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Topic: federal RICO filed against Sheriff Pickell

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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Federal RICO lawsuit alleges sheriff traded police favors for cash

Roberto Acosta | racosta1@mlive.com By Roberto Acosta | racosta1@mlive.com
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on January 25, 2017 at 6:23 PM, updated January 25, 2017 at 9:02 PM


GENESEE COUNTY, MI -- A federal RICO lawsuit alleges Sheriff Robert Pickell received payments in exchange for deputizing residents who he believe would advanced his political power.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday, Jan. 25, in Detroit U.S. District Court by attorney Scott Batey alleges Pickell deputized people for $65-$300 a year, which allowed them to act as a deputy and agent for the Genesee County Sheriff's Office and receive work as process servers.

When reached by phone, Pickell said he had not yet seen the lawsuit.

"There's no merit to it, without looking at it," he said. "It's just hard to believe for $150 anybody could file a lawsuit."

Pickell, Scott Hope, and the Allen & Hope Process Serving Management Company are named as defendants in the lawsuit alleging two violations of the federal Racketeering Influenced And Corrupt Organizations Act and one count of violation of first amendment rights.

"From at least 2006 continuing until 2016 [d]efendants annually engaged in a pattern of racketeering where [d]efendants would take and receive money not due to them under the pretense that they were entitled to the money" by virtue of Pickell's political office, according to the lawsuit.

Checks were allegedly made out to Pickell, The Committee to Retain Sheriff Pickell, or a charity selected by Allen & Hope, described in the lawsuit as a "loosely knit business enterprise" designed to keep the sheriff in office and attack his opponents.

The amounts began at $65 and increased equally over the years, Batey claims. Plaintiffs in the case include William Trier, Jeffrey McKinsey, Harold Daniel, John Austin Harrington, Richard Sparks, Jacob Trier, Crystal Baker, and Joel Mata.

Copies of checks made out to Pickell and his campaign committee purportedly related to the allegations were attached to the lawsuit as evidence. Some of checks were endorsed with a signature reading "Scott L. Hope."

"They're typically just deputized," Batey said when contacted by MLive-The Flint Journal. "Just last week, plaintiffs were deputized by (Genesee Circuit) Judge (Richard) Yuille. He didn't charge a penny and there's no problem with charging money for deputizing if the money is going to the county. But they're acting as a political office to get money for personal gain."

If those seeking deputy status did not back the sheriff's political interest, they would not receive the designation, which the lawsuit claims is a violation of freedom of speech.

Hope, who said he had not read the lawsuit, said Wednesday afternoon when contacted by MLive-The Flint Journal that checks were filled out to Pickell to become deputies, but it was just a suggestion and "every dime" has been donated to a local charitable organization.

"We'd send out a letter each year with an amount," he said. "I never remember it being as high as $300 though."

Pickell said he was not aware of any checks and had not yet seen the lawsuit.

This isn't the first time Batey and Pickell have went head-to-head.

Embattled deputy settles retaliation lawsuit against sheriff's office

A settlement has been reached for a second sheriff's deputy who claims he was retaliated against after he gave testimony that was critical of the sheriff's office administration.

Batey previously handled a 2012 whistleblower lawsuit by fired deputy Joe Boulton who claimed he was demoted, stripped of police certification, and suspended after unfavorable testimony about Pickell and staff. A jury awarded Boulton $139,000.

A federal lawsuit in 2013 filed on behalf of former deputy Gerald Parks settled for $90,000 over allegations he was retaliated against and eventually forced to retire after providing testimony critical of the sheriff's office administration. That case was also handled by Batey.

Batey said the cases against Pickell were not personal.

"We had great success in the Boulton case and this one had merit," he said of the new lawsuit. "The ongoing cavern of what they did there is outrageous, using political office for personal gain is outrageous."

No court date has been set to hear the case.

MLive-Flint Journal reporter Oona Goodin-Smith contributed to this report.
Post Thu Jan 26, 2017 12:46 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Genesee County has no record of contested checks made out to sheriff

Oona Goodin-Smith | ogoodins@mlive.com By Oona Goodin-Smith | ogoodins@mlive.com

on April 14, 2017 at 7:00 AM, updated April 14, 2017 at 7:05 AM

FLINT, MI - Genesee County says it never received several checks made out to Sheriff Robert J. Pickell and the sheriff's department.

