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Topic: Weaver: Weaving a pattern of deceit
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

FLINT NEWS
Claims of police influence, bribery raised in Flint mayor recall hearing

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Updated on August 29, 2017 at 6:02 PM Posted on August 29, 2017 at 5:46 PM

By Oona Goodin-Smith ogoodins@mlive.com
FLINT, MI - The Flint Police Department's involvement in investigating the recall of Mayor Karen Weaver came under fire in court Tuesday as multiple petition signers told the judge they had been ordered by police to testify in the mayor's civil suit.

Two witnesses called to testify by Weaver's attorney also levied accusations of bribery against the mayor's administration.

After listening to testimony from four Flint voters who said they were directed in house visits and phone calls to come to court on Tuesday, Aug. 29, Genesee County Judge Geoffrey L. Neithercut paused the mayor's attorney's exam to ask a question of his own.

"The statute says we authorize either the county sheriff or civil process servers to serve subpoenas, so I don't understand why Flint city police officers are involved in a civil suit - what's that all about?" Neithercut asked while leaning back in his chair and peering over his glasses at Weaver's attorney, Kendall Williams.

"I can't speak to that, judge," responded Williams.

"Wow," said Neithercut. "That may affect credibility issues on this case."

Judge questions Flint police involvement in mayoral recall
The explosive hearing marked the third day in court and second day of testimony in a lawsuit filed by the embattled Flint mayor, requesting Neithercut to order Genesee County Clerk John Gleason to call off the recall.

One by one, under oath, four of the mayor's witnesses testified they had been summoned to court by police after signing the recall petition, while two petition circulators claimed they were offered bribes by Weaver or City Administrator Sylvester Jones to stop collecting recall signatures.


After the hearing, Williams maintained that it was his understanding that the petition signers had volunteered to come to court on their own volition.



On Friday, Williams told MLive-The Flint Journal that the signatories - who at the time he said were willing to testify that they were misled or duped into signing to recall Weaver - had no relation to the ongoing Flint police criminal investigation into the potentially fraudulent petitions.

"They've had people call and say, 'Hey, I didn't write my name on this,'" Williams previously said. "Not involved with (the police investigation) at all ... We've got a list of people. That's what we've been doing, frankly, since this was done, we've been trying to gather the evidence because I can't come to court with allegations, I have to have the evidence to support this was done."

However, all four of the petition signers who testified Tuesday said they were brought in by police.

According to testimony, two "undercover" Flint police officers knocked on resident Alisha Newsome's door, while officers called resident Tanisha Breedlove three times - twice last night and once this morning - to confirm her court appearance.


Newsome and Breedlove, along with Jequell Norfleet and Evelyn Spence - a mother and son duo who said they signed the recall petition outside a grocery store - were called to the stand in relation to a recall petition circulated by Lakeshia Williams.



Lakeshia Williams - who said she works as a paid petition circulator for the last decade - also took the witness stand Tuesday, testifying she had been told by City Administrator Sylvester Jones that he could help improve her housing situation in the Atherton East public housing apartments in exchange for discontinuing her circulation of the recall petitions.

Attorney Kendall Williams made clear that he subpoenaed Lakeshia Williams to come to court.

Lakeshia Williams said she met with Jones twice, as well as with Weaver and a Flint police officer dressed in civilian clothes to discuss the recall petitions.

"It took me a while to turn (the petitions) in, she had me feeling some type of way ... I felt kind of sorry for (Weaver)," Lakeshia Williams said.

Jones denied Lakeshia Williams' claims.

"That's just not true," Jones said of the circulator's story. "I was just trying to get her help, but I would never discriminate against someone if they were passing petitions ... that's a citizen. Our work should speak for itself."


Weaver - in a statement through city spokesperson Kristin Moore - echoed Jones' sentiment, calling the allegations "completely false."

"No one was ever told that," the mayor's statement said.

Before her testimony began, Lakeshia Williams immediately told Neithercut that she felt uncomfortable and did not want to proceed without a lawyer.

Neithercut questioned Kendall Williams whether the woman was under criminal investigation, which the attorney denied.

However, the petition circulator from Flint's south side previously told MLive-The Flint Journal she had been questioned by Flint Police Detective Tyrone Booth. She claims she was told to go to the department to file a complaint regarding officers knocking on doors in her apartment building in relation to the recall petitions.

