Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Massive New Trail System Coming to Michigan

Paul Bohn, Esq.

Ever dream of the day that you can just hop on your bicycle and ride all the way to South Haven to spend the day on Lake Michigan? What about riding all the way to Lambeau Field to see the Detroit Lion’s get their second win in 20+ years in the State of Wisconsin?  Well, those dreams are quickly becoming a reality for nearly 50% of the state’s population as the “Big 400” trail development project is underway!

The 5 Healthy Towns Foundation, a tax-exempt private foundation for community improvement, has recently begun fundraising efforts to develop a loop trail to connect Chelsea, Dexter, Stockbridge, and Pinckney. Users will be able to ride, hike, or cross-country ski through the beautiful woods, farmland, and along waterways with this new 44-mile nature trail. It is projected to cost $1 Million and the foundation is already 1/3 of the way there.

This loop will be tied into the existing Iron Belle Trail that runs from Belle Isle to Ironwood, Wisconsin. It will also connected to Lakelands Trail, which stretches from Port Huron on the east side, to South Haven on the west.

A second project, named the Waterloo Trail, has already been put into motion. The Potawatomi Mountain Biking Association has joined forces with renowned trail-builder, Spectrum Trail Design, to create 25 miles worth of mountain biking trails. The $500,000.00 project will include a wide-range of trail-difficultly so that all can enjoy the thrill of mountain biking safely within their skill-level.

Within 5 years, the hope is to connect the Waterloo Trail to the Big 400 project. Once completed, Michigan’s non-motorized trail system will be among the best in the nation.

To find out more information, or to donate to their efforts, visit or!

Friday, December 18, 2015

How to Obtain Your CPL in 4-Steps

Mark Mandell, Esq.

Looking to obtain your Concealed Pistol License (CPL) in the State of Michigan but don’t know if you are eligible and/or how to apply? Look no further, for your convenience we have compiled all the information you will need to determine if a CPL is right for you.

Step 1: Eligibility Requirements

Before you start the application process, make sure you are able to answer yes to all the following:
  • Am I 21 or older? (per federal law)
  • Am I a US citizen?
  • Am I a legal resident of Michigan and have been living in the state for at least 6 months? 
    • If you are unsure, just see if at least one of the following applies:
      • I have a valid Michigan driver’s license and/or personal identification card
      • I am registered to vote in Michigan
      • I am an active duty member of the United States Armed Forces who is stationed out of state but Michigan is still my home of record; or I am permanently stationed in Michigan 
  • Do I have a valid Michigan driver’s license or official Michigan personal identification card?
  • I am not, nor ever was, subject to an order or disposition for:
    • Involuntary Hospitalization or Alternative Treatment?
    • Legal incapacitation?
    • Personal protection order?
    • Bond or conditional release prohibiting purchase or possession of a firearm? (does not apply to past bonds or conditional releases)
    • Finding of not guilty by reason of insanity?
  • I have never received a dishonorable discharge from the United States Armed Forces
  • Will I pass a criminal background check? 

Step 2: Pistol Safety Training Course

After you have made sure you are able eligible, you will need to successfully complete an appropriate pistol safety training course. To find available courses near you, contact your local law enforcement agency or use the class locator on
  • Average Course Length:  minimum of 8 hours in duration (5 hours in classroom instruction, 3 hours shooting range instruction)
  • Average Cost: $100-$200
  • Make sure your certificate states the following: “This course complies with Section 5j of 1927 PA 372” and “the Individual has successfully completed the course” 

Step 3: File a Concealed Pistol License Application

After you have received a valid certification of completion, you will need to complete a Concealed Pistol License Application and file it with the County Clerk of the area in which you reside. Here is a checklist of items to bring with you to the County Clerk:
  • CPL Course/Class Certificate of Completion
  • $100.00 for the application and licensing fee payable to the county clerk (payable by cash or credit card)
  • Fingerprinting receipt from a Michigan Law Enforcement Agency 
    • Or they can take your fingerprints on-site at county clerk (may be an additional $15.00 for fingerprint service)

Once all fees are paid and fingerprints are filed, the county clerk will issue a license or notice of statutory disqualification within 45 days. Instructions on appeal process will be included with a notice of disqualification. 

Step 4: Know When to Leave Your Weapon at Home

Where you can/cannot take your weapon:

Other states that will honor your Michigan-licensed CPL: 
  • Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming

States that will not honor your Michigan-licensed CPL: 
  • California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, New York City, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Virgin Islands, American Samoa, N. Mariana Islands

Michigan Pistol-Free Zones: follow the link for most updated list:,4643,7-123-1878_1591_3503_4654-10947--,00.html

Step 5: CPL Renewal Program

You will need to renew your CPL every 4-5 years, depending on the issue date and your date of birth. The cost will be $115.00. The renewal application does not require you to re-take the CPL course, but it is recommended if you have not touched the weapon or practiced at a shooting range since you have received the license. Plus, the CPL education is constantly evolving and keeping that knowledge fresh in your mind can be the difference in a life-or-death situation.

I hope you find this guide helpful as you navigate the concealed weapon licensing process. Once you are a licensed weapon holder, you will then be responsible for the safe-keeping of your weapon, staying up to date on all laws and regulations, and most importantly the ability to judge when use of such weapon is absolutely necessary. This newfound responsibility should not be taken lightly, as even those most prepared can find themselves in legal trouble. In the unlikely event you are facing weapons-related charges, you need to contact Fausone Bohn immediately and ask for attorney Mark Mandell. Whether or not you handled the situation correctly, as a CPL holder you can bet that you will be at the top of the list when the investigation starts.