According to a denial of a Freedom of Information Act request from the county to MLive-The Flint Journal, the county has no record of receiving eight checks totaling $1,375 from John Harrington, a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit alleging funds from a required fee to deputize process servers went "into a bank account for the personal gain/benefit" of the sheriff.

Instead, the checks - all written between 2007 and 2013 - were deposited into a trust account at ELGA Credit Union, Scott Hope, executive director of Genesee County's process servers, told MLive-The Flint Journal.


Hope and Pickell, along with Hope's company, Allen & Hope Processing, are named in a civil federal racketeering lawsuit that alleges the three worked as a "loosely knit business enterprise" designed to "financially enrich" the three and to keep Pickell in office and attack his opponents.

Sheriff says he's 'never seen the money' alleged in federal racketeering lawsuit

Sheriff says he's 'never seen the money' alleged in federal racketeering lawsuit

Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell says he "has never seen the money" that a federal racketeering lawsuit claims he charged court process servers.

Copies of the eight checks in question - made out "Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell," "Genesee County Sheriff" and "Genesee County Sheriff's Department" - are purportedly related to the lawsuit's allegations and attached to the suit as evidence.

Some of the checks were endorsed with a signature reading "Scott L. Hope."

None of the checks, despite being made out to county entities, were deposited in county bank accounts, according to the FOIA denial.

Hope told MLive-The Flint Journal that he received checks for $140 per person for a yearly training to deputize the process servers who worked for attorneys in the county, and deposited the checks into a trust fund at the ELGA Credit Union in Burton.

While Hope said the fund wasn't a personal account, he declined to comment further on the account or the checks. He also declined to comment on why he was able to deposit checks made out to other named parties into the account.

The Freedom of Information Act denial letter also noted that Genesee County "does not maintain any accounts with Elga [sic] Credit Union, the financial institution which most of the provided checks were deposited into."

Hope's attorneys, Kyle Reim and Steve Spender, were not available for comment.

The suit, filed in January in Detroit U.S. District Court by attorney Scott Batey, alleges two violations of the federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and one count of violation of first amendment rights.

In late March, Reim, Spender, and Genesee County attorney Audrey Forbush filed similar responses to the suit, denying all allegations of wrongdoing and stating that the suit "failed to allege sufficient facts" to support its claims.

On Wednesday, April 12, Reim and Spender filed a motion requesting that Batey and his clients submit a "RICO Case Statement," specifically detailing the alleged racketeering allegations in the case.

"It's going to be pretty embarrassing for [the plaintiffs] trying to come up with reasons for [the civil suit's RICO allegations]," said Hope, who stressed that the suit's allegations had no merit.


The lawsuit filed Wednesday, Jan. 25 by attorney Scott Batey alleges Pickell deputized people for $65-$300 a year, which allowed them to act as a deputy and agent for the Genesee County Sheriff's Office and receive court assignments.

Pickell, who previously told MLive-The Flint Journal that he had "never seen the money" alleged in the suit, also said he was confident that "there is no RICO [violation]."

Pickell also said that, like the county, he had nothing to do with the checks, nor knew where they were deposited.

"You're talking to the wrong guy," he said. "I know nothing about these checks. This lawsuit is about lawyer talk. Anyone with $150 can file a lawsuit and say anything they want about a person."

He compared the allegations to those made in a lawsuit against the county and its undersheriff that claimed a Burton Coney Island owner was the victim of a police shakedown.

The suit was dismissed on March 20 after a Genesee County judge determined that the undersheriff had been acting within legal bounds.


During a summary disposition on Monday, March 20, Circuit Judge Archie Hayman ruled from the bench to grant the defendants' motion to dismiss the case, stating the alleged police "pseudo sting" set up to survey stolen meat purchases was within legal bounds of "law enforcement officers conducting an investigation."


According to the current racketeering civil lawsuit, the alleged pay-to-play deputizing system allowed process servers - individuals who perform numerous court-related tasks, including serving legal documents - to receive work as deputies and agents of the Genesee County Sheriff's Office.

