Thursday, December 26, 2013

I-9 Forms and Potential Audits by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency

Keith Madden, Esq.

            Many small businesses start out with the owner performing most of the work for the company.  With success, there usually comes a time when it is necessary to hire employees, so that profits can be maximized.  It is when a company starts hiring employees that business owners learn about the legal requirements and added expenses of Unemployment Insurance, Workers Compensation Insurance, and payroll withholding.  One more legal requirement to add to this list is the requirement under Federal law that all employers must obtain and retain I-9 forms for all of their employees.

            Under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, all employers are required to verify the employment eligibility of persons hired after November 6, 1986 by using federal form I-9.  The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) conducts audits at companies, and the fines that it charges to businesses have raised substantial revenues it the last few years.  Since 2009, ICE has conducted over 7,500 audits and imposed over $80 million in fines. In 2011 alone, ICE conducted 2,740 audits and assessed over $7 million in fines.

            An ICE officer will usually send a notice to the business owner that the officer will conduct an inspection at the business in three days, to determine whether there is compliance with the I-9 requirements.  The ICE officer will also request other business documents and information in order to determine whether the I-9 forms are accurate.

            There can be substantial penalties for problems that the ICE officer finds during his inspection, and it is very important that I-9 forms are not falsified or back-dated.  According to the I-9 form:  "Federal law provides for imprisonment and/or fines for false statements or use of false documents in connection with the completion of this form." An employer who hires an unauthorized worker can be fined between $250 and $5,500 per worker. In addition, such an employer can be barred from federal government contracts for a year. An employee who knowingly accepts fraudulent documentation can also be criminally prosecuted under other immigration laws.

            An employer who fails to keep properly filed I-9 forms can be fined $110 per missing item for each form, up to $1100 per form, even if the employee is legally authorized to work in the US. An individual who knowingly commits or participates in document fraud may be fined between $375 and $3,200 per document for the first offense, and between $3,200 and $6,500 per document for subsequent offenses.

            Fausone Bohn, LLP assists businesses in complying with state and federal law.  If you have questions concerning I-9 forms, or other legal requirements, you can contact attorney Keith W. Madden at (248) 912-3230.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Governor Snyder Adds Teeth to Local Government’s Fight Against Blight

Paul Bohn, Esq.

Governor Snyder signed into law a package of 5 “blight bills” which will give local communities greater tools to go after property owners who are not maintaining their property.  Blight conditions in many of our older communities, often owned by absentee landlords, have been shown to lower property values in the surrounding area.  The new laws will allow local municipalities to assess owners of blighted property additional fines, the ability to deny zoning changes or building permits, and potentially be subject to garnishment and foreclosure proceedings.

Way to go Governor Snyder!

Monday, December 23, 2013

So Nothing Got Done This Year

Jim Fausone
Veterans Disability Lawyer

When you look at 2013 there was no shortage of issues of interest to veterans.  VA operations were often in the news from the backlog on disability claims, the quality of health care or the troubled electronic medical record system.  The Stars and Stripes report that no major veteran initiatives made it out of Congress this year.  The one noteworthy black spot on that do nothing record is a budget proposal to remove COLA from retiree pay for those under 62 years old.  So when the politicians are pandering to veterans, as they do every election year, keep this year of zero accomplishments in mind before promising your vote.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Increased Police Patrolling During the Holidays

Mark Mandell, Esq. According to the Michigan State Police, law enforcement officers in 26 counties will be conducting extra patrols through the New Year to ensure motorists are driving safe and sober this holiday season. According to the Michigan State Police website, 11 people were killed in crashes on Michigan roadways; four of those crashes involved alcohol. The holidays are a very busy time for travel and officers will be making sure that everyone gets to their family gatherings safely. According to OHSP Director Michael L. Prince, "Extra officers will be out strictly enforcing drunk driving laws. Motorists need to designate a sober driver before drinking or take a cab or bus home." Not only is drunk driving extremely dangerous, but there are hefty consequences associated with drunk driving. A person is considered “over the limit” if they are operating a vehicle with a BAC of .08 or greater. There are enhanced penalties if an individual’s BAC is 0.17 or higher. The severity of the penalties depends on what number offense it is and the level of intoxication. The penalties include the following:
• If BAC is below .17 and it is a first offense the penalties includes up to a $500 fine and Up to 93 days in jail; • If BAC is above .17 and it is a first offense the penalties includes up to a $700 fine and 180 days in jail; • If it is a second offense within 7 years the penalties include one or more of the following: a $200 to $1000 fine and/or 5 days to 1 year in jail; • If it is a third offense within a lifetime the offense is considered a felony and the penalties include one or more of the following: a $500 to $5000 fine, 1 to 5 years imprisonment and/or probation with 30 days to 1 year in jail; • Additionally, convicted drunk drivers are subject to a $1,000 penalty for two consecutive years under the Driver Responsibility Act, for a total of $2,000 in additional costs.
There are a number of safer alternatives to drunk driving. Safer alternatives include: designating a sober driver; calling a friend; taking a cab; walking or staying over the night at a family or friend’s home. 

If you are facing drunk driving charges, or have questions regarding the law, contact experienced criminal defense attorney Mark Mandell at 888-674-1189 or online at

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Are Landlords Liable for Criminal Tenants?

Matthew Worley, Esq.

If you’re a landlord and your tenants turn out to be criminals, can you be held liable?

A Michigan Supreme Court case addressed this question earlier this year.  Generally, landlords cannot be held criminally liable for the illegal acts of their tenants.  This, of course, isn’t true if the landlord participates in or aids in the illegal activity.