As a former prosecuting attorney, Attorney Mark Mandell has extensive criminal trial experience. While some attorneys avoid trials, Mark is always prepared to take his clients' case to trial if needed. Mark taught trial advocacy skills as an adjunct professor at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School. He uses his experience as a prosecutor and professor to fight for his clients, whether that be at trial or for the best possible plea agreement to minimize jail, prison, or probation. Experience and credibility is the name of the game when appearing before a judge and Attorney Mark Mandell has it!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Steep Penalties for Assault by Strangulation or Suffocation

Mark Mandell, Esq.

About two years ago, a new Michigan law prohibiting “assault by strangulation or suffocation” went into effect. The law imposes severe penalties upon an aggressor who engages in the conduct prohibited by the statute.

MCL 750.84 states that any person who assaults another person by strangulation or suffocation is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for up to 10 years or a fine of up to $5,000, or both. The law defines “strangulation or suffocation” as “intentionally impeding normal breathing or circulation of the blood by applying pressure on the throat or neck or by blocking the nose or mouth of another person.”

It is not necessary for a victim to suffer any actual injury in order for the State to charge an aggressor with assault by strangulation. Furthermore, an aggressor’s intent – which must be proven for a defendant to be found guilty – may be inferred simply from the use of physical violence.

In short, assault by strangulation is a very serious offense that is difficult neither to commit nor to charge.  Citizens should be mindful to avoid any conduct that could be construed as prohibited under this statute. 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Michigan Court of Appeals Finds Juvenile's Convicted of First Degree Murder Have A Sixth Amendment Right to Have A Jury Determine Their Sentence

Daniel Williams, Esq.

The Michigan Court of Appeals determined in a published opinion yesterday, People v. Skinner, ___ Mich. App. ___; ___ N.W.2d ___; COA #317892 (Aug. 20, 2015) the Juvenile Offenders who are convicted of homicide, and who face a sentence of life without the possibility of parole are entitled to have a jury determine their fate at sentencing.  Previously, a Judge would impose the sentence.

However, the COA found that in the circumstance where a Juvenile is convicted of First Degree Murder, they have a right to demand that a jury be impaneled to determine if such a sentence is appropriate.  The Court found "[w]e find that the Sixth Amendment mandates that juveniles convicted of homicide who face the possibility of a sentence of life without the possibility of parole have a right to have their sentence determined by a jury."
The COA indicated, through a thorough analysis, that the right stemmed from the United States Supreme Court's opinion in Miller v. Alabama, 576 U.S. ___; 132 S.Ct. 2455; 183 L.Ed.2d. 407 (2012), the new sentencing scheme would ensure that the factors necessary to impose a mandatory life sentence on a juvenile offender would best be preserved.  As the COA noted, "[t]he Miller Court did not address the issue of who should decide whether a juvenile offender should receive a life without parole sentence and we are unaware of any court that has yet to address the issue."

Regardless of where a person stands on the issue of juvenile offender sentencing, this opinion puts the Michigan Courts at the forefront in how the determination of a life without parole sentence can and may be imposed.  While the case is likely to be appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court, and potentially, to the United States Supreme Court, the opinion provides a thorough and significant change in how juvenile offenders will, for now, be sentenced in Michigan. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Landmark Decision Reverses Course For Michigan’s Sentencing Guidelines in Criminal Felony and High Misdemeanor Cases

Daniel Williams, Esq.

On Wednesday, the Court issued an opinion in People v. Lockridge, a link to which is attached above, which dismantles the way that convicted felons in Michigan have been sentenced since the “truth in sentencing” laws went into effect on January 1, 1999. The legislature enacted mandatory sentencing guidelines, which amount to a scoring equation, and based on the offender’s prior criminal record and the facts and circumstances of the case, a mandatory minimum sentence could be determined.

The sentencing Court was bound by that number, unless they could come up with “substantial and compelling reasons” to depart, either above (more time) or below (less time) than what the mandatory sentence under the guidelines scoring required.  The Court defined what substantial and compelling reasons meant in People v. Babcock, indicating that the Court could only depart upward or downward where evidence not taken into account by the sentencing guidelines was available to the Court.

The sentencing guidelines, however, could be scored based on the lower threshold of a preponderance of the evidence, and it was not required that the Defendant be found guilty of the offense for the sentencing guidelines to apply. 

In Lockridge, the Court has done away with all of that.  The sentencing guidelines are still in effect, but now they are advisory, where the Judge can use them as a guide, but he or she is not mandated to impose a minimum sentence within that range.  Nor can the guidelines be scored using a preponderance of the evidence standard.

The Michigan Supreme Court has brought Michigan’s sentencing scheme in line with that used by the Federal Courts.   In Lockridge, the Court made clear that based on rulings from the United States Supreme Court, the notion that facts could be used in sentencing that had not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt was a violation of a Defendant’s Sixth Amendment Right to a Fair Trial.  Furthermore, rather than needing a substantial and compelling reason to depart from the guidelines, a sentencing Court’s determinations will be reviewed by an appellate court only for a determination that the sentence imposed was reasonable. 