The plaintiffs in the case are six former process servers and Genesee County residents: William Trier, Jeffrey McKinsey, Harold Daniel, John Austin Harrington, Richard Sparks and Jacob Trier.

The system for empowering process servers varies from county to county across Michigan, said Blaine Koops, executive director and CEO of the Michigan Sheriff's Association. In Allegan County, where Koops was sheriff for 16 years, a local company was hired to do process serving, and only one of its employees was deputized, he said.

As of January 2017, the system of deputizing process servers in Genesee County has moved into the courts, where servers obtain similar authority as officers of the court, Pickell said.

Batey previously said that his clients had already taken advantage of the switch and were deputized in January by Chief Circuit Judge Richard B. Yuille.

"He didn't charge a penny," said Batey. "And there's no problem with charging money for deputizing if the money is going to the county, but they're acting as a political office to get money for personal gain."

"From at least 2006 continuing until 2016, defendants annually engaged in a pattern of racketeering where defendants would take and receive money not due to them under the pretense that they were entitled to the money," the lawsuit claims.

Checks were allegedly made out to Pickell, The Committee to Retain Sheriff Pickell, or a charity selected by Allen & Hope.

Hope previously said that the checks were made out to Pickell by process servers who wanted to be deputized, but that the money "was just a suggestion" and "every dime" has been donated to a local charitable organization of Pickell's choosing.

Pickell, Hope, and Hope's company were also named defendants in a potential lawsuit claim surrounding alleged "malicious" Facebook posts about the sex life of a public dissenter of Pickell.

In March, Genesee County paid $212,500 to settle the threatened suit, according to records obtained by MLive-The Flint Journal.



Genesee County paid $212,500 to avoid a lawsuit over alleged "malicious" Facebook posts about the sex life of a public dissenter of Sheriff Robert J. Pickell, records of Mic
Post Fri Apr 14, 2017 12:44 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Lawyers asking if more process servers will join RICO lawsuit against sheriff

Oona Goodin-Smith | ogoodins@mlive.com By Oona Goodin-Smith | ogoodins@mlive.com
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on May 02, 2017 at 7:00 AM, updated May 02, 2017 at 7:05 AM

FLINT, MI -- An attorney for Genesee County says he is working to determine if more process servers are going to join a federal racketeering lawsuit alleging Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell is engaged in a racketeering operation alongside the county's process serving company

Michael Edmunds, who represents Pickell in the case, said he has reason to believe that more may come forward and he decided to send a letter to former process servers last week asking whether they also intend to sue the sheriff and county.

As of Monday, May 1, none of the county's process servers have responded to the letter, according to Edmunds.
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The letters were issued after a lawsuit was filed claiming an alleged pay-to-play deputizing system allowed process servers -- individuals who perform numerous court-related tasks, including serving legal documents -- to receive work as deputies and agents of the Genesee County Sheriff's Office.

"I'm trying to figure out whether to settle or fight," Edmunds said. "There's a misconception that you settle if you did something wrong, or go to trial if you're right. It was an informal poll to see where folks stand."

The current plaintiffs in the case are six former process servers and Genesee County residents: William Trier, Jeffrey McKinsey, Harold Daniel, John Austin Harrington, Richard Sparks and Jacob Trier.

Scott Batey, an attorney for the six process servers, consulted with Edmunds on the letter.

The lawsuit, filed by Batey in January, alleges that Pickell; Scott Hope, Genesee County's executive director of process servers; and Hope's company, Allen & Hope Processing; worked as a "loosely knit business enterprise" designed to "financially enrich" the three and to keep Pickell in office and attack his opponents.

Other attorneys in the case, however, are asking a judge to order Batey to clarify the allegations his clients are making in the lawsuit.

Kyle Reim and Steve Spender, lawyers for Scott Hope and his company have filed a motion requesting that the attorney behind the civil racketeering allegations submit a formal civil RICO case statement, which would outline specifics behind the claims.

Some courts order attorneys to file the statement, which requires precise detail outlining when, where and how the alleged racketeering ensued. However, the Detroit U.S. District Court -- where the suit was filed -- does not.

