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State Briefs

By The Associated Press • May 24, 2018 at 9:00 AM

Michigan authorities seek source of heroin after overdoses

LUDINGTON (AP) — Authorities in West Michigan are seeking help from the public in identifying the source of heroin that's linked to at least three recent overdose deaths.

The police department in Ludington said a 31-year-old man from Scottville died Tuesday of an overdose. The May 11 death of a 24-year-old Ludington man and the May 12 death of a 34-year-old Ludington man also were due to overdoses, police said.

Investigators suspect that the heroin was bought outside of the area and brought into the city.

Ludington Police Chief Mark Barnett said in a statement that like other U.S. cities Ludington "is experiencing a huge surge in the use of heroin." He said education, treatment and "vigorous enforcement" are needed to curb problems linked to the drug.

Democrats running for governor to have 2 televised debates

LANSING (AP) — Michigan's three Democratic candidates for governor will meet for two televised debates.

The state Democratic Party on Wednesday announced debates scheduled for June 20 on WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids and July 19 on WDIV-TV in Detroit.

Democrats Gretchen Whitmer, Shri Thanedar and Abdul El-Sayed are running in the August primary election.

Democratic Party Chairman Brandon Dillon said the debates will "provide an open forum for all of our great candidates to share their vision to fight for working families and move Michigan forward."

Republicans have had one televised debate and have another scheduled in June. Democratic and Republican candidates will appear for a joint debate at next week's Mackinac Island policy conference hosted by the Detroit Regional Chamber.

Feds say Detroit-area airport inspector got $5M in kickbacks

ROMULUS (AP) — A former Detroit-area airport official is accused of receiving more than $5 million in kickbacks from contractors.

Federal prosecutors said it's one of the largest bribery cases in Michigan's Eastern District.

James Warner was charged Wednesday with conspiracy, bribery, money laundering and obstruction of justice. He was an infrastructure manager at the agency that runs Detroit Metropolitan Airport, from 2010-14.

The indictment says Warner told a contractor that kickbacks were the "cost of doing business" at the airport. The indictment says Warner once wrote a cash demand on a napkin, passed it to a contractor and then ate it.

A not-guilty plea was entered when Warner appeared in court. The government so far has seized about $4 million from him.

Prison sentence set aside for polite bank robber

JACKSON (AP) — The Michigan appeals court says a four-year prison sentence for a polite bank robber was unreasonable.

The court has granted a new hearing to James Gailey. Guidelines suggested a minimum sentence of 10 months in jail, but Jackson County Judge John McBain went much higher.

Gailey pleaded guilty to robbing a bank just two days before Christmas in 2014. He told a teller to put money into a cloth bag. Gailey didn't have a weapon, and he apologized several times.

He was accused of robbing the same bank months later.

The appeals court says the judge failed to adequately justify the minimum four-year sentence. The same punishment still is possible at the next hearing.

Gailey has been in prison for 2½ years.

Foam rubber gold bars fool man who burglarized West Michigan shop

GRAND RAPIDS (AP) — Fake promotional gold bars apparently appeared so much like the real thing that someone broke into a West Michigan flooring shop to take them.

WXMI-TV reported Old to Gold Hardwood Floors owner Rowdy Lapham arrived at work Monday to find his store in Grand Rapids burglarized. Foam rubber gold bars featuring the company's logo were strewn about.

A rock was used to break through a window around 2 a.m. Sunday. The burglar was seen on surveillance video roaming through the shop.

Employee Nick Butler told WZZM-TV that the thief may have walked past a window and saw the stack of bars and "thought, wow, someone forgot to put these gold bars away."

The squeezable bars are for stress relief. Butler said the company's motto is stress-free flooring.

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