The result is that the Court has now returned Michigan to an age where judicial discretion is the norm for criminal sentencings.  The results are both positive and negative for convicted offenders.  While judicial discretion in the imposition of sentences means that a Court can look at the individual circumstances of each case and make individualized, Defendant specific sentencing determinations, there are some draw backs.

Advising clients as to what the possible sentence for a crime is going to be is a far easier task when the sentence is mandated by the sentencing guidelines.  The minimum score is determined by the guidelines calculation, unless the case was particularly egregious.  Now, there are a lot more variables in determining what an appropriate sentence might be, and what factors will ultimately be considered by the Court in trying to fashion an appropriate sentence.

Frankly, the Lockridge opinion makes having a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney all that much more important.  Only time will tell if this return to an age of widespread judicial discretion provides a better sentencing scheme, or provides a system of inequity similar to what led to the creation of the sentencing guidelines in the first place.

When judicial discretion is the norm, having an attorney who is familiar with the system, and has experience with how Judges will handle a criminal defendant who is being sentenced before them can be invaluable.  As a former assistant prosecuting attorney, Dan Williams is very familiar with the criminal justice system, criminal procedure, and with the Judges who preside on Wayne County’s Criminal Bench.  If you have found yourself on the wrong side of the law, give us a call to see about taking your case on today.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Summary of Amendments to the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act

Michael McNamara, Esq.

On August 18th, changes to the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA) program will take effect following Governor Snyder’s approval of Public Acts 31-33 of 2015.   The most significant change is the age for HYTA is being extended to 24 years old.

The original purpose of the HYTA was to allow judges to place a youth aged 17-20 who pled or was found guilty of a crime on probation  to avoid a criminal record upon compliance with the judges sentence. Essentially it operates like a conditional dismissal, under which compliance with the court’s punishment will guarantee that there is no conviction, allowing the offender’s record to remain clean.

This is especially important for young men and women who will soon be searching for their first career position, if not so already. By complying with the HYTA program, an offender will never have to check “yes” when asked if they have been convicted, which can make or break a person’s prospects for employment.
PA 31 extends this age limit all the way to a person’s 24th birthday, with some conditions attached. First, if the offender is 21 or older then he or she cannot be assigned to youthful trainee status without the consent of the prosecuting attorney. Next, youthful trainees may now be required to maintain employment or attendance in school. If he or she is not employed or enrolled in school, the court may then require that this person actively seek employment or entry into an educational institution (high school, community college, trade school, university, etc.). Finally, a youthful trainee over the age of 21 may now be subject to electronic monitoring during his or her probationary term.

There are crimes that could result in the automatic revocation of youthful trainee status as provided in PA 32. With this new legislation, all of the crimes that qualified an offender for the HYTA program will now disqualify their status on a subsequent offense. In other words, they have one chance to participate in the HYTA program.

In the past, it was up to the court to maintain or revoke the status of a trainee who committed another HYTA-qualifying crime. Now, the courts must revoke the status of a trainee who will then be subject to applicable penalties and prison sentences.

The final amendments provided in PA 33 focus on the duration and conditions for felony offenses. Traditionally, such offenses resulted in the individual being committed to the department of corrections for custodial supervision and training (similar to boot-camp) for not more than 3 years. PA 33 reduces the maximum sentence down to 2 years. Also, the act will list certain offenses that will exclude the trainee from being committed to the department of corrections for custodial supervision and training. Prior to this any youthful trainee could have been committed, even if the crime they committed was relatively harmless.

The final change resulting from PA 33 is the addition of a mandatory probation period of no more than 1 year for youthful trainees who were committed to the department of corrections or to the county jail. Before this amendment, Judges would simply give the trainee a choice of custodial supervision or probation. Now, Judges can use a combination of the two.

These changes are a part of Governor Snyder’s goal to reduce the prison population and cost of incarceration. Through reduction of HYTA sentences and extending the eligible age limit, it is expected that fewer offenders will go to prison resulting in savings for Michigan taxpayers while offering young offenders a chance to avoid an adult criminal conviction.

If you or your child are facing criminal charges, you need to contact attorney Mike McNamara immediately. He is an expert in the Michigan criminal justice system and can make the difference between having a clean record and being haunted by a conviction for the rest of your life. Visit the contact page of Fausone Bohn LLP for more information

Monday, August 3, 2015

Resisting Arrest: Things to Avoid when Pulled over by a Police Officer

Mark Mandell, Esq.

Motorists are pulled over by police officers every day for a variety of different reasons. Whatever the circumstances, there are many acts prohibited by law citizens should avoid when being stopped by police so as to refrain from making matters worse.

First, MCL 750.479a(1) states that when a police officer in uniform signals by hand, voice, emergency light, or siren for the driver to pull over, the driver may not willfully disobey the signal. An individual who does willfully obey such a direction is guilty of fourth-degree fleeing and eluding, a felony punishable by imprisonment of up to two years and a fine of up to $2,000. Both the level of the felony and the punishment increase if the fleeing results in an accident, results in the death or injury of another person, the speed limit is less than 35 miles-per-hour, or the driver has prior convictions.

