Traverse City Record-Eagle

February 1, 2013

Michigan in Brief: 02/01/2013


---- —

Shooting spree suspect found competent

NOVI — A man charged in a shooting spree that targeted motorists along a highway corridor in four Michigan counties has been found competent to stand trial in Oakland County.

The findings were discussed during a hearing Thursday in Novi District Court.

Raulie Casteel faces a separate set of charges in Howell District Court, where the state attorney general's office has brought seven counts against the 43-year-old Wixom resident.

He was found competent for trial there during a hearing held Wednesday.

Casteel faces 60 counts in Oakland County, including assault with intent to murder. The AG's office brought a terrorism charge against him.

Authorities say the unemployed geologist shot at two-dozen cars along Interstate 96 in October.

Casteel lawyer Charles Groh says he's "pursuing all possible defenses" for his client.

Senate OKs Blue Cross Blue Shield overhaul

LANSING — The state Senate on Thursday again approved an operational overhaul of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan — the state's largest health insurer — about a month after Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed one of his top priorities because of last-minute abortion provisions added to gain majority Republicans' support.

The bills that won unanimous approval no longer include language that would prevent insurers and businesses from providing elective abortion coverage in employee health plans.

The plan now heads to the House, where its future is murkier because a new crop of lawmakers took office weeks after the Republican governor's veto. The proposed reworking of Blue Cross does away with a law that gives the insurer immunity from paying about $100 million a year in taxes to state and local governments in exchange for providing insurance coverage regardless of a customer's health status.

Man speeds before fatal U.P. snowmobile crash

CRYSTAL FALLS — Authorities in Michigan's Upper Peninsula say a 54-year-old Illinois man was speeding on a snowmobile when he left a road and hit a tree, killing himself.

The Iron County sheriff's department in Crystal Falls says the fatal crash happened about 1:10 p.m. Thursday on a Department of Natural Resources road in the unincorporated community of Amasa. It's about 55 miles west-southwest of Marquette.

The department says the man was from Mokena, Ill., about 25 miles southwest of Chicago. It didn't immediately release his name because relatives were still being contacted.

Mich. gets $2.5 million in 'robo-signing' deal

LANSING — Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has reached a civil settlement with a mortgage document processing company accused of "robo-signing." Schuette announced Thursday that Michigan will receive $2.5 million from now defunct DocX and its parent company Lender Processing Services Inc.

In an April 2011 investigation, Schuette found former DocX President Lorraine Brown had instructed employees to forge signatures on mortgage documents. Schuette's office says DocX wanted to quickly process documents and bring in more money for the company.

The attorney general's office says that more than 1,000 Michigan documents were affected by the scheme. The settlement includes the estimated profits the company made in the scheme in Michigan.

In November 2012, Schuette also brought criminal charges against Brown for racketeering. The charge can bring up to 20 years in prison.