Ex-Michigan lawmaker to stand trial; charges dismissed against another
By Justin Madden (Reuters) – A Michigan judge on Tuesday dismissed charges against a former state representative, while ruling another lawmaker should stand trial after he tried to hide their extramarital affair, according to a prosecutor’s office spokeswoman.
Ingham County District Judge Hugh Clarke ruled that former State Representative Todd Courser should stand trial for perjury and one count of misconduct for his attempted cover-up of the affair with fellow lawmaker Cindy Gamrat, said Andrea Bitely, a spokeswoman for the Michigan attorney general’s office. Prosecutors originally charged Courser with three counts of misconduct while in office and perjury, but the judge dismissed two of the misconduct charges. Clarke also dismissed the two criminal misconduct-in-office charges against Gamrat due to insufficient evidence that she knowingly lied to House investigators about an email that Courser sent to distract from their affair, Bitely said. Prosecutors will not appeal the dismissed charges against Gamrat, but they are reviewing their options regarding the charges against Courser that were not sent to trial, Bitely said. An attorney for Courser, Matthew DePerno, maintained his client is not guilty, and said he believed there was not enough evidence to support the perjury or misconduct charge. Courser is due back in court in late June. A lawyer for Gamrat, Mike Nichols, said the charges against his client stem from a house investigation that arose from a political dispute. The former legislators faced charges of misconduct related to Courser’s failed attempt to cover up their affair. He had devised a plan to distribute an email falsely claiming he had sex with a male prostitute in a move meant to blunt the political impact of the actual affair if it was ever revealed, according to the Detroit News. The two former lawmakers also were charged with misconduct for allowing their employees to forge their signature on proposed legislation. (Reporting by Justin Madden; Editing by Bill Rigby)