Second, there are more laws that apply once a driver has come to a stop. MCL 750.479(1)(b) states that a person may not assault, batter, wound, obstruct, or endanger an officer enforcing the law. This includes the use or threatened use of physical interference or force as well as a knowing failure to comply with a lawful command. An individual who engages in any of the prohibited conduct is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment of up to two years and a fine of up to $2,000. Furthermore, if a violation of this statute causes injury or death to the officer, the punishment significantly increases.

To avoid incurring any additional legal trouble, your best bet when traveling on the roadways is always to comply with an officer’s commands.

If you have questions about criminal matters, fraud or other legal issues, please contact Mark Mandell at 248-468-4536 or online at

Fausone Bohn, LLP has assisted clients pulled over for drunk driving and other driving infractions throughout southeast Michigan, including Detroit, Ann Arbor, Northville, Novi, Livonia, Canton, Farmington, and Royal Oak.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Partner Jim Fausone Elected VP of U of M’s Civil & Environmental Engineering Association

Canton, MI – The University of Michigan’s Civil & Environmental Engineering Friends Association (CEEFA) recently elected local resident and business owner Jim Fausone as their Vice President. Fausone graduated from U of M with an engineering degree.

“It’s an honor to serve in this position where I have the opportunity to give back the University engineering community and help support current and future students,” said Fausone.

CEEFA provides a network for alumni, as well as a network of alumni for current students to tap into. The group sponsors scholarships and career mentorship programs for current students as well.

Fausone’s engineering background includes serving in the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and working in civil and environmental engineering fields. Eventually, he would become the president of a multi-million dollar industrial services, waste transportation and environmental contracting company. In addition, Fausone now serves as the Chair of the Detroit Board of Water Commissioners – soon to be the Great Lakes Water Authority.

Today, Fausone runs the Northville-based law firm of Fausone Bohn, LLP, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. And, Fausone also established a veteran’s practice, Legal Help For Veterans, PLLC, now one of the largest veterans law firms in the country.

Fausone said he hopes his multi-faceted background will help him in his new role. “It’s important to show students that there’s a lot you can do with an engineering degree, whether you’re working on hard technical problems or trying to become an entrepreneur. And the degree even comes in handy as a lawyer.”

Fausone lives in Canton, MI with his wife, Carol Ann, also a U of M graduate in the School of Nursing. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Officials in Great Lakes Region to Act on Algae Problem, Water Diversion

Last month, Quebec City hosted a conference of the 8 Governors from the Great Lakes US States and 2 from Canadian Provinces to discuss issues facing the Great Lakes.  One of the top issues discussed was the algae blooms on Lake Erie; to which Michigan, Ohio, and Ontario pledged to a reduction of 40% by 2025.

While the pledge is a step in the right direction, environmental groups have tried to call attention to this issue for years but have been largely ignored by government officials in the region.  In 2011, a sixth of Lake Erie was covered with toxic algae blooms. It reduced fish populations, fouled beaches, and most importantly it contaminated the drinking water. The bloom produced a concentration of a liver toxin that was 1,200 times the limit set by the World Health Organization.

The drinking water contamination continues to be one of the largest issues associated with the algae blooms. Just last August, Toledo was without drinkable water for 3 days because of dangerous toxin levels.

Some environmental groups are not only angry with the delayed action, but with the announcement itself. The conference provided no details on how the reduction will be carried out nor any mechanism to ensure compliance. The governors only said that “adaptive measures” will be taken by State environmental agencies.

The Sierra Club and the Food and Water Watch believe the announcement just shows how the agricultural industry continues to remain untouchable. Since the algae blooms are largely created by agricultural runoff containing phosphorus, measures would be taken to regulate agricultural pollution. Unfortunately, no such measure was expressed in the announcement.

A spokeswoman for the Food and Water Watch issued a statement “Relying on voluntary action is irresponsible and leaves a major source of drinking water for the region at the mercy of an industry looking to profit above all else”.

Another big issue raised was whether or not Great Lakes water should be diverted to Waukesha, Wisconsin. This community has had a polluted well for years, and now the Wisconsin DNR requests access to the safe water in the Great Lakes. In order to have access, the request needs approval from all 8 Great Lakes States. Just one vote against it can deny the whole proposal.

State leaders are expected to proceed with caution in forming their response because they believe the decision will become precedent for all future water diversion requests, which will be highly significant in the near future as water becomes scarcer around the country.

Michigan will arguably be the most important voice in the matter as it is the only state completely in the Great Lakes Basin. While it is important to provide those in need with available water sources, Michigan has the most to lose if diversion requests start to flood in.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Former Nursing Home Employee Terrorizes Resident in Michigan

Daniel Williams, Esq.

The arrest of 21 year old Tyler Malone serves as a reminder that nursing home abuse does not have to simply be physical abuse, but can also take form as emotional and mental abuse.

While working in 2014 as a resident assistant at Life House Crystal Springs in Gaines Township, Michigan, he targeted an 86-year-old female resident to prey on. The abuse he inflicted was equivalent to psychological torture. He harassed her with repeated phone calls; threw shoes at her; dumped water on her; made threats of sexual assault; and stalked her.

Kent County sheriff’s deputies were made aware of his actions from family members and coworkers, who quickly arrested the suspect. He is charged with second-degree vulnerable adult abuse and stalking and is currently held in the Kent County Jail.

Sadly, there are more people like Malone still employed at assisted living facilities around the state. Their method of abuse leaves victims with emotional scars instead of physical scars. With no visible injuries, it is difficult to prove any abuse has taken place, especially if the aggressor uses scare-tactics to keep the victim silent.

