CHEBOYGAN, Mich. (AP) — Chesapeake Energy has been ordered to stand trial in a racketeering case that accuses it of leasing land to thwart competitors and then canceling the deals when the competition ended.
A probable cause hearing in the case against the Oklahoma City-based company took place in August in Cheboygan District Court. The decision from Judge Maria Barton, who heard testimony in the case, came in a written order dated Monday.
"We are confident in our case and prepared for trial," Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said in a statement issued Tuesday.
In a statement to The Associated Press, Chesapeake spokesman Gordon Pennoyer said the decision to send the case to trial was "not unexpected given that the attorney general's burden was substantially lower than he will be required to prove at trial.
"We continue to believe the attorney general is attempting to criminalize basic contract disputes. Chesapeake remains focused on moving past these legacy issues from 2010 and executing our business strategies to drive profitable growth," Pennoyer said.
Schuette filed charges including racketeering and false pretenses over land deals in the northern Lower Peninsula.
A Dec. 2 trial is scheduled on one count in a separate antitrust case that accuses Chesapeake of rigging bids at a 2010 state oil and gas lease auction. Two other counts were dismissed in July.