State Roundup

Emmett Township

Crews begin work on hotel next to Calhoun casino

EMMETT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) -- Crews have started moving dirt in preparation for the construction of an eight-story, 242-room hotel at FireKeepers Casino near Battle Creek.

The Nottawaseppi (NOT'-uh-wuh-seh-pee) Huron Band of Potawatomi (pot-uh-WAH'-tuh-mee) Indians owns the casino, which opened in Calhoun County's Emmett Township nearly two years ago.

The Battle Creek Enquirer reported Monday the planned hotel is a year away from opening.

Tribal officials have said a 2,000-seat event and conference center will be part of the 100,000-square foot structure, which is being overseen by Lansing-based Clark Construction Co.

The project is expected to create 125 construction jobs and 400 permanent jobs.

Grand Rapids

Bank embezzler gets 3 years in prison

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) -- A woman who admitted embezzling about $600,000 from a Grand Rapids bank has been sentenced to 37 months in federal prison.

Joann Wierenga's lawyer says she needs help for a gambling addiction more than a long prison stay. Her sentence Monday was at the low end of the guidelines.

Wierenga pleaded guilty in February to embezzling from Huntington Bank for seven years. Her lawyer says she has repaid at least $132,000 and admitted the thefts when confronted by the bank in 2009.

Federal prosecutors say Wierenga took $1,600 from another employer last November, just three months before her guilty plea. Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Borgula calls her an "irrepressible thief."

St. Joseph

Recall wording against Michigan lawmaker rejected

ST. JOSEPH, Mich. (AP) -- A recall effort targeting a southwestern Michigan lawmaker who sponsored legislation in the state House to grant more powers to emergency managers has hit a snag.

A three-person panel in Berrien County unanimously decided Monday to reject proposed recall petition language targeting Republican state Rep. Al Pscholka (Pa-SHOL-ka) of Stevensville because it wasn't clear.

Recall supporters would have to submit revised language and get it approved before collecting voter signatures to try and make the ballot.

Pscholka is being targeted because he sponsored a law that gives more powers to emergency managers appointed by the state to run financially troubled cities and schools.

Benton Harbor has an emergency manager and has become a focal point in the debate.

Traverse City

More than $1 million stolen from Munson Healthcare

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) -- An accountant working for Munson Healthcare in Traverse City is accused of embezzling more than $1 million.

No charges have been filed, but the disclosure was made Friday in federal court in Grand Rapids. The Internal Revenue Service is asking a judge to order the seizure of personal bank accounts with $34,000 linked to the accountant.

In a court filing, IRS agent Brittany Hofstra says Munson's loss totals $1.1 million, and the accountant has been suspended. The accountant had access to accounts belonging to Munson and the Munson Foundation. The accountant was also responsible for paying payroll taxes and making deposits into employee retirement plans.

Munson is a health care provider serving 24 counties in the northern Lower Peninsula. Its main hospital is in Traverse City.

Royal Oak

Former Mich police officer convicted on sex charge

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (AP) -- A former Michigan police officer has been convicted of charges he sexually assaulted a girl when she was between the ages of 11 and 13.

Thomas Cupples could face up to 15 years in prison after jurors convicted him Monday of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. The Oxford man originally was charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct but jurors convicted him of the lesser charge.

A judge revoked Cupples' bond and he was taken into custody.

Cupples' attorney says there were inconsistencies in the girl's testimony and no evidence that Cupples had done anything improper. Cupples' supporters broke into tears when the verdict was announced.

The Daily Tribune of Royal Oak reports Cupples is a former Ferndale police officer and also worked as a code enforcement officer in Orion Township.

Published: Wed, May 11, 2011

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