Friday, December 28, 2012

Veterans Treatment Court

By Kristina L. Derro

The 17th District Court in Redford, Michigan dedicated a Veterans Treatment Court in November 2011. It offers veterans who are involved in the criminal justice system with a coordinated response by VA, local veterans groups, prosecutors, defense counsel, probation staff, and mentors. It is a unique combination that offers both addiction and mental health treatment. It offers the veterans a chance to receive treatment from VA for any mental health and addiction disabilities that arose as a result of their time in service. It also provides veterans with the tools they need to lead productive and law-abiding lives. 52-1 District Court in Novi, Michigan also has a similar program and was only the eighteenth one in the country. Out of 75 participants since 2009, none have been rearrested.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Detroit Health Care Fraud

Matt Worley, Esq.

Despite regular indictments and convictions of home health care agency owners, Medicare and Medicaid fraud remains prevalent in metro Detroit, according to a new report by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG).

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) found high fraud, waste, and abuse in Detroit.  Other cities found to have high fraud include Chicago, Miami, Tampa, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, and Baton Rouge.

Fraud is a major problem in the Medicare system.  Most experts believe that up to ten percent of the annual $1 trillion cost of Medicare and Medicaid can be attributed to fraud, waste, and abuse.  In 2009 HHS created HEAT – a task force whose aim is to reduce fraud in these programs.

According to this report, as much as 22 percent of claims inspected were filed in error because the services were unnecessary or were coded inaccurately.  This resulted in $432 million in unnecessary payments to home health agencies.  Part of the problem lies in poor record-keeping by the agencies.

The OIG report made three recommendations to home health agencies to reduce fraud.  These providers should (1) increase Medicare contractor standards to identify high risk providers; (2) track license revocation recommendations; and (3) take measures to prevent inappropriate payments to agencies with suspended or revoked licenses.

In response to the report, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said it would implement all three of these recommendations.

If you have questions about Medicare or Medicaid fraud, or other legal issues, please contact Mark Mandell or Tariq Hafeez at 248.380.0000 or online at

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Veterans' Gun Rights An Ongoing Issue

The issue of veterans and gun rights has been a sticking point in the $631 billion defense bill. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. has attempted to halt the Veterans Affairs Department plan to place the names of some veterans into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.  Sen. Coburn has stated that, in order to take away someone's Second Amendment rights, it should be adjudicated, rather than simply mandated by an automated system.

Inclusion on the list would mean those veterans would be prohibited from buying or owning firearms. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., has stated that though he loves the country's veterans, if they have been deemed mentally unfit, they should not have possession of a gun.

"The Veterans Administration currently appoints fiduciaries, usually the family members of a veteran, to manage his or her pensions and disability benefits when they have been declared mentally incompetent," said Veterans disability lawyer James Fausone. "When a vet has been declared mentally incompetent, his or her name is automatically entered in the Criminal Background Check System."

A group, led by Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., has been pushing to change that policy, allowing the addition of the name to the list only if a judge deemed the veteran to be a danger. This latest version of the bill, co-sponsored by 21 lawmakers, passed the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee. The legislation also has the backing of the National Rifle Association and numerous veterans' advocacy groups. Meanwhile, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence supports the VA's current policy. Tom Tarantino, chief policy officer for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, has stated that vets who have a traumatic brain injury or PTSD, but who pose no actual threat to others might view the current restriction as a disincentive to seek treatment.

As of 1998, 185 of the 127,000 veterans on the gun-check registry list have worked to have their names removed, according to the VA. Veterans can appeal their diagnosis, and can petition for their firearm rights to be reinstated by the agency to have his firearm rights restored on the basis of not posing a threat to public safety.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Firm Attorney Published

Don Knapp, attorney at Fausone Bohn, LLP, recently had an article published in Michigan Municipal Legal Briefs.