However, just because landlords cannot be held criminally liable, this doesn’t mean they have no duty regarding their tenant’s activities.  In short, if the landlord knows about specific criminal acts of his tenants, and those acts pose an imminent risk of harm to an individual, the landlord owes a duty. 

However, the duty on the landlord is minimal.  The landlord only has to “reasonably expedite police involvement.”  In other words, the landlord has to call the cops.  Nothing more, nothing less.  If the landlord doesn’t call the police, he may be held civilly liable to someone injured as a result of the illegal acts.

The moral of this case?  Background Checks!  If you are considering renting out a house, condo, or apartment, adequate background screening of potential tenants is the best way to prevent situations such as this.

If you are considering renting property and have questions about your potential liability, contact the experienced team of legal professionals at Fausone Bohn, LLP.  We have attorneys knowledgeable in all areas of the law eager to assist you.  We can be reached at (248) 380-0000 or online at  

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Free Medical Services for Qualifying Veterans & Family Members

The Michigan Endoscopy Center in Novi, Michigan has a unique offer for free GI procedures.  This free service is made available by rules of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.  Michigan Endoscopy Center has CMS approval until the end of the year at its new surgery center in Novi to provide these tests free of charge.  These procedures cost around $3,000, so this is a real benefit to veterans that may not have income, insurance or healthcare. 

Colonoscopy’s make a great holiday gift! …one size fits all, they can’t be returned and just might save a life!

To see if you qualify, please contact the Center’s administrator at the number below. 

Brien Fausone, MA, MBA
Michigan Endoscopy Center
(248) 865-6555 phone

Monday, December 16, 2013

City Inspection Fee Upheld

Matthew Worley, Esq.

The City of Jackson, like so many other cities, charges owners of rental property a fee to inspect the property to ensure that it is safe and in compliance with building codes.  Recently, a rental company challenged this fee in court arguing that it constituted a tax.  If the fee was really a tax, it violated the Michigan Constitution because it was not voted on and approved by a majority of the electors of the City.

After a review of the facts, the Michigan Court of Appeals issued an order holding that the inspection fee was not a tax but simply a regulatory fee.  The court briefly reasoned that because this fee serves the regulatory purpose of funding measures to ensure safe, sanitary, and habitable rental housing, it is not a tax.  The court also reviewed the documents provided by the parties and determined that the amount of the fee was reasonable because the fees actually received by the city were less than the costs for the inspection program.

One of the three justices did disagree with this decision.  In essence, his position was that there had not been a sufficient showing that the amount of the inspection charge was reasonable and proportionate.  He believed the Plaintiff is entitled to a full hearing on the merits of the case.

This decision means that cities can continue to charge inspection fees in order to cover their costs.  A decision in the alternative would have been a significant burden on Michigan cities – it would have required approval of the voters to charge a new tax for the inspections.  To get voters to pass such a measure in today’s financial climate would be nearly impossible.

If you have questions about this or other legal topics, contact the experienced team at Fausone Bohn, LLP at (248) 380-0000 or online at  

Friday, November 29, 2013

‘Tis the Season for Retail Fraud

Mark Mandell, Esq.

As the holiday season nears, retail fraud is expected to skyrocket. Last December, the National Retail Federation estimated retail fraud’s annual cost at $8.9 billion, according to a survey of 60 retail firms. Of that amount, $2.9 billion will come during the holiday season. The holiday season can be difficult on families who may not be able to afford the types of gifts they would like to give their loved ones. For this reason, individuals in this predicament may feel the need to commit retail fraud. Although, this may be a difficult time for many families, the penalty of retail fraud is too severe and the risk is too high. Since the consequences of retail fraud are hefty, quality legal representation is a necessity.

There are three degrees of retail fraud: first degree, second degree and third degree. The difference in degrees of retail fraud depends on the benefit wrongfully received. If the benefit wrongfully received is $200.00 or less, the crime would be considered retail fraud in the third degree, a misdemeanor. If the benefit wrongfully received is more than $200.00 but less than $1000.00, the crime would be considered retail fraud in the second degree, a misdemeanor. If the benefit wrongfully received exceeds $1000.00, the crime would be considered retail fraud in the first degree, which is a felony.

Retail fraud can take a variety of forms such as taking property from the store that has not been paid for; returning items to the store as a refund or exchange for property that was not paid for and misrepresenting the price of an item with intent not to pay for the item or pay less than the price at which the property is offered for sale.

Retail fraud is governed by statute-MCL §750.356. MCL §750.356c provides that any person who commits retail fraud in the first degree is punishable by imprisonment for not more than 5 years or a fine of not more than $10,000.00 or 3 times the value of the difference in price, property stolen, or money or property obtained or attempted to be obtained, whichever is greater, or both imprisonment and a fine. MCL §750.356d provides that any person who commits retail fraud in the second degree is punishable by imprisonment for not more than 1 year or a fine of not more than $2,000.00 or 3 times the value of the difference in price, property stolen, or money or property obtained or attempted to be obtained, whichever is greater, or both imprisonment and a fine. MCL §750.356d provides that any person who commits retail fraud in the third degree is punishable by imprisonment for not more than 93 days or a fine of not more than $500.00 or 3 times the value of the difference in price, property stolen, or money or property obtained or attempted to be obtained, whichever is greater, or both imprisonment and a fine.

