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 www.MichiganFraudLawyer.com. 

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 www.fb-firm.com.

To learn more about the new fraud task force, visit: http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/midwest/2013/09/19/305718.htm.

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 www.MichiganFraudLawyer.com.

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.