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State Briefs

By The Associated Press • Jan 19, 2019 at 8:00 AM

Warrant needed if ICE wants jail inmates, Kent County sheriff says

GRAND RAPIDS (AP) — A jail in West Michigan's largest county won't release people to federal immigration agents unless they present an arrest warrant from a judge, a sheriff announced Friday after learning that a mentally ill war veteran born in the U.S. was picked up by the government and held for three days last month.

Kent County Sheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young said she agrees with people who have "expressed extreme concern and even outrage" over the government's treatment of Jilmar Ramos-Gomez, who served in Afghanistan with the Marines and returned with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Ramos-Gomez, 27, was in the county jail on charges related to a November 2018 incident at a Grand Rapids hospital. He was supposed to be released Dec. 14, but jail staff honored a request from Immigration and Customs Enforcement to turn him over.

He spent three days in a detention center before a family lawyer proved that Ramos-Gomez is a U.S. citizen born in Michigan.

"I notified I.C.E. officials that the Kent County sheriff will hold detainees for I.C.E. only after I.C.E. presents to our office an arrest warrant issued by a federal judge or magistrate," LaJoye-Young said.

I.C.E. said it detained Ramos-Gomez because he told agents on Nov. 23 that he was in the U.S. illegally.

Woman's body wrapped in blankets, buried outside her home

LEROY TWP. (AP) — The body of a 74-year-old woman has been found buried outside her southern Michigan home.

The Battle Creek Enquirer reported that Phyllis Lutz's body was wrapped in blankets in a 4- to 5-foot-deep hole in an area used as a burn pit. The Leroy Township woman was last seen in September 2018.

State police found her body late Friday morning while checking on her welfare after friends became concerned. Troopers have questioned Lutz's 45-year-old daughter who lives in the home.

An autopsy will be performed on the body. Police said Lutz had ongoing health issues. No arrests have been made.

Leroy Township is in Calhoun County, southeast of Grand Rapids.

Postal carrier under investigation after mail found in home

SUNFIELD TWP. (AP) — A 42-year-old postal carrier is being investigated after mail dating back more than a year was found in a West Michigan home.

WILX-TV reported that the worker is suspected of hoarding mail from her route in Portland, east of Grand Rapids. Officials say some of it was wet and damaged. Other pieces were burned.

A relative found the mail Saturday after the worker moved out of the Sunfield Township home.

U.S. Postal Service spokesman Jeff Arney said it's not clear if the mail was being kept for monetary gain.

The employee has been placed on leave. No charges have been filed.

WDIV-TV reported that another postal employee is also on leave and faces theft charges after boxes of mail were found earlier this month in a Detroit-area apartment.

Detroit nun acknowledges 'inappropriate conduct,' resigns

DETROIT (AP) — An 84-year-old nun has resigned from a Detroit seminary, saying she engaged in "inappropriate conduct" more than a half-century ago with two young women she was training.

Deadline Detroit reported that Sister Mary Finn stepped down this week from the Sacred Heart Major Seminary faculty. Finn most recently had been a studies director and theology assistant professor.

The online news site said two women were expelled in 1972 after three years of training in the Home Visitors of Mary order.

Finn said in a statement on the seminary's website that she "misused" her position of authority as director of novices.

Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron said in the statement that he received partial details of the conduct while seminary rector in the late 1990s and thought "the matter had been resolved."

Fraud probe finds 4 state workers falsely reported work time

DETROIT (AP) — Two Michigan Department of Environmental Quality employees have been fired and several others disciplined after an audit found nearly $34,000 was paid for unperformed work hours.

Michigan's auditor general also said in a report Friday that three of the BioWatch Unit workers improperly used state vehicles.

Investigators looked into activities of four employees and said they took extended lunch breaks and left work early. Personal stops also were made at retail stores and other locations while on state time. On occasion, state vehicles were parked overnight at homes.

The workers' tasks included filter collection, maintenance and repair, and inspection of air monitoring instruments.

The unit is based at state offices in Detroit. Michigan's BioWatch monitoring program is part of a nationwide effort to detect and respond to potential air-released bioterrorism events.

Lawsuit: School district mishandled harassment complaints

DETROIT (AP) — A federal lawsuit says a suburban Detroit school district mishandled numerous complaints from a teenage girl who eventually tried to kill herself to escape harassment from an ex-boyfriend.

The lawsuit against Plymouth-Canton Community Schools says the now-17-year-old was stalked, bullied and sexually harassed for 16 months starting in the fall of 2016 at Canton High School and elsewhere, the Detroit Free Press reported.

The lawsuit says the girl and her mother made 10 complaints to the school, but harassment continued. Jennifer Salvatore, the girl's attorney, told WJBK-TV the district "just wanted to ignore" the allegations.

The district says in a statement it doesn't tolerate harassment and such allegations "are taken seriously, are investigated thoroughly and responded to with appropriate action." It says it can't comment on specific student matters.

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