The article focused on an agreement between Livonia, Grand Rapids, and the State of Michigan to create a “Municipal Services Authority,” also known as a “Virtual City.”  This Authority, governed by representatives from the two cities and the state, will provide services to communities around the state.  For a fee, these communities can have the authority provide payroll, assessing, and other “back office” services.

This Virtual City won’t solve all of the financial issues faced by municipalities, but it could offer a means to reduce expenses without affecting the services provided to the average resident.

The Agreement provides that the Virtual City will continue for an initial term of 15 years and renew for additional 10 year term, unless it is not extended.

In addition to being an attorney at Fausone Bohn, LLP, Mr. Knapp serves as the City Attorney for the City of Livonia.

If you have questions about this topic or other legal issues, contact the firm at (248) 380-0000 or online at

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Brighton Nuisance Ordinance Held Unconstitutional

By Paul F. Bohn

No matter how dilapidated your property, Michigan cities must give you the option to repair it before the city can demolish it.

The City of Brighton previously had an ordinance in effect for blighted property.  According to the ordinance, a building was presumed to be a public nuisance if the cost of repairs exceeded the actual cash value of the structure.  In such a situation, repairs on the property were deemed unreasonable.

In a recent Michigan Court of Appeals decision (Bonner v. City of Brighton), the court ruled that Brighton’s ordinance was unconstitutional and violated due process standards.  The court reasoned that the ordinance denied property owners the option to repair an unsafe structure simply because the city believed that such repairs would be economically unreasonable.

The problem is that refusing to allow a property owner the option to make a timely repair to their structure does not advance the city’s interest of protecting the health and welfare of its citizens.  That objective is served just as well if the city allows the property’s repair, and is actually cheaper for the city.  Whether it makes economic sense for the owner to repair the property is irrelevant – the property owner must be given that option.

This opinion makes one thing clear – a property owner, not the government, has the last say on the right to repair and maintain structures.

If you have questions about this or other legal topics, contact Paul Bohn at Fausone Bohn, LLP at (248) 380-0000, ext. 9988 or my e-mail

Monday, December 17, 2012

Man Pleads Guilty to Mail Fraud Totaling $2.6 million

Mark Mandell, Esq

While we may not often think of inmates as vulnerable, it is upon these individuals that John Wilson preyed, conning both the inmates and their families out of $2.6 million.

It has been two years since Wilson was accused, but he has finally pled guilty to fraud. Wilson worked with Lari Zeka, a Macomb Township man, running three businesses that sent mailings to inmates across the nation. The mailings, which targeted both the inmates and their families, presented an offer of legal services on the inmate’s behalf. The catch, however, was the necessity of payment upfront, money that would supposedly be used for legal research and lawyer retainer fees. The research would help toward the inmate’s appeal, while the retainer fee would be put toward the case. Once fees were paid, however, the money disappeared. No research was conducted and no attorney was ever assigned to work on the inmate’s appeal.

Wilson seemed to target both black and Hispanic inmates specifically; however, the nature of the scheme was universal in nature. The mailings preyed upon the desperate desire of family members to help their loved ones behind bars.

As a result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Wilson was indicted on 66 counts of mail fraud in October 2010 and finally pleaded guilty in January. For now, he awaits sentencing.

To learn more and read the original article, please visit:

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

VA To Consider Ease in TBI Secondary Claims

Jim Fausone
Veterans Disability Lawyer
The VA compensates veterans for primary and secondary disabilities connected with service.  Traumatic Brain Injury is a signature injury of Iraq and Afghanistan wars because of IED.  So it is good news that VA is considering the secondary effects of TBI.  Last week  VA began the process of adding five illnesses -- unprovoked seizures, dementia, Parkinsonism, some hormone deficiencies and depression -- as “secondary” illnesses connected to a proven TBI injury.   Researchers from the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine have found relationships between brain trauma and these other illnesses.  VA does not anticipate significant changes because of the new rule change, because the secondary illnesses still require an existing TBI diagnosis. Those of us who work with VA would disagree because the recognition of these secondary conditions eliminates proving such to VA which can take years and every RO treats these matters differently.  A secondary condition recognition will force that a national standard be applied.  