The harsh penalties of retail fraud make having experienced and knowledgeable legal counsel invaluable.  If you have been charged with retail fraud, contact attorney Mark Mandell at (248) 380-0000 or online at 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

DOD Uses Plug Numbers

Jim Fausone
Veterans Disability Lawyer
We deal with VA every day and are at the outer rings of DOD’s activities.  Our clients are guys that have been around the block before and know a thing or two about DOD and VA.  So I am never too surprised by the stories we are told about delay and incompetency.  However, a new report out on DOD tells the story of how DFAS simply makes up numbers, plug numbers, to make its books balance in reports to Treasury.  DFAS, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, is the Pentagon’s main accounting agency.  We all rely on the DFAS numbers like they are gospel.    VA will stick to a DFAS report of pay or benefits as evidence in VA determinations – like hazardous duty pay, flight status, etc.  As reported “At the DFAS offices that handle accounting for the Army, Navy, Air Force and other defense agencies, fudging the accounts with false entries is standard operating procedure, Reuters has found. And plugging isn’t confined to DFAS (pronounced DEE-fass). Former military service officials say record-keeping at the operational level throughout the services is rife with made-up numbers to cover lost or missing information.”
I suspect that if Reuters was doing a similar story on VA it may find the same mentality of “plugging the numbers to get the report out the door.”  Those inaccuracies end up impacting the lives of real people.  Real veterans are not getting benefits or care because of the inability to account for information and resources.  I wish it was not so but this report seems to be well done and convincing.  What are your thoughts or experiences?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Court of Claims to Move to Court of Appeals

The legislation to move the Court of Claims from Ingham County to the Court of Appeals passed in the House of Representatives by a 57-52 vote. Governor Snyder has indicated that he will be signing the bill into immediate effect. Senate Bill 0652 will allow a variety of judges, from all over Michigan, to hear the cases that are brought forward against The State. In the past, The Court of Claims was located in Ingham County and only Ingham County residents, which are only 3% of the population, were able to vote for the judges that would be hearing these cases.

The new legislation will allow the Supreme Court Justices to appoint judges from all over Michigan to hear citizen claims. This legislation was created in an effort to make The Court of Claims a fairer environment for private parties, such as contractors who have done work for The State. The Fausone Bohn law firm regularly represents clients with claims against the State of Michigan in The Court of Claims. Attorneys Paul Bohn and Christopher Frescoln handle these types of claims and can be reached at (248) 380-0000 or email or

Friday, November 22, 2013

Disabled Vets Get Michigan Real Property Tax Break

Jim Fausone
Veterans Disability Lawyer

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder recently signed into law P.A. 161 of 2013. This Act amends MCL 211.7b regarding Veterans Exemptions to read as follows:
Sec. 7b. (1) Real property used and owned as a homestead by a disabled veteran who was discharged from the armed forces of the United States under honorable conditions or by an individual described in subsection (2) is exempt from the collection of taxes under this act. To obtain the exemption, an affidavit showing the facts required by this section and a description of the real property shall be filed by the property owner or his or her legal designee with the supervisor or other assessing officer during the period beginning with the tax day for each year and ending at the time of the final adjournment of the local board of review. The affidavit when filed shall be open to inspection. The county treasurer shall cancel taxes subject to collection under this act for any year in which a disabled veteran eligible for the exemption under this section has acquired title to real property exempt under this section. Upon granting the exemption under this section, each local taxing unit shall bear the loss of its portion of the taxes upon which the exemption has been granted.

(2) If a disabled veteran who is otherwise eligible for the exemption under this section dies, either before or after the exemption under this section is granted, the exemption shall remain available to or shall continue for his or her unremarried surviving spouse. The surviving spouse shall comply with the requirements of subsection (1) and shall indicate on the affidavit that he or she is the surviving spouse of a disabled veteran entitled to the exemption under this section. The exemption shall continue as long as the surviving spouse remains unremarried.

(3) As used in this section, “disabled veteran” means a person who is a resident of this state and who meets 1 of the following criteria:

(a)    Has been determined by the United States department of veterans affairs to be permanently and totally disabled as a result of military service and entitled to veterans’ benefits at the 100% rate.

(b)   Has a certificate from the United States veterans’ administration, or its successors, certifying that he or she is receiving or has received pecuniary assistance due to disability for specially adapted housing.

(c)    Has been rated by the United States department of veterans affairs as individually unemployable.

The State has told tax assessors that:
This exemption is only available to disabled veterans or, if the veteran has died, to their unremarried surviving spouse who own and use the home as their homestead.

The disabled veteran or their surviving spouse must be a resident of the State of Michigan.

Assessors are advised that eligible disabled veterans will be able to apply for a 2013 exemption at the December 2013 Board of Review. An exemption will cancel the July and December 2013 taxes, but will not cancel any taxes levied before 2013.

The Act requires an Affidavit be filed but does not require this Affidavit to be an official State of Michigan form. A standard Affidavit is not planned to be developed at this time.

If you qualify do not miss out on this tax break for those who became 100% disabled serving the country.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

False Claims Act

Mark Mandell, Esq.

The False Claims Act has recovered approximately $18.3 billion dollars for the federal government from 2008 through 2012. For every dollar the government invests in fighting healthcare fraud, the government gets $16 dollars in return.

The False Claims Act is a Civil War era law, dating back to 1865. The Act is meant to fight companies who defraud governmental programs. People that are not affiliated with the government are also allowed to file actions on behalf of the government; this is known as “whistleblowing”. Whistleblowers can receive up to 15-25% of recovered damages. 

