By J. PATRICK PEPPER
REDFORD TOWNSHIP — A 20-month Michigan State Police investigation recently culminated with multiple felony charges for two men accused of forging petition signatures in the 2008 recall campaign against Michigan House Speaker Andy Dillon (D- Redford Township).
Michael Bastianelli, 28, of Westland, and Harvey Robinson, 39, of Redford, were arraigned in the 16th District Court of Livonia, each on felony counts of uttering and publishing and violating state recall laws.
They were arrested and arraigned on Dec. 22 and Dec. 23, respectively. Both men were freed on a $20,000 personal bond.
State police did not return calls seeking comment for this story, but Detective Robert Weimer said in published reports that the men faked signatures of Redford Township residents. He also said the state Attorney General’s Office has reviewed the case, and that he didn’t anticipate any additional charges.
Anti-tax advocates targeted the recall at Dillon for helping pass a $1.4 billion tax increase in 2007 to balance the state budget. Dillon, who represents part of Dearborn Heights, said the increase was necessary to avoid a prolonged government shutdown, but opponents contended he was breaking a campaign promise not to raise taxes.
From frequent allegations of misdeeds by both sides to numerous court challenges, the recall was a constant source of controversy. But Dillon ultimately prevailed when the matter went to the ballot in November 2008, both defeating the recall measure and winning election to a third term.