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Rebuilding Detroit

Mike Ilitch, owner of the Detroit Red Wings and the Detroit Tigers, has proposed a $650 million development plan for a new hockey and multipurpose events center in the city of Detroit: “From the time we bought the Fox Theatre, I could envision a downtown where the streets were bustling and people were energized.”

The Ilitch family’s Olympia Development arm presented the plan Tuesday to the state Senate panel, who, in a 5-0 vote, approved the proposition. According to Rep. John Walsh of Livonia, the Senate panel’s approval will allow Olympia Development to apply for almost $13 million in funds from the Detroit Downtown Development Authority.

John Walsh, an attorney at Fausone Bohn, LLP in Northville, Michigan, is the legislative sponsor.

The development plan would include a new hockey arena for the Detroit Red Wings, one to replace the Joe; however, the arena would be combined with a multipurpose events center. Walsh stated that the proposed center would be located near the Fox and Comerica Park – creating a new retail, residential, and mixed-use commercial district.

The proposed project is estimated to have quite an impact on Detroit’s economy, both during its construction and after its opening. The project would create approximately 5,500 jobs for the arena construction, while construction of the mixed-use commercial district would create another 2,750 jobs. After its opening, Olympia Development estimates that the multipurpose events center would bring 1,100 jobs and upwards of $210 million in annual economic impact to the city of Detroit – a boost the city seems to so desperately need. Detroit Mayor Dave Bing states that the proposed project could be “a vital contribution to a more vibrant downtown,” one that could lead to a stronger economy.

The project, however, is dependant upon the approval of $12.8 million from Detroit’s Downtown Development Authority. Detroit’s DDA taxes businesses for such bond and development projects. The “repurposing of existing revenue” is not a tax increase, Walsh said.

The project, especially its long-term impact, could positively affect the city. The proposed project could increase the desirability of living in Detroit, drawing more residents into core areas of the city. The Ilitch family may be onto something in an attempt to revitalize the city of Detroit.



Wednesday, December 5, 2012

It Takes Too Long

Jim Fausone
Veterans Disability Lawyer

We talk to hundreds of veterans a month about their VA disability claim status.  Many people want to know why it takes so long and when will their case be decided.  Well it is not getting any better based on a recent VA report.  The delays in processing went up 40% in 2012.  In fiscal 2012, the average days to complete a VA disability compensation or pension claim rose to 262 days, up from 188 days in fiscal 2011, according to a recently completely VA performance report. During that same period VA hired more staff and poured resources into training. The department has seen a massive increase in claims from veterans in recent years, both younger ones from Iraq and Afghanistan and older ones who have recently been able to file claims on new conditions. Claims the past four years have topped 1 million a year.  We do not expect that 2013 will be any better.  We advise patience and persistence with dealing with VA.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Lansing to Local Event a Success

Paul Bohn, Esq.

Last Friday, Fausone Bohn, LLP hosted its third “Lansing to Local” event at Schoolcraft College’s VistaTech Center.  The event provided an informal discussion on pending legislative and regulatory reforms and how they affect business in Wayne County.  The event was attended by over 60 guests including several local mayors and supervisors, Michigan judges, Wayne County commissioners, and business leaders from southeast Michigan.

The event boasted two great speakers – John J. Walsh, Speaker Pro Tem of the Michigan House of Representatives and Hon. Chad C. Schmucker, Michigan State Court Administrator.

Mr. Walsh discussed the priorities of the legislature and the bills to be debated during the last few weeks before the holiday break (termed the “lame duck” session).  In addition to serving as the Speaker Pro Tem of the Michigan House of Representatives, Mr. Walsh is an attorney with Fausone Bohn, LLP in Northville.

Mr. Schmucker then discussed the implementation of Michigan’s new business courts.  These courts will be required in circuits that have three or more judges.  They should provide for better predictability of business cases and judges with more expertise in that area of the law. 