In the past two years, there has been a tremendous increase in healthcare fraud cases. For example, in 1987-1992, there were only 62 healthcare fraud cases filed by “whistleblowers”. The number of cases in 2011 and 2012 add up to 829 cases.

Supporters of The False Claims Act explain that this revenue actually returns a large amount of money to U.S. tax payers. The report from the Washington based group, D.C.-based Taxpayers Against Fraud, states that this revenue can fund the entire Children's Health Insurance Program, serving more than 5 million people, for approximately four years.

Although, there are many supporters of the act, there is also some opposition. For example, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce believes that this act needs a lot of reform to encourage companies to try to fix the fraud issue internally. Penalties for healthcare fraud are actually three times the amount of the actual damages and the Chamber of Commerce explains that these penalties are handed out without any due process. The Chamber of Commerce explains that these penalties are too harsh and this makes companies less likely to come forward and ask for help in solving their issues with internal fraud. For example, the Chamber of Commerce thinks a good idea for reform would be to create benefit incentives for companies who create in house programs against fraud.

Healthcare fraud continues to be a serious problem and initiatives to fight healthcare fraud continue. For more information please read:

Friday, November 15, 2013

Veterans Court Needs Mentors

Kristina Derro, Esq.


The 17th District Court in Redford, Michigan, has established a special veterans court that addresses the problems of military veterans who have encountered legal issues stemming from their military experiences. It allows veterans who were convicted of or plead guilty to certain charges the opportunity to be placed into a special program that, while still holding them accountable for the charges, allows the veterans to receive a coordinated response to the unique problems they are facing. It provides the veterans with a positive interaction between court personnel, prosecutors, probation staff, the VA, and local veterans groups.

One of the big features of this court is that it has established a “Military Veterans Mentoring Program” to assist the veterans appearing before the court. The program pairs troubled veterans with veterans who successfully made the transition from military to civilian life.  It allows a positive interaction and provides the troubled veterans with the opportunity to receive advice and guidance from one of their veteran peers who understands the rigors of returning to civilian life.

Right now, the court is in need of veteran mentors. If you or someone you know is a veteran is willing to commit to a few hours each month to assist a fellow veteran in need, please call the Veterans Coordinator for the 17th District Court, Jim Badeen, at (313) 387-2792 or visit the mentoring program’s website at You will be trained prior to being paired with a veteran involved in the program.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Michigan to Receive $42 Million in Nationwide Healthcare Fraud Settlement

Matthew Worley, Esq.

Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries have agreed to pay more than $2.2 billion to the federal government and 45 states in one of the largest health care fraud settlements in history.

The payment is made to settle criminal fines and civil suits alleging the entities offered kickbacks to doctors and pharmacies to promote certain drugs for uses not approved by the FDA – a practice prohibited under U.S. law.

Allegedly, the health care giant promoted the use of schizophrenia drugs for use in elderly dementia patients and for children with AD/HD, autism, and other disorders.  These drugs were not approved for these uses, making it illegal for the manufacturer of the drug to market them.

Michigan’s share of the settlement, which is approximately $42 million, will primarily go to the state’s Medicaid program which initially paid for most of these prescriptions.  According to Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, this major settlement makes a statement that the hardworking taxpayers of Michigan deserve better than to be duped into paying more than they should have.

Under a “Corporate Integrity Agreement,” the federal government will be closely monitoring the company’s marketing practices going forward.

If you have questions about health care fraud, or are afraid that you may have been the victim of a fraud, contact the experienced attorneys at Fausone Bohn, LLP, by calling (248) 380-0000 or online at 

To read the original article detailing this health care fraud settlement, visit:

Monday, November 11, 2013

Thank You Native American Veterans

Jim Fausone
Veteran Disability Lawyer

If you have served, someone you know in the unit, platoon or brigade was a Native American.  The First Americans have a long and distinguished history of service to the country. As an ethnic group, Native Americans serve at a higher rate than other groups.  That history is marked by 25 Medal of Honor recipients being Native American.  You may not know that Native Americans have their own veteran service organization. 
Starting in 2002, the Native American Veterans Association (NAVA) is a mutual fraternal non-profit organization (501 C 19), built around the American Military culture with a rich history and legacy that dates back to and around the creation of the nation. As a Native-American based organization, NAVA stretches its helping hand out to all tribal and non-tribal veterans and their families.

NAVA is an advocate dedicated to serving veterans and their families. This service includes assisting veterans and dependents when applying for Federal, State, and County benefits and all other rights to which they are entitled in the most expedient manner possible.  The official colors of NAVA are Black, Red, Purple, and Gold. The Black represents POW/MIA’s and those who still have not returned. The Red represents the blood of those shed in battle. The Purple represents the Purple Heart. And the Gold represents Honor in Service. 
The US Army recognizes the value of Native Americans to the country.  You may find the attached article from Indian Country Media Today.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Seniors Beware of Telemarketing Fraud

Mark Mandell, Esq.

Senior citizens and grandparents have been a major target for telemarketing and telephone scams in Michigan. Unfortunately, as Glenn Clark, a repre­sentative of the Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s Consumer Protection Division explains, “if you’re a senior, God bless you, but you have a bull’s-eye on your back for these telemarketing frauds.”

Mr. Clark, keynote speaker at the annual Monroe County Elder Justice Sum­mit held Thursday, said 56 to 80 percent of all telemarketing fraud is aimed at seniors but telemarketing fraud is not the only type of fraud that takes place over the phone. Another common scam aimed at senior citizens is the “emergency situation” scam.

Unfortunately, scammers find the names of their victims from public documents or other sorts of data mining. When the scammers locate their victims, they call the senior citizen pretending to be a relative in distress. The scammers explain to the targeted senior citizen that they are in a medical, legal, or any other type of emergency to acquire funds. The scammer makes sure the senior believes that they are, for example, a grandchild that needs immediate help.

Because senior citizens and grandparents are older in age, may have a hard time hearing over the phone, and are not used to telephone calls, they often do not realize that the person on the line is not their family member.

Mr. Clark further explains that the scammers try to appeal to some kind of emotional bond and “they want you to act emotionally and not logically.”

In order to prevent these types of situations Mr. Clark advises to try to verify who that individual is through quizzing them on personal details or calling relatives to verify that the individual is really in trouble.

If you have faced this type of situation or have any questions regarding these types of issues contact Michigan fraud attorney, Mark Mandell at 888-674-1189 or online at

Read more at:

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Last Call for Alcohol at 4 a.m.?

Mark Mandell, Esq.

Many individuals and law enforcement officials are concerned with Senate Bill 247 which would allow bars and restaurants in cities' central business districts to sell alcohol until 4 A.M. with a special permit.

Those opposing the bill are concerned with potential health and safety implications. One of the main concerns with extending the time to sell alcohol is drunk driving. There were several posts made on the MLive Facebook page that show why many people are concerned with this bill. Thomas Donnely, a Michigan citizen, posted "I am against this proposal. People leaving bars at 4:00 AM will endanger those going to work in the early AM."  This is only one of many comments posted against Senate Bill 247.
Although there are a lot of individuals against the bill, there are many who support the bill as well. Supporters explain that longer hours would help create jobs for bartenders and create more wages for taxi drivers. A supporter of the bill, Roy Munson, posted on the MLive Facebook page that the hours
should be up to the bars. We don't need the government telling anybody what to drink and when. People need to be responsible."

MLive conducted an informal poll and found that 57 percent of the nearly 800 poll takers would support the bill, including those who want it extended to all areas, not just cities' central business districts, and those who would only support it if the local municipality opts in. 43 percent of poll takers opposed the bill and agreed with the saying that “Mama always said ‘Nothing good happens after midnight.’”

If you have questions about drunk driving laws in Michigan, contact criminal defense attorney Mark Mandell at 248-380-0000 or online at 

For more information please read:

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Navy Charity Scam

Jim Fausone
Veteran Advocate
A 67-year-old Harvard-trained lawyer and former military intelligence officer, John Donald Cody, is on trial in Cleveland after masterminding a $100 million multi-state fraud scheme. Cody was in court this Monday after two years on the run. He is charged with defrauding people who donated to the reputed United States Navy Veterans Association, based in Tampa, FL.

During his scheme, Cody used his many political connections to encourage donations to the charity. However, according to authorities, little to none of the money collected by Cody was actually used to aid Navy Veterans. In fact, most of the money collected went to republican politicians, including Mitt Romney, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, and former President George W. Bush.

Joseph Patituce, Cody’s defense attorney, hinted at a defense strategy focused on CIA and government secrets involving a secretive operation decades ago in Arizona. Brad Tammaro, an assistant attorney general who is handling the trial, said that even if “by some fantasy” there was government involvement, it did not vindicate the defendant of his actions.

People ask all the time to which veteran charities they should donate.  I tell them to be careful.  You have to know the person asking and the work being done.

To learn more or to see the original article, please visit:

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Wasted Funds

Jim Fausone
Veterans Disability Lawyer

So I am no fashion expert.  I suspect most guys just toss on what is in the closet and hope it does not clash too badly.  Uniforms are supposed to be functional, not clash with the environment, create esprit de corps and be distinguishable.  But when I read about the government’s continuing attempt to reinvent the military uniform it drives me batty.  Eight years ago DOD spent $5 billion on a heavily-criticized universal camouflage pattern (UCP).  Nobody liked it and the pattern did not work in Afghanistan.  Someone said it was only camouflage if you were hiding in a gravel parking lot.   Now the Army is back at the drawing board looking for a new design that’s estimated to cost another $4 billion.

So here is my comparison.  A veteran with a 50% disability receives about $12,000 a year, which is not much to live on and support your wife and child.  We are going to blow $9 billion on fashion choices in a decade.  That would cover the annual cost for 750,000 veterans to receive benefits.  Sometimes I think the government’s priorities are screwed up.  Are you a fan of the UCP or do you want it gone no matter what the price?


Monday, October 21, 2013

Forgotten Military Veterans Given Proper Memorial Services in New Jersey

A memorial ceremony has been held for 25 military veterans whose cremains were left unclaimed by family members. The cremains will be recognized in a ceremony in New Jersey and then the ashes will be laid to rest in Washington, in a military cemetery there.

The unclaimed cremains include those from seven veterans born in the 1830s or '40s, and may be from the Civil War, There are also cremains from 12 veterans of World War I and as many as ten others from more recent conflicts.

Francis Carrasco is the chairman of New Jersey Mission of Honor, an organization working to reunite unclaimed ashes of veterans with family members or, barring that, a formal burial. Carrasco said that, as a Vietnam vet, he feels he knows what it is like to be disrespected and pushed aside. The unclaimed veterans deserve better.

Most of the 25 military veterans recently interred were left at Garden State Crematorium in North Bergen, New Jersey; the veterans were all from Bergen and Hudson counties. New Jersey Mission of Honor worked with the parent company to locate the families of the vets prior to interment.

