State Roundup


Video surveillance leads to drug smuggler arrest

COTTRELLVILLE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) -- Federal authorities say they caught a suspected marijuana smuggler after a boat from Canada was spotted on video surveillance making a brief stop in Michigan.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement Wednesday that the bust was made Friday.

The agency says the boat was spotted entering U.S. waters on the St. Clair River and landed in St. Clair County's Cottrellville Township, about 40 miles northeast of Detroit. Border Patrol agents then spotted and stopped a van seen leaving the area.

Inside the van they found a hockey bag containing more than 33 pounds of marijuana. One arrest was made.

Federal authorities have video surveillance in operation along the St. Clair River to help monitor water traffic between Canada and the U.S.


High-speed Lake Express ferry makes plans

MUSKEGON, Mich. (AP) -- The high-speed Lake Express ferry is making plans for the 2012 season after a year that saw service hampered by engine problems.

The Muskegon Chronicle reports the Lake Michigan ferry service between Milwaukee to Muskegon will work to improve customer service, make small changes to its schedule and overhaul its pricing and marketing before service resumes.

Company President Ken Szallai says the ferry's ninth season could begin April 27 and continue through Nov. 2. Exact dates and schedules are still to be determined.

The start of the 2011 season was delayed three weeks by engine problems. Service also was suspended for a period starting in July.


Michigan woman pleads guilty to money laundering

VALPARAISO, Ind. (AP) -- A Michigan woman arrested after northern Indiana police discovered $265,000 hidden in the trunk of her car has pleaded guilty to money laundering.

The Times of Munster reports that 26-year-old Katherine Collazo-Santiago of Grand Rapids entered the plea Tuesday on a Class D felony reduced from Class C. A plea agreement calls for six months in jail, minus credit for time served when she is sentenced Jan. 12.

The term also can be cut in half for good behavior.

Collazo-Santiago told Porter Circuit Judge Mary Harper she was aware the money had been generated through criminal activity. It was discovered in a hidden compartment in her car trunk during a traffic stop.

The Porter County prosecutor's office is suing for ownership of the money and her 2001 Hyundai Accent.


Neglect ticket

dismissed vs. wrong-way biker

DETROIT (AP) -- A parental neglect charge against a Detroit business owner who was stopped for biking the wrong way on a one-way street while hauling his 3-year-old twin boys in a bike trailer has been dismissed.

The Detroit Free Press reports the charge against Sean Harrington was dismissed Tuesday. He still faces traffic-related charges.

Harrington, whose businesses include Town Pump Tavern, says he was riding on the sidewalk Sept. 2 to his home in Detroit when he came across pedestrians, so he pulled onto the street. A court hearing on the traffic charges is scheduled for Jan. 18.

Harrington says he'll fight those charges as well.

Police have said Harrington was in the middle of the street and heavy traffic due to a Tigers game was swerving to avoid him.


Ex-Pontiac fire chief charged

with bribe-taking

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) -- Ex-Pontiac fire Chief Jeffrey Hawkins has been charged with bribery, accused of taking payment from a bar owner in exchange for ignoring code violations.

Jeffrey Hawkins appeared Tuesday before District Judge Michael Martinez, who released him on a $5,000 personal bond. Hawkins' next court date is Nov. 22.

Hawkins retired last year after 22 years with the fire department, including 11 as chief.

Defense lawyer Elbert Hatchett says the case is "very unusual" because the FBI investigated and then turned its findings over to the state for prosecution.

Hawkins is accused of accepting a $500 cash payment from the bar owner in 2009 and later taking $500 from an undercover FBI investigator.


15 years for man in arson that hurt 7 firefighters

DETROIT (AP) -- A man convicted of setting a fire that paralyzed one Detroit firefighter and injured six others has been sentenced to 15 years in federal prison.

Thirty-one-year-old Samson Wright pleaded guilty in May to malicious use of fire in the 2010 blaze at a commercial building on Detroit's east side. Detroit U.S. District Judge John Corbett O'Meara sentenced him Wednesday.

The U.S. attorney's office took on the case because the fire happened in a building that housed a wireless phone store engaged in interstate commerce.

The firefighters were hurt when bricks and debris fell on them. One is paralyzed and uses a wheelchair.

A jury convicted co-defendant Calvin Jones in July. He faces up to 40 years in prison when he's sentenced Nov. 30.

Published: Thu, Nov 17, 2011