This is why it is paramount for victims of elder abuse to speak up immediately. Family and friends also need to be vigilant when visiting the elder in a nursing home. Your family deserves aggressive representation to ensure your loved ones' rights are protected. No citizen deserves that kind of neglect or harmful treatment.

If you suspect a care facility or in-home care service has acted negligently, you need to contact attorney Dan Williams immediately. As a former Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for Wayne County in the Elder Abuse Unit, and a current elder abuse attorney for Fausone Bohn LLP, he has vast expertise handling these types of cases. He will fight to ensure that all involved in the matter are held accountable, and is prepared to go to trial if need be.

Give us a call today for a consultation on your case. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Bikes for Vets Helps 8 Veterans at Event

On July 1st, eight more vets were equipped with brand new bikes, thanks to Bikes for Vets, Qauligence, and D&D Bikes and Hockey. With the money raised by Qauligence, D&D Bikes and Hockey was able to purchase a bike, mesh backpack, helmet, lock, and kickstand for each veteran.

The crowd of around 40 people gathered for the presentation included state politicians, private contributors, and community leaders. The room was filled with smiles, laughter, and excitement as each veteran explained what he/she planned to use the bike for. Many vets were eager to exercise daily to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Others were relieved that they finally had a reliable method of transportation for work and school. One such veteran, Demien DeYonte, plans to go to school to become a prosthetics manufacturer so he can provide prosthetic limbs to fellow servicemen and women that were wounded while in service.

Bill Mowder, the director of the program, is ready to take the next step in building Bikes for Vets. While 15 donated bikes is great, he plans to reach every veteran in need statewide. He is not concerned with creating a national brand nor making money. Instead, as long as a veteran was made better-off by the program, then his job was done.


DWSD Water Master Plan to Reduce Costs

At a special joint meeting Wednesday, July 8, officials with the Great Lakes Water Authority – the new regional water authority – and the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department received an update on the Detroit water department’s master plan.

The five-year master plan is projected to save the city about $40 million annually in operating costs. These savings would come from closing operations at one of five water treatment plants, and scaling back energy costs and implementing similar changes designed to accommodate declining water sales.

Jim Fausone, Fausone Bohn partner and chairman of the DWSD Board of Water Commissioners, says a primary benefit of the plan is helping leaders in Detroit and the suburbs avoid future water rate hikes. Jim was quoted in the Detroit Free Press Wednesday saying, “The best we can do is drive out of the cost structure any excessive costs. That’s part of what the water master plan does.” Jim says it is reasonable to expect the DWSD board to take up the master plan in September. 

Bikes for Vets Program: Cruising on the Path of Success

Unemployment continues to be one of the biggest struggles veterans face after exiting the military. Whether it’s due to emotional distress, physical injury, or financial hardship, many veterans are unable to land a job. Making matters worse, there are far too few programs that veterans can look to for help.

Fortunately, one Metro Detroiter’s has a simple, yet genius, answer to this problem: “Give them a bike”. It may not sound like much, but Bikes for Vets is the real-deal. It eliminates the one of the largest barriers to employment, transportation. The cost of maintaining and insuring a car is very high in Michigan. If a person cannot afford a car, they have no way of getting to work unless he/she relies on someone else for a ride. When you are dependent on someone else to get you to work, there are always scheduling conflicts that will force you to be late or miss work.

Bikes for Vets aims to solve this money and dependency issue. By providing a vet virtually free transportation, they can arrive to work on a consistent basis. Add this to the large public bus systems of Metro Detroit, and you can provide people with a fast, reliable, rock-bottom priced method of transportation.

Bill Mowder, the creator of the Bikes for Vets program, said the idea suddenly hit him one day as he was watching a person load his bike on to the front of a public bus. As an Americorps Navigator, he is assisting veterans every single day. Yet, he thought there was more to be done, particularly with finding them transportation.

Traditional transportation assistance involves helping veterans with car expenses, but as we know, this can be expensive. For example, for a veteran to get assistance on a car repair he must get two certified estimates and verification of car insurance. Most veterans cannot even afford the mechanic inspections, let alone car insurance payments. On average, the cost of inspection, parts, and service totals to about $900.00.

The Bikes for Vets solution, on the other hand, is cost-effective and easy. Bill found that most people in the Metro Detroit area live within 10 miles of where they work. In addition to this, public busing systems are available in most areas and all Metro Detroit buses are fitted with a bike rack. These circumstances allow for biking to be a realistic option of transportation.

With the help of the local store D&D Bicycles and Hockey, he was able to purchase a reliable bike at an affordable price. At $437.00, a veteran receives a bike, helmet, kickstand, rack, and bike lock so they are ready to hit the road the next day. D&D Bicycles and Hockey has several locations around the Metro Detroit area including Northville and Westland.
The program’s first four participants gave rave reviews of the concept, namely the health and work benefits. One man was able to arrive to work on-time consistently and finally get 40 hours a week. A woman reported her 22 mile-a-day ride allowed her to lose 7 pounds in just a week of work.

Besides the obvious physical health benefits, veterans also reported better mental health from participating in Bikes for Vets. By avoiding car payments and maintenance, their stress levels are significantly reduced. This saved money allows them to pay their bills, building their self-esteem.

