FLINT (WWJ/AP) – A convicted felon who had obtained a $9.1 million tax credit from the State of Michigan last year has been convicted of two felonies in Genesee County Circuit Court.
Fifty-nine-year-old Richard Short plead no contest Monday afternoon to “Attempt False Pretenses” between $1,000 and $20,000 related to fraudulent claims he made to the State of Michigan’s Economic Development Corporation in obtaining the tax credits.
Short also plead no contest to the “Unlawful Use of a Financial Transaction Device” for using the ATM card of his former neighbor, a now-deceased 87-year-old elderly woman who suffered from dementia.
Short, a convicted felon with other fraud cases in his past, plead as a habitual felon third which enhances his possible sentence to eight years in prison.
In addition, his penalty on these two convictions will be served consecutive to any term imposed for violating the parole he was already on in Genesee County for his prior convictions.
Short was arrested a day after sharing the stage with then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm in March 2010 as she announced his company, RASCO, would get the tax credits.
He got the grant after saying the company planned to improve the lives of poor people overseas by using renewable energy to provide electricity, clean drinking water, sanitation and telephone and Internet service.
Short’s ability to get a business tax credit for a company he apparently created on his trailer park home computer deeply embarrassed the state’s economic development officials.
Officials at the Michigan Economic Development Corp. said they never conducted a background check on Short. They also failed to check his other paperwork, including an apparently fake letter Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said Short wrote claiming he had $10 million in a trust fund to finance RASCO’s operations.
In a written statement, Leyton called the case “complicated,” saying the investigation involved voluminous financial records and a myriad of other documents.
Before his arrest, Short had a lengthy criminal history. His prison record and the fact that he was on parole could easily be found by searching the state’s offender database online.
Short was convicted in 2002 of embezzling money from Harding Energy Inc. of Muskegon County’s Norton Shores and sentenced to at least two years in prison. He also pleaded guilty in 2002 to earlier fraud charges in Oakland and Genesee counties, according to Corrections Department and state police records.
He was paroled in April 2004 but was returned to prison the following February for violating his parole with additional fraudulent activities, then paroled in January 2007.
Short remains in custody at the Genesee County Jail and will be back in court for an August 30 sentencing date.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.