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: