Ex-Michigan House speaker aides plead not guilty to embezzlement from nonprofit funds

Two people who had close ties to a powerful Republican lawmaker when he ran the Michigan House pleaded not guilty Wednesday to financial crimes, including embezzlement from nonprofit funds created for political purposes.

Rob and Anne Minard both pled not guilty on all counts they face, Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a news release. Each was given a $50,000 personal recognizance bond.

Anne Minard’s attorney, Gerry Gleeson, said in an email after the hearing that he had no comment.

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A message seeking comment was left for Rob Minard’s attorney, Bob Harrison.

The charges against the Minards arose from an ongoing investigation of former House Speaker Lee Chatfield, Nessel has said.

Rob Minard was Chatfield’s chief of staff in 2019 and 2020 while his wife, Anne Minard, was director of external affairs. They also ran a side business, Victor Strategies, a political strategy and fundraising firm.

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Nessel has said the Minards misappropriated at least $525,000 from three nonprofit political funds connected to Chatfield and a political action committee.

The Minards were charged with conducting a criminal enterprise, conspiracy, embezzlement, false pretenses and a tax crime. Their Lansing-area home was raided in search of documents last February.

Chatfield, who is no longer a state lawmaker, has been under investigation by authorities since his sister-in-law said he sexually assaulted her. Chatfield has denied the allegations and said they had a consensual affair.

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