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State Briefs

By The Associated Press • Jan 16, 2019 at 8:00 AM

Michigan lawmakers seek new designation for water pollutants

DETROIT (AP) — Three members of Congress from Michigan want to make federal funds more readily available to clean up public water supplies contaminated with a group of toxic chemicals.

The lawmakers have introduced a bill that would classify the substances known as PFAS as hazardous substances under the federal Superfund law.

The designation would require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to report releases of the chemicals into the environment and clean up tainted sites. It also allows the government to sue polluters to recoup cleanup costs.

EPA tests have found pollution from PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, in public water supplies for 16 million Americans in 33 states, including Michigan.

Democratic Reps. Debbie Dingell and Dan Kildee and Republican Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan are sponsoring the legislation.

7 horses dead following Livingston County barn fire

PUTNAM TWP. (AP) — Authorities said seven horses died in a weekend barn fire at a farm in southeastern Michigan.

The fire Sunday in Livingston County's Putnam Township also destroyed a truck and equipment for horses. No people were injured.

The cause of the fire about 45 miles west of Detroit is under investigation, but officials said foul play isn't suspected.

Putnam Township Fire Chief Greg Amburgey said four racing horses and three other horses died. Several departments responded to help extinguish the fire.

2 at recovery house charged with poisoning house manager

PORT HURON (AP) — Police said two residents of a southeastern Michigan recovery center have been charged with poisoning after suspected heroin placed in macaroni and cheese was eaten by the center's house manager.

Port Huron police said Shanna Marie Kota, 40, and Sarah Elaine Prange, 22, were arraigned Tuesday. They're jailed in lieu of $100,000 bonds.

Police said the suspected poisoning occurred Friday. After the 38-year-old house manager tasted the macaroni and cheese, she thought it tasted strange and discarded it.

She told investigators she heard rumors Sunday she had been poisoned by two residents who didn't want her working there anymore. She received medical treatment.

Investigators found evidence the woman had been poisoned, and Kota and Prange were arrested.

Parents charged after toddler dies from fentanyl poisoning

CLINTON TWP. (AP) — A Detroit-area couple has been charged in the opioid overdose of their 18-month-old daughter who died Christmas Day.

Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith told the Detroit Free Press that an autopsy showed Ava Floyd had ingested up to 15 times the amount of fentanyl authorities had seen in the county's last 30 overdose deaths.

Smith's office said Antonio Floyd, 28, and Shantanice Barksdale, 27, were arraigned Monday and jailed on second-degree murder charges. They face Jan. 29 preliminary examinations.

Smith said the couple was producing fentanyl in their Clinton Township home, and authorities believe the baby drank something containing the drug. Ava was taken to a grandmother's home where she stopped breathing.

Attorneys for Floyd and Barksdale on Tuesday declined to comment on the case.

Man playing hide-and-seek found dead in vacant Detroit building

DETROIT (AP) — Police are investigating the death of a 21-year-old man who apparently fell down an elevator shaft while playing hide-and-seek with friends in a vacant Detroit building.

Police said the group was on the building's ninth floor early Saturday morning. The man's friends left when they couldn't find him, but they returned later in the morning to search for him. They called 911 after finding his body amid piles of debris in the shaft on the first floor of the building.

The Detroit News reported that the building was used as a warehouse and cold storage. It closed in 2002.

The property is now owned by the same development company that bought the vacant Packard auto plant complex in 2013 in Detroit. The building is not part of the Packard property.

Alleged ringleader in opioid scheme wins bond decision

DETROIT (AP) — A judge has agreed to release a 77-year-old Detroit-area doctor who is charged with a multimillion-dollar scheme to distribute opioids and bill insurance providers for unnecessary treatments.

Dr. Rajendra Bothra must liquidate a retirement account to cover the $7 million bond, the Detroit News reported.

Prosecutors argued Tuesday that the native of India might flee the country if released. Bothra will be confined to his home with an electronic tether.

He and five other doctors are accused of prescribing opioids to induce people to visit their office. The indictment says patients were forced to undergo other treatments. Nearly $500 million was billed to insurers, mostly Medicare and Medicaid.

Bothra operated pain clinics in Warren and Eastpointe. He was charged in December 2018 with conspiracy, fraud and other crimes.

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