News (AP) - Investor in Michigan film studio charged in fraud

GRAND RAPIDS (AP) -- The primary investor behind a project to convert a former auto parts plant into a film production studio was charged Monday with trying to defraud the state out of a $10 million tax credit.

Joseph Peters, 46, of Ada, is accused of falsely claiming in an application for a 25 percent infrastructure tax credit that his company bought Hangar42 in Walker for $40 million. The application to the Michigan Film Office was denied because Peters couldn't properly document the investment, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox said.

The western Michigan property wasn't transferred to Peters' company and the $40 million price was about four times the property's listing price just a few months before its purported sale, Cox said.

Peters was charged in 61st District Court in Kent County with trying to steal more than $20,000 by fraud. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison.

Peters told The Grand Rapids Press that he had "no idea" about the charge. He said Hangar42 Studios was a legitimate project with a lot of promise, but that he now considers it dead.

A message seeking comment from Peters was left with a spokeswoman for Hangar42 on Monday.

Cox, one of five Republicans running for governor, announced the charge a day before Tuesday's primary.

Hangar42 Studios in February announced the opening of its facility near Grand Rapids. The government built the plant in 1942 for military airplane and boat manufacturing. It later was a General Motors Corp. and Lear Corp. plant.

Published: Wed, Aug 4, 2010