Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 22, 2012

Region in Brief: 11/22/2012


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Police say man, 22, assaulted his girlfriend

TRAVERSE CITY — Police arrested a Traverse City man after an assault.

A woman, 19, reported that she was with her boyfriend at the Whiting Hotel in downtown Traverse City Tuesday evening when they began to argue. The man grabbed the victim by the face, shook her and pushed her up against the wall, police said.

When she tried to run away, the suspect followed her, grabbed her by the hair and kicked a window out of her vehicle.

The suspect, 22, was arrested for domestic violence and malicious destruction of property.

Woman, 34, killed after deer hits vehicle

BIRCH RUN TOWNSHIP — State police say a deer hit by a vehicle crashed through the windshield of another car in Saginaw County, killing a 34-year-old woman and leaving her husband in critical condition.

WSGW-AM says the accident occurred late Tuesday afternoon on Dixie Highway in Birch Run Township, near Frankenmuth.

State police say Amanda Gibbs of Bridgeport died at the scene of the crash, and 34-year-old Phillip Gibbs was in critical condition at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

Animal advocate faces charges over dead dog

THORNAPPLE TOWNSHIP — A West Michigan animal welfare advocate faces misdemeanor cruelty charges after the bodies of two to three dogs were found at a house she owned that went into foreclosure.

The remains of the dogs were discovered last week. A man who bought the home in Barry County's Thornapple Township was cleaning the yard and found the bodies in trash bags near the garage, reported Wednesday.

"It was really odd to me that these dogs were just kind of disposed of this way," the new homeowner, Kurt Wierenga, said.

The home, about 120 miles northwest of Detroit, had been owned by Marcie Tepper, who has worked with the Barry County Animal Shelter for 17 years and is the liaison to the animal control advisory board.

She has yet to appear in court on the charges. No attorney was listed for her in court records, and she did not immediately return a phone message to The Associated Press on Wednesday seeking comment.

Tepper told WOOD-TV last week that she no longer could care for the dogs or find new homes so she euthanized them. She also said she could not afford to keep up payments on the house because she spent most of her money caring for the dogs.

"I got so angry when I lost my home," she told the television station.

Wierenga bought the house in April, but could not get inside until October. When he did, Wierenga said he found one live and one dead dog inside, along with piles of trash and dog kennels.

Lawyer: Mich. justice fighting to keep house

DETROIT — A Michigan Supreme Court justice accused of fraud in a short sale will fight to keep her Florida house, her lawyer said Wednesday.

Steve Fishman declined to address the government's specific allegations against Justice Diane Hathaway and her husband. But he said the couple will file a claim to keep a home in Windermere, Fla., out of the hands of federal authorities.

"Of course they are filing a claim. It's their house," Fishman said in an interview.

The U.S. attorney's office in Detroit filed a forfeiture lawsuit Monday seeking to seize the home as the fruit of a shady real estate deal.

Hathaway has not been charged with a crime.

The government said Hathaway and Michael Kingsley temporarily transferred the Florida property to a relative while trying in 2010 to negotiate a short sale on their home in Grosse Pointe Park, a Detroit suburb.

After the short sale went through and a $600,000 debt was erased, the Florida home went back into the couple's names, according to the government.

The government contends ING Bank was the victim of fraud because the transfers weren't disclosed. The discovery of a major asset might have convinced the bank to reject a short sale, which means a bank and a borrower agree to sell a property for less than what is owed on the mortgage.

It's unclear whether the bank blessed the government's lawsuit, but authorities didn't need approval, an expert said.

"The U.S. attorney can act independently," said Detroit-area attorney Jorin Rubin, who filed forfeiture complaints when she worked for the government. "The victim is private but the crime is a public crime. They are enforcing the bank laws."