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:

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Little-Used Tax Credit for Hiring Disabled Vets Can Be a Boon to Employers

There is a significant tax benefit for employers who hire a qualified veteran.  A tax return credit is available to those who hire vets before December 31, 2013.  The business can receive up to $9,600 in tax credit as part of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC). The credit is part of other business-related tax credits on the Form 3800, General Business Credits.
Are many employers claiming the credit early next year? Right now, it is hard to say.  The numbers show that more vets are being hired: according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job numbers have been slowly and steadily increasing for the past several years. In fact, the employment rate for veterans is currently much higher than that of the national average compared to civilian employment.
The unemployment rate for vets is currently at 6.3 percent, down from 6.6 percent in May 2013. And that's a drop from June 2012, which had an unemployment rate for veterans of 7.2 percent – mostly affecting Gulf War Era veterans.  The latest drop in vet unemployment rates seems to have been caused at least in part by the Veterans Administration pushes for greater employment and visibility for vets, including Hiring Our Heroes and the Veteran Retraining and Assistance Program. Also, say veteran advocates, there seems to be a greater acceptance from civilian employers that hiring veterans means access to employees with extensive training, proven discipline and undeniable experience. A number of large corporations and nonprofit groups have launched programs and initiatives to hire more of the nation's veterans.
To get the credit, the employer must hire a qualified veteran. A qualified veteran is someone who has served on active duty (not including training) in the U.S. Armed Forces for more than 180 days, or who was discharged or released from active duty for a service-connected disability. Additionally, they  must be hired as an employee prior to December 31, 2013, and must be appropriately certified by the State Workforce Agency (SWA) as: a member of a family which receives food stamp assistance for three or more months during the previous 12 months prior to hiring; unemployed for four or more weeks, though less than six months, within the 12 months prior to the hiring;  gainfully entitled to their service compensation disability which was service-connected; hired not more than one year after their discharge or release from active duty. The vet must not be related to the employer, have worked for the employer previously, be a dependent of the employer or worked fewer than 120 hours during a one-year period.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

More Colleges Adopting 8 Steps for Success for College-Bound Vets

Jim Fausone
Veteran Advocate
The White House is pushing for postsecondary educational opportunities and better employment opportunities for returning veterans. To that end, the Department of Education and the Department of Veterans Affairs are challenging colleges and universities to adopt pro-veteran, pro-education best practices. The “8 Keys to Success” proposed by the Obama Administration was unveiled during the Disabled American Veterans National Convention earlier this year in Orlando, Fla.

The "8 Keys to Success" includes specific steps for educational communities to adopt in order to support veterans. More than 250 universities and community colleges gave adopted the 8 Steps to help vets obtain their higher education degrees and then certificates, licenses and credentials to become highly skilled workforce members.

The Education Department brought together more than 100 specialists from nonprofits, foundations, veterans service organizations and recently returned vets to develop an approach which could be applied to both in-person and online or "distance" learning for vets.   

The “8 Keys to Success” incorporate sustained and consistent support from campus heads, a culture of trust across the campus, an early alert system to support vets who may be struggling before they are overwhelmed,  a designated space for vets on each campus, outreach with local organizations and communities for services, an overarching demographic collection system to track retention numbers and degrees conferred, an offering of professional development for faculty and staff on vet-focused issues, and a system of practices that work for incoming vets.

President Obama signed an order in 2012 to establish protections for military, vets and families, the Principles of Excellence. As part of the Principles of Excellence, the Veterans Administration is expanding its programs, VetSuccess on Campus (VSOC) and Veterans Integration to Academic Leadership (VITAL) programs, designed to put vets in touch with VA-generated resources. VetSuccess on Campus is currently used in 16 U.S. states, in 32 campus sites, and is expanding this year, with thousands of higher education campuses either developing or further expanding Veterans Success Centers in light of the latest influx of investment from the VA. VSOC is currently located at 32 campus sites in 16 states and is expanding to additional campuses in 2013.