Since the first test of concept, he has given bikes to 15 veterans thus far. Private donations have allowed this program to flourish. Bill expects that as awareness increases, the program will quickly spread statewide, and hopefully throughout the country.

If you would like to contribute to this worthy cause, please contact Bill at

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Dementia, Alzheimer's Puts Seniors in Financial Danger

Daniel Williams, Esq.

As people age, they are increasingly at risk to develop cognitive impairments or suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s. Recent studies have estimated around 11% of Americans aged 65 or older have Alzheimer’s. As those diseases progress, the person suffering from them loses the ability to do daily tasks and to care for their financial needs. 

When those persons begin to exhibit problematic financial behavior, it may be a sign that they are in need of either someone to take power of attorney or to have a guardianship and conservatorship in place to allow someone else to look after those everyday needs.

While those processes are important and necessary, there is also the possibility of exploitation as well. Since Americans over the age of 50 control over 70% the nation’s wealth, they are a highly-valued target for scammers. The common fear for persons suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is that they are susceptible to phone scammers and home-visits from strangers who use phony stories of tragedy and empty-promises to swindle victims.

While these predators will continue to be a cause of concern as the technology boom creates new opportunities for exploitation, they are not the only ones we should worry about. There is another set of individuals whose familiar face and established relationship allow them to operate undetected.

This group, of course, is the family members of the victims. In some instances, it is the person holding power of attorney, or who has been appointed guardian and conservator who tries to take advantage of their elderly, and disabled family member.  According to the National Council on Aging, in elder abuse cases with known perpetrators, 90% are family members.

The amount of abuse and exploitation done by family members to an elderly or disabled person is substantial and is terribly underreported. A conservative estimate places the total financial loss due to theft/deceit enabled by a trusting relationship at $6.6 Billion per year. If all abuse was uncovered, this amount would be significantly higher.

Many times, even when the abuse is discovered, there is a lack of desire to use the court process, in all of its forms, criminal, civil and probate, to try and recover the lost assets and to enforce criminal sanctions for the conduct. It is estimated that for every one case of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation, about 5 more go unreported. The simple fact is, there is no reason that anyone, including a family member, can simply be left to take care of another person without being watched.

There are pros and cons to both Powers of Attorney and guardianships and conservatorships.  However, it is important that more than one person keep an eye on how the persons in those capacities are handling mom and dad’s money, once they are unable to do it for themselves any longer.

There are criminal and civil remedies that can be implemented to try and recover and punish persons who exploit the elderly.  As a former Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor, I was assigned to the Elder Abuse Unit and saw more than my share of financial exploitation cases.  Most of the Defendants that I dealt with in that arena were family members, or persons that the victim trusted.  While there are criminal charges that can be levied against the offenders, there are also civil remedies as well, which provide an avenue by which the aggrieved elder can be made whole and obtain a money judgment to hopefully have their finances restored.

If you suspect that a family member has been the victim of elder abuse or financial exploitation, the attorneys at Fausone Bohn, LLP have the experience and knowledge to ensure that justice can be obtained on your behalf.

Monday, June 29, 2015

How Dark is "Dark Money"?

Dark money, money used by lobbyists to skew elections in their favor has begun to sweep the United States elections. The New York Times stated that this past November the “Senate was elected on the greatest wave of secret, special interest money ever raised in a congressional election”.

Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, is a long-time advocate of unlimited campaign spending. His own campaign received about $23 million in unlimited spending from independent groups this past November.

It seems that Michigan is one of the biggest players in the dark money saga, if not the biggest. Director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network Rich Robinson called Michigan the “dark money capital of the world”.

In the 2014 election cycle, Michigan’s top 150 PACs raised $68 million. $3 million of this record amount was used in independent expenditures to influence the November 2014 election.

These instances are not outliers, but a trend. State lobbyists’ spending was over $37 million in 2014, a 4.1% rise from 2013. Politicians are calling what we saw in 2014 a “dress rehearsal” for what is to come in 2016. The matter-of-fact is dark money is more relevant than ever in the United States.

Michigan has passed the Michigan Campaign Finance Act. Through this act, corporations both for-profit and non-profit alike, can establish a Separate Segregated Fund (SSF). A SSF allows a business or nonprofit to survey which candidates will advocate for their policy stances, and also give them a chance to educate candidates on their issues.

A SSF allows you to avoid having to spend money on lobbyists and thus losing control of the candidates in which your money goes to. For anyone looking for a way to assist a political candidate, while avoiding the phenomenon of dark money, an SSF is the way to go.

Paul Bohn of Fausone Bohn, LLP specializes in the areas of environmental, real estate & land use, and municipal law. He also advises clients, including those running for elected office, on the establishment of SSFs and their compliance requirements. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Medicare Fraud Sweep leads to Sixteen Arrests in the Metro Detroit Area

In the event that anyone needed more evidence that the Federal and State government is taking a serious look at persons who are out to take advantage of the Medicare System by exploiting the elderly and vulnerable, the recent arrests in the Metro Area are significant evidence of that proposition. The wide-sweeping arrests that were reported here, also show an increasing trend; namely, that there are those who are seeking to take financial advantage of the elderly and those who are vulnerable and sick.

