State Roundup

Detroit, Wayne County team up on blight fight

DETROIT (AP) - Detroit and Wayne County are starting a new effort to fight blight that packages several properties, including homes and vacant lots, for sale.

Mayor Mike Duggan and Wayne County Treasurer Raymond Wojtowicz on Wednesday announced a process being called "Blight Bundle." They say the aim is to encourage the demolition of severely blighted properties and boost the redevelopment of salvageable ones.

The effort also will offer a way to return tax-foreclosed properties to productive use.

If a bundle of properties doesn't get a bid, they say the vacant lots involved will be made available for purchase through the Detroit Land Bank Authority.

The city of Detroit has worked for years to deal with blight, including vacant homes and businesses, and thousands of structures have been razed.

St. Johns
3rd person pleads guilty in slaying of college student

ST. JOHNS, Mich. (AP) - A third person charged in the slaying of a 19-year-old Michigan State University student has pleaded guilty to murder or other crimes in the case.

The Lansing State Journal reports that 17-year-old Brendan Helm pleaded guilty Wednesday to first-degree murder in Clinton County Circuit Court. He faces between 32 ½ years and 60 years in prison when he is sentenced Nov. 24.

Dustyn Frolka of Owosso was beaten and robbed Feb. 15. He jumped from an SUV in Bath Township near Lansing and was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Eighteen-year-old Tyrel Bredernitz pleaded guilty last month to second-degree murder. Samantha Grigg, also 18, was sentenced to up to 15 years in prison earlier this year after pleading guilty to manslaughter and unarmed robbery.

Bay City
Former teacher takes plea deal in Michigan sex case

BAY CITY, Mich. (AP) - A mid-Michigan woman who worked as a high school substitute teacher has pleaded guilty to attempted criminal sexual conduct.

Heidi Lewis entered the plea to three misdemeanor counts Tuesday in Bay County court. The 45-year-old from Midland was accused of having sex with three 17-year-old students over summer break in 2010.

She had been charged with six felony counts. Prosecutors dropped the higher charges in the plea deal reached on the scheduled first day of trial.

Michigan's Appeals Court ordered a retrial for Lewis in 2013 after a judge dismissed the six felony counts. The appeals court ruled state law protects "individuals in a certain age group" from encounters with someone in a position of authority.

Grand Rapids
Pure Michigan fear? No way, says travel office

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - A haunted house is crossing the line into trademark infringement with its play on the state's Pure Michigan tourism campaign, the state's official travel office said.

The office notified The Haunt that a billboard and other marketing using "PureMichiganFear" isn't allowed, The Grand Rapids Press reported. The Halloween attraction is one of the Grand Rapids area's most popular haunted houses.

"My approach was to put something out there a little bit different to catch your eye," said Jim Burns, owner of The Haunt, which opened a 20-night run last weekend. "I personally did not realize that Pure Michigan was a trademark. I didn't think anything about it."

The billboard, which was scheduled to be up through late October, is expected to remain in place. Burns said he also used "PureMichiganFear" language on flyers, coupons and his website, but is making changes. A website using "PureMichiganFear" now re-directs to another website.

State officials, who have a process for people to use the Pure Michigan logo, were concerned about use of the trademarked phrase, according to Pure Michigan spokeswoman Michelle Grinnell. She said the agency contacted the owner since the process wasn't followed.

"We are not out there being the logo police, but when something comes to our attention then certainly we reach out," she said.

Lawsuit says investigator shot dog in raid mix-up

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - Two dog owners are suing a state investigator, saying he shot their dog in the face while authorities raided the wrong Flint house.

The lawsuit Friday in U.S. District Court in Detroit on behalf of Erica Moreno and Katti Putnam says the officers were trying to catch a fugitive. The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press report Chloe, a 15-year-old mixed-breed dog, survived the June shooting but lost part of her tongue and a tooth.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages. It says the 58-pound dog went outside during the raid and was shot by a Michigan Department of Corrections investigator. Moreno and Putnam say their constitutional rights were violated and the fugitive was next door.

The Corrections Department says Wednesday it can't comment on a pending lawsuit.

Detroit-area priest convicted of charity theft

DETROIT (AP) - A jury has found a Detroit-area Catholic priest guilty of stealing money from a charity for the poor after he denied the charges and said he wrongly signed a confession to police.

The Rev. Timothy Kane was convicted Tuesday in Wayne County court of crimes including embezzlement between $1,000 and $20,000 from a charitable institution. The 58-year-old will be sentenced in December.

Kane testified Tuesday that he didn't steal money from the Angel Fund, an Archdiocese of Detroit charity fund created to assist people in need. Kane says confusion caused by diabetes made him sign a confession to police after his February arrest.

He was offered a plea deal before the trial but declined. His six conviction counts carry up to 88 years in prison total.

Grand Blanc
Prosecutor: No charge against priest for touching

GRAND BLANC, Mich. (AP) - The Genesee County prosecutor says there's no basis to charge a priest who was accused of inappropriately touching two students at a Catholic school in Grand Blanc.

David Leyton said Tuesday that is investigators did "not find probable cause necessary to charge a crime."

The probe followed a complaint that the Rev. Ken Coughlin of inappropriately touching two students on their hands and legs on April 30 while serving at Holy Family Catholic School, Church of the Holy Family.

Bishop Earl Boyea says the prosecutor's decision is an important step toward restoring Coughlin's reputation. Boyea says the priest acknowledges "some inappropriate behaviors with adult women" and "is very intent on dealing with this."

The bishop says Coughlin remains on administrative leave as he continues to undergo treatment related to celibacy.



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