Monday, December 29, 2014

Michigan Leads Country in Number of Veterans Treatment Courts

In 2012, Michigan had just six veterans treatment courts. Today, that number has more than tripled to twenty, and Michigan leads the country in the number of veterans treatment courts.

These courts are a type of “problem-solving court,” which are courts tailored to a specific population of people or addressing a certain realm of issues. The veterans’ treatment courts use a hybrid of drug court and mental health court principles to serve military and veterans, as well as active-duty personnel.

This past Veterans Day, Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert P. Young, Jr. praised the growth of these courts: “Veterans treatment courts are growing because they are working. Today, we are seeing firsthand that this initiative is saving lives and strengthening communities by helping veterans rebuild productive lives with their families.”

These courts promote sobriety, recovery, and stability to help veterans deal with serious problems of addiction, mental illnesses, and other disorders. Through a coordinated response that involves collaboration with the Veterans Affairs health care networks, Veterans Benefits Administration, the state DAV, and volunteer mentors and organizations that support veterans and their families, these courts are able to steer veterans clear of jail or prison time.

Indeed, these programs have helped veterans turn their lives around, avoid costly incarceration, and help reintegrate veterans into their communities and families. The program is a part of the state Supreme Court’s broader mission to help local trial courts implement best practices that improve service to the public. Michigan currently has 174 problem-solving courts that reach a reported 97% of Michiganders.

In November, the Michigan Supreme Court held a Veterans Treatment Court Forum, which brought together judges, administrators, mentors, and veteran graduates of these programs. Workshops were held to discuss the issues veterans face and the resources needed for these courts to properly address those issues – suicide prevention, online veterans assistance programs, and recruiting veteran mentors to be vital line of support for people in the program.

“Military veterans accused of crimes often present unique issues related to their military service,” said Judge Richard Bell, who presides over the Ingham County Veterans Treatment Court. “The veterans treatment court is able to bring a variety of resources to the issues presented by the veteran charged with a crime, and more often than not is able to redirect the veteran into the adoption of a positive lifestyle.”

In a year where good news for veterans has been at a shortage, at least Michigan veterans and their families can look to the growth of these courts as a positive. These courts offer the opportunity to address the underlying issues common to veterans. While it may be unfortunate circumstances that lead a veteran to these courts, veterans can count on these programs to give them a great opportunity to be reintegrated with their families and communities.

If you are a veteran and have criminal misdemeanor issues or VA disability issues, contact us for assistance.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Fraudsters Now Impersonating Big Name Stores to Trick Shoppers, Online Retailers

Mark Mandell, Esq.

For everyone that read our last post on avoiding the holiday shopping scams and protecting your financial information, I strongly encourage you to read this Detroit Free Press article on the most recent trend for fraudsters: impersonating big name stores like WalMart, Target, Home Depot, and others.

If your credit card was compromised during the recent data breaches at those big name retailers, your credit card number has probably changed by now. However, such cyber-attacks have left consumers emails, and potentially phone numbers, susceptible to hackers.

And those emails and phone numbers probably have not changed since the data breaches. (You don’t have to change your email, but changing your password every once and a while can help avoid hacks).

These hackers may already know where you shop, and if you shop online with a work email, they probably can figure out where you work, too. This information allows the scams to sound more legitimate – the Better Business Bureau has even received reports of fraudulent emails sent by scammers impersonating big names like WalMart Target, Home Depot, Costco, and Amazon.

One recent example from last month was the “pizza scam,” in which hackers sent an email under the guise of Pizza Hut asking consumers to take a survey. However, when the “survey” link was clicked, malware was downloaded that wreaks havoc on unsuspecting customers’ computers.

Businesses should be especially careful. If one employee opens up a malicious email or link in a scam email, the whole computer network can be infiltrated with a virus.

One helpful tip to avoid getting bit by one of these viruses is to ignore the “pay now” and/or “you need to act now” emails. If you have purchased something online from a big name like WalMart or Target, they would not be demanding immediate payment via email – especially when you probably already paid at the online checkout.

In the case of receiving “order update” or “shipping update” emails, if you suspect it could be a scam, call the customer service line first – do not open the email. Talk to a real person, find out where your package is and when it will arrive. If it arrives safely, go and delete the potentially fraudulent email without ever opening it.

In today’s world, cyber-attacks are a rather common occurrence. Sometimes the best way to shield yourself is to do nothing at all, i.e. don’t open the emails or click on the links. But especially in the holiday frenzy of buying gifts, and then returning or exchanging them afterwards, the best advice is to slow down, don’t hurriedly click on anything suspicious, and verify that the emails you are receiving are truly legitimate.

That may entail – and this can be rare these days – actually picking up the phone and speaking with the good ole’ customer service reps.

If you feel that you have been a victim of fraud or you have questions, you can contact Attorney Mark Mandell. Or, have you been convicted of retail or return fraud? Arrested for drunk driving after a holiday party? Give Mark Mandell a call and you will get an attorney who knows how to aggressively protect your rights. Call today at (248) 380-0000.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

‘Tis the Season of Fraud and Scams

Mark Mandell, Esq.

