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Topic: Singelis and politicians

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El Supremo

​​Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton (at right) attended a 2012 World Series game in Detroit with Nick Singelis who posted this photo on his Facebook page during the game at the time. Prosecutor Leyton has now written a check to the Shriners organization to reimburse the charge made on a credit card abused by Singelis as their former chief of staff. Singelis is now serving a two-year sentence for bank fraud in federal prison.


Nick Singelis posted the photo above with Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette after a political fundraiser event for Republican candidates. Singelis co-hosted fundraiser events for prominent state legislators Paul Scott of Grand Blanc and Joe Graves of Linden, and Singelis also co-hosted a fundraiser for former long-time Genesee County Commissioner Miles Gadola during his unsuccessful bid for a seat in the State House. The event for Scott was held during his fight against a recall and was held at the Flushing home of Michael Witt with Governor Rick Snyder among the guests.

Nick Singelis (at left) poses above with a clown during a promotional appearance on WJRT ABC 12 TV for the Elf Khurafeh Shrine. Singelis was chief of staff for the Shrine's 2011, 2012 and 2013 circus events in Flint, Saginaw and Lansing.


Executive Editor

​The Daily Gazette

Posted at 2 pm on February 9, 2018

The Daily Gazette & Tri-County Publishing Inc. A Division of Crusader Media & Entertainment Inc.


Morning Gazette Radio Show story leads to Prosecutor Leyton writing checks to Shriners for campaign contribution, gift of World Series tickets by Singelis

FLINT (CCN) The Morning Gazette Radio Show and The Daily Gazette have learned that Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton has written a pair of checks to the local Shriners organization to reimburse them for a small portion of money stolen by their former chief of staff Nick Singelis. The Shriners operate hospitals across North America for sick and handicapped children.

The Morning Gazette Radio Show reported on Feb. 2 that Singelis used funds stolen from the non-profit organization to make a donation to Prosecutor Leyton's political campaign and to buy tickets for Leyton and his wife to attend a World Series game with Singelis in 2012 at Comerica Park in Detroit.

Prosecutor Leyton has not responded to a request for a comment.

Genesee County Chief Deputy Prosecutor John Potbury was pressed during a Jan. 19 meeting for updates on two other cases related to Morning Gazette Radio Show programs when presented with questions about money and gifts given to his boss by Singelis. Potbury, who did not return a telephone call to The Daily Gazette on the day before a press conference last week by the Clio-based Elf Khurafeh Shrine, has not yet given updates as requested during the Jan. 19 meeting or provided a comment from Prosecutor Leyton on the Singelis situation.

Singelis was given a two-year sentence in federal prison on Jan. 16 by U.S. District Court Judge Linda V. Parker. He reached a plea bargain deal on Sept. 6 and admitted to stealing thousands of dollars while operating 2011, 2012 and 2013 circus events for the Shriners in Flint, Saginaw and Lansing. Judge Parker ordered Singelis to make restitution after he's released from prison on a sum of $589,491.44 that he admitted stealing in his plea deal. The Shriners had already obtained a $1.8 million 2014 civil judgment in Genesee County Circuit Court.

The Morning Gazette Radio Show reported after Judge Parker's sentence was handed down that Singelis had used thousands in funds pocketed from the non-profit organization to make political donations. The Morning Gazette Radio Show issued a one-week amnesty period for politicians to reimburse Clio-based Elf Khurafeh Shrine or to write checks to a local charity that helps children. Top officials of the Elf Khurafeh Shrine held a press conference at the office of Genesee County Clerk / Register of Deeds John Gleason on the morning after the amnesty period expired, and attorney Bob Swartwood revealed that no checks had yet been received. "We know of more than 50 who need to do the right thing," Swartwood said. "The money they took from Nick Singelis was stolen from the Shrine."

Swartwood, who The Daily Gazette has now learned was recently selected to become the next Potentate of Elf Khurafeh Shrine, vowed to go after elected officials to get the organization's money that went to them from funds stolen by Singelis. "Don't make me embarrass you," he announced during the press conference. Swartwood didn't put a time table on when political donations must be returned to his organization, but The Morning Gazette Radio Show's amnesty plan expired a day before Gleason arranged the press event that attracted all the local TV stations.

Prosecutor Leyton was quoted by TV newscast reports as saying he had reimbursed the Shriners for a $700 check received by Singelis as a political campaign contribution. The Morning Gazette Radio Show reported on Feb. 2, however, that Prosecutor Leyton also accepted two tickets from Singelis as gifts. The tickets were for Prosecutor Leyton and his wife to join Singelis at a 2012 World Series game in Detroit. An additional check has also been issued by Prosecutor Leyton to the Shriners as reimbursement for the gift of tickets given to him by Singelis.

A photo is above of Prosecutor Leyton enjoying the action with Singelis at Comerica Park when the Detroit Tigers faced the San Francisco Giants in a 2012 World Series game in Detroit. Singelis posted the photo on his Facebook page during the game, writing, "Hot dogs $7.50 each, beers $8 each, parking $25, front row World Series tickets $8,000. My friendship with Prosecutor Leyton: Priceless." A photo of Prosecutor Leyton and his wife enjoying dinner with Singelis and his now estranged wife are among other photos at right that were obtained from various Shriners who say they captured them from public posts made by Singelis on four Facebook pages he operated under his name.

