GRAND RAPIDS - (WZZM) - The primary investor of a Walker film studio made his first appearance in court on a felony charge relating to "Hangar42."
Joseph Peters, 46, of Ada, is now charged with attempting to defraud the state of Michigan of over $20,000. It comes as a result of an investigation surrounding a film tax credit Peters applied for in 2009.
The Michigan Attorney General's Office says Peters claimed he purchased Hangar42 for $40 million, but no transaction ever took place. The property was previously listed for $10 million.
Peters' attorney, Fred Dilley, spoke on his client's behalf. "We're confident that when all the facts come out, it's going to be clear Mr. Peters did nothing wrong," Dilley said Tuesday.
The Mackinaw Center for Public Policy was the first to question the deal after receiving a tip. Communication specialist Kathy Hoekstra said, "And the more we looked into it, two things were going on. One, it did seem like the numbers were not adding up as alleged to us. But, the second was, we were running into was a wall of silence by the state."
On Tuesday, the head of the West Michigan Film Office, Rick Hert, said it's unfortunate it happened, but he believes the film incentives work.
"What keeps getting lost here is the process works," Hert said. "The State of Michigan, the state film office has not funded this project. They have refused it until they could get appraisals done on it. The system works."
The Attorney General's office says the tax credit application was ultimately denied by the state because Peters could not properly document the investment.
As for Hangar42, the property is still available for use. Hert says they have proposed projects worth $60 million and he says it will bring hundreds of jobs to the area.
As for Joseph Peters, his future remains unknown. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison. He was given a $20,000 personal bond.