ICYMI: Theranos allegedly duped DeVos, Tim Allen out as Buzz Lightyear, and more news you might’ve missed

Nov 3, 2021 at 1:00 am
click to enlarge It turns our former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos might not actually be so great with money. - a katz / Shutterstock.com
a katz / Shutterstock.com
It turns our former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos might not actually be so great with money.

Don't ever let anyone tell you rich people are rich because they're necessarily smarter and more hardworking than you. Because if there's anything that the high-profile trial of disgraced Silicon Valley figure Elizabeth Holmes has shown, it's that plenty of members of the 1% seem to be not all that great with their money — they just have too much of it. Holmes is on trial for wire fraud as part of her failed company Theranos, which presented itself as a Silicon Valley unicorn that promised to revolutionize medicine with a new technology that could perform a multitude of medical tests using just a drop of blood. Thanks to easy venture capital, Holmes became the world's youngest female billionaire, but it was later revealed that the technology never actually existed. Among those allegedly defrauded by Holmes is the family of former Trump-era Education Secretary Betsy DeVos of Michigan. According to DeVos money manager Lisa Peterson, the Devos family agreed to give Holmes $100 million after a five-hour meeting with Holmes. Apparently, the DeVos clan was so impressed by the promises Holmes and co. made that they "never hired regulatory experts, counsel, or medical experts in the due diligence process, b/c 'we didn't think we needed it,'" according to Law360 reporter Dorothy Atkins, who is covering the trial. It sounds like we do more due diligence when splurging on a $100 appliance!

The Michigan Supreme Court will reexamine a controversial state law that allows judges to force low-income criminal defendants to cover the costs of operating the courts. The case involves Travis Johnson, who was ordered to pay $1,200 for a pair of convictions in 2017. Opponents of the law argue it’s unconstitutional and creates a conflict of interest for judges who can ease budget pressures with a conviction. The costs also disproportionately fall on people who can least afford it. A central focus of the case is whether the law “deprives criminal defendants of their right to appear before an impartial judge,” The Associated Press first reported. Between 2016 and 2019, the law allowed courts to amass $172 million to pay for salaries, utilities, and other services. Nearly three-quarters of the costs were generated in district courts, which handle relatively minor cases like traffic tickets and drunk drivings. 

A Detroit police commander who retired after crashing a department-issued vehicle while drunk is now the chief of the Highland Park Police Department. Johnny Thomas, a 20-year veteran of the Detroit Police Department, will now lead the city’s police department. Thomas, who once ran internal affairs, had a blood-alcohol content above .17 when he struck a pickup truck that was stopped at a red light in January 2019. The driver of the truck was injured and taken to a hospital. Thomas, who was arrested by officers from his own precinct, was charged with operating while impaired and sentenced to probation.

A former movie theater in Lansing is on track to become what is being billed as Michigan's first Black-owned film studio. Abandoned since 2014, the Lansing Mall Cinema at 921 Mall Drive W. is under construction to become Greenwood District Studios, MLive reports. The name comes from Tulsa, Oklahoma's Greenwood District, aka "Black Wall Street," which was burned down by white residents 100 years ago. The project is the brainchild of standup comedian and director Amaru, a 47-year-old Kalamazoo native who worked in Los Angeles. "As you’re in the business, you begin to get tired of waiting," Amaru told MLive of his time making connections in L.A. "Waiting for people to follow through is not what I like to do." The 27,000 square-foot space will house video and audio production facilities, as well as the Funny is Funny comedy club, which is already hosting open mic nights on Tuesdays. Construction is expected to be fully complete by the end of 2022.

The FBI arrested two Detroit cops last week in connection with an ongoing investigation into a towing scandal that has rocked city hall. Lt. John F. Kennedy, 56, of Rochester Hills, and Officer Daniel Vickers, 54, of Livonia, were charged with bribery after agents searched their homes earlier in the day. They’re accused of accepting bribes from an unidentified towing company. In return for the bribes, they steered towing work to the company, federal prosecutors allege. Kennedy, who is an internal affairs lieutenant tasked with investigating dirty cops, is accused of accepting more than $14,000 in cash, cars, and car repairs beginning in 2018. Vickers allegedly received $3,400 in bribes. If convicted, they face up to 10 years in prison. 

Twitter was abuzz last week when Pixar dropped the first teaser trailer for its latest, Lightyear, an animated journey to infinity and beyond. Well, it appears the mega-successful animation studio has moved beyond the use of Michigan actor Tim Allen, who voiced the hardened space ranger in Pixar's first-ever film, 1995's Toy Story, as well as several sequels, shorts, video games, and, of course, merchandise. However, there has been no word that Allen has been fired or even replaced officially. As those in favor of the switcheroo on Twitter point out, Lightyear is actually about the man who inspired the Buzz Lightyear toy (both of which are inspired by real-life astronaut Buzz Aldrin, by the way), so not using Allen isn't a betrayal as much as it is one big step for audiences and Pixar.

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