Michigan man scams state, governor for $9 million tax break

Michigan man cons governor and agencyMichigan is desperate to find jobs for its unemployed, perhaps overly so, if the tax break given to Richard Allen Short is any indication. Short shared the podium with Gov. Jennifer Granolm recently to announce that his company was receiving a $9.1 million tax break to help him hire 765 people to carry out his plan to make green energy and waste-handling equipment that he would ship to needy villagers in Africa.

The problem, according to the Detroit Free Press, is that Short is a notorious con man who has spend years in jail for embezzling, a fact uncovered in a quick Internet search by a process server in Flint. Patrick Clawson uncovered Short's sordid past, which included embezzling $21,000 to buy his girl an engagement ring and having a woman pose as his wife to qualify for a $73,000 loan. He still owns $96,000 in court-mandated restitution.
The tax break, which he could not have made use of until he could show results from his business plan, was extended by the Michigan Economic Development Corp., a cooperative venture of state and local governments. The president of the corporation told the Free Press that the agency will now start doing background checks on those who come hat in hand for financial support. It claims to be "A corporation, not a bureaucracy, our policies and procedures meet the needs of the private sector. The MEDC brings together supply and demand and matches up resources and services with the needs of our business customers."

Perhaps a wee bit of bureaucracy, such as that background check, might have been appropriate here.

Short's Renewable and Sustainable Companies LLC was supposedly going to build equipment to provide electricity in remote areas of Africa so that Short could sell wireless to the residents. Even people coasting on the public nickel should have suspected a con, with that business plan.

Fortunately, the state is not out any money, just pride. But who do you think such a fiasco will attract -- savvy businesspeople or more con men?
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