from a Michigan State Police investigation that started when Bartlett’s wife, Kellie, accused an Eaton County deputy of sexual assault. Kellie Bartlett at the time was a clerk with the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office. She’s been charged with filing a false report and several other counts.
Potterville City Manager Aaron Sheridan said Shane Bartlett has been suspended with pay.
Police officer sentenced to probation in woman’s beating
DETROIT (AP) — A Detroit police officer convicted in the beating of a naked, unarmed and mentally ill woman inside an emergency room triage unit has avoided jail or prison time.
A Detroit district court judge on Wednesday sentenced 47-year-old Dewayne Jones to 12 months’ probation, ordered him to attend anger management classes and perform 15 days of community service. A jury found Jones guilty in March of misdemeanor assault and battery.
Video of the incident posted in August on WJBK-TV’s website shows the 29-year-old woman being punched about a dozen times at Detroit Receiving Hospital as another officer and hospital security restrained her. Witnesses testified that the woman spat at Jones, shouted profanities at hospital staff and bit an officer.
Jones was suspended, but later reinstated at a lower rank.
HENS KILLED-BARN BLAZE
Fire at Michigan poultry operation kills 250K hens
SARANAC, Mich. (AP) — About 250,000 hens have been killed during a fire at a mid-Michigan poultry operation.
The blaze started Tuesday evening in a barn at Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch in Saranac, east of Grand Rapids. Operations resumed Wednesday.
MLive.com reports that the ranch supplies eggs to McDonald’s restaurants and other customers.
Herb Herbruck, one of the company’s operators, said in a statement that about 250,000 hens were in the barn. The fire was contained to one barn and did not spread to other structures at the ranch.
The cause of the blaze is under investigation.
The family-owned company was founded in 1958. The company’s website says it has 6 million egg-laying hens.
Detroit suburb to seek emergency declaration due to flooding
DETROIT (AP) — A suburban Detroit community plans to seek an emergency declaration due to flooding that followed heavy rainfall.
Dearborn Heights Mayor Dan Paletko says his office asked the state police Wednesday to consider a declaration and will do a financial assessment of any damage before submitting an official request to the state.
Fire Chief Dave Brogan tells WDIV-TV that Dearborn Heights received three inches of rain Tuesday and that his department has received calls about residents with medical issues or physical limitations being trapped in their homes.
Brogan says there have been “a lot of homes filling up with smoke from water flooding up to their electrical outlets.” The city has opened a shelter for flooding victims.
State police urged caution due to freeway flooding and closures across the Detroit area.