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State Briefs

By The Associated Press • Mar 27, 2019 at 8:00 AM

Officials plan tests for soil toxins in Allegan County

LANSING (AP) — State technicians have begun testing soils in a southwestern Michigan community for pollution from paper mill waste.

The Otsego Study Area in Allegan County includes areas where paper sludge and fly ash from the Menasha Corp.'s Otsego paper mill operation were applied to the land. In other locations, a waste product from the papermaking process known as "black liquor" was spread on county roads to suppress dust.

Samples will be taken and analyzed for toxic chemicals known as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, as well as dioxins and furans.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality said the operation will last several weeks.

After laboratory results are analyzed, state agencies will convene a public meeting to announce the results.

Former police chief pleads guilty to fraud, tax charges

BAY CITY (AP) — The former police chief of a central Michigan village has pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud and filing a false income tax return.

Prosecutors said Tuesday that former Oakley Police Chief Robert Reznick entered the plea before U.S. Magistrate Judge Patricia Morris in Bay City.

Court records say Reznick used his position as police chief to obtain reduced prices on firearms, ammunition and other equipment from suppliers, then sold the merchandise to reserve officers for personal profit. Prosecutors say that while the population of Oakley was under 300 people, Reznick recruited and maintained a roster of approximately 120 reserve officers, most of whom lived outside of Oakley.

After federal agents raided Reznick's home in 2017, Oakley trustees voted not to renew contracts for their part-time, six-person police department.

Cases of donated water found in old Flint school

FLINT (AP) — Numerous cases of bottled water have been discovered inside a former school in Flint.

The Flint Journal reported the water was found by two people who were inside an old school next to the former St. Agnes Church.

Jimmy Cowell shared his video with the newspaper. He said he was "dumbfounded" to see water mixed with debris in the building.

Flint residents received free water from many sources after their water system was contaminated by lead in 2014 and 2015. Roberto Torres recalls delivering and unloading water at the church from donors in Grand Rapids.

Torres said he's not sure if water found in the old school was part of his 2016 delivery. He said many families were taking water home that same day.

Flint's water quality has improved, although residents still are advised to run tap water through a filter.

Michigan priest pleads no contest to sexual misconduct

SAGINAW (AP) — A 72-year-old Michigan priest has pleaded no contest to sexual misconduct, less than a week after he was acquitted in a different case.

The Rev. Robert DeLand's plea occurred Tuesday before jury selection in the second of three trials.

The Saginaw County Prosecutor's Office said the plea closes three remaining cases. DeLand pleaded no contest to second-degree criminal sexual conduct causing injury and gross indecency between males. Some charges were dropped.

A no-contest plea means DeLand didn't contest the evidence. There was no sentencing agreement with prosecutors.

Authorities wouldn’t comment until a news conference planned for today.

DeLand was pastor at St. Agnes Church in Freeland until his arrest in February 2018. He also regularly mixed with students at Freeland High School.

Man catches on fire while burning leaves in Huron County

CASEVILLE TWP. (AP) — Authorities said a man suffered burns to the lower half of his body after he accidentally caught on fire while burning leaves in Michigan’s Thumb region.

The Huron County Sheriff's Office said Allen B. Fisher, 35, was burning leaves Monday afternoon near a home in Caseville Township. Police said Fisher's overalls caught on fire. His father and a neighbor extinguished the clothing fire, but Fisher had severe burns from the waist down.

Fisher was taken to a local hospital and transported by air to another hospital for treatment.

Officer says he was fooled by Nassar's 'lies' in 2004

MERIDIAN TWP. (AP) — A Michigan police officer who investigated a complaint against Larry Nassar back in 2004 says he didn't send the case to a prosecutor because the now-disgraced sports doctor fooled him.

Officials in Meridian Township publicly apologized to the victim, Brianne Randall-Gay, a year ago, after Nassar was sentenced to decades to prison for molesting girls and young women. They also took an extraordinary step, hiring an investigator to learn more about how police handled her complaint.

That report, released Tuesday, didn't reveal many new details, but it includes an interview with Andrew McCready, who investigated Randall-Gay's allegation that Nassar had molested her. Nassar told police he was performing a legitimate medical procedure.

McCready said, "I believed his lies."

Randall-Gay, who lives in the Seattle area, said she forgives McCready.

Man sentenced for wife's slaying inside marijuana grow room

ST. JOSEPH (AP) — A man convicted in the fatal shooting of his wife inside a marijuana grow room in their southwestern Michigan home has been sentenced to life in prison without parole.

John Lewis was given the mandatory punishment Monday in a Berrien County courtroom after a jury in February found him guilty of murder .

Authorities said he killed 55-year-old Carla Lewis in 2017 in their Niles Township home and then called 911, saying two men had broken into the home, killed her and fled in her car.

Attorney Jolene Weiner-Vatter told the court Monday that her client "maintains his innocence" and is adamant that the killers remain "in the community."

Prosecutors argued John Lewis was having affairs and stood to get a life insurance windfall.

18 measles cases in Detroit area since March 13, health officials say

OAK PARK (AP) — Michigan health officials say 10 more cases of measles have been confirmed in the Detroit area, raising the number in Oakland County to 18 since March 13.

The highly contagious disease has been linked to a person who was visiting from Israel and had stayed in New York, where there's a measles outbreak.

Officials say people may have been exposed this month in Detroit and in the suburbs of Oak Park, Berkley, Farmington Hills, Royal Oak and Southfield, including at synagogues, Jewish educational institutions, a hospital and grocery stores.

Michigan health officials last year urged people to get vaccinated after confirming several measles cases in the state. They're urging vaccinations following this month's cases.

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