Attorney Michael Guss, who represented the Elk Khurafeh Shrine in winning a $1.8 million judgment in the 2014 civil lawsuit, didn't want to comment for this story but told The Morning Gazette Radio Show in 2013 that a Shriners credit card was used by Singelis for an $8,000 purchase of World Series tickets from StubHub. Another charge on a Shriners credit card of more than $1,200 went for a dinner at an upscale restaurant on the same night that the World Series photo was posted by Singelis on his Facebook page.

The gift of World Series tickets was not reported on the campaign finance reports filed by Prosecutor Leyton with the office of Gleason who oversees election matters in Genesee County as part of his role as the county clerk. All political donations must be reported under state and federal laws, and Gleason stressed, "Such an expensive gift like that, if it indeed happened, belongs on a campaign finance report unless he claimed it as a gift on his IRS tax return."

Guss, who led the investigation that led to the $1.8 million civil judgment, has refrained from ever commenting on the Singelis case but he had a front row seat to the sentencing proceeding and admitted in the hallway afterward that it was one of his "most proud moments as an attorney to see justice served."

Guss said, "The judge threw the book at him, which is what he deserved." Guss did confirm that he had "heard stories about Nick throwing big cash around to buy political favor in Lansing" but said he was never able to prove it. Guss rattled off more than $800,000 in purchases by Singelis during the civil trial in 2014, including a bulletproof vest and taser, big screen televisions, expensive video cameras, computers, silver coins, video games, computers, a police uniform, silver coins and more than $16,000 on credits to play games on social network sites. Guss also presented evidence during the trial of a two-week rental on a luxury vacation house near Traverse City that included spending thousands on jet skis, $2,300 on music downloads and hundreds more on adult videos, kids' games and children's movies.

Attorney Swartwood vowed to "go after Singelis" when he gets out of prison to collect on what he stole from the Shrine. Swartwood said collection efforts will also be made as soon as a not-yet-named co-conspirator is charged in the case. "We've been talking to the FBI all along and our hope is that an order to pay us is part of his sentence," Swartwood said after last week's press conference. The co-conspirator has prior felony convictions and may be more willing to make restitution to avoid a long prison sentence, according to Swartwood.

Gleason noted during last week's press conference that the federal judge indicated she could have given Singelis more prison time if he had been prosecuted earlier for other felony scams he had perpetrated. He avoided prosecution in a 2010 Oakland County case where his cooperation led to a felony conviction against a real estate appraiser who had inflated appraisals to help Singelis sell houses as a real estate agent. Singelis, who had only child support convictions on his record before facing the federal judge, was accused in other cases where victims were unable to get him arrested or prosecuted, according to statements by the judge during the sentencing which attracted a packed court room of Shriners looking for justice.

Chief Deputy Prosecutor John Potbury told The Morning Gazette Radio Show he was unaware of the political donations and World Series tickets given by Singelis to his boss when asked about it one week before the amnesty plan was pitched to all politicians to reimburse the Shriners, or be exposed on the radio. Potbury defended the Genesee County Prosecutor's Office against social media allegations that they were responsible for allowing Singelis to continue with scams. "To my knowledge, no police agency ever brought any case to this office to request a warrant for Nick Singelis, ever," Potbury said.

Leyton's Chief Deputy Prosecutor also denied any knowledge of an investigation about the matter by the FBI. "I know nothing about it and would refer you to John Gleason because that's probably his story," Potbury said.

Gleason, a former senator who spent 10 years in the State Legislature, subsequently admitted during a radio interview that he had met with two FBI agents who wanted the photo of Singelis with Prosecutor Leyton at the World Series game. When confronted about the comment by Potbury, Gleason said, "Yes. I met with two FBI agents. They asked me for the photo but you know good and well I don't have it. You know I've been asking (The Morning Gazette Radio Show) for it now for more than a year and a half, and you wouldn't give it to me."

Gleason vows to continue putting pressure on every elected leader who took money from Singelis. "They knew who he was and if not, they should have known," Gleason said.

"A postcard will be going out to every one of them," Gleason told The Morning Gazette Radio Show in regard to elected officials within Genesee County who took donations from Singelis. Swartwood confirmed, too, that there have been reports of illegal cash by Singelis going to political campaigns locally and in Lansing. Gleason, who said his office doesn't access to political contributions outside Genesee County, noted that it is a felony to make cash contributions. "Anything over $20 must be a check," he said.

Gleason added that he believes enforcement is needed at the state level to police political campaigns that illegally take cash from individuals "trying to buy political favors."

"Politicians took dirty money from Singelis that was stolen from the Shriners and every penny needs to go back to the Shriners," Gleason said. He added that he is most hurt by the "hit on the image of such a fine organization of people who do so much good." The international Shrine's charitable arm is the Shriners Hospitals for Children which is a network of 22 hospitals in North America with an annual budget for their hospitals of nearly $1 billion to help more than 125,000 sick and handicapped children every year. The Shriners have been doing their good works across the world since 1920.
Post Wed Feb 21, 2018 8:29 am 
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