Unfortunately, the news in this case is only a symptom of a greater problem. There are a lot of individuals who are looking to take advantage of the elderly and vulnerable, and who will try and exploit them financially, either by improperly subjecting them to medical treatment they do not need to try and obtain money from the government illegally, or by simply going into the eider's pocket book and getting ahold of their funds. Many times, it is the persons that the vulnerable trust most that take advantage of their situation; their children, their families, their doctors and their friends.

Sadly, the reports of arrest are not novel, and these are not likely to be the last. Hopefully, with arrests in cases like this, particularly where the thefts are connected with the financial exploitation of those who are most vulnerable, families and law enforcement will become more alert and sensitive to this type of activity, and become more likely to prosecute it, either criminally, or through civil actions.

Monday, June 22, 2015

How Aquaculture can be a Positive for Michigan and the Great Lakes Region

Paul Bohn, Esq.

At the start of the month, a scientific advisory panel was commissioned by State agencies to revisit the issue of commercial net-pen aquaculture in the Great Lakes. This panel of environmental experts will objectively evaluate proposals to allow commercial net-pen aquaculture and present the results to the DNR, DEQ, and MDARD by October.

The hope of this panel is to understand what to expect if such aquaculture was to begin, as well as how to prevent or mitigate the negative impacts these fish-farms would have if we were to allow them in Michigan waters.

Net-pen aquaculture refers to the offshore floating enclosures used to cultivate large numbers of fish. Currently, it is only practiced in the Ontario waters of Lake Huron. It remains unpopular off the Michigan coasts because of the potential environmental impacts it could bring.

Personally, I support the allowance of net-pen agriculture in our waters, IF they are managed properly. The United Nations estimates that nearly ¼ of the protein in human diets comes from seafood, and 21% of the world consumption of seafood comes from aquaculture. With the expected global population increases, this provides a unique and profitable opportunity for our State. This new Michigan industry could bring much-needed capital to the state, create new jobs, and have various spin-off benefits.

Sounds good right? Only if these fisheries are properly maintained. If not, the unintended consequences could destroy the Great Lakes ecosystem and the surrounding economies. Previous studies on the net-pens of Ontario, poor management of the facilities led to elevated phosphorus levels, reduced water transparency, algal blooms, and dissolved oxygen depletion. All of which significantly endanger the sea-life in the Lakes and hurt industries that rely on the Great Lakes and its inhabitants.

Another problem is the potential of the farmed species escaping into the open waters. A recent study simulated a jail-break of Rainbow Trout in Lake Huron and monitored their survival rates. These domesticated fish were able to assimilate into the wild easier than expected. The introduction of a new population of fish could have a negative cascading effect in the ecosystem and result in the extinction of native species.

Even with these risks present, I believe they can be easily avoided with smart planning and management of the facilities. Examples include: assessing the carrying capacity of potential sites, adequate monitoring of the site, allocation of waste loading, and using highly digestible diets which are less polluting and contain less phosphorus.

Our State was blessed with a precious and abundant source of freshwater. We should take advantage of this opportunity to grow local industries, feed the growing population, and above all, utilize current technology to ensure the safety of our Great Lakes.

Follow this link to see a earlier report on the environmental impacts of Great Lakes Aquaculture:

Monday, June 15, 2015

Discovery of Abuse, Neglect, and Irresponsibility, in Adult Foster Care Facilities

On Tuesday, May 19th, a state audit on The Adult Foster Care and Homes for the Aged Licensing Division revealed the agency’s disturbing misconduct and improper treatment of patients. The findings of the audit are based on a random sample of state-licensed adult foster care facilities around the state.

The summary of the audit first highlights how the agency failed to report 25% of patient neglect and abuse complaints to the Adult Protective Services (APS) from 2010-2014. Their justification for not doing so is that staff members use subjective interpretations of the facts in each case, so often a staff member of the licensing division will dismiss a case simply because he or she did not think it warranted a referral to the APS.

If by chance a staff member deemed a case worthy of reporting, there was no guarantee that it would be handled in a timely fashion. In a sample of 76 complaint investigations, 33% were not completed within the required time frame. The victims of neglect and/or abuse are often not treated with enough respect to have prompt and thorough evaluations of their cases.

The audit also found that 6 of the 44 randomly selected state-licensed facilities were not administering background checks before hiring potential employees. Current state law prohibits these facilities from hiring of individuals with felony convictions for abuse, neglect, cruelty, torture, criminal sexual conduct, prescription drug diversion, or felonious use of a dangerous weapon. Yet, several of the facilities failed to screen their employees for such convictions. In fact, at least one employee was convicted of one of these felonies and still was able to stay employed for over 2 years.

Just as complaint investigations were not completed with urgency, employee background checks took an average of 217 days (around 7 months) after hire in 5 of the facilities. The sluggishness of background check procedures endangers both the patients and employees of the facilities.

Although a majority of state-licensed adult foster care facilities do not exhibit these problems, you need to have an experienced Elder Abuse attorney on your side in case you fall victim to neglect or abuse. At Fausone Bohn, LLP, our elder law attorneys will fight to right this wrong and are prepared to go to trial if that is what your case requires. Give us a call today for a consultation on your case.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

EPA, US Army Finally Enact the Clean Water Rule

As of May 27th, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S Army finalized the Clean Water Rule, at last bringing clarity to identification and enforcement of protected waters under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The EPA and Army hope that the new rule will be more effective in providing clean water to Americans.