Neither Reim nor Spender was immediately available for comment on the motion.

In their motion, Reim and Spender wrote that a statement outlining the specifics of the allegations "would be of vital help in the instant action by, not only narrowing the issues, but also curtailing anticipated extensive motion practice directed at dismissing all or part of the ... complaint."



Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell says he "has never seen the money" that a federal racketeering lawsuit claims he charged court process servers.

Batey, who filed a response to the motion on May 1, called the request for a formal statement "unnecessary."

"The pleadings speak for themselves," he said. "The evidence is so overwhelming. But if the court determines that it's necessary, we'll oblige."

A Freedom of Information Act request from MLive-The Flint Journal showed that the county has no record of receiving eight checks totaling $1,375 from Harrington, which were attached to the lawsuit as evidence. The lawsuit claims the checks were intended to cover a required fee to deputize process servers.

Instead, the checks -- all written between 2007 and 2013 -- were deposited into a trust account at ELGA Credit Union, Hope previously told MLive-The Flint Journal.


Instead, the checks - all written between 2007 and 2013 - were deposited into a trust account at ELGA Credit Union, Scott Hope, executive director of Genesee County's process servers, told MLive-The Flint Journal.

The checks were made out to "Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell," "Genesee County Sheriff" and "Genesee County Sheriff's Department."

Some of the checks were endorsed with a signature reading "Scott L. Hope."

None of the checks, despite being made out to county entities, were deposited in county bank accounts.

Hope told MLive-The Flint Journal that he received checks for $140 per person for a yearly training to deputize the process servers who worked for attorneys in the county, and deposited the checks into a trust fund at the ELGA Credit Union in Burton.

While Hope said the fund wasn't a personal account, he declined to comment further on the account or the checks. He also declined to comment on why he was able to deposit checks made out to other named parties into the account.

Genesee County, in its FOIA response, claimed it "does not maintain any accounts with Elga [sic] Credit Union, the financial institution which most of the provided checks were deposited into."

Pickell, who previously told MLive-The Flint Journal that he had "never seen the money" alleged in the suit, also said he was confident that "there is no RICO [violation]."

Pickell also said that, like the county, he had nothing to do with the checks, nor knew where they were deposited.

"You're talking to the wrong guy," he said previously. "I know nothing about these checks. This lawsuit is about lawyer talk. Anyone with $150 can file a lawsuit and say anything they want about a person."



The lawsuit filed Wednesday, Jan. 25 by attorney Scott Batey alleges Pickell deputized people for $65-$300 a year, which allowed them to act as a deputy and agent for the Genesee County Sheriff's Office and receive court assignments.

The suit claims that "from at least 2006 continuing until 2016, defendants annually engaged in a pattern of racketeering where defendants would take and receive money not due to them under the pretense that they were entitled to the money."

Checks were allegedly made out to Pickell, The Committee to Retain Sheriff Pickell, or a charity selected by Allen & Hope.

Hope previously said that the checks were made out to Pickell by process servers who wanted to be deputized, but that the money "was just a suggestion" and "every dime" has been donated to a local charitable organization of Pickell's choosing.

Pickell, Hope, and Hope's company were also named defendants in a potential lawsuit surrounding alleged "malicious" Facebook posts about the sex life of a public dissenter of Pickell.

In March, Genesee County paid $212,500 to settle the threatened suit, according to records obtained by MLive-The Flint Journal.
Post Tue May 02, 2017 8:02 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Attorney asks to double number of plaintiffs in RICO suit against sheriff

-855cfec218251516.jpg
Genesee County Sheriff Robert J. Pickell (Jake May I MLive.com)
Print Email Oona Goodin-Smith | ogoodins@mlive.com By Oona Goodin-Smith | ogoodins@mlive.com
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on June 05, 2017 at 3:32 PM
FLINT, MI -- Six additional former Genesee County process servers have come forward in a federal lawsuit alleging Sheriff Robert Pickell is engaged in a racketeering operation alongside the process serving company hired by the county.

In May, Scott Batey, the attorney representing the former process servers suing the sheriff and county, filed a motion to add Jeffrey Harrington, Walter Johnson, Steven Johnson, Cal Ter Haar, Aaron Johnson and Jeff Moynihan to the list of plaintiffs in the case.

