State Roundup

Racketeering c­ase heads to trial

CHEBOYGAN, Mich. (AP) - Chesapeake Energy has been ordered to stand trial in a racketeering case that accuses it of leasing land to thwart competitors and then canceling the deals when the competition ended.

A probable cause hearing in the case against the Oklahoma City-based company took place in August in Cheboygan District Court. The decision from Judge Maria Barton, who heard testimony in the case, came in a written order dated Monday.

"We are confident in our case and prepared for trial," Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said in a statement issued Tuesday.

In a statement to The Associated Press, Chesapeake spokesman Gordon Pennoyer said the decision to send the case to trial was "not unexpected given that the attorney general's burden was substantially lower than he will be required to prove at trial.

"We continue to believe the attorney general is attempting to criminalize basic contract disputes. Chesapeake remains focused on moving past these legacy issues from 2010 and executing our business strategies to drive profitable growth," Pennoyer said.

Schuette filed charges including racketeering and false pretenses over land deals in the northern Lower Peninsula.

A Dec. 2 trial is scheduled on one count in a separate antitrust case that accuses Chesapeake of rigging bids at a 2010 state oil and gas lease auction. Two other counts were dismissed in July.

Officials study video of child throwing dog

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - Flint-area officials are investigating a suspected case of animal cruelty after a video posted online showed a child repeatedly throwing a puppy into a street.

Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell told The Flint Journal ( ) he was "very disturbed" by the video, which he saw after it was shared on Facebook. The newspaper said it shows a 4-year-old boy carrying the dog toward the street several times as the animal tries to run back into a yard.

"I looked at the video, just horrified," Pickell said.

In the video, the dog sometimes lands on his legs, head or back. No charges have been filed, according to the county prosecutor's office. Flint police are involved in the case and Pickell wants to know whether anyone who should have stopped the boy could face charges.

Pickell said the boy was with his mother at the home of his grandfather, who owns the puppy. Genesee County Animal Control retrieved the 8-week-old puppy, which wasn't injured, from the home, Pickell said. Animal Control officials have been looking after the puppy and plan to find it a home.

Mount Pleasant
Prof wins appeal over husband's activism at CMU

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. (AP) - A court has revived a lawsuit by a former Central Michigan University professor who says the school retaliated against her because of her husband's activism.

CMU tried to recover back pay from Kathleen Benison when she didn't return for one year after a sabbatical in 2012. The school also refused to release her husband's transcript over unpaid tuition.

Christopher Benison was a student and had sponsored a no-confidence resolution against the CMU president.

A judge dismissed the couple's lawsuit against CMU. But a federal appeals court last week reversed that decision, 2-1.

The court says the Benisons have provided "sufficient evidence" for a jury to determine if they were targeted because Christopher Benison spoke out.

Grand Rapids
Study: Restoring Grand River could boost economy

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - A study says the restoration of a 2.2-mile stretch of the Grand River through downtown Grand Rapids should generate from $15.9 million to $19.1 million in economic activity a year.

Anderson Economic Group conducted the study released Monday.

It says making the river more hospitable for kayaking, fishing, rafting and other recreation will boost tourism spending and earnings for Grand Rapids workers.


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