The new rule has four notable characteristics. First, it provides a clear definition of tributaries that warrant protection. A qualified body of water will have physical features of flowing water (a bed, bank, and ordinary high water mark). Second, it sets physical and measurable boundaries to protect waters that are next to, or near, rivers and lakes. Third, it excludes ditches that are not constructed in streams and/or flow only when it rains. Fourth, it significantly limits the use of costly case-specific analysis by providing clear and measurable qualifications to determine if a body of water deserves protection.

It’s about time the EPA and the Army instituted this rule. For over 10 years, they have received pleas for clarity on protections under the CWA from federal, state, and local officials. Prior to the changes, determining whether or not a water-body should be protected required businesses and government agencies to spend large amounts of their time and money. After more than 400 meetings across the country, the EPA and Army were finally able to furnish a rule that clears up the confusion, in addition to increasing the efficiency of determining protection.

There have been negative reactions to the new rule, though. The Michigan Farm Bureau in particular are weary of this added federal oversight and fear that their current use of water sources on their property may now be considered a violation of the CWA.

The Clean Water Rule will not have an immediate effect on the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), as Michigan is one of two states that has authority of its water programs. The EPA is allowing time for state-level agencies like the DEQ to modify their current programs and policies.

For states that have not assumed authority of their water programs, the Clean Water Rule will take effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Can making threats on social media land you in jail?

On June 1st, the US Supreme Court addressed the criminality of violent statements on the internet in its decision in Elonis v. US. The majority opinion left more questions than it answered by simultaneously dismissing the lower Court’s conviction of Elonis and not establishing a clear set of requirements needed to satisfy a conviction.

Anthony Elonis, of Pennsylvania, was initially convicted for making violent Facebook posts including death threats to his wife, thoughts of shooting up an elementary school, and his murderous fantasies about an FBI agent. These statements were published on his 
Facebook page after his wife and two children left him. Elonis’s argument that his words were fictitious song lyrics and his decision to post them was meant as therapeutic response to his anger.

The trial judge ruled that a “reasonable person” standard was sufficient for conviction, under which a reasonable person would interpret the posts as a serious threat to inflict harm on another person.

The U.S Court of Appeals in Philadelphia agreed with this decision, adding that his subjective intent was irrelevant. In other words, it didn’t matter if Elonis meant for his posts to be a joke or a form of therapy.

The US Supreme Court reversed these earlier decisions that based the conviction solely on how the message is received. The opinion was limited in clarity, only telling us what the law is not.

It is not against the law to make statements on social media that others may perceive as threats. Therefore, the “reasonable person” standard was not sufficient for a conviction. The Justices agreed that additional criteria needed to be met for a conviction, but did not set-forth any standard of what that should be.

The bottom-line is that the criminality of threats on social media remains in question. If you find yourself facing criminal charges, including making a violent statement online, you need to contact Fausone Bohn LLP immediately. The sooner you retain us, the sooner we can start working for you. We understand the Michigan criminal justice system and can make the difference between conviction and keeping your freedom. Visit our contact page for more information:

Follow this link to see the full article:

Monday, June 1, 2015

Reminder: Changes to Michigan FOIA Law Coming Next Month

New FOIA legislation passed last December in Michigan will take effect next month on July 1, 2015 (PA 563 of 2014). At this point, municipalities should begin finalizing their preparations for these significant changes, which relate to how they charge for responses to Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests now.

While the changes are meant to shed some sunlight on government and increase transparency, the FOIA amendments place many requirements on public bodies.

The changes require local governments to establish specific written procedures and guidelines for FOIA requests, including a separate written summary informing the public on how to submit FOIA requests, how to understand the responses to FOIA requests, deposit requirements, fee calculations, and avenues for challenging and appealing a potential denial of a request.

It is important to note that these written guidelines must be in place in order for a public body to collect deposits and charge fees allowable under FOIA.

Most municipalities now have websites, and it is required to post the procedures, guidelines, and written summary on the website. In addition, it is required to provide free copies of the procedures, guidelines, and written summary upon request, and to include a free copy, or a website link to the policies, in all FOIA responses.

The procedures and guidelines must include a standard form to detail the itemization of any fee the municipality estimates or charges under FOIA. The itemization must clearly list and explain each of the six fee components authorized under the new legislation. These six components include:

(1) the costs of labor to locate or examine the records, (2) to separate or delete nonexempt information, and (3) to make copies or transfer digital records; (4) the cost of computer discs or tapes, or other digital media, if public records were provided on non-paper physical media; (5) the cost of duplication or publication, if paper copies were provided; and (6) the cost of postage.

There are a bevy of other changes included in the amendments, including a 10-cent ceiling on charges for paper copies of public records. Municipalities may also provide public information on the website, and, instead of providing paper copies (unless requested) they can direct a FOIA requestor to that specific website link.

One of the more notable amendments relate to the significant increase in penalties for public bodies violating or failing to comply with the act. Fines that previously ranged from $500 to $2,500 have now increased to $1,000 to $7,500.

Luckily, some municipalities already have some of these new requirements in place. However, now is the time to translate those practices into written guidelines for the public, in addition to other house-keeping items to come into full compliance with the FOIA amendment by July 1.

This blog is meant only as a brief summary of what is a policy-wonk piece of legislation. Fausone Bohn, LLP attorneys work with several municipalities across southeast Michigan and western Wayne County. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for consultation.