If approved by Detroit U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh, the six will join William Trier, Jeff McKinsey, John Austin Harrington, Richard Sparks and Jacob Trier in the suit.

The additional plaintiffs came forward after Michael Edmunds -- Pickell's attorney -- sent a letter to former process servers asking whether they also intend to sue the sheriff and county.

"I'm glad they came forward," said Edmunds. "Now, when I win, I can beat them all at the same time."

The letters were issued after a lawsuit was filed claiming an alleged pay-to-play deputizing system allowed process servers -- individuals who perform numerous court-related tasks, including serving legal documents -- to receive work as deputies and agents of the Genesee County Sheriff's Office.

The lawsuit, filed by Batey in January, alleges that Pickell; Scott Hope, Genesee County's executive director of process servers; and Hope's company, Allen & Hope Processing; worked as a "loosely knit business enterprise" designed to "financially enrich" the three and to keep Pickell in office and attack his opponents.

Batey specified his claims in his most-recent motion, stating that that three worked to "personally enrich themselves by charging plaintiffs to become deputies with the money going to Sheriff Pickell personally, the Committee to Retain Sheriff Pickell or a charity of Sheriff Pickell's choice in violation of RICO."

Lawyers asking if more process servers will join RICO lawsuit against sheriff
Lawyers asking if more process servers will join RICO lawsuit against sheriff
Federal lawsuit claims alleging Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell is engaged in a racketeering operation alongside the county's process serving company aren't backed by "substantial facts," attorneys argue.

In addition, the suit's updated complaint alleges that the former process servers' First Amendment rights were violated when they were banned from being deputized for their exercise of their First Amendment rights for not supporting Sheriff Pickell in the 2016 election.

"Sheriff Pickell rewarded [Scott Hope], to the detriment of the plaintiffs, for his political support and for his efforts in publicly attacking political opponents of ... Pickell," Batey wrote in the complaint.

In addition to asking to double the number of plaintiffs in the suit, Batey also requested to add Hope's wife, Charissa Hope, to the list of defendants in the case.

The motion alleges that Charissa Hope "may have, at the most, been the person to devise Defendants' illegal activities, and, at the least, an active participant and beneficiary with her co-defendants in their legal activities."

Kyle Reim and Steve Spender -- the attorneys representing Scott Hope and his process serving company in the suit -- did not return calls for comment.

However, in a response to Batey's motion, Reim wrote that the alleged RICO violations are still unclear and that the "plaintiffs are still trying to determine exactly what their case is during the litigation process."

Sheriff says he's 'never seen the money' alleged in racketeering lawsuit
Sheriff says he's 'never seen the money' alleged in racketeering lawsuit
Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell says he "has never seen the money" that a federal racketeering lawsuit claims he charged court process servers.

"This is simply unfair," Reim wrote, requesting that Batey submit a formal civil RICO case statement outlining specifics behind the claims.

Some courts order attorneys to file the statement, which requires precise detail outlining when, where and how the alleged racketeering ensued. However, the Detroit U.S. District Court -- where the suit was filed -- does not.

A Freedom of Information Act request from MLive-The Flint Journal showed that the county has no record of receiving eight checks totaling $1,375 from Harrington, which were attached to the lawsuit as evidence. The lawsuit claims the checks were intended to cover a required fee to deputize process servers.

Instead, the checks -- all written between 2007 and 2013 -- were deposited into a trust account at ELGA Credit Union, Hope previously told MLive-The Flint Journal.

The checks were made out to "Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell," "Genesee County Sheriff" and "Genesee County Sheriff's Department."

Some of the checks were endorsed with a signature reading "Scott L. Hope."

None of the checks, despite being made out to county entities, were deposited in county bank accounts.

Genesee County has no record of contested checks made out to sheriff
Genesee County has no record of contested checks made out to sheriff
Instead, the checks – all written between 2007 and 2013 – were deposited into a trust account at ELGA Credit Union, Scott Hope, executive director of Genesee County's process servers, told MLive-The Flint Journal.