But when Lakeshia Williams walked into the police station, she said she was immediately led upstairs by Booth, who began to read her her Miranda Rights.

"I was literally scared out of my mind," the circulator said. "(Booth) said, 'I can lock you up right now, I've got 48 affidavits right here where people signed and said it was you (who tricked them into signing the mayoral recall petition).' He said he could write a warrant for my arrest (that night) ... He was trying to get me to confess that I wrote in the dates, but like I said, I didn't ... I didn't mess with anybody, man."


Petition circulator Nancy Burgher also testified that Jones offered to help her make several damage claims on her husband's mobile home park "go away" while she was collecting signatures in front of City Hall.

"He said, 'C'mon, Nancy, you can stop this,'" Burgher said.

"I said, 'Sylvester, you're just giving people reason to sign' ... and then he scurried back into City Hall," Burgher said.

Jones was not immediately available for comment on Burgher's testimony.

This isn't the first time the police department's involvement in the mayoral recall efforts has come into question.

Records -- obtained by MLive-The Flint Journal via Freedom of Information Act request -- show Flint Police Officer Kristopher Jones as on the city's dime when he used a check from Weaver's campaign funds to purchase copies of the recall petitions his department is investigating.

Jones' time card showed that at the time of the purchase, he was conducting "surveillance at a location in the city of Flint" as a member of the city's Crime Area Target Team, a specialized unit created by Police Chief Tim Johnson to proactively deter violent crime.

After distributing a press release stating that the department was investigating a formal criminal complaint alleging that residents were tricked into signing the recall petition against Weaver, police were spotted knocking on doors in the community to question voters on whether they signed to remove the mayor, a move Gleason testified he believes is "voter intimidation."

However, despite dispersing the release to local media containing allegations against petitioners, the city refused to release a copy of a criminal complaint to MLive-The Flint Journal - requested through the Freedom of Information Act - citing the open case's active investigation.


Flint police declined to comment on the Tuesday's court proceedings.

"The city of Flint Police Department has received several requests for a response to sworn testimony, given today in Circuit Court on a civil proceeding," Booth said in a statement issued Tuesday evening. "Due to the testimony given, at the open of business tomorrow, the Police Department will request transcripts from today's court proceedings.

"Receipt of this documentation will allow the police department to take a detailed look at the sworn statements and respond in the most appropriate manner."

Neithercut requested written witness summary documents from all attorneys involved in the lawsuit by noon on Tuesday, Sept. 5.

Future court dates have not yet been scheduled in the matter.
Post Tue Aug 29, 2017 5:16 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Flint Beat

HomeFlint City HallJudge questions police tactics, alleged bribery in fight against efforts to recall Flint Mayor Karen Weaver
Judge questions police tactics, alleged bribery in fight against efforts to recall Flint

Witnesses in a hearing fighting recall efforts against Flint Mayor Karen Weaver say they were called by Flint Police to appear in court on Tuesday morning – A move that a Genesee County Judge says is alarming and “threatens the credibility of their testimony.”

During the Aug. 29, 2017 hearing, witnesses claimed they were summoned by on-duty City of Flint Police Officers to appear in court that morning to testify in a civil suit filed by Weaver’s attorney, Kendall Williams, that alleges there are discrepancies and missing dates on petitions.

Williams had about 20 witnesses lined up for the Aug. 29 hearing.

“You get people who get nervous on the witness stand and I think that happened today,” Williams said after the hearing. “But you know some people just didn’t show up.”

“No arms were twisted, it was just a lot of people who volunteered to show up,” Williams said regarding Genesee County Judge Geoffrey L. Neithercut’s questioning of the credibility of the witnesses. “I believe he said it may affect his judgment on the credibility of those witnesses, not our case.”

Every witness called testified that they did sign the recall petition, of the three that were asked if they dated the signature correctly one said they did not put a date on the petition.

One particular exchange between circulator and witness Lakeshia Williams came into to question when she testified that Flint City Administer Sylvester Jones allegedly agreed to help her move out of her neighborhood if she stopped collecting recall petitions.

“I initiated the contact with Sylvester Jones,” Lakeshia Williams said. “It was because of a rash on my arm, and I know there are a lot of people trying to sue the City of Flint. I just went down there to see if I could be relocated.”