New Jersey Mission of Honor, started in 2009, aims to coordinate with state veterans’ organizations to find, properly identify and properly inter any unclaimed U.S. veteran cremains. To date, New Jersey Mission of Honor has located the cremains of almost 200 veterans with surviving family members and has formally buried 105 more. The oldest cremains located so far date from a vet who fought in the Mexican Border War between 1915 and 1918.  New Jersey Mission of Honor also looks for unclaimed veteran cremains left behind at hospitals, crematoriums, veterans' homes, prisons and senior homes.

The cremains of veterans that are unclaimed can remain in the basements of funeral homes for decades. Determining the next of kin for relocated cremains can take months or even years. New Jersey Mission of Honor is also working with cremains of an additional 75 vets, looking for their next of kin. Each veteran is buried within a mahogany urn and with an American flag.

New Jersey Mission of Honor is entirely funded by private donations and is comprised entirely of volunteers from non-profit groups and veteran organizations.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Same-Sex Spousal Benefits

The White House has announced that the same-sex spouses of military vets are now granted spousal benefits.

The Supreme Court's rejection of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) means that the spouses of vets can collect federal benefits, regardless of their gender. Prior to this ruling, both the Defense departments and Veterans Affairs only granted benefits to the heterosexual spouses of veterans.

The opening up of benefits came on the heels of DOMA’s backers dropping their formal opposition to benefits for same-sex spouses. The White House has announced that couples who are legally wed must be treated the same across the board in terms of federal taxes, regardless of their gender. Same-sex couples can now file joint tax returns and get any available federal tax benefits that were previously only enjoyed by opposite-sex spouses.  

Changes to same-sex benefits have also been made to family and medical leave benefits, immigration and Medicare, and in other federal agencies. Same-sex couples who are legally married are also now being recognized for federal tax purposes, says the IRS, even if the state where they live does not legally recognize their marriage.

In June 2013, the section of DOMA which barred a federal recognition of same-sex unions was ruled unconstitutional. But that did not automatically simplify the extension of veterans’ benefits to spouses; a different federal law governs those benefits, not DOMA, which limited the benefit availability to spouses “of the opposite sex.” But in August of this year, a California federal judge ruled that spousal benefits cannot be denied to a lesbian veteran in a same-sex marriage.

Monday, October 14, 2013

New Michigan Anti-Fraud Taskforce

Matthew Worley, Esq.

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, in coordination with police, prosecutors, state officials, and industry leaders has launched a new anti-fraud task force.  Fighting Auto Insurance Rip-offs, referred to simply as FAIR, is aimed at combatting a growing trend in Michigan – auto insurance fraud.

The scam involves individuals selling fake auto insurance policies.  The perpetrators then set up fake help desks so when a call is made to verify a policy, a real person answers and vouches for the non-existent policy.  However, as soon as the motorist is in an accident or tries to make a claim, they realize that there is no policy and their premiums having been lining someone’s pocket.

In July, Secretary of State Johnson’s office conducted a one-day review of the 15,000 registration renewals submitted in all the branches.  Of the insurance policies verified that day, an astonishing 16% were found to be invalid or fraudulent.  These fakes turned up in more than half of Michigan’s 83 counties.

The burden of these uninsured motorists is felt by every law-abiding Michigan motorist who follows the law and carries a no-fault policy.  The costs of having these uninsured motorists on the road rise into the hundreds of millions of dollars – which translates to higher insurance premiums.

The FAIR task force will explore new means to combat insurance fraud through procedural changes, new investigative efforts, and potentially new legislation.  It will include representatives from the Secretary of State’s office, the Michigan State Police, Michigan prosecutors, and several insurance industry organizations.

If you have questions about auto insurance fraud, or any other legal matters, contact the experts at Fausone Bohn, LLP at (248) 380-0000 or online at

To learn more about the new fraud task force, visit:

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Florida Wildlife Commission Now Offering Disabled Vets License Exemptions

In Florida, the state legislature and Governor Rick Scott have worked together to give hunting veterans a break.  They passed a bill during the 2013 legislative session which created a recreational hunting and fishing licensing exception for active and reserve duty military service members, disabled veterans, their immediate family members and their assistants during the special events that are regularly held for vet-focused recreation or rehabilitation purposes. The exemption was started as of September 5, 2013, by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

As the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Chairman Richard Corbett stated, Florida's military and disabled veterans gave so much to the state that the state wanted to give something back. Veterans are invited to participate in hunting and fishing events without first having to buy a license or a permit.

The exemption does not mean that active military personnel and disabled veterans can simply go off and fish and hunt without a license. The exception is specifically for participation in special events such as an NRA-organized hunt or a fishing trip sponsored by the Wounded Warriors. The event organizers must still apply for an event permit in order for the qualified exemption to kick in for participants.

The permit exemption does mean that the qualified event participants may fish and hunt without a saltwater or freshwater fishing license or a recreational hunting license, nor will they need a permit to hunt Florida migratory birds, waterfowl, turkey, deer, or snook, or to gather spiny lobsters, or shoot during archery season, crossbow season, or muzzle-loading season, if the participant is taking part in an exempted event in which those activities are sponsored. The permit exemption does not cover alligator trapping licenses or permits, tarpon tags, the federal duck stamp or limited entry/quota hunts.

The exemption also does not authorize any fishing or hunting without a license by someone who is not a qualified event participant directly participating in the permitted event. 

A number of other states also offer fishing and hunting licensing breaks to veterans: In North Carolina, vets who are 50 percent or more disabled may get a lifetime hunting-fishing license for $10.00. Veterans with service-related disabilities in Iowa can get a lifetime hunting or fishing license for a $7.00 fee. New Mexico offers any veteran with a 100 percent service-connected disabled a free lifetime small-game hunting and fishing license.