Hope told MLive-The Flint Journal that he received checks for $140 per person for a yearly training to deputize the process servers who worked for attorneys in the county and deposited the checks into a trust fund at the ELGA Credit Union in Burton.

While Hope said the fund wasn't a personal account, he declined to comment further on the account or the checks. He also declined to comment on why he was able to deposit checks made out to other named parties into the account.

Genesee County, in its FOIA response, claimed it "does not maintain any accounts with Elga [sic] Credit Union, the financial institution which most of the provided checks were deposited into."

Pickell, who previously told MLive-The Flint Journal that he had "never seen the money" alleged in the suit, also said he was confident that "there is no RICO [violation]."

Pickell also said that, like the county, he had nothing to do with the checks, nor knew where they were deposited.

"You're talking to the wrong guy," he said previously. "I know nothing about these checks. This lawsuit is about lawyer talk. Anyone with $150 can file a lawsuit and say anything they want about a person."

The suit claims that "from at least 2006 continuing until 2016, defendants annually engaged in a pattern of racketeering where defendants would take and receive money not due to them under the pretense that they were entitled to the money."

Checks were allegedly made out to Pickell, The Committee to Retain Sheriff Pickell, or a charity selected by Allen & Hope.

Hope previously said that the checks were made out to Pickell by process servers who wanted to be deputized, but that the money "was just a suggestion" and "every dime" has been donated to a local charitable organization of Pickell's choosing.

Pickell, Hope and Hope's company were also named defendants in a potential lawsuit surrounding alleged "malicious" Facebook posts about the sex life of a public dissenter of Pickell.

In March, Genesee County paid $212,500 to settle the threatened suit, according to records obtained by MLive-The Flint Journal.
Post Tue Jun 06, 2017 12:37 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

· Archie Bailey: The McArthur Letter
August 19 at 2:47pm ·
Pickell and the Board of Commissioners take MAJOR hit in federal court
➡️ BREAKING NEWS
🔹 Like and share so others know

Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell et al received a major hit when the Honorable Federal District Court Judge George Caram Steeh ruled in favor of the deputized Genesee County process servers fired by Pickell after the 2016 General Election.

Posts below reveal that Pickell’s Committee to Retain Sheriff Robert Pickell raised a staggering $240,000 in re-election campaign contributions. $240,000 is an unpreceded amount for a sheriff’s election in Genesee County. Approximately one-third was contributed by a single donor who was later given exclusive process serving authority after Pickell won the election. Pickell fired the county’s 40 deputized process servers.

The deputies filed suit in federal court. Scott Batey, the attorney representing the deputies, wrote a solid argument on their behalf asking Judge Steeh to deny Pickell and the Board of Commissioners’ attempts to stall, derail the civil R.I.C.O. portion of the deputies’ case and complicate the proceedings. Judge Steeh agreed with attorney Batey and the case will proceed.

The deputies allege that Pickell, Scott Hope, Charissa Hope and Allen & Hope Process Serving Management Company extorted them in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The deputies also claim that their First Amendment rights were violated … when Pickell allegedly refused to deputize plaintiffs in retaliation for their support of Pickell’s political opponent.

Judge Steeh opined: “…there are twelve Genesee County process servers who have been victims of Defendants’ alleged scheme to deputize the process servers in exchange for money and then conferring on defendant Scott Hope the exclusive rights to process serving.

Furthermore, the letters allegedly signed by Pickell provide another reason for this court to draw the reasonable inference that Defendants (Pickell and the Board of Commissioners) are liable for the alleged misconduct. Taken as true, Plaintiffs’ allegations support the existence of open continuity. Plaintiffs have pled sufficient facts in support of their civil RICO claim…”

Judge Steeh concludes: “…for reasons set forth above, Plaintiffs’ motion…is GRANTED. Consistent with the analysis herein, Defendants’ motion is DENIED as moot.”

How serious is all of this? The board of commissioners is represented by their outside counsel. The board of commissioners granted Pickell the right to use his own personal attorney to represent him …paid for by Genesee County taxpayers. A unique move.

This is a developing story. Stay tuned for further details. Please share.
Post Tue Aug 22, 2017 1:09 pm 
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