According to Lakeshia Williams, Jones told her he would “see what he could do.”

“And then asked me to stop doing the petitions,” she added.

Lakeshia Williams said she met with Jones on three occasions and that the Weaver was present for one of those meetings.

“As I met Ms. Karen Weaver, you know… I felt something real, some sort of sympathy,” said Lakeshia Williams. “You can see it was like two weeks from when I got [the signatures] to when I turned them in because I was debating on whether turn them in or not. It was because they were basically trying to bribe me not to turn them in.”

Lakeshia Williams said she had three meetings with city officials including Jones, Weaver and a plain clothes Flint Police officer.

“I had three at the most,” Lakeshia Williams said. “They also said they would have somebody come out and fix my apartment, which [Jones] did have someone come out and look at it but nothing was ever fixed.”

Jones did say in an earlier interview with Flint Beat that he and Weaver met with Williams but he denied claims that Williams was asked to drop recall signature efforts.

“I did try to help that woman,” Jones said. “I even made calls to help her move but I never asked her to stop collecting signatures.”

Lakeshia Williams, who also spoke with Flint Beat earlier this month, said she was detained by the Flint Police Department on August 10, 2017, for at least two hours and questioned about signatures she obtained regarding recalling Weaver.

“I have been collecting signatures for about 10 years and this is the first time I’ve ever had a problem,” she told Flint Beat. “I didn’t even collect that many signatures.” She said Flint Police officers had visited people living in her community on Flint’s south side and was told by neighbors that the police was looking for her which prompted her to head to the Flint Police Department on Aug.10, 2017 where she was questioned by Detective Tyrone Booth.

“Where I live that could be dangerous,” Williams who lives in Atherton East said. “I feared for my life. I can’t have my neighbors thinking I had the police sent to their house.”

Police issued a press release saying the department was investigating complaints alleging that residents were misled when signing the recall petition against Weaver.

Since then, residents have said they have been visited by police officers regarding the recall effort against Weaver.

Booth told Flint Beat that the department could not comment during an ongoing investigation but did not deny that Williams had been detained by Flint Police.

Weaver’s attorney claimed that Lakeshia Williams allegedly filled in dates and misled signees.

“I would never do that,” she said. “I’ve been doing this too long. I know the rules.”

Questions arose from Kendall Williams over whether certain signatures can be accepted from Lakeisha Williams because of missing dates like in the case of mother and son, Evelyn Spence and Jequell Norfleet, who agreed they signed the petition, but could not recall dating their signatures.

Another witness, Alisha Newsome said she remembers clearly that she did not date her signature and Tanisha Breedlove who didn’t recall what date she signed because she couldn’t remember if she signed at all, until being shown her signature on the witness stand.

All the witnesses that were petition signees, agreed they signed the petition to recall Weaver and said they were all contacted by Flint Police to appear in court.

“They knocked on my door,” said Breedlove. “I don’t associate with people when my door is closed and they just knocked on my door.”

Breedlove said the first time she ever learned there was an issue with her petition signature is when Flint Police arrived at her home.

Kendall Williams, who after the second hearing regarding the issue on Aug. 25, 2017, said he was confident that his team would be able to show that nearly 200 signatures were invalid, couldn’t explain the police efforts in the case on Aug. 29.

“I can’t speak to that your honor,” Williams said to Neithercut when asked about the police department’s involvement in calling witnesses to testify.

“Wow,” Neithercut said in response to Kendall Williams lack of explanation. “That may affect credibility issues on this case.”

After the Aug. 25 hearing, Williams told media that the witnesses came from voluntary phone calls and he had nothing to do with the police investigation being conducted by Flint Police into the recall effort.

But the Aug. 29 witness testimony left Neithercut questioning the credibility of the witness Kendall Williams had lined up for the hearing.

“I have a concern about what is being said here,” he said. “In civil suits the statute says we authorize either the county sheriff or a civil process server, to serve subpoenas. I don’t understand why you have City of Flint Police Officers involved in a civil suit. What’s that all about?”

