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Chatfield aides formally charged with embezzling, other crimes

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Two former aides to then-House Speaker Lee Chatfield showed up at an East Lansing courtroom Wednesday to formally face charges of corruption-related crimes.

Anne and Rob Minard were a Lansing power couple during Chatfield’s tenure as the House leader during the 2019-2020 session. Anne Minard was a fundraiser and external affairs director for Chatfield, while Rob Minard served as Chatfield’s chief of staff.

The felony charges against them include embezzlement and conducting a criminal enterprise.

The Michigan Attorney General alleges the couple diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars from campaign and charitable funds to their own use. Not guilty pleas were entered on their behalf.

The lawyer for Rob Minard acknowledged it is possible the charges are an effort to get his client to cooperate with a state investigation of Chatfield.

"We all know that Chatfield is supposedly targeted," Bob Harrison told The Detroit News. "But there are other ways they could do that."

Attorney General Dana Nessel said when the charges were initially announced that her office could file more cases. She did not rule out charging Chatfield with crimes.

Chatfield’s attorney has insisted the former GOP leader has not done anything wrong and does not think there is a case to be made against her client.

The Minards are charged with multiple counts, including conducting a criminal enterprise, conspiracy to conduct a criminal enterprise, false pretenses, embezzlement and filing a false tax return. Three of the charges are 20-year felonies.

The next step is a preliminary examination set for January 19th, where the government will have to show it has enough evidence for the case to go forward.

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Rick Pluta is the managing editor for the Michigan Public Radio Network.
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