AG

Top Story
  • Schuette Recognizes January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month

     

    Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is recognizing National Human Trafficking Awareness Day on January 11, 2017, and commemorating January's national designation as Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Month.

    Upon taking office in 2011, Schuette launched the state's first Human Trafficking Unit in the Attorney General's Office to prosecute human traffickers under state law. Visit Michigan.gov/HumanTrafficking to learn more about Schuette’s efforts to combat human trafficking in Michigan.

     

     



RECENT NEWS

Press Releases
Schuette Files Cease and Desist Against Breast Cancer Charity Who Claimed to Raise Money for Research Grants

LANSING - Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced a Notice of Intended Action and Cease and Desist Order against Breast Cancer Outreach Foundation, Inc., a Florida nonprofit corporation, for violating the Charitable Organizations and Solicitations Act. Violations included false solicitation and diversion of funds raised to other purposes. The foundation has been in operation since July 2014. 

In 2015, Breast Cancer Outreach Foundation (BCOF) raised $1,425,201, including $36,372 from the 2,003 paid pledges from Michigan residents. The organization solicited via both telephone and direct mail. The Foundation raised this money by telling donors that funds raised would be used for breast cancer research grants in support of a breast cancer vaccine. However, Breast Cancer Outreach Foundation did not use the funds raised for breast cancer research. During 2015, they made no grants, whether for breast cancer research or for any other purpose. (For the year prior, BCOF’s grants were de minimis: two grants totaling $1,212.) Instead, Breast Cancer Outreach Foundation used the money raised to pay its professional fundraisers ($1.3 million) and to pay its President’s salary ($75k).

“I won’t tolerate deceptive fundraising. If a charity tells you it’s raising money for a specific purpose, it must use the money raised for that purpose,” said Schuette. “Donors should also be on guard against these deceptive practices. Remember: research the charity before you give."

The Attorney General’s investigation into Breast Cancer Outreach Foundation stemmed from the department's 2016 investigation into professional fundraiser Corporations for Character, which resulted in a monetary settlement and a four-year ban on soliciting in Michigan. Breast Cancer Outreach Foundation used Corporations for Character for some of its fundraising, a fact which led the Attorney General to scrutinize the charity’s own fundraising practices.

The Notice of Intended Action alleges 14,542 violations, with maximum penalties of $10,000 per violation. It also orders Breast Cancer Outreach Foundation to cease and desist these violations and gives the Foundation twenty-one days to resolve the matter or face a civil action in court. Concurrent with the Notice of Intended Action, the Attorney General is also issuing Breast Cancer Outreach Foundation a Notice of Intent to Deny its charitable solicitations registration.

Breast Cancer Outreach Foundation’s President, Neil G. Paulson, Sr., is also the President of another charitable organization, Help the Vets, Inc., that solicits in Michigan. The two charities resemble each other in their shared executive (Neil G. Paulson, Sr.), large gift-in-kind programs accounting for the bulk of the charities’ activities, and deep reliance on expensive professional fundraisers. The Attorney General is also issuing a Notice of Intent to Deny registration to Help the Vets, Inc.

To assist individuals in making wise decisions regarding which charitable donations to support, Schuette established an online searchable database for charities. The Attorney General also publishes an annual professional fundraising charitable solicitation report. Through these resources, users have access to information to aid them in determining which charities are worth supporting—and which are not. The Attorney General's Charitable Trust Section is also available at (517) 373-1152 to answer inquiries about a charity.

###

 

Schuette: Former Michigan State Police Trooper Seth Swanson Pleads Guilty To Embezzlement for Pocketing Over $170,000 in Salvage Vehicle Inspection Fees

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced that former Michigan State Police Trooper Seth Swanson, 31, of Royal Oak, pleaded guilty as charged to one felony count of Embezzlement by a Public Official and one felony count of Utter and Publishing False Secretary of State documents allowing issuance of good motor vehicle titles. The case arose from a joint investigation by the Michigan State Police, the FBI Detroit-Area Public Corruption Task Force, and the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Unit.

Swanson plead guilty on Tuesday January 17, 2017 before Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Wendy Potts.

Swanson is scheduled to be sentenced on February 28, 2017 at 8:30 a.m. before Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Wendy Potts.

“Police officers are entrusted with upholding the law so it is especially disappointing when they are the ones that break it,” said Schuette. “This former is officer is now seeing the consequences of his illegal actions. I want to thank the Michigan State Police and FBI’s Detroit Area Public Corruption Task Force for their hard work on this investigation."

