Prosecutor won't charge ex-lawmaker's husband with extortion
Nov. 15, 2015
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The husband of a former Michigan lawmaker will not face criminal charges for his role in anonymous text messages that threatened to reveal an affair between his wife and another legislator.
Then-Republican Reps. Cindy Gamrat and Todd Courser received the texts, which Courser blamed for prompting him to send a sexually explicit phony email to GOP activists and reporters in May saying he had been caught having sex with a male prostitute behind a Lansing nightclub. Courser explained that the self-smear email was intended to make the affair less plausible in case it were revealed by an anonymous extortionist who sent him and Gamrat texts demanding that he resign.
"The motivation behind the text messages ... was to assist Joe Gamrat in ending the extramarital affair," Lapeer County Prosecutor Tim Turkelson said in a statement naming the husband, which was first reported by The County Press of Lapeer on Sunday. "The messages therefore do not rise to the level of criminal extortion."
In September, Courser resigned from office and Cindy Gamrat was expelled by the Republican-led House for the affair and cover-up email. The state police sent a report to the prosecutor in October after investigating Courser's complaint of getting the threatening texts.
Turkelson said Joe Gamrat implemented a scheme to contact his wife and Courser through texts from a pre-paid cellphone. He did not specify if Joe Gamrat sent the texts, saying "individuals" sent them.
The Associated Press has a public-records request pending with the state police for a copy of the report.
An apologetic Cindy Gamrat has admitted to official misconduct and misuse of state resources but said she did not know the email's content. Courser, who also apologized for the relationship, has said he sent the email out of desperation. He has accused former aides of the two lawmakers of conspiring with an anonymous blackmailer and GOP leadership in a "political hit" against him.
In a statement released Friday and provided to the AP on Sunday, Turkelson said: "None of the individuals involved in this matter come to the table with clean hands. All bear some responsibility in creating this embarrassing and costly chapter in our county's history. Under these circumstances I see no benefit in prolonging this saga at the expense of Lapeer County taxpayers in a prosecution that would be tenuous at best."
In a video about the investigation posted to YouTube Sunday, Courser said his staffers were "feeding information" to Joe Gamrat and Joe Gamrat's friend. A message seeking comment was left with Joe Gamrat on Sunday. His son, Joey, told the AP that "it's hard for comments and statements to be made regarding a full report that hasn't been released at this time."
The three aides, including one who refused to send the email at Courser's request, have said there is no truth to his allegations. Two who lost their jobs in July have filed a whistleblower and libel/slander lawsuit against Courser and Gamrat.
The former legislators recently lost bids to win back their seats.