Neithercut asked both parties to have witness summaries submitted to his court by Tuesday, September 5.
Post Wed Aug 30, 2017 6:29 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

No court order bars Flint police from discussing mayor recall, records show

30
Posted on September 7, 2017 at 4:30 PM
Flint Police Chief Timothy Johnson, left, stands beside Mayor Karen Weaver at a press conference in June over funding to the Flint Police Activities League.
Flint Police Chief Timothy Johnson, left, stands beside Mayor Karen Weaver at a press conference in June over funding to the Flint Police Activities League. (Shannon Millard I MLive.com)
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By Oona Goodin-Smith ogoodins@mlive.com
FLINT, MI - There is no court order barring Flint police from discussing efforts to recall Mayor Karen Weaver, city records show, but police say they are being directed not to discuss the agency's investigation into the mayoral recall.

According to the city's response to a Freedom of Information Act request - filed by MLive-The Flint Journal in light of statements earlier this week from police spokesperson Tyrone Booth citing a court order prohibiting the department from commenting on the mayoral recall - Flint has no record of such a gag order.

Flint police claim 'court order' prevents discussion of mayoral recall
Flint police claim 'court order' prevents discussion of mayoral recall
However, court officials say they are unaware of any such order.

On Thursday, Sept. 7, Deputy Chief Devon Bernritter explained that the department is under a direction from the Genesee County Prosecutor's Office to remain mum on the criminal investigation into whether petitioners tricked residents into signing to recall the city's embattled mayor.

County Prosecutor David Leyton confirmed his advice to the department to MLive-The Flint Journal on Thursday, saying that "state law includes a confidentiality provision on certain evidence if gathered under investigative subpoena."

However, no legislation bars discussion of the mayoral recall as a whole, nor any civil suits filed in the matter, Leyton said.


Police cited the statute prohibiting them from commenting on the case when asked whether any criminal complaints were filed alleging perjury by witnesses the mayor's attorney called in a recent court hearing into the recall against her.

More than six weeks after issuing a press release stating the department is investigating a formal complaint into the validity of the recall petitions, the criminal probe still lies in the hands of Flint police, Leyton said.

"It's my understanding Flint police are continuing to investigate the circumstances with respect to the gathering of recall petition signatures," Leyton said. "Once they've completed their gathering of evidence, we will, as in all cases, review the materials gathered and determine if there's probable cause of a crime."

Flint police making house calls in mayoral recall petition probe
Flint police making house calls in mayoral recall petition probe
Flint police officers have been making house calls to investigate the validity of voters' signatures on the petition to recall Flint Mayor Karen Weaver, some residents say.

After distributing the press release stating that the department was investigating a formal criminal complaint alleging that residents were tricked into signing the recall petition against Weaver, Flint police were spotted knocking on doors in the community to question voters on whether they signed to remove the mayor.

According to the release issued on July 24, a formal criminal complaint was made with Flint police after the city "received numerous complaints from citizens that they were defrauded during the process of the recent recall petition circulation for Karen Weaver."


However, despite dispersing the release to local media containing allegations against petitioners, the city refused to release a copy of a criminal complaint containing details and the name of the complainant to MLive-The Flint Journal - requested through the Freedom of Information Act - on Aug. 1, citing the open case's active investigation.

Flint won't release complaints that led to investigation of mayor recall
Flint won't release complaints that led to investigation of mayor recall
The City of Flint won't say who filed the complaints that officials say spurred a police investigation into the recall efforts against Mayor Karen Weaver.

The department's involvement in a civil lawsuit filed by Weaver requesting a judge call off the November recall came into question on Tuesday, Aug. 29, as multiple petition signers swore under oath that they had been ordered by Flint police to testify in the suit.

After listening to testimony from four Flint voters who said they were directed in house visits and phone calls from police to come to court on Aug. 29, Neithercut paused the mayor's attorney's exam to ask a question of his own.

"The statute says we authorize either the county sheriff or civil process servers to serve subpoenas, so I don't understand why Flint city police officers are involved in a civil suit - what's that all about?" Neithercut asked while leaning back in his chair and peering over his glasses at Weaver's attorney, Kendall Williams.


"I can't speak to that, judge," responded Williams.

"Wow," said Neithercut. "That may affect credibility issues on this case."

Judge questions Flint police involvement in mayoral recall
Following the hearing filled with explosive court testimony in which Weaver's own witnesses testified to questioning by the Flint Police Department as well as alleged bribery from the mayor's administration, Williams stipulated to the dismissal of the civil suit two days later on Thursday, Aug. 31.

