Trump's $3M mistake commuting Kilpatrick, Detroit Mercy cancels season amid abuse allegations, Whitmer update

When former President Donald Trump commuted the remainder of Kwame Kilpatrick's sentence, he made a mistake concerning the amount of money the former mayor owes to the city of Detroit - a $3 million mistake.

Kilpatrick's original restitution amounted to $4.7 million, which boiled down to $4.5 million owed to the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, and another $200,000 to the IRS.

But in the eyes of his attorney Harold Gurewitz, that's not right. "Somebody got it wrong on the commutation order," he said. "It's a mistake. It's a major mistake."

Trump commuted Kilpatrick on the last day of his presidency when he laid out a list of clemency orders 143 people long. 

The release from prison made a lot of news in Detroit and brought much fanfare for those that supported and advocated for Kilpatrick's early release, arguing his 28-year sentence was too long. 

But amid all the revelry was a clerical goof that would put a damper on any early release.

Nobody disputes the back taxes owed by the ex-mayor. A judge originally ordered Kilpatrick to pay $4.5 million in restitution damages to the city. That was appealed in federal court and a judge recalculated the amount owed. 

It was reduced to $1.5 million - not $4.7 million.

"I don't know how the former Mr. Trump came up with those numbers," said Gurewitz.

Even outgoing U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider, who vehemently disagrees with the early release was confused.

"I think that was just an error, that was a mistake, Schneider said.

It's hard to believe the government is going to come seeking those funds and believes the tax agency will adjust the correct amount. 

"I can't imagine how the US government is going to attempt to collect this additional amount," he said.

The money the former mayor owes in restitution does not include the $800,000 that he owes to the city of Detroit. 

Detroit Mercy cancels women's basketball season amid abuse allegations 

The University of Detroit Mercy has canceled its women's basketball season following a report from several of the players who allege their coach inflicted emotional, mental, and physical abuse on the student-athletes.

This week, 14 girls approached the athletic director and said Coach Annmarie Gilbert, saying "We will not play for her. We don't' want to be around her."

Parents aware of the allegations have also chimed in with their own support of the student-athletes.

"(She) belittled student-athletes for being injured, for having a concussion," a parent said. "We had one girl who was told to quit limping. She found out she has a stress fracture now."

Among the many accusations of misconduct directed at Gilbert was her instruction to players to not report if they had COVID-19 symptoms on game days - a violation of NCAA rules.

"Complete and total abuse of CARA hours: these are hours mandated by the NCAA," the parent said. "They have been in the gym way more than they should have been in the gym."

This isn't Gilbert's first brush with scrutiny at the collegiate level. Back in 2012, she resigned from the position of head coach at Eastern Michigan following an internal investigation that unearthed a number of NCAA violations.

FOX 2 has reached out to Gilbert for comment but did not receive a response.

Shelby Township cracks down on illegal grow operations

Armed with a new city ordinance that gives law enforcement some teeth, Shelby Township police have shut down 10 illegal marijuana grow operations.

While growing medical marijuana has been legal since 2008, the township has received countless complaints about odor, noise, power outages, and house fires.

While it's legal to grow up to 12 plants for personal use, residents often abuse that rule with massive grow operations. But when they get too big, that's when they get caught.

"It is very unlikely someone can grow 72 plants without drawing the attention of the neighbors in the township, " said township attorney Rob Huth. "Now they got our attention we know they are violating our ordinance and gave police and building department enforcement."

What's new about the crackdown is the ordinance that Huth helped draft. After an April ruling from the state Supreme Court that said municipalities could re-zone where caregivers can legally grow marijuana, the township set up an ordinance to regulate who is following the rules.

And because it limits electricity to 200 amps usually needed at a residential property, tracking down who is breaking the law is easy. 

"Oftentimes these folks try to hijack electricity from DTE so they can wrap up so that observation opens the door for our police department to call up," Huth said.

Whitmer holding Friday morning press conference

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will hold a press conference at 9:30 a.m. Friday for an update on COVID-19. She'll be joined by Dr. Joneigh Khaldun.

The state has several objectives it is trying to meet amid its push to reopen following the state's second surge in 2020. Michigan schools have been told to have some form of in-person learning in place by the beginning of March. 

