Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Richard Short and RASCO: A Tale of Con Men, Trailer Parks and Poodles

RASCO World Headquarters in Flint Township. (Photo courtesy of Hollyn Johnson/The Flint Journal)

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:
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.
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.

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...


  1. Did she say "pink poodle"? is that a dog breed or is the thing actually pink? And I love how the focus of the tv piece is the dog! Forget the old lady and all the people he's conned...what happened to the dog!

  2. That dog's a victim, too, Sable!

    I wondered the same thing about the pink reference.

  3. Short sounds nice and smooth on the phone, even from jail. Notice how he quickly establishes himself as the victim — I'm so tired and no one should have to be in a place like this. Classic con man ploy. He's got some skills.

  4. At least he had an Olds-Mo-Bubble in the driveway!

    Flint style!

  5. Bubbles on the Canadian sitcom "Trailer Park Boys" has a thing for cats.

  6. Unlike the enterprising Mr. Short, Canadian Trailer Park Boys, Ricky and Julian, stick to "theft under a thousand". They reason that this keeps jail-time to a minimum.

    I only hope that Fox66 News follows up with a hard biting investigative probe on the K-9 captive.

  7. Anyone that would do that to an elderly person needs to go down hard. That pisses me off...scumbag!


  8. Crooks rip off the elderly and government agencies all the time, and get short time. No big deal.

    Hugely embarassing the Governor, the State and the City, though, is likely to make prosecutors and judges think you're a good candidate for the old-fashioned "toss-'em-in-the-clink-and-throw-away-the-key" approach. Definitely a very dumb move on Mr. Short's part.

  9. Gordie...actually RASCO is somewhat creative. Just think he came up with a name which handled both the business and his name to stroke his narccisist(sp) ego.

    Renewable And Sustainable Co.
    Richard A Short Co.

    As Queen sang it...stroke me, stroke me


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at