More returning service members are attending college on their return to civilian life due to the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The VA has paid out an estimated $30 billion since 2009; more than one million vets, service members, families have obtained an education through the Bill.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Veterans Disability Attorney Comments on Shrinking Disability Benefits Backlog

In an address to disabled veterans, President Obama announced that the backlog of disability claims was shrinking. At the Disabled American Veterans annual meeting earlier this year, Obama stated that the backlog of disability benefits claims had shrink by as much as 20 percent in the past five months. But, he conceded, a new wave of claims was coming in to the Veterans Administration. Some of those claims are from service members who served in Vietnam and are looking for care for ailments they believe stem from their decades-past exposure to Agent Orange, as well as veterans most recently returned from Iraq and Afghanistan with traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder and physical injuries.
"Any efforts to decrease the extensive backlog of disability claims are greatly needed and appreciated," commented James Fausone, a veterans disability attorney. "Many of the service members who have filed disability claims have been waiting for a shockingly long time just to get their claims processed, much less disbursed."
The White House is committed to boosting the amount of spending available for vet services to attend to their education and job prospects as well as the physical and mental health and homeless issues so many vets face, Obama said. There is also a push to better support additional hiring of vets at the Department of Veterans Affairs, and increase overtime pay to clear up the backlog of claims.
According to the VA, 64 percent of claims still pending are supplemental claims filed by vets asking for additional benefits. Though the sequestration cuts took effect in March 2013, veteran spending was exempted, allowing funding to go to decreasing the countless disability benefits currently backlogged at the VA.  Obama stated that Congress needed to work together to reduce the deficit and to keep the promises of support ad benefits to veterans.   
Though World War I's last U.S. veteran died more than two years ago, Obama said to the 34,000 attendees, survivor benefits are still going to the descendants of the men who fought then, and in the Spanish-American War. Benefits are even going to a Civil War veteran's daughter. Benefits will also be going to the descendants of this wave of service people. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Michigan Supreme Court Provides Judges & Attorneys With Online Child Protection Toolkit

Melissa Cox, Esq.

A new online toolkit is complete to assist judges and lawyers in handling child protection cases.

The kit offers information about hearings at various stages and includes a description of the hearing.  It also provides applicable court rules and statutes, bench cards, recommended court forms, links to training videos and other training materials, administrative memos and other resources.

The kit sets forth detailed guidelines for judges to follow when determining either to order reunification of the child and parents(s) or to order an alternative permanent home setting for the child.

The toolkit is created by the Child Welfare Services Division of the Supreme Court Administrative Office and can be found here.

If you have any questions regarding Child Protective Service Proceedings, please contact Melissa Cox at 248-380-0000 or

Monday, September 9, 2013

Lost War Records Again

Jim Fausone
Veteran Disability Lawyer

In every conflict, the records of the chaos of war become lost or destroyed.  This is as expected as multiple versions of success and failure in the field.  However, for veterans, the loss of records have the opportunity to damage their claims for veteran benefits. Will they be able to prove to VA that a unit event took place or a hostile action was encountered.

ProPublica and the Seattle Times uncovered assessments by the Army’s Center of Military History [4] showing that scores of units lacked adequate records. Others had wiped them off computer hard drives amid confusion about whether classified materials could be transferred home.

The missing records do not include personnel files and medical records, which are stored separately from the field records that detail day-to-day activities.

VA should not punish the veteran in these situations.

Friday, September 6, 2013


Jim Fausone
Veteran Disability Lawyer

Those veterans who flew on C-123 airplanes dropped more than 10 million gallons of Agent Orange to destroy enemy cover and crops during the Vietnam War.  After the war between 1972 and 1982, about 1,500 men and women served aboard 34 C-123s that were previously deployed in Operation Ranch Hand, a large-scale defoliation mission in Vietnam and other countries in Southeast Asia. VA does not recognize AO exposure onboard the C-123s during or after the Vietnam war. If the veteran can prove boots on the ground during the war he can establish AO exposure.  However, those who were exposed outside the country or after the war by residuals from the C-123s are not as fortunate.  Spreading the word among scientists, veterans and politicians and posting evidence publicly at is one way to keep this in the public eye even as veterans pass away. 

Just as the Navy and VA have shame for how they treat Blue Water Navy vets, the USAF has shame for its treatment of C-123 crews.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Embezzlement Law in Michigan

Mark Mandell, Esq.

Recently, a Portage, Michigan man was sentenced to 87 months in prison for embezzling $6.5 million from the company where he worked as a comptroller.  In addition to his prison time and supervised release thereafter, he is required to pay restitution of $6.5 million to his former employer.  This shows just how serious the consequences of an embezzlement conviction can be.
Embezzlement in Michigan is governed by statute – MCL §750.174.  In essence, a person is guilty of embezzlement when they are in a relationship of trust to the principal (generally an employer-employee situation); in lawful possession or control of the funds of the principal; and wrongfully take or convert those funds to his own use, with the intent to defraud.