As families hurriedly finish up their holiday shopping, shoppers should beware of holiday hoaxes and scams – both online and at brick-and-mortar stores.

Shoppers who are not of the “digital native” generation are especially susceptible to online scams as they search for holiday gifts. Internet fraud is now the sixth most prevalent scam against seniors, according to the National Council on Aging (NCOA) and results in millions of dollars lost each year.

I would like to provide some helpful hints for protecting yourself against such fraud, beyond avoiding the “Nigerian Prince” emails.

Perhaps the most important point to note is that, when checking out a purchase online, ensure that the web address begins with “https” – the “s” stands for “secure,” which means it is safer to provide your credit card information. Conversely, “http” – without the “s” – is less secure for making online purchases.

Many reputable retailers will even open a window to a separate secure check-out page.

If you are purchasing items from an online marketplace like Craiglist or eBay, the best practice is to only deal with sellers who provide a phone number. Do not rely solely on email, which could open you up to viruses or fraudulent requests for money.

Other common-sense steps you can take include:

  • Do not open emails from senders you do not recognize. If you receive such emails delete them immediately; if you open them on accident, delete them without clicking on any links.
  • Be mindful of email lists and/or reward programs that you have signed-up for. If you receive a “holiday greeting card” email from a sender whose list you have not signed up for, then delete those emails.
  • Do your homework on charities that solicit donations. Charitable donation drives are often at their peak during the holidays and present a unique opportunity for scammers to prey on people’s disposition toward giving during the holidays.
  • Watch out for phony websites. When searching for gifts online, read the website description before clicking on it. Scammers can buy websites with similar sounding names to reputable retailers to try and trick shoppers. (e.g. is the reputable site for Macy’s. But, could be a scammer website.)

Outside the online world, shoppers should also be mindful of the security of their financial information and data. In the heat of holiday shopping, it is tempting to constantly use your debit card. However, as many reports have shown recently, your information could get hacked.

Using a credit card, which is not linked to your bank account, is a better alternative. It is much easier to simply cancel a hacked credit card than to try and recover additional lost funds from your checking or savings account that is linked to your debit card. Keep in mind, too, that paying in cash, when possible, is the best method of keeping your financial information safe – and to tame your buying habits amid all the deals.

Here’s to wishing everyone a safe and happy fraud-free holiday season!

If you feel that you have been a victim of fraud or you have questions, you can contact Attorney Mark Mandell. Or, have you been convicted of retail or return fraud? Arrested for drunk driving after a holiday party? Give Mark Mandell a call and you will get an attorney who knows how to aggressively protect your rights. Call today at (248) 380-0000.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The App Outdoorsmen Should Carry With Them on Their Next Trip

Paul Bohn, Esq.

My love of being outdoors probably led me down the path to become interested in environmental law. But when I get outdoors for pleasure rather than work, I usually want to ditch the cell phone and most other technology.

But, a new animal app created by University of Michigan students and researchers may just change that habit. A new Animal Diversity Web (ADW) Web Pocket Guide app converted ADW’s expansive online database of the Great Lakes region’s animal species into an easy and fun to use smart phone app.

ADW is an online database run largely by U of M students. It includes a natural history of the Great Lakes region’s animals, and now you can access its content in a very digestible way on your smart phone.

The team of students and researchers worked with staff at each location on the app to develop unique content.

The locations include the University of Michigan’s Museum of Natural History, the U of M Biological Station, the Great Lakes Zoological Society, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, Seney National Wildlife Refuge, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and the Toledo Zoo.

The app reports the kind of species you might see in the region and the species’ locations. It also includes contact information for the locations and a “trail” that ADW created in with the staff at each location. Users can go to the locations and follow markers used to gain more information from the app.

You can download the app for free from the Apple app store by searching “ADW Pocket Guide.” However, users who pay $3.99 can access the app’s full features and gain more information for certain locations.

So for the outdoorsmen and women looking to ditch the printed guide for their next excursion, this app looks great for those traveling to the Great Lakes region. And the good news is that you don’t have to really be tech-savvy to use it.

You can read more about this and another user’s positive review of the app in Great Lakes Echo:

Paul Bohn is one of the top-tier environmental and real estate attorneys in Michigan. If you need assistance on such a matter, you can give Paul a call at (248) 380-0000 ext. 9988. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Air Force Sets Goal to Open 7 Combat Jobs to Women by Spring 2016

Earlier this month, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee announced plans to open seven currently male-only, direct combat jobs to women by spring of 2016.

While I commend the Air Force for this initiative, I first want to point out that women in our armed-forces have been in combat situations from the beginning. Whether as nurses or in other positions, women have been serving in combat and have sacrificed just as much as our male counterparts.

I am excited that these currently male-only direct-combat jobs will be open to women. Today, only seven jobs in the Air Force are closed to women to include special tactics officer, pararescue, tactical air control party (TACP), combat rescue officer, combat control team, special operation weather officer and enlisted.

Other service branches have already begun implementing plans to integrate women into direct-combat jobs by January 2016.

