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