Restaurants are also on track to still reopen indoor dining by the beginning of February. These reopenings coincide with a decline in the hospitalizations, percent positivity rate, and the number of cases - the three metrics the state is using to determine decisions going forward.

Earlier this week, Whitmer unveiled a $5.6 billion recovery plan that would funnel money to small businesses, schools, and vaccine distribution efforts. However, the state legislature will need to approve any spending bills, which could mean some future friction with the governor.

FOX 2 will stream the press conference live on-site and on Facebook. 

State confirms 2 more cases carrying COVID-19 UK variant

The Michigan health department has confirmed two more COVID-19 cases involving a more infectious strain of the pandemic virus.

Both people now carrying the B.1.1.7 variant are from Washtenaw County and are affiliated with the University of Michigan. The health department so far has confirmed three such cases, all of them linked.

"Because this variant is more contagious, we have been expecting more B.1.1.7 cases following Michigan’s first case being identified on Saturday," said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive

The new variant is more contagious than the strain that the state is battling at the moment. However, it's not believed to be any more threatening and the vaccine is believed to be just as effective against it.

Concerning health officials, however, is that a higher rate of transmission could increase the number of people who need to be hospitalized. Pressures on the health care system are some of the reasons for mitigation efforts like business restrictions.

Online sports betting kicks off at noon

"A new era" will begin Friday when Michigan's sports betting goes live, months after it was legalized and days after the Michigan Gaming Control Board authorized gambling operators to accept wagers.

"Michigan residents love sports and, judging by inquiries we’ve received, eagerly anticipate using mobile devices to place bets through the commercial and tribal casinos," said Richard S. Kalm, executive director of the MGCB.

Prior to the industry moving online, Michigan residents could still place bets at some casinos. But with the past-time moving onto mobile devices, it's expected to increase accessibility for many across the state. 

Friday at 12 p.m., the proverbial switch will flip and online gambling in Michigan will begin. So far, nine gambling operators and their casino partners have been approved. As a note, residents must be 21 years or older to gamble. 

In Detroit, the places to wage include MotorCity Casino (FanDuel), MGM Grand Detroit (BetMGM), and Greektown Casino (Barstool Sportsbook). Outside Detroit, residents can place wages at Bay Mills Indian Community (Draft Kings), Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians (William Hill), Hannahville Indian Community (TwinSpires), Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (Golden Nugget), Little River Band of Ottawa Indians (Rush Street), Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians (Wynn).

Learn the lingo and more here.

Detroit police report carjacking on Fielding

Detroit police say a 42-year-old female was inside her vehicle early Friday morning when two men approached her and made her get out of her car.

After she got out, the two suspects got in and drove off with her 2006 Pontiac G-6 car. 

The carjacking happened at in the 14600 block of Fielding.

She was not injured. Anyone with knowledge about the incident is asked to contact Detroit Police Department's Commercial Auto Theft at 313-596-2555

Other Stories

1. One of the men accused of plotting to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is expected to ask for a plea deal, days before a trial is set to begin.
2. One of Joe Biden's first orders as president was to overturn the ban on travel from Muslim-majority countries. While some have safety concerns, many are cheering the decision.
3. Meijer is offering the COVID-19 vaccine to seniors 65 and older
4. Detroit expands access to the COVID-19 vaccine, lowering age eligibility to 68.
5. Dearborn Heights police say they have arrested a man who shot and killed his step-brother over an argument after a basketball game

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Daily Forecast

Cold temperatures will return Friday, staying below freezing through the weekend. Expect some flurries throughout the day and possibly on Sunday as well.

Mitch McConnell seeks to push Trump's impeachment trial to February

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is proposing to push back the start of Donald Trump's impeachment trial by a week or more to give the former president time to review the case.

House Democrats who voted to impeach Trump last week for inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol riots have signaled they want a quick trial as President Joe Biden begins his term, saying a full reckoning is necessary before the country — and the Congress — can move on.

But McConnell told his fellow GOP senators on a call Thursday that a short delay would give Trump time to prepare and stand up his legal team, ensuring due process.

Indiana Sen. Mike Braun said after the call that the trial might not begin "until sometime mid-February." He said that was "due to the fact that the process as it occurred in the House evolved so quickly, and that it is not in line with the time you need to prepare for a defense in a Senate trial."