Despite Flint's economic free fall, some local residents still burn with entrepreneurial zeal. Unfortunately, it's sometimes channeled into potentially illegal projects.
Take Richard Short, a con man with a long rap sheet and a thing for poodles operating out of a trailer park in Mt. Morris. (My apologies to Raymond Chandler for that sentence.)
Posing as the CEO of a company called RASCO — which has to be the most fraudulent sounding corporate moniker ever invented — he managed to secure a $9.1 million state tax break from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). Outfitted with a very believable dark suit and a politician's haircut, he even stood on the same stage as Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who lauded Short's plans to produce 765 green jobs and invest $18.5 million in Flint, at a televised press conference.
Alas, Short's parole officer spotted him on the news and the entire operation begin to unravel. As Kristen Longley — who seems to get all the good stories — reported in The Flint Journal, Short's problems with MEDC were just the tip of the iceberg:
Short allegedly blew some of his elderly neighbor's cash on booze and dinners at Blackstone's downtown, a sure sign that the restaurant is a genuine success story.Genesee County Prosecutor David S. Leyton announced today that Richard A. Short, 57, will be arraigned on 24 counts of four felony fraud charges — common law fraud, embezzlement, obtaining money under false pretenses and multiple counts of illegal use of a financial transaction device.Authorities allege Short improperly obtained power of attorney for an 86-year-old female neighbor in the Flint Township mobile home park where he was staying with a friend, Leyton said.
Short forged the woman's signature to obtain power of attorney for her, Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell said.
But Short's not the only one in big trouble. Granholm is certainly feeling the political heat. And Greg Main, who heads MEDC, announced that he has offered his resignation to the governor. No word on if she will accept it.
"We obviously failed to do what we should have done in this particular case," Main told reporters after testifying before state lawmakers. "We've taken steps to rectify that. I can't make any excuses."Now, about that poodle...