Case Background

Between August 2014 and December 2015, Swanson falsified Michigan Secretary of State forms required for clean title and personally pocketed the cash fee instead of paying it over to the Michigan State Police. Michigan law earmarks a portion of this fee to fight auto thefts. Detecting stolen autos and auto parts is one of the purposes of the inspections that then-Trooper Swanson was responsible to do.

Swanson conducted 1,701 salvage vehicle inspections over a span of a year and a half, pocketing over $170,000.00, while forging the necessary Secretary of State document for each. The form, once completed and signed by a certified police officer, permitted the holder to obtain a good and valid State of Michigan motor vehicle title for the subject vehicle.

The former State Trooper had been a state-certified salvage vehicle inspector since 2011
Swanson used the fees he pocketed for personal purposes, including paying personal credit card debt, vacations, paying for multiple plastic surgeries, and for home improvements for himself and family.

Michigan Salvage Titles

A salvage title is issued for a vehicle that has become a "distressed vehicle.” A vehicle with a salvage title cannot be plated or used on public roads until it is recertified by a specially trained police officer and retitled.

The MSP and the Secretary of State will work together to ensure all vehicles involved in this case have a proper salvage vehicle inspection. This may involve directly contacting the registered owners of vehicles improperly inspected to arrange for a new inspection. The process of identifying affected vehicles is ongoing.

Mugshot of Swanson

###

Schuette Files Amicus Brief in Support of Blind Michigan Man who Sued the American Bar Association for Refusing to Allow a Waiver on the LSAT Exam

LANSING ­– Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in Angelo Binno v. The American Bar Association. The state of Ohio also joined onto the brief. This marks the third time Attorney General Schuette has signed on as amicus on behalf of the plaintiff in this case.

Binno, who is legally blind, filed his suit after the American Bar Association (ABA) refused to allow a waiver to exempt him from the logic games section of the LSAT exam which requires spatial reasoning and typically requires diagramming. Currently, the ABA does not allow waivers for blind and visually impaired students taking the LSAT exam. 

“Our country prides itself on offering equal opportunities to our citizens,” said Schuette. “The ABA is currently inhibiting blind and visually impaired individuals from getting a legal education simply because they cannot see. Mr. Binno is not letting the fact that he is blind hold him back and it is not right for the ABA to do so.”

Case Background

The ABA previously allowed law schools to waive the LSAT for the blind and visually impaired. The organization eliminated that waiver in 1997. Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein was the last person in the country to receive this waiver from the ABA. He graduated from Northwestern University School of Law.

The plaintiff in the case, Angelo Binno, 34, of West Bloomfield, has obtained a college degree from Wayne state University, speaks three languages and has held high level security clearance at the Department of Homeland Security.

Angelo Binno first sued the ABA in 2011, after he was rejected from three law schools due to his low scores on the LSAT. The low score was a reflection on Binno’s inability to complete the logic games section of the LSAT. The attorney general signed onto the case as amicus at that time and again when the case reached the 6th Circuit Court.

Binno filed a suit with the U.S. Supreme Court in December 2016 and the attorney general is once again signing onto the case as amicus.

“This man like many other visually impaired individuals is highly qualified for law school as his previous education and employment showcases,” said Schuette. “I filed this brief to help ensure that Angelo and any other visually impaired individuals in the future have a fair playing field to pursue their educational goals.”

###

Schuette Charges 10 in Lansing-Area Opioid Drug Ring

LANSING ­– Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced felony charges against 10 Lansing-area residents for their alleged roles in an opioid prescription drug ring whose members presented forged prescriptions at several Mid-Michigan area pharmacies in order to obtain prescription pain pills and defraud the Michigan Medicaid Program. After filling the prescriptions, the drugs were then sold for cash or traded for other drugs

“When misused, prescription drugs can be every bit as dangerous as street drugs,” said Schuette.  “We will continue to aggressively pursue anyone involved in diverting prescription drugs outside the realm of legitimate medical treatment who are contributing to the scourge of opioid addiction to make money, at the detriment to those addicted and to our state as a whole.”

The charges were filed following an investigation completed by Schuette’s Health Care Fraud Division after a complaint was referred to them by the Tri-County Metro Narcotics Squad, a multi-jurisdictional drug enforcement team that serves Ingham, Clinton and Eaton Counties.

“I’d like to commend the Tri-County Metro Narcotics Squad for their significant role in developing this case,” added Schuette.