Additionally, Mr. Schmucker discussed the State Court Administrative Office’s new measures to improve the performance and efficiency of Michigan courts.  This will be achieved by identifying problem areas, setting goals, and evaluating performance through a variety of means including customer satisfaction surveys.

If you have questions about these or other legal topics, or would like to be invited to the next Lansing to Local event.  Please contact Paul Bohn at (248) 380-0000 ext. 9988 or

Michigan Working to Make Courts More Efficient

Matt Worley, Esq.

Michigan Trial Courts may soon be working smarter and more efficient, thanks to an initiative by the State Court Administrative Office (SCAO).  With a program entitled “Courts Working Smarter for a Better Michigan,” the SCAO will be measuring the performance of Michigan trial courts.

The plan allows the courts to identify performance issues, set goals, and improve performance.

For example, the plan analyzes how long it takes for a case to be heard by a judge.  Courts can then see where the problems lie and work to correct them in order to shorten the time cases sit in limbo.

Additionally, courts will measure what percentage of jurors called to duty actually serve on a trial.  Customer satisfaction surveys will also be provided to people using the courthouse as a way to improve customer service. Lastly, the courts will also be able to review the reliability and integrity of case files – having accurate court records is indispensable for an effective appeal.

Perhaps best of all, these measures will be provided to members of the bar and the public, providing for greater transparency of the courts to Michigan citizens.

To read the Michigan Bar Journal article about the steps being taken by the SCAO to improve the efficiency of the courts, please visit:

If you have legal questions, contact the experienced team of attorneys at Fausone Bohn, LLP at (248) 380-0000 or


Monday, December 3, 2012

Judge to Hear Motion to Dismiss for Congressman McCotter Staffer

Mark Mandell, Esq.
Attorney General Bill Schuette deemed the acts of Paul Seewald and Don Yowchuang a “disgraceful violation of the public trust” on Tuesday. The two, who worked for former congressman Thaddeus McCotter and were involved in McCotter’s petition scandal, entered pleas to all but one of the criminal charges brought against them. Seewald and Yowchuang, along with other members of McCotter’s Michigan staff, were involved in the fraudulent copying and altering of petitions that led to McCotter’s qualification for the 2012 Michigan ballot.

Yowchuang pleaded no contest to ten counts of forgery – a felony – and six counts of falsely signing a nominating petition – a misdemeanor. Seewald, on the other hand, pleaded guilty to nine counts of falsely signing a nominating petition as circulator.

One charge remains, however. Conspiracy to Commit a Legal Act in an Illegal Manner is still pending against both Seewald and Yowchuang. Judge Marie Braxton is expected to hear an argument on January 9, 2013 from Mr. Seewald’s attorney, Mark Mandell, to have this remaining felony charge dismissed. Mandell, a partner at the law firm Fausone Bohn, LLP, will face opposition from the Attorney General’s office when they oppose the motion in court.

A handful of other McCotter staffers have previously made pleas in regards to the petition scandal. Members include Lorianne O’Brady, a former scheduler for the congressman, who pleaded no contest to five counts of falsely signing a nominating petition as circulator. She has been sentenced to 20 days in jail or in a work program. Further, O’Brady will serve probation for 18 months following the sentence, and she has been ordered to pay over $2,000 in fines.

One member of McCotter’s staff still faces criminal charges. Mary Melissa Turnbull, who is scheduled to appear for a Pre-Trial hearing on January 8, 2013, has been charged with one count of Conspiracy to Commit a Legal Act in an Illegal Manner and one count of falsely signing a nominating petition as circulator.

These convictions have come as a result of Attorney General Schuette’s creation of the Public Integrity Unit in 2011. Since its creation, the unit has filed over 200 charges in various cases involving corruption at both the state and local levels. The unit continues to pursue convictions in such fraud and corruption cases.

If you have questions regarding fraud or other legal issues, please contact Mark Mandell at 248.380.0000 or

To learn more and read the original articles, please visit: