State Briefs

Associated Press • Sep 20, 2017 at 9:00 AM

Dairy farm owner pleads guilty to using illegal labor

CASS CITY (AP) — The owner of two Michigan dairy farms pleaded guilty Tuesday to harboring workers who were in the U.S. illegally and agreed to pay nearly $1.4 million to the government.

Denis Burke, an Irish immigrant, admits he employed more than 100 people who were in the U.S. without legal permission. Guilty pleas were also entered on behalf of his farms, Dunganstown Dairy and Parisville Dairy, both located in Michigan's Thumb region.

Burke "gave the illegal aliens free housing on or next to his farms so the illegal aliens would be readily available for work and less accessible to immigration authorities," according to a plea agreement signed by Burke and federal prosecutors.

He and the farms have agreed to pay $1.38 million to the U.S. government. Burke also could be sent to prison when he's sentenced on Jan. 4.

His wife, Madeline Burke, will be sentenced Thursday in federal court in Bay City. She has agreed to pay $187,500.

State Sen. Schuitmaker to run for attorney general

LANSING (AP) — State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker launched her campaign for Michigan attorney general Tuesday, touting herself as a "proven" conservative to Republican activists who will choose their candidate at a 2018 nominating convention.

The 49-year-old lawyer from Lawton, southwest of Kalamazoo, also billed her ability to defeat the eventual Democratic nominee — saying she won in counties Barack Obama carried twice.

Attorney General Bill Schuette cannot run again for the office due to term limits and is instead seeking the GOP nomination for governor.

Schuitmaker is the first Republican to enter the race. The term-limited Schuitmaker is serving her seventh year in the Senate after spending six years in the House. 

UP school district rejects land sale over tobacco, alcohol

BRIMLEY (AP) — A school district in Michigan's Upper Peninsula has rejected a land sale mostly because the buyer wanted to sell tobacco and alcohol.

Dollar General offered $127,000 to buy land next to the Brimley school. But Superintendent Brian Reattoir said the retailer wouldn't agree to not stock tobacco and alcohol.

Brimley school board President Kurt Perron said it was a "deal-breaker."

The Evening News in Sault Ste. Marie reported the offer was turned down Monday night.

Perron said the school district is in no hurry to sell the land.

Fugitive Chicago police sergeant arrested after 15 years

CHICAGO (AP) — A former Chicago police sergeant wanted on federal drug and conspiracy charges has been arrested in Detroit after 15 years on the run.

The FBI announced Eddie Hicks, 68, was arrested in Detroit on Tuesday.

Hicks has been the subject of a manhunt since 2003. He appeared in federal court in Detroit and was ordered held until he can be brought to Chicago to face the charges.

Hicks is the alleged ringleader of a street crew of five men who posed as federal drug agents to shake down drug dealers for cash and narcotics. He and other members of the crew were arrested in 2001, after they were caught stealing cash and sham drugs planted by FBI agents.

Hicks dropped out of sight shortly before his trial.

Michigan Legislature OKs super PAC bills; Snyder to review

LANSING (AP) — Michigan political candidates could solicit unlimited contributions for independent committees, or super PACs, supporting their candidacies under legislation approved along party lines Tuesday by the Republican-led state Legislature.

The GOP said the bills would lock federal court rulings into state law and provide clarity seven years after a major U.S. Supreme Court decision, but Democrats countered the measure would go further and swell the flow of "dark money" into politics.

Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, did not indicate if he would sign the legislation.

The bills would codify and expand upon the 2010 Citizens United ruling. It led to a proliferation of independent political action committees — super PACs — and nonprofits that can take unlimited contributions from corporations, labor unions and others to spend independently to sway voters. The ruling, the biggest in a series of decisions declaring that limits on big-money contributions violate the givers' free-speech rights, remains a partisan flashpoint.

The legislation cleared the House 62-45, with one Republican joining Democrats in opposition. The Senate, which passed the bills last week, then gave them final approval.

Cremated remains of more than 300 placed in mausoleum

LANSING (AP) — The cremated remains of more than 300 people, most of them stillborn babies, have been placed in a crypt by Lansing's Roman Catholic bishop.

The Lansing State Journal reported that the remains had been stored at Sparrow Hospital and Lansing-area funeral homes after families failed to claim them.

Bishop Earl Boyea officiated at the ceremony Monday at St. Joseph Cemetery mausoleum. The remains in white and black boxes include roughly 40 adults.

In 2016, Elizabeth Reust, manager of the Sparrow Hospital laboratory, approached the Catholic Diocese about arranging burial. She said everyone deserves to be honored in some way "regardless of their story."

The remains will be accessible in case family members of the deceased step forward.

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