Case dropped against one of 16 people charged in Michigan fake elector scheme

Another will be evaluated for mental competency to stand trial

By: - October 19, 2023 5:55 pm

James Renner, 76, of Lansing (right) and his attorney Matthew Borgula (left) appear over Zoom in a Lansing court on August 10, 2023. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

The Michigan Attorney General’s Office on Thursday dropped the criminal case against James Renner of Lansing, one of 16 pro-Trump defendants facing multiple felonies for submitting false electoral counts in 2020.

Each was charged in July with eight felonies, most of which carry a maximum of up to 14 years in prison. 

As part of a “cooperation agreement,” according to the Attorney General’s Office, Renner will no longer face charges alongside 15 other individuals accused of trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election by submitting several documents to the U.S. Capitol falsely claiming former President Donald Trump had won reelection in the state.

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris won in Michigan in 2020 by more than 154,000 votes.

The AG’s Office did not release details of the cooperation agreement.

Here are the 16 people charged in July:

Kathy Berden, 70, of Snover: A Michigan Republican national committeewoman.

William (Hank) Choate, 72, of Cement City: Served as chairman of the Jackson County Republican Party.

Amy Facchinello, 55, of Grand Blanc: A trustee on the Grand Blanc Board of Education who ran on right-wing values and has posted QAnon content on social media.

Clifford Frost, 75, of Warren: Ran for the 28th District seat in the state House of Representatives in 2020, but lost in the Republican primary.

Stanley Grot, 71, of Shelby Township: A GOP powerbroker in Macomb County, serving on the Shelby Township Board of Trustees. as well as the township clerk. In 2018, he ran for secretary of state but abruptly dropped out of the race, which became the center of an alleged payoff scandal that resulted in then-Michigan Party Chair Ron Weiser paying a $200,000 state fine for violating campaign finance law.

John Haggard, 82, of Charlevoix: A plaintiff in a case against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 election. 

Mari-Ann Henry, 65, of Brighton: As of June 29, 2022, Henry’s LinkedIn listed her as the treasurer of the Greater Oakland Republican Club. 

Timothy King, 56, of Ypsilanti: A plaintiff in a case against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 election. 

Michele Lundgren, 73, of Detroit: Ran for the 9th District seat in the state House of Representatives in 2022, but lost in the general election.

Meshawn Maddock, 55, of Milford: Former co-chair of the Michigan Republican Party and vocal proponent of Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen. She attended a pro-Trump event on Jan. 5, 2021, in Washington, D.C., the day before the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. She is the co-owner of A1 Bail Bonds, a bail bondsman company, along with her spouse, GOP state Rep. Matt Maddock.

James Renner, 76, of Lansing: Served as a precinct delegate in 2020 for Watertown Township.

Mayra Rodriguez, 64, of Grosse Pointe Farms: Ran for the 2nd District seat in the state House of Representatives in 2022 as a Republican, but lost to nowHouse Speaker Joe Tate (D-Detroit).

Rose Rook, 81, of Paw Paw, a former Van Buren County GOP chair who also served on the executive committee of the county party. 

Marian Sheridan, 69, of West Bloomfield: Co-founder of the Michigan Conservative Coalition, a right-wing group founded by the Maddocks. Sheridan was also a plaintiff in a case to decertify the 2020 election in Michigan.  

Ken Thompson, 68, of Orleans: An Ionia County Republican who served as a precinct delegate and as the chair of Ionia County Republican Party’s August convention in 2022.

Kent Vanderwood, 69, of Wyoming: Mayor of Wyoming and vice president of the Timothy Group, which advances Christian organizations. 

Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel has since said she believes the charged individuals were “brainwashed” into “really believing” Trump had won. 

“These are people who have been brainwashed,” Nessel said at a virtual event in September. “They legit believe that … somebody can’t even plead guilty if they wanted to because they can’t admit that what they did violated the law because they still think they’re right.”

Before Renner’s court appearance in a Lansing court on Thursday, another defendant in the case, Timothy King of Ypsilanti, was granted a request for evaluation to determine competency and criminal responsibility.

King’s attorney, Michael Vincent, made the request to Judge Kristen Simmons difficulties in meetings with King to formulate a defense as King has difficulty focusing. Vincient added that the interactions he’s had with King border on “illogical and delusional.”

“He’s a very nice man … but it’s been almost impossible to get him to focus on the charges he’s facing,” Vincent said.

The prosecution did not object to King being evaluated to determine  mental competency to stand trial by the Center for Forensic Psychiatry, although the judge noted it’s been taking over six months to get evaluations.


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Anna Liz Nichols
Anna Liz Nichols

Anna Liz Nichols covers government and statewide issues, including criminal justice, environmental issues, education and domestic and sexual violence. Anna is a former state government reporter for The Associated Press and most recently was a reporter for the Detroit News. Anna is a graduate of Michigan State University.