"Both parties simply decided it would be best if this matter was dismissed," Williams said. "A number of individuals who approached the mayor and staff said drastically different things than they did on the stand ... and we just decided due to the burden of proof in this matter, that it would be best for both sides if it were dismissed."

Williams said he was surprised to hear of police involvement in the case.

"To my knowledge, these were volunteers showing up to court and we were providing them subpoenas when they came to court if they needed it," Williams said.

However, all four of the petition signers who testified on Aug. 29 said they were brought in by police.

According to testimony, two "undercover" Flint police officers knocked on resident Alisha Newsome's door, while officers called resident Tanisha Breedlove three times - twice last night and once this morning - to confirm her court appearance.


Newsome and Breedlove, along with Jequell Norfleet and Evelyn Spence - a mother and son duo who said they signed the recall petition outside a grocery store - were called to the stand in relation to a recall petition circulated by Lakeshia Williams.

Lakeshia Williams - who said she works as a paid petition circulator for the last decade - also took the witness stand, testifying she had been told by City Administrator Sylvester Jones that he could help improve her housing situation in the Atherton East public housing apartments in exchange for discontinuing her circulation of the recall petitions.

Lakeshia Williams said she met with Jones twice, as well as with Weaver and a Flint police officer dressed in civilian clothes to discuss the recall petitions.

In a letter to the editor sent to MLive-The Flint Journal on Thursday, Aug. 31, Jones denied both Williams' and fellow petition circulator Nancy Burgher's claims of being bribed by the city administrator, saying that both "lied under oath, which is a crime in this country."

Flint mayoral recall is 'fight of good versus evil,' city administrator says
Flint mayoral recall is 'fight of good versus evil,' city administrator says
"The facts speak for themselves."

Before her testimony began, Lakeshia Williams immediately told Neithercut that she felt uncomfortable and did not want to proceed without a lawyer.

Neithercut questioned Kendall Williams whether the woman was under criminal investigation, which the attorney denied.


However, the petition circulator from Flint's south side previously told MLive-The Flint Journal she had been questioned by Booth. She claimed she was told to go to the department to file a complaint regarding officers knocking on doors in her apartment building in relation to the recall petitions.

But when Lakeshia Williams walked into the police station, she said she was immediately led upstairs by Booth, who began to read her her Miranda Rights.

"I was literally scared out of my mind," the circulator said. "(Booth) said, 'I can lock you up right now, I've got 48 affidavits right here where people signed and said it was you (who tricked them into signing the mayoral recall petition).' He said he could write a warrant for my arrest (that night) ... He was trying to get me to confess that I wrote in the dates, but like I said, I didn't ... I didn't mess with anybody, man."

Claims of police influence, bribery raised in Flint mayor recall hearing
Claims of police influence, bribery raised in Flint mayor recall hearing
The judge questioned why police were involved in a civil case.

Neithercut's line of questioning into the police department's involvement in the mayoral recall efforts wasn't the first time the issue has been raised.

Records -- obtained by MLive-The Flint Journal via Freedom of Information Act request -- show Flint Police Officer Kristopher Jones was on the city's dime when he used a check from Weaver's campaign funds to purchase copies of the recall petitions his department is investigating.


Overtime records filed by Jones said the officer was conducting "surveillance at a location in the city of Flint" as a member of the city's Crime Area Target Team, a specialized unit created by Police Chief Tim Johnson to proactively deter violent crime.

Flint cop was on city's dime when he bought recall petitions with mayor's check
Flint cop was on city's dime when he bought recall petitions with mayor's check
Despite a statement through city spokesperson Kristin Moore that Officer Kristopher Jones was "on (his) own time" when he purchased a stack of recall petitions at 1:11 p.m. on Friday, July 7 with the mayor's money, his time card shows otherwise.

The Flint Police Department has declined to comment on last week's court proceedings.

"The city of Flint Police Department has received several requests for a response to sworn testimony, given today in Circuit Court on a civil proceeding," Booth said in a statement issued on Aug. 29. "Due to the testimony given, at the open of business tomorrow, the Police Department will request transcripts from today's court proceedings.

"Receipt of this documentation will allow the police department to take a detailed look at the sworn statements and respond in the most appropriate manner," the statement said.
Post Mon Sep 11, 2017 8:37 am 
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