The key element to a charge of embezzlement is that the person takes the money, which belongs to the principal, with the intent to convert it to his own use.  In other words, the person has the fraudulent intent to deprive the owner of his property and take it for himself.  Without this intent to defraud, a taking cannot be embezzlement (though it may constitute another offense.)

The severity of an embezzlement charge depends on the amount of money or personal property taken by the agent or employee.  The charges include the following: 

·        If the money or property taken is valued at less than $200, the charge is a 93-day  misdemeanor with a possible fine up to $500; 

·        If the value is up to $1,000, the crime is a 1-year misdemeanor subject to a fine of up to $2,000.

·         $1,000 to $20,000 is a 5-year felony with a fine of up to $10,000. 

·         $20,000 to $50,000 is a 10-year felony with a fine up to $15,000. 

·         $50,000 to $100,000 is a 15-year felony with a fine up to $25,000. 

·         $100,000 and above is a 20-year felony with a fine up to $50,000.

Additionally, a person convicted of embezzlement will likely be required to pay restitution to the owner of the amount illegally taken, in addition to the statutory fines and jail time.  Charges may also be enhanced if the defendant has any prior embezzlement convictions on his record.

If you are facing embezzlement charges, or if you need more information about this area of the law, contact Michigan Fraud Lawyer Mark Mandell at (248) 380-0000 or online at  Mr. Mandell can provide you the experienced and knowledgeable legal counsel that is absolutely imperative when facing all manners of criminal charges.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Veterans Skype Therapy

Kristina Derro
Veterans Disability Lawyer

Unfortunately, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an all too common condition for soldiers returning home after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Many veterans choose to seek counseling to cope with this and other effects of their service overseas.

Recently, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) began a program by which these therapy sessions are conducted over the internet.  The veterans can see and interact with their counselor through a video-chat program such as Skype or Cisco Jabber.
In the long term, veterans using this “Skype therapy” progressed at the same rate as veterans receiving traditional face-to-face therapy.  Traditional therapy is never going away – but this new online therapy is only going to get bigger. 

Of course, there can be technical problems with online therapy such as pixilation, choppiness, and freezing.  If the internet connection is lost, that will end the session.  In one case, a study found that a therapist did not notice for three sessions that his patient was in a wheelchair.  Some also believe that this new approach will decrease empathy because the therapist is unable to shake the patient’s hand, hand tissue to a crying patient, or otherwise physically interact with the patient.

Even with the drawbacks, this new approach is certainly a blessing for veterans who do not live near a VA hospital or clinic.  These veterans will now have the ability to get the treatment they need from the comfort of their own home.

If you have questions about PTSD or benefits for veterans, contact Legal Help For Veterans, a practice group of Fausone Bohn, LLP, at 800-693-4800 or online at 

To learn more about the VA’s new online therapy program, please visit:

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Veterans Disability Attorney Fausone Notes Pentagon's Proposal of New Steps In Light of Military Sexual Assaults

The Pentagon has announced new plans to shore up protection for victims of sexual assault, more closely control the behavior of both recruiters and trainers, and track sexual assault complaints.

"Steps to protect our troops from any unwanted sexual advances and assaultive behaviors are to be commended," stated James Fausone, a veterans disability attorney.

Steps include better enforcement of policies which prohibit inappropriate relationships, establishing an advocacy group within each service branch for victims which provides representation and legal advice for those with complaints of sexual assault, and disqualifying troop members who have backgrounds including sexual assault from roles as counselors, instructors or recruiters.

Meanwhile, an airman who was assigned to the Air Force Academy was convicted in August of aggravated sexual conduct at a general court martial against his fellow female airman.

The airman received a sentence of 15 months confinement. He was also reduced in grade to airman basic, and he was dishonorably discharged by a panel of officers. The conviction was just the latest in a series of high-profile military sexual assault cases as the Defense Department and Congress attempt to determine the best way to prosecute sexual assault cases and if a commanded should be included in proceedings.  

The now-former chief of the Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Branch, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski, was arrested easier this year after allegedly committing sexual battery against a woman not far from the Pentagon after exiting a strip club. The ensuing fallout has thrown a harsh spotlight on sexual assault and misconduct against fellow officers in all branches of the service. Krusinski's post is now helmed by a woman who had been hired to investigate the assault by trainers of female recruits in Texas, at Lackland Air Force Base.

The Defense Department is currently looking at how to expand an Air Force program which offers special counsel to service members who allege that they are the victims of unwanted sexual conduct or sexual assault or unwanted sexual contact. 

There were an estimated 26,000 unwanted sexual contact incidents in 2012 experienced by active-duty troops.