Case Background

The felony complaints filed by Schuette allege that defendants Bicego, Gutkowski, Fritz, Burkett, Lafferty, Roe, Loveall, Madden, Pell, and Vito engaged in a scheme to illegally obtain prescription medications by using fake prescriptions. 

Specifically, it is alleged Bicego unlawfully obtained a prescription pad from a Lansing-area doctor’s office where she had previously worked.  Prescriptions were then allegedly forged for the controlled opioid-based substances OxyContin, Norco, Percocet, as well as Adderall. 

The complaints allege Lafferty, Burkett, Roe, Fritz, Gutkowski, Pell, Vito, Madden, and Loveall took the fake prescriptions to several Lansing area pharmacies to obtain the pills.  The pills would then be handed over in exchange for cash or drugs.  Several of these allegedly false prescriptions were billed to Medicaid.

Schuette filed the following charges on January 9th against all defendants in the 54B District Court in Ingham County:

Jennifer Bicego, 30, of Lansing:

  • Five counts of Medicaid Fraud-Conspiracy, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 10 years or a fine of not more than $50,000.00 or both.
  • Six counts of Conspiracy to Commit Controlled Substance - Obtaining by Fraud, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years, or a fine of not more than $40,000.00 or both. 
  • Two counts of Controlled Substance -Obtaining by Fraud, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $30,000.00 or both.

Luke Gutkowski, 22, of Mason: 

  • One count of Conspiracy to Commit Controlled Substances-Obtaining by Fraud, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $40,000.00 or both.
  • One count of Controlled Substances-Obtaining by Fraud, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $30,000.00 or both. 

Dustin Fritz, 20, of Lansing:

  • One count of Conspiracy to Commit Controlled Substances-Obtaining by Fraud, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $40,000.00 or both.
  • One count of Controlled Substances-Obtaining by Fraud, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $30,000.00 or both.

Trisha Burkett, 20, of Mason: 

  • One count of Medicaid Fraud-Conspiracy, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 10 years or a fine of not more than $50,000.00 or both.
  • One count of Medicaid Fraud-False Claim, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $50,000.00 or both.
  • One count of Controlled Substances-Obtaining by Fraud, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $30,000.00 or both. 

Jona Lafferty, 20, of Vernon: 

  • One count of Medicaid Fraud-Conspiracy, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 10 years or a fine of not more than $50,000.00 or both.
  • One count of Medicaid Fraud-False Claim, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $50,000.00 or both.
  • One count of Controlled Substances-Obtaining by Fraud, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $30,000.00 or both. 

Lance Roe, 33, of Holt: 

  • One count of Medicaid Fraud-Conspiracy, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 10 years or a fine of not more than $50,000.00 or both.
  • One count of Medicaid Fraud-False Claim, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $50,000.00 or both.
  • One count of Controlled Substances-Obtaining by Fraud, contrary to MCL 333.7407(1)(c), a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $30,000.00 or both.
  • Roe will be charged as a Habitual Fourth Offender. 

Charles Loveall, 34, of Holt: 

  • Two counts of Medicaid Fraud-Conspiracy, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 10 years or a fine of not more than $50,000.00 or both.
  • One count of Medicaid Fraud-False Claim, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $50,000.00 or both.
  • Three counts of Conspiracy to Commit Controlled Substances-Obtaining by Fraud, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $40,000.00 or both.
  • Three counts of Controlled Substances-Obtaining by Fraud, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $30,000.00 or both. 

Brandon Madden, 32, of Charlotte: 

  • Two counts of Conspiracy to Commit Controlled Substances-Obtaining by Fraud, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $40,000.00 or both.
  • Two counts of Controlled Substances-Obtaining by Fraud, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $30,000.00 or both. 

Andrew Pell, 31, of East Lansing:

  • One count of Conspiracy to Commit Controlled Substances-Obtaining by Fraud, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $40,000.00 or both.
  • One count of Attempt to Commit Controlled Substances-Obtaining by Fraud, a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment of not more than two years, or up to one year in a county jail, or $1,000.00.
  • Pell will be charged as a Habitual Second Offender.

Rachel Vito, 27, of Lansing: 

  • One count of Medicaid Fraud-Conspiracy, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 10 years or a fine of not more than $50,000.00 or both.
  • One count of Medicaid Fraud-False Claim, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $50,000.00 or both.
  • One count of Controlled Substances-Obtaining by Fraud, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $30,000.00 or both.

Eight of the 10 defendants were arraigned Tuesday, January 10, 2017 before Judge Andrea Larkin in 54B District Court in East Lansing. A personal recognizance bond was set for seven of the defendants at $25,000. Defendant Bicego's bond was set at $50,000. Andrew Pell and Lance Roe were arraigned Wednesday, January 11, 2017 before Judge Richard Ball in 54B District Court in East Lansing. Bond for both was set at $25,000.  

Schuette's Health Care Fraud Division

The Attorney General Health Care Fraud Division exists to identify, prosecute, and prevent fraudulent activity by doctors, dentists, pharmacists, and other health care providers participating in the Medicaid program.  Taxpayer dollars provide health care to indigent patients and other recipients. It is vital that these dollars be effectively spent to help those in need.  Fraud affects everyone including the recipients of care, the taxpayers who pay for it, and the overwhelming majority of providers who conscientiously provide quality care.  Anyone aware of fraud in the Medicaid program is encouraged to report it to Attorney General Schuette’s Health Care Fraud Division by calling 800-24-ABUSE.

A criminal charge is merely an accusation and all defendants in this case are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.  

       From left to right-first row:  Bicego, Gutowski, Fritz, Burkett and Lafferty

       From left to right-bottom row:  Roe, Loveall, Madden, Pell and Vito.

Mugshot for Bicego JenniferMugshot for Gutkowski LukeMugshot for Fritz DustinMugshot of Burkett TrishaMugshot for Lafferty JoanMugshot Roe LanceMugshot for Loveall CharlesMugshot for Madden BrandonMugshot Pell Andrew2Mugshot of Vito Rachel

              

###

Schuette Recognizes National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day

LANSING ­– Following a difficult and challenging year for the law enforcement community, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today thanked and recognized Michigan’s law enforcement officers as part of National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.

“Our law enforcement officers occupy the fine line between good and evil, standing between us and those that wish to do harm to our families,” said Schuette. “The tragedies we saw this year in Michigan remind us in very plain language that our law enforcement officers face clear and growing dangers to keep us safe. When our police officers are at risk, we are all at risk.”

Schuette has called for an additional 1,000 law enforcement officers in Michigan to keep Michigan residents safe. The number of law enforcement officers in Michigan has dropped by 18% since 2001, falling from 22,500 to 18,500 officers.

Six Michigan Law Enforcement Officers Killed In The Line Of Duty In 2016

Law enforcement officer fatalities nationwide rose to their highest level in five years in 2016, with 135 officers killed in the line of duty. Six Michigan officers were killed in 2016, making Michigan the fifth deadliest state for law enforcement officers behind Texas (17), California (10), Louisiana (9) and Georgia (8).

Detroit Police Officer Myron Jarrett, 40, was killed in a hit-and-run accident during a routine traffic stop. He was an eight-year veteran of the Detroit Police Department and was a father of four.

Detroit Police Sgt. Kenneth Steil, 46, was shot in the shoulder area while pursuing a suspect who was believed to have already shot his father and been involved in carjackings.  He was a 20-year veteran of the department and is survived by his wife and two boys, ages 3 and 5.

Wayne State University Police Officer Collin Rose, 29, was shot in the head while investigating possible thefts of navigation systems from vehicles. Rose was engaged to be married. Rose's killer is still unknown and there is a $32,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the shooter.

Berrien County Bailiff Joseph Zangaro, 61, was head of security for the Berrien County Courthouse and was killed when a prisoner disarmed an officer and fired at bailiffs. Zangaro had worked in the Courthouse since May 2004.  Zangaro was a retired Michigan State Police First Lieutenant and is survived by his wife, two daughters and grandchildren as well as his mother, sister, and nephew.

Berrien County Bailiff Ronald Kienzle, 63, was a bailiff at the Berrien County Courthouse and was killed when a prisoner disarmed an officer while entering a courtroom and fired at bailiffs. Kienzle had been with the Berrien County trial court since April 2005 after retiring as a sergeant from the Benton Charter Township Police Department. He previously served in the United States Army. Kienzle is survived by his two daughters and grandchildren.

Branch County Deputy Mike Winter, 39, was a Branch County Deputy assigned to the sheriff’s posse who riding in the Quincy Memorial Day Parade when the horse bucked, causing Winter to fall to the ground, hitting his head. Winter had been a deputy with the sheriff's office and a member of the mounted patrol for five years and was a veteran of the United States Navy. Winter is survived by his wife and daughters.

###