Monday, October 7, 2013

"Thrill-seekers" May Have to Pay Rescue Costs

Keith Madden, Esq.
Last spring there was a record flood in Ottawa and Kent counties, and the Governor declared a state of emergency in this area.  Despite the danger, and ignoring safety warnings, many thrill-seekers took this opportunity to use their kayaks and jet skis in the flooded areas, with many of these people needing to be rescued by local Police and Fire personnel.
In order to deter such reckless behavior and to be fair to taxpayers, the Michigan Legislature is now considering a law, House Bill 4856, that would allow cities to require any individual who is "grossly negligent" during a declared emergency to pay the city's costs of providing emergency and rescue services.  This bill was written by Representative Brandon Dillon of Grand Rapids, and has been assigned to the House Local Government Committee for review and consideration.  Representative Dillon expects bi-partisan support for the bill.  He says that he has received a very positive response from his associates in the Legislature and from the general public.  "A lot of people support the common sense of it and we expect it to pass easily."
It appears very likely that the Michigan Legislature will take advantage of this opportunity to deter reckless behavior, help financially troubled municipalities, and demonstrate that Democrats and Republicans can work together to support sensible legislation.
Fausone Bohn, LLP represents a number of municipal governments and government agencies.  If you would like further information about this law, or any other government issue, please contact attorney Keith Madden at (248) 912-3230.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Eastern Market Businesses Investigated and Charged With Food-Stamp Fraud

Breeda O’Leary, Esq.

A recent sweep of numerous establishments located within the Eastern Market shows that the U.S. Attorney’s Office continues to investigate and pursue fraud throughout the metro Detroit area.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office, together with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General, Internal Revenue Service, Michigan State Police, and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Home Security Investigations, executed a search warrant against several businesses suspected of participating in food stamp fraud. 

The alleged fraud included the sale of food stamps for as low as fifty cents on the dollar.  An individual who receives food stamp benefits is provided an EBT card and a pin number for the EBT card.  At a retailer, the recipient scans its EBT Card and enters its four-digit pin at checkout in order to pay for its food-product purchase.  Here, it is alleged that retailers were purchasing a recipient’s EBT Card and pin number, providing fifty cents for every dollar the business charged to the EBT card in food-stamp benefits.  As a result of this fraud, the retailer would be reimbursed $1.00 in cash from the government for a food product it never provided to the EBT Card recipient.  In exchange, the retailer would only provide fifty cents in cash to the EBT Card recipient.

Nearly 47 million people nationwide receive food assistance, making food-stamp fraud a serious concern for the government.  The sale and purchase of food-stamp benefits, also known as “trafficking” is a common form of fraud within the program.
If you are a business or individual that has been charged with fraud, or if you think you may be the target of an investigation concerning fraud, contact the experienced and professional fraud team at Fausone Bohn, LLP for sound legal advice.  Contact Breeda O’Leary-Holder at (248) 380-0000 or online at

To read the article about the recent food-stamp fraud sweep of businesses in Eastern Market, please visit:



Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Disabled Military Vet Climb of Yosemite Peaks

To commemorate September 11, a group of disabled vets worked together to climb several peaks at Yosemite National Park.

The group of 15 military veterans, most of whom served in Iraq and Afghanistan, climbed to the summits of El Capitan and Half Dome, in a climb sponsored by nonprofit Paradox Sports, an adaptive sports organization. The climb was planned to honor veterans and the many achievements of people with disabilities.
"These successful climbs are just one more example that disabled vets can do anything they set their minds to," stated disabled-veteran attorney James Fausone.

Hiking to the top of El Capitan is possible by hiking out of Yosemite Valley and then up a sheer granite face. There are a number of well-used climbing routes; all of them are considered arduous. Hiking Half Dome is helped in part by the established cable route, but the climb is considered difficult and dangerous even at the best of times.

Several Yosemite rangers accompanied the veterans on the climbs as part of a three-day hike, as did professional climbers Timmy O’Neill and Heidi Wirtz. O'Neill is also the Executive Director of Paradox Sports. The group was joined by several Yosemite National Park employees and veterans. An event to commemorate the climbs was held in Yosemite Valley several days later.  

There is an active Special Emphasis Program for armed services veterans utilized by Yosemite National Park. Yosemite National Park services employs 105 military veterans through the program, designed to educate, recruit and employ vets.

The Special Emphasis Program was designed as a federal program to support affirmative employment opportunities by pinpointing the barriers employers and employees face when it comes to a diverse workplace that reflects the diversity of the general population. Once identified, Special Emphasis Program managers work on recommendations to remove those employment barriers and incorporate strategies to help all types of people find gainful employment.
The Special Emphasis Program works on development, outreach and various recruitment strategies to improve the employment opportunities for minorities, women, and people with disabilities.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Government Shutdown No Problem

Jim Fausone
Veteran Disability Lawyer
Listening to the general press, you would think the world will fall apart if there is a government shutdown.  In reality, only about 1/3 of the government workers will be off work. 

The VA will be at work on your claims.  The October payments are already in the mail.  VA benefits are protected and should go out during a shutdown. Could VA run out of funds, maybe in a month or so.   If your claim is being processed, the VA employees who handle such claims are protected from the shutdown. 

