Duly Noted . . .

Former representatives Gamrat and Courser face felony charges

Last Friday, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and the Michigan State Police (MSP) announced that felony charges of misconduct in office have been filed against former State Representatives Cindy Gamrat and Todd Courser following a joint investigation by MSP and the Department of Attorney General into the actions of the two former state officials that ended with the expulsion of Gamrat and resignation of Courser last year. Courser was also charged with one count of felony perjury related to testimony he gave to the Michigan House of Representatives while under oath.

Schuette said the case will be forwarded to the Michigan Secretary of State, which has initial jurisdiction over state campaign finance law, to review for possible violations, and to the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission. Courser is currently licensed to practice law in Michigan. 

Charges against Gamrat and Courser were filed at the 54-A District Court in Ingham County.  The defendants will be contacted via their attorneys and have been offered the chance to turn themselves in to the MSP. Arraignments are expected soon thereafter.

Schuette’s office opened its investigation late last summer and officially joined with the MSP following passage of House Resolutions 141 and 145 on Sept. 11, 2015, which formally requested an investigation.

While more details will be revealed during the prosecution, Schuette said that charges will allege that Gamrat and Courser engaged in a pattern of corrupt conduct while holding state office, including both lying to the House Business Office during its investigation and Courser lying during testimony before the House Select Committee, while under oath, about directing staff to forge his signature on proposed legislation. The charges:

Cindy Gamrat: Two charges of Misconduct in Office, MCL 750.505, a felony, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or a maximum $10,000 fine.

Todd Courser: Three charges of Misconduct in Office, MCL 750.505, a felony, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or a maximum $10,000 fine; one charge of Perjury, MCL 750.423, a felony, with a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

“The voters placed a sacred trust in the hands of Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat when they chose them to serve as their voices in the Capitol,” said Schuette. “But instead of serving their home towns, they served only themselves at the expense of everyone else.

“With the filing of these charges, it is my hope that citizens of Michigan see that no one is above the law, not even those who walk in the halls of power; that no one is beyond the reach of the law, not even those who make the laws and when laws are broken, that justice can and will be delivered.

These charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.