It has been nearly two years since then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ordered that all combat jobs be open to women by 2016 or explain why any must remain closed. In addition, the Pentagon lifted its ban on women in such roles in 2012.

While the ball has been slow to move, progress is finally being made to allow women the full opportunities to serve our country that they have long-deserve.

I have listened to many reports recently that give snapshot stories of women at the Marine Corps Infantry Officer Course, and they are having their abilities questioned. It is as if their capabilities are on trial in the media, as well as at boot camp. Once again, I return to my first point: women have been serving in combat situations for years.

Women make up 15% of the 1.3 million active-duty members. With declining enrollment in enlistment, opening equal opportunity within the service for current women in the military and future female enlistees will only benefit the armed-forces.

Brigadier General Carol Ann Fausone (ret.)

General Fausone began her military career in the U.S. Air Force, and ended her service as the first female Brigadier General in the Michigan National Guard’s history. Today, she continues to help veterans and their families nationwide with her small business, The Veteran Advocate, LLC.

Read more on this story on the armed-forces news site,

Friday, December 12, 2014

Reports of Sexual Assault in the Military Spike Again

Over the past two years, there has been about a 60% spike in sexual assaults reported in the military, according to numbers coming from the Pentagon that have been reported to the Associated Press (AP). Officials report that there were almost 6,000 victims of reported assaults in 2014, compared with just over 5,500 last year. The Pentagon changed its reporting method, and now each victim counts as one report.

These reports are preliminary and have yet to be publicly released, so the actual numbers could shift slightly as the reports are finalized. But, under the new reporting methods, there were 3,604 victims in 2012, 5,518 in 2013, and 5,983 in 2014.

The new reporting method counts every victim as one report, rather than having one report of a sexual assault contain multiple victims.

However, we should pause for a moment and consider the fact that this has always been a problem. New research and surveys suggest that victims are more willing to come forward and actually report such assaults than they were previously. The trend could be due to increased awareness of the issue, victims feeling more empowered, and a combination of other factors.

Based on the recently reported numbers, and an anonymous survey conducted by the Rand Corporation, officials said that about 1 in every 4 victims filed a sexual assault report this year. In contrast, only 1 in every 10 victims filed a report in 2012.

Certainly, the under-reporting of sexual assault is a problem inside the military and in society at-large. However, the military presents unique circumstances, where lower ranking troops are unwilling to report out of fear of retaliation from their superiors. In addition, females in the military can attest to the “good ole’ boys club” mentality that exists. And in fact, one new survey reported that 60% of women who said they reported sexual assault did experience retaliation or social backlash from their peers. There may very well be an additional feeling of helplessness due to systemic problems.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have complained that the Pentagon has not done enough to make it easier and more acceptable for victims to report harassment and assaults. Meanwhile victims have complained that they are indeed not comfortable going to their superiors to report sexual assault. Reporting such an incident is (unjustly) stigmatized as a weakness and infidelity to your fellow troops in a culture that breeds strength and loyalty.

While the reported numbers of sexual assault are going up, the gap between the real numbers and reported numbers is shrinking. That trend represents a positive step for the service branches, but we must recognize it is just one step in a process to minimize sexual assault as much as possible.

Brigadier General Carol Ann Fausone (ret.)

General Fausone began her military career in the U.S. Air Force, and ended her service as the first female Brigadier General in the Michigan National Guard’s history. Today, she continues to help veterans and their families nationwide with her small business, The Veteran Advocate, LLC.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Protecting Your Digital Assets

Matt Worley, Esq.

One of the most overlooked areas in many estate plans is also one of the most important – your digital assets.  While it is obvious that everyone has physical assets (home, car, personal possessions, etc.), most people (whether they realize it or not) have digital assets as well.  Digital assets include things like websites, online banking accounts, blogs, credit card travel miles, online photos, and social media accounts.  Digital assets can be either personal or business in nature.

According to a recent survey conducted by McAfee, people place an average value on their digital assets of $35,000, around half of which is attributed to “sentimental” value (think: digital photos stored online).  With individuals placing such an emphasis and value on their digital assets, it is important to have a plan in place for them if you become incapacitated or pass away.

With the explosive rate at which technology and digital assets have developed in recent years, it’s no surprise that state and federal lawmakers are having difficulty keeping up.  Some states are beginning to introduce legislation to deal with digital assets and incorporate them into their probate codes.  However, the progress is slow and lacks a uniform approach among the states. 

Until the laws catch up with the technology, the best way to safeguard these digital assets is through careful planning with an experienced attorney.  When drafting estate planning documents (such as a durable power of attorney, will, or trust), it is important to include provisions which authorize the fiduciary to access these digital assets.  Such provisions should also explicitly define the scope of that authority and clearly state the asset holder’s intentions for those assets. 

Because this area of the law is new and still evolving, there are limited cases interpreting such provisions.  However, having well-drafted provisions addressing digital assets will certainly provide peace of mind.

If you are looking to protect your digital assets through a durable power of attorney, or looking to set up a complete estate plan, contact the experienced attorneys at Fausone Bohn, LLP.  You can reach us at 248-380-0000 or online at  Our legal experts are knowledgeable about changing laws and stay up to date on this evolving area to ensure you receive the best protection for your digital assets – because we know how important they are to you.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Michigan SOS Plans to Use Better Technology in Effort to Stamp Out Fraud

Mark Mandell, Esq.

Michigan’s Secretary of State Ruth Johnson recently announced new plans to combat scammers who take advantage of vulnerable citizens by selling fake insurance. Johnson is looking to utilize cutting-edge technology and expand best practices in a move that is a part of ongoing efforts to stamp out auto insurance fraud.

The details of the plan include: 

A comprehensive review of her department's processes, technology and structure to determine how best to detect and deter fraud. 
Data analysis to identify signs in transactions that may indicate fraud.
Expanding the verification of the thousands of insurance certificates the department receives from customers daily.
An upgrade in case management software to give department investigators the best tools for tracking down fraudulent activity.
A roundtable discussion with business leaders about fraud to seek their advice and ensure the department is following best practices.

The Secretary of State’s office is looking to use data analysis to compare elements of transactions with those of previous fraudulent ones. Similarities between one transaction and past fraudulent transactions can flagged and then alert the office that a fraud investigation may be needed. 

The department has received funding to add staff to a new unit that will verify the validity of the 10,000 to 20,000 insurance certificates that come in through the mail each day from customers renewing their vehicle registration, in addition to the reviews already being done in Secretary of State offices. Plans are also in place to upgrade its case management software so department investigators are best equipped for tracking down fraud.

Some of these new initiatives are the result of recent recommendations from a task force aimed at the fight against auto insurance fraud. To read more on this task force, check out my past post on the Secretary of State’s efforts: 

It is refreshing to see follow-through from the Secretary of State on this issue, which affects so many Michiganders. Recent data shows that a whopping 16% of documents filed by motorists from 2013-2014 were fake. The outreach to the business community is also a critical point in the effort to keep the department at the forefront of protecting Michigan consumers from fraud. 

If you feel like you are a victim of insurance fraud, contact experienced Attorney Mark Mandell with Fausone Bohn, LLP, at (248) 380-0000. Mark has over a decade of experience fighting for his clients’ rights. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Police Patrols will be Watching for Drunk Drivers on Thanksgiving Holiday

Mark Mandell, Esq.

As another holiday approaches with Thanksgiving, police officers across the state will be keeping a closer eye out for drunk drivers, especially on Michigan’s highways. Between football and the copious amount of food eaten on Thanksgiving, there are also copious amounts of alcohol consumed on this holiday in particular.

As you always hear about tragic accidents happening around this time of year, the message of not drinking and driving is worth repeating. Throw in the worsening road conditions as winter approaches, and alcohol and driving can be a particularly deadly combination.

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 for “Super Drunk Driving” 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

Monday, November 24, 2014

Veteran Charities – Not All Exist to Benefit Veterans

Matt Worley, Esq.

There are around 1.6 million non-profit organizations in this country.  Of those, upwards of 65,000 include the word “veterans” in their title.  With so many seeking donations, it is more important than ever to be confident that when you give to a veteran charity your donation will actually be used to help our veterans.

Many people assume that if an organization has been granted 501(c)(3) status by the IRS, it went through a stringent application and review process and must therefore be legitimate.  However, the truth is that there is minimal oversight of the process of creating a non-profit organization.  In fact, the IRS recently simplified the application for 501(c)(3) tax exemption from 12 pages (plus schedules) down to only 3 pages.

With almost no ongoing oversight, many of these groups use only a very small portion of donation money to fund products and services for veterans.  Worse still, there are fraudulent organizations that are used only to line the pockets of their creators.

For example, the United States Navy Veterans Association (USNVA) was a registered 501(c)(3) charity.  It had many markings of a legitimate non-profit – a quality website, supposedly in operation since 1927 and dozens of purported chapters across the country with thousands of members nationwide.  In reality, USNVA was run by one man out of his duplex in Florida.  This sham charity bilked donors out of nearly $100 million over a seven-year period.  The ringleader was arrested in 2012 and sentenced to 28 years in prison and $6 million in fines, but sadly most of these donations will never be recovered.

Fortunately, there are resources available to assist potential donors in verifying the legitimacy of a charity before donating.  First off, the charity’s website can provide a first step – most legitimate charities post their financial statements and annual reports on their website so that the public may view them.  Additionally, is a non-profit that provides detailed information about 501(c)(3) registered charities.  Further, legitimate charities should be completely transparent.  If an organization is not forthcoming about providing financial/audit statements, copies of their conflict of interest policy, or information about the board of directors and employees, there is cause for concern.

If you have questions about the authenticity of a veteran charity, or believe that you have been taken advantage of by a fraudulent charity, contact the experienced attorneys at Fausone Bohn, LLP.  We can provide you the sound legal advice that you need.  You can reach us at (248) 380-0000 or online at

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Michigan Court of Appeals Refuses to Expand Claim of Acquiescence

Matt Worley, Esq.

Acquiescence is a type of adverse possession.  In essence, it allows an individual to gain title to property after treating the property as their own for at least 15 years.  The common scenario involves fences that are placed on what the parties believe is the true property line but, in reality, is not the line.  If the fence is treated by the property owners as the true boundary between the properties for 15 or more years, there may be a claim for acquiescence.

Recently, a Michigan Court of Appeals decision refused to extend the doctrine of acquiescence to property that is within the platted right-of-way (roadway) in the Village of Beulah.  In that case, the Village introduced plans to create new angled parking, a new sidewalk, and a streetscape in the strip of property adjacent to the roadway.

Plaintiffs then filed suit claiming title to the strips of land that were to be developed by the Village.  The Plaintiffs alleged that they gained title to the property through acquiescence because the previous owners of their property had installed a rock wall and railroad ties in the strips of land bordering the road way.  These strips of land were in the platted right-of-way. 

The Court ruled in favor of the Village, holding that under MCL §247.190 no encroachments on a “public highway” give the encroaching persons any title or right to the land.  Plaintiffs argued that this statute did not apply because a village roadway is not a “public highway.”  The court disagreed, however, and held that the platted right-of-way for the village roads do fall under the court’s broad definition of a public highway.  The court ruled that not every part of the right-of-way must be developed into a roadway in order to constitute the public highway.

While this is a victory for the Village of Beulah, it is likely that the plaintiff will seek review by the Michigan Supreme Court. 

If you have questions about acquiescence or other real estate law concerns, contact the attorneys at Fausone Bohn, LLP.  Our experienced team can provide you with the sound legal counsel you need.  You can reach us at 248/380.0000 or online at

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

World War II Veteran Laid to Rest in Michigan

The Year was 1944.  Robert McConachie was 17 years old and wanted to enlist and defend his country in World War II.  Because of his young age, his father, James McConachie, had to sign a waiver allowing him to join the armed forces.

His father acquiesced and Robert McConachie joined the United States Marine Corps.  He was killed in action in Okinawa on June 14, 1945, in the final months of the war.  He was just 18 years old when he gave his life for his country.  However, Pvt. McConachie’s remains went unidentified for nearly seventy years.

In 1987, Pvt. McConachie’s still unidentified remains were delivered to the Army’s Central Identification Lab in Hawaii.  Recent advancements in DNA testing, however, have helped the Pentagon link them to his brother.  This year, nearly seven decades after his death, Army analysts positively identified Pvt. McConachie’s remains using DNA analysis and dental records.

Pvt. McConachie made his final trip home to Michigan this year.  The Detroit native was buried on November 3 with full military honors at Fort Custer National Cemetery west of Battle Creek.  The fallen soldier’s family now has closure knowing that he has been laid to rest in his home state of Michigan.

On this Veterans Day, it is an important reminder to thank those who serve our country in the armed forces.  It is also a time to reflect on those, like Pvt. McConachie, who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we may continue to live in a free country.

If you are a veteran and need assistance with a disability benefits claim, contact the experts at Legal Help For Veterans.  You can reach us at 800/693.4800 or online at

To learn more about Pvt. McConachie’s story, please visit:

Monday, November 10, 2014

A “Zone of Death” in Yellowstone National Park?

Mark Mandell, Esq.

It’s true: Yellowstone National Park has a 50 square mile parcel of land located in Idaho where someone could get away with murder. This situation has not occurred, but the fact that it’s possible should raise a few eyebrows.

Let’s say two campers – John and Bob – get into a scuffle in the “Zone of Death” area, and John kills Bob. The District Court of Wyoming has jurisdiction over all of Yellowstone National Park, including the Idaho and Montana portions.

So John has committed a crime in the District of Wyoming, the only district court that includes lands in multiple states.  Under the Sixth Amendment, he can invoke the right to a trial by a jury of his peers – in this case, those residing in the Idaho portion of the Wyoming District Court.

Here’s the loophole: nobody lives there. And there’s no constitutional provision for a trial by a jury of buffalo. So a jury cannot be formed and John would walk away a free man.

That is quite a shocking loophole. Perhaps even more troubling is that Congress has known about it and has not fixed it. The issue first received prominence by Michigan State law professor Brian Kalt in his 2005 Georgetown Law Journal article, "The Perfect Crime."

In the years following the article’s publication, Kalt got some traction on persuading Congress to come up with a fix. But it is now nine years since his article was published and nothing has been accomplished yet.

Congress could fix the Zone of Death loophole by simply amending certain sections of title 28 of the United States Code.  What does the Idaho congressional delegation have to say?

Suzanne Wrasse, press secretary for Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), said in a report that the Senator was not overly concerned and that the existence of the Zone shouldn’t stop the state (of Idaho) from prosecution, as they have dual jurisdiction in the area. However, professor Kalt takes issue with that analysis.

Kalt notes that the US code states: "The Yellowstone National Park, as its boundaries now are defined, or as they may be hereafter defined or extended, shall be under the sole and exclusive jurisdiction of the United States." And that, today, is the District of Wyoming.

This might sound a little too farfetched to believe. But in 2007, a different, albeit less exciting, case brought up the issue of the Zone of Death loophole.

Michael Belderrain illegally shot an elk in Montana in 2005, and cited Kalt's article as a defense in 2007. Belderrain was standing in Yellowstone when he pulled the trigger, and then dragged the elk to his truck parked in Yellowstone. Belderrain was indicted in the Wyoming District, and objected that he had a right be tried by jurors from Montana – which is actually possible, as the Montana portion of Yellowstone is (sparsely) inhabited by people.

Instead of trying to call such a jury in a loosely populated portion of Montana and make an argument for why the Sixth Amendment did not entitle Belderrain to such a trial, the court dismissed the argument, supposedly because it would imply Yellowstone contained a Zone of Death loophole.

Ultimately, Belderrain took a plea deal and the issue was left unresolved. For now, the loophole remains for Kalt’s imagined “perfect crime,” with the perpetrator potentially walking away freely. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Veterans and Sexual Dysfunction

Jim Fausone
Veterans Disability Attorney

This is one of those taboo subjects you just don’t bring up in polite company.  But the reality is we hear from veterans every week about their erectile dysfunction, which can be claimed as a service connected disability in many cases. 

As recently reported in the San Diego Union-Tribune: 

The topic is blush-inducing, to be sure. But some post-9/11 veterans received frank talk on the subject at a conference for combat veterans in Coronado last week.

“That fiery, playful sex that people have with their partners is a huge, positive buffer to all the other stuff you go through in life,” said U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs psychologist Linda Mona, who runs an intimacy clinic at the VA medical center in Long Beach. …

San Diego County is home to 39,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans — by one measure the largest cluster in the United States. About one in three are likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction or other sexual problems, according to at least two studies of post-9/11 troops.

Among people with combat stress — officially known as post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD — the risk of sexual dysfunction is threefold.

In other words, the chance of problems in the bedroom is “ridiculously high” compared to young people who didn’t serve, said Dr. Irwin Goldstein, a urologist and surgeon who directs a monthly sexual medicine clinic at the San Diego VA hospital.

Medication is a factor. By one account, the average number of prescription drugs used by America’s veterans is 17.

Some of those medications, including antidepressants and opiate painkillers, can affect sexual function. Goldstein called most psychiatric drugs “sex unfriendly.”
So if you or your spouse is feeling alone and frustrated take comfort the problem is real and you are not alone.  If you need help sorting out if you have a service connected disability contact us at 

You can read more about this problem at:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

MI Secretary of State Looking to Crack Down on Insurance Fraud

Mark Mandell, Esq.

Michigan Secretary of State (SOS), Ruth Johnson, convened a 56 member task force dedicated to addressing insurance fraud in the state. The task force and the SOS recently announced their 17 recommendations.

The recommendations come amid the announcement that the SOS uncovered that a whopping 16% of the documents filed by motorists from 2013-2014 were fake. And you need proof of insurance to receive a license plate in Michigan.

With 16% of documents being fake, one has to ask how that number got so high.

Pete Kuhnmuench, executive director of the Insurance Institute of Michigan, said he believes the high cost of insurance is driving the search for phony insurance coverage. He recommended a $3 fee to ramp up enforcement efforts against fraud. The SOS task force, however, did not address that.  

Secretary of State Johnson claims the problem is costing Michigan motorists around $220 million per year – which she says is a conservative figure. That's because if a driver with fake insurance coverage gets in an accident, the other drive must pick up the tab for those with no coverage.

Johnson said all sort of crooks are in the insurance fraud game, including a lady working out of a church netting some $30,000 a month to the sophisticated Internet fraud artists who produce documents that look real but are not.

The state police, local prosecutors and the state insurance director are all in on fighting back and the SOS has reported that some reforms have already cut the bogus percentage in half.

The task force’s recommendations also include: streamlining prosecution of offenders, assisting law enforcement in verifying insurance during traffic stops, cracking down on unlicensed insurance agents, and establishing a new “fraud commission.”

If you feel like you are a victim of insurance fraud, contact experienced Attorney Mark Mandell with Fausone Bohn, LLP, at (248) 380-0000. Mark has over a decade of experience fighting for his clients’ rights. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Lake Erie Water Quality Issues

Paul F. Bohn, Esq.

Not long ago on our Firm’s Facebook page, I posted a link directing folks to a website where they can keep up-to-date on beach closings in and around the southern Great Lakes (myBeachCast).   As some of you have noticed, last summer we saw another record year of beach closings in Lake St. Clair and southern Lake Erie, as well as an emergency shutdown of drinking water intakes in Toledo and other Lake Erie metropolitan areas, which helped focus national attention on this water quality issue. 

Two recent initiatives should help address these growing Lake Erie water quality concerns.  Recently, the 4R Nutrient Council voted to certify three Ohio businesses in 4R’s fertilizer reduction approach.  On the same day, the Environmental Defense Fund (“EDF”) announced an effort to eliminate and reduce fertilizer pollution in surface waters nationwide.  The 4R certified businesses serve landowners who own a combined 180,000 acres of tilled land, most of which drains into Lake Erie.  An overabundance of phosphorus flowing into Lake Erie’s western basin has helped feed the annual algae bloom and the recent 2014 summer mega-bloom, which shut down Toledo’s water supply system.  4R approach is directed at reducing phosphorus from entering both surface and groundwater.  The EDF initiative is aimed at supporting national fertilizer retailers, suppliers, agribusinesses and farmers’ efforts to maximize fertilizer efficiency and reduce phosphorus runoff.

In addition to reducing water pollution caused by the introduction of too much phosphorus, fertilizer optimization is expected to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural activities as well.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Non-Compete Clauses 2.0

Matt Worley, Esq.

Back in June I wrote an article about the importance of careful drafting of non-compete agreements for key employees:  2014/06/drafting-non-compete-clauses-to-ensure.html.  A recent Michigan Court of Appeals decision illustrates this point perfectly.  Generally, these agreements not to compete are enforceable when they protect the employer’s reasonable competitive business interests and when they are reasonable in duration, geographical scope, and line of business.

In September, the Court of Appeals struck down a non-compete clause that prohibited the former employee from working for any company that “makes or sells any products competitive with a product offered by the company.”  While this may sound like typical language in a non-compete clause, the Michigan Court of Appeals determined it to be overly broad and unenforceable.

In that case, Defendant was a former employee of Plaintiff who resigned to go work for another company.  Both companies manufactured and sold “material handling equipment,” i.e. conveyor equipment.  Plaintiff argued that Mr. Sparling violated his two year non-compete by working for a competitor, Lewco.

The court held that the non-compete was unenforceable because it prohibited defendant from working for any company that offers even a single product that is “competitive” with a product offered by plaintiff.  This prohibited defendant from working for any company that is even in remote competition with plaintiff, and was therefore unreasonably restrictive.

The court went even further and held that Lewco was not even a competitor of plaintiff.  It reasoned that because Lewco sold primarily standard conveyor equipment, whereas plaintiff sold specialized and custom conveyor equipment, they were not competitors.

This recent case is Huron Technology Corp v Albert Sparling, Unpublished Michigan Court of Appeals Opinion No. 316133, 

This case demonstrates how imperative it is to carefully draft contract language in non-compete agreements.  The language in this case was so similar to what is commonly used, but slightly tweaked, and the effect of that change is that the court found it unreasonably restrictive and unenforceable. 

If you own a business and are concerned about protecting your interests, contact the business law and litigation experts at Fausone Bohn, LLP to assist you with drafting your business contracts.  You can reach me at 248/380.3312 or by email at 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Procrastinate Till Death

Jim Fausone, Esq.

On a Saturday night at 7pm just after I was seated at a Mexican restaurant, I took a call from a number that I did not recognize.  It was the President of a local business (“Company”), who has been a client for seven years, telling me that the owner (“Owner”) of the Company was dying.  The Owner, who I have known for probably twenty years, built the Company, which now employs about 20-30 people in an extremely technical field.

During this after-hours conversation, I learned that the highly educated Owner was in the hospital and not expected to make it through the weekend.  The President told me that the Owner had not attended to final plans like the transfer ownership of the Company, will, or estate plan for his mother or adult son and daughter.

Over the next twenty-four hours, Don Knapp and I worked on a simplified stock ownership transfer and a basic last will.  There was no time to tax plan or adopt probate or tax avoidance strategies.  Nevertheless, as the Owner remarked from his hospital bed as he signed the documents: “Something is better than nothing.”

If the Owner had died intestate (without a will), all of his assets including the Company would have transferred to his children who had no interest in or knowledge of the operations of the Company.  In other words, in the absence of an orderly transfer of the Company’s ownership, the viability of the Company would have been questionable, contracts would have been in jeopardy, 20-30 jobs could have been lost, and the Owner’s desire to ensure that his hard work endured after he passed away probably would have not been realized.  

I am glad that I took that call before the fajitas arrived and my phone was turned off so that I could help my friend and client. 

Do not procrastinate to death.  You deserve to have your life’s work and assets transferred to ensure your legacy and to protect your family.  Contact Don Knapp at 248-380-0000, ext. 3213 or to begin that process.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

New Insurance Legislation Places Added Requirements on Municipalities

Municipalities be advised: municipalities as additional named insured is not enough anymore under Michigan law when contracting out for services.

Earlier this year the Michigan Legislature passed Senate Bill 715, which changes the insurance law for municipalities in the state and places additional requirements on cities and townships.

The law now requires municipalities to obtain from insurance companies the actual policy documentation containing the endorsement of a municipality as an additional insured. Previously, local governments looking to contract out work – for example, replacing the roof on a City building – could simply call and ask to be added as an insured party without reviewing or obtaining the actual policy.

The law does not expand coverage for local governments, but simply places the added requirement of furnishing the actual insurance policy.

Fausone Bohn has a team of experienced municipal attorneys. The firm has represented and worked with several cities and townships across southeast Michigan, including: Westland, Wayne, Rockwood, and Northville Township.