But remember how slow VA is anyway, so the shutdown provides a convenient excuse for not meeting schedule.   So let's not freak out just yet.  The VA is still working and Congress will figure this out in a few days or a week.  Veterans have enough stress in their lives without it being whipped into a frenzy by the general media.


Friday, September 27, 2013

Scheme to Defraud the W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Mark Mandell, Esq.
In 2008 an $800,000 scheme targeting funds from a children’s charity was unearthed. The charity was an organization that is devoted to helping children in Africa.

Nehemiah Muzamhindo, a 48-year-old political refugee from Zimbabwe, was sentenced to six years in federal prison for his role in the scheme targeting funds from the foundation. In addition to his sentence Muzamhindo was also ordered to pay $709,000 in restitution fees.

Muzamhindo had taken $629,000 from the foundation before he was cut out of the scheme. In order to claim funds from the children’s charity Muzamhindo set up bank accounts and shell companies to accept fraudulent claims. Then, he would go on to send half of the money he collected to foundation worker, Sabina Brand, in South Africa. Sabina Brand is currently serving 15 years in a South African prison for her role in the scheme.

During the trial Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy VerHey attacked the “bad character” of Muzamhindo. VerHey wrote in court documents that; “…His crime had a far-reaching impact, because it led the WKKF to withdraw from its charitable activities in Africa.”

Scott Mertens, Muzamhindo’s defense attorney, argued for Muzamhindo’s character saying that, “Mr. Muzamhindo had been involved in charitable works and has assisted others who have emigrated from Zimbabwe.”

To learn more or to see the original article, please visit:

If you or someone you know is the target of a fraud investigation, or if you have already been indicted, contact the experienced team of fraud attorneys at Fausone Bohn, LLP, at (248) 380-0000 or online at 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Home Care Cuts to Reimbursement

Tariq Hafeez, Esq.

Owners and operators of home care agencies are bracing for significant reimbursement cuts by Medicare set to begin in 2014 and run through 2017.  CMS’ June 27 proposal to drop payments by the maximum amount suggested under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will result in an average of 14% reduction in reimbursements over the next four years.

These proposed cuts, according to industry analysts and home care owners, will result in an industry shake up leading to many home health agencies either closing their doors or consolidation. This may present an opportunity for some agencies to acquire other agencies or consolidate creating greater opportunities for growth. On the other hand, smaller agencies may be forced out of the market due to the cuts and inability to compete in a tighter and more competitive market.

While CMS estimates that Medicare would save $22 billion as a result of the drop in reimbursement rates, home care agencies are concerned about the disruption to their industry and the adverse effect of the closure and consolidation of agencies on patients. Moreover, the reduction of home care will likely result in increased costs to Medicare long term from increased hospital readmissions, emergency room visits and lower quality care.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act calls for CMS to “rebase” home health payments through 2017, and shareholders had hoped the final cut would be softer than the proposed 14% maximum rate reduction, which will be phased in evenly over four years.

This reduction would be the latest hit in a rough stretch for home health providers.  CMS has been chiseling away at reimbursement—in part as a way to deter perceived fraud and abuse and also to target previously large profit margins. For the foreseeable future, providers will be forced to adapt to a learner payment environment than previously, and will face challenges to become more efficient in delivering quality care to Medicare beneficiaries.

Tariq Hafeez, Esq. focuses his practice on health care law and regulation.  If you are a home care owner or operator and have questions on how the new cuts may affect your agency, please contact Tariq at 248-380-0000.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The State of Colorado Finalizes First Gay Divorce

Melissa A. Cox, Esq.
Last month, the State of Colorado finalized the first legally recognized same-sex divorce case.

Juli Yim and Lorelei Jones were married in Massachusetts in 2009, where same-sex marriage is legally recognized.  In July 2013, Colorado legalized their divorce making them the first recognized same-sex marriage to be legally dissolved.
Although gay couples are not permitted to marry in Colorado, gay couples who were legally wed elsewhere can seek and obtain a divorce under the Colorado state statute.

On the contrary, the Texas Court of Appeals recently dismissed a divorce action ruling that the Texas state statute did not provide for divorce of same-sex couples. The Texas Supreme Court has taken the issue on appeal but has not yet heard arguments in the matter.
Read more:

If you have questions about Michigan divorce law, contact attorney Melissa Cox at (248) 380-0000.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Remote Texter May Be Liable for Distracted Driver’s Crash

Matthew Worley, Esq.

In 2009, David Kubert and his wife were riding their motorcycle when they were struck by a pickup truck that crossed the center line.  Both riders on the motorcycle were severely injured causing them each to lost their left leg.  They sued the driver of the vehicle who had been texting when the accident occurred.  The case against the driver was settled.
However, in a recently released opinion of the New Jersey Court of Appeals, the court held that the person who sent the text to the driver can also be held liable for injuries caused in the resulting accident.  This potential liability only arises if the individual sending the text knew they were being viewed by the recipient while that individual was driving.

Specifically, the court stated that “a person has a duty not to text someone who is driving if the texter knows, or has special reason to know, the recipient will view the text while driving.”

While this is a New Jersey opinion and not binding in Michigan, it does evidence a growing trend among states to decrease distracted driving.  Presently, more than 40 states, including Michigan, have passed laws that prohibit texting while driving.  It is not yet known if this New Jersey decision will create a new standard to be followed by other states.

While this isn’t law in Michigan, at least not yet, it is good practice is not to send text messages to a person if you know that person is driving.

If you have questions about Michigan’s ban on texting while driving, or have other legal questions, contact the experienced legal team by calling (248) 380-0000 or online at 

To read the New Jersey court opinion, please visit: