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Judge drops misconduct charge against Courser

Michael Gerstein, and Jonathan Oosting

Lansing — Without a written explanation, a Michigan circuit court judge on Thursday dropped a misconduct charge that Attorney General Bill Schuette filed against former state Republican state Rep. Todd Courser.

Ingham County Circuit Court Judge William Collette dismissed one count of criminal misconduct in office on Thursday, according to the judge’s office.

Courser still faces one perjury charge in the Ingham court from the original four charges Schuette filed against him. Ingham judges have now dropped three charges against the Lapeer area Republican.

Courser also faces a misconduct charge in Lapeer County, where the Republican attorney general filed the count after Ingham Judge Hugh Clarke Jr. ruled that the former lawmaker committed the alleged misconduct with a state employee.

“We are disappointed that the count of misconduct in office was dismissed, but we will move forward with the charges of perjury and the case in Lapeer County,” said Schuette spokeswoman Andrea Bitely. “We have shared all documents in our possession with the defense and will continue to do so.”

Courser was embroiled in a scandal after he tried to cover up an extramarital affair with fellow former GOP Rep. Cindy Gamrat by sending a phony smear email accusing Courser of being a “bi-sexual porn addicted sex deviant” caught outside a “prominent Lansing nightclub” with a male prostitute. He originally ordered a House aide to send the email, but the employee refused, according to audio recordings given to The Detroit News.

The email was an attempt to throw off those who suspected his affair. Courser ended up resigning in September 2015 a couple of hours before the state House voted overwhelmingly to oust Gamrat from office.

Judge Collete did not issue an opinion with the dismissal. A formal order will be entered into the court’s files within the next seven days, according to Collete’s office.

Courser declined Thursday to comment on the judge’s decision. His attorney, Matthew DePerno, did not respond to a voicemail and email seeking comment.