To consult with one of the firm’s attorneys, call (248) 380-0000, or visit our website

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Fausone Bohn Attorney Joins Effort to Save Livingston Co. Veteran’s Home

Our own Paul Bohn recently joined an effort to help save a Livingston County Veteran’s home, just as he was on the verge of becoming homeless. Paul Bohn and other local attorneys donated their time to negotiate with the redeeming buyer, securing an affordable life lease for the Veteran, Ross Dahlberg, so he could live in his home until he chooses to leave.

And when we say “on the verge of becoming homeless,” it’s true. The deal to save Dahlberg’s home was closed less than 24 hours before he would have lost his home.

Dahlberg said he was overwhelmed with emotions. And he said of his home: "I'm here until I die."


Here is the full story from the Livingston Daily:

Last week, Brighton couple Keli Murillo and Jay Bobel, CEO of Northville-based Spartan Equities, stepped forward to put forth more than $142,000 in fees associated with saving Hamburg Township resident Ross Dahlberg's home.

"It's a miracle come true," said Dahlberg, a Korean War-era veteran.

The veteran's home was ultimately sold at a sheriff's auction to Day Glo LLC in March due to what Joshua Parish, a veterans benefits counselor, believes was an error by the state's Step Forward Program. Dahlberg fell behind on mortgage payments because of a divorce and medical issues, which put him in and out of the hospital and rehab care.

A state official refuted Parish's claim that Dahlberg's completed application was received by the state homeownership office on time.

If it weren't for Bobel and Murillo, Parish said he was told "Day Glo LLC was going to have the Sheriff's Department come remove Mr. Dahlberg from his home."

Bobel, whose company regularly assists with home redemptions in the county, said he saw the opportunity to "do good" after reading a Daily Press & Argus article on the topic, which prompted him to call Parish.

"Something just didn't sound quite right to me, and I wanted to help," Bobel said.

Parish's mission to help Dahlberg stay in his home became a community effort in July when he launched a GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign in hopes of securing $130,000 needed to reclaim the home before a six-month redemption period that expired Thursday. Those funds will be transferred into a secure account and go toward Dahlberg's tax payments on the home, where he will virtually live for free.

"I want to go out in the parking lot and do a little dance," Parish said Thursday. "I've exhausted so much time and effort for this project."

The Veterans Affairs official has also secured supplies from Home Depot and Allied Lumber in Howell, Ann Arbor-based Fingerle Lumber and Milford-based ABC Supply to replace Dahlberg's roof that had sustained water damage over a number of years. Work began Thursday by volunteer contractors from Pinckney-based Jim's Roofing.

Dahlberg, who is wheelchair-bound due to the effects of diabetes, said he has met a number of "good people" during his struggle whom he would like to thank. He is now receiving home health assistance seven days per week through a Veterans Affairs program.

"At the moment, I'm a little choked up," Dahlberg said Thursday afternoon. "I'm overwhelmed with emotions.

"I'm here until I die," he said of his home.

Other important players in the effort included attorneys Paul Bohn and John Drury, and Howell-based Matecun, Thomas and Olson PLC, Parish said.

Originally posted Livingston Daily September 25:    

Monday, October 6, 2014

Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Victims to Receive Financial Relief, VA Announces

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that it will begin covering out-of-pocket health care expenses for Marine dependents who fell victim to cancer and other illnesses from toxic water at Camp Lejeune, NC.

The relief is long-overdue, as victims were promised coverage for their health care costs two years ago when Congress passed the landmark Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act. Not to mention, the toxic water problem stems all the way back to the mid-1950s.

The 2012 law provided health care for Marines and family members who had lived on the base from 1957 to 1987 and who suffered from any of 15 illnesses named in the law. These included cancer related to the lungs, bladder, breasts, kidneys and esophagus, as well leukemia and problems involving female infertility.

Some 750,000 people were exposed to polluted drinking water, which contained harmful chemicals from spills, a dump site on the base, leaking underground storage tanks on base and an off-base dry cleaner.

With the 2012 law, the VA immediately offered full care for veterans who had been stationed at Camp Lejeune, but it also established a waiting period for their dependents who suffered from covered illnesses to be reimbursed.

The most recent announcement from the VA means they will begin reimbursing family members later this year for health care costs incurred since March 26, 2013 – the date which Congress appropriated the funding.

The VA also planned to release a document about health care services to veterans who were on active duty at the base for at least 30 days in the three-decade period.

The news site McClatchy spoke with two individuals who were affected by the toxic water at Camp Lejeune.  Retired Marine Jerry Ensminger’s 9 year old daughter, Janey, died of leukemia in 1985, and Mike Partain, who was born at the base, has suffered from male breast cancer.

The two led the long fight to get the 2012 law passed, and both said they were dismayed by the delay in individuals receiving this financial relief.

“As far as I’m concerned, so many people have already died. They just keep dragging this thing out,” Ensminger said.

Partain said “institutional apathy and incompetence” were the reasons it took two years to write and approve the regulations for how the law would be administered.

For now, at least, the victims of Camp Lejeune can celebrate a step in the right direction.

Read more on this story on McClatchy DC: