Schuette Encourages Michigan Residents to Register for Consumer Education Programs
The Department of Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division offers a variety of seminars focused on keeping Michigan consumers safe and up-to-date on the tricks criminals are using to steal from consumers.
Programs on the following topics are available: Investment Fraud, Identity Theft, Online Safety, Home Repair and Improvement, Phone, Mail and e-Scams and In-Home Care and Senior Residences. The details of each event as well as an event calendar are listed on the Department of Attorney General website. All events are free and open to the public. To attend residents are asked to contact the venue to RSVP prior to the seminar. You can also request a Consumer Protection Education Presentation in your community by submitting an online request form.
To register your site for a presentation please complete the online registration form.
- Schuette Convicts Saginaw Doctor who Made False Medicaid Claims for Payment
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced that Dr. Chidozie Ononuju, 57, of Saginaw, was sentenced on three felony counts of Medicaid Fraud-False Claim, for fraudulent Medicaid billings. As a result of repaying over $400,000 for his theft, Ononuju was sentenced to five years probation.
“This case helps send the message that we are watching the Medicaid program and will punish those who treat it as a cash cow rather than a healthcare safety net for some of Michiagn’s most in need,” said Schuette.
Ononuju was sentenced in Ingham County Circuit Court before the Honorable Rosemarie Aquilina. The judge also withheld return of his passport until further order of the court.
He pleaded guilty as charged to three counts of Medicaid Fraud-False Claim on October 27, 2016, in the 54-B District Court in Lansing before the Honorable Richard D. Ball. Each count is punishable by up to 4 years in prison and/or $50,000.00.
As part of his guilty plea, Ononuju agreed to pay $407,340.12 restitution to the Medicaid program, which he did at today’s sentencing. Ononuju also voluntarily relinquished his DEA license which allowed him to write prescriptions for controlled substances.
The Attorney General’s Health Care Fraud Division first received a complaint alleging that Ononuju, a doctor of osteopathic medicine, was filing fraudulent claims with the Medicaid program from 2010- 2015.
As a result of the investigation it was discovered that Ononuju was engaged in a pattern of fraudulent billings to Medicaid at his two clinics in Saginaw, Michigan.
The most common schemes involved:
- Submitting claims for unnecessary pregnancy tests (for female patients who had prior hysterectomies or male patients);
- Requiring drug screens for all patients at all visits (in violation of Medicaid policy);
- Billing for preventive medicine visits in conjunction with other visits on the same date of service (in violation of Medicaid policy and medical coding instructions); and
- Billing for Behavior Change Intervention visits (i.e. intensive smoking and tobacco use cessation counseling visit) where neither the patient charts nor patient interviews warranted such a claim.
- Schuette Statement on Victory in Michigan Court of Appeals Ruling
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today issued the following statement after his victory in the Michigan Court of Appeals in which the Court said Green Party candidate Jill Stein's frivolous request for a statewide presidential recount must be rejected by the Michigan Board of Canvassers:
"I’m grateful, and I know Michigan taxpayers agree, that the Michigan Court of Appeals has adhered to the rule of law, and clarity in our Michigan statute in agreeing that Jill Stein is not an aggrieved candidate and the recount must stop."
- Schuette Statement on Michigan Court of Appeals Granting a Hearing on Recount
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today issued the following statement after the Michigan Court of Appeals granted a Tuesday, December 6th hearing on Schuette's lawsuit against former Green Party candidate Jill Stein's frivolous request for a statewide presidential recount:
"I am pleased the Michigan Court of Appeals has chosen to take up the issue of the frivolous recount being demanded by Jill Stein. Her insistence on a recount despite only getting 1% of the vote has created chaos for our county clerks and will cost Michigan taxpayers millions of dollars. I am asking the Court of Appeals to rule on the side of Michigan voters and end this frivolous recount."
- Schuette Sues to Stop Frivolous, Expensive Stein Recount Request
Attorney General says Stein, with no chance of winning a recount, is attempting to abuse state law and will force Michigan taxpayers to pay millions of dollars in a game that puts their votes at risk of being excluded from the Electoral College
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced he has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the People of the State of Michigan to stop a frivolous request by Green Party candidate Jill Stein to recount the entire state’s Presidential election results by hand, a request that will cost Michigan taxpayers millions of dollars and threatens to silence all Michigan votes for President.
“Michigan voters rejected Stein’s candidacy by massive margins but her refusal to accept that state-verified result poses an expensive and risky threat to hard-working taxpayers and abuses the intent of Michigan law,” said Schuette. “We have asked the court to end the recount which Stein is pursuing in violation of Michigan laws that protect the integrity of our elections. It is inexcusable for Stein to put Michigan voters at risk of paying millions and potentially losing their voice in the Electoral College in the process.”
Schuette’s suit, filed in his constitutional role of representing the People of the State of Michigan, asks the Michigan Court of Appeals to order the Michigan Board of Canvassers to reject Stein’s request for a statewide hand recount of the November 8, 2016 Presidential election because that request violates Michigan law. Schuette’s suit explains that the Michigan statute authorizing recounts requires the petitioning candidate to demonstrate that she was “aggrieved” by fraud or mistake in the counting of votes. Stein concedes that she has no evidence of fraud or mistake, and Stein has not been “aggrieved” in any sense of that word – she received only 1% of the nearly 4.8 million votes cast in Michigan and has no chance of winning.
Schuette also file an emergency motion with the Michigan Supreme Court asking to bypass the Court of Appeals for immediate consideration.
Schuette’s suit also explains that Stein’s demand for a recount will be at the expense of Michigan taxpayers—she will pay only $787,500 of a bill the Secretary of State estimates to be as much as $5 million—and risky as well, because the delay caused by a hand recount puts Michigan’s votes at risk of not being included when the United States Congress convenes on January 6, 2017 to count the states’ electoral votes.
To provide legal representation to elections officials in the Michigan Secretary of State’s office and also fulfill his separate constitutional role as the People’s Attorney in this case, Schuette has erected a conflict wall in his office, as has traditionally been done in the Department going back more than 40 years. While a select group of Department of Attorney General attorneys will be representing state elections officials in court, Schuette and his select legal team will represent the People of Michigan for the duration of this case, in issues specifically related to this case.
The case was filed Friday morning, December 2nd, and is entitled, Attorney General Bill Schuette on Behalf of the People of the State of Michigan v. Board of State Canvassers and Chris Thomas, Director of Elections. A copy of the Attorney General’s Complaint in the Michigan Court of Appeals, Motion for Bypass and for Immediate Consideration in the Michigan Supreme Court, and merits brief are available on the Attorney General’s website.
- Schuette Praises House, Senate Passage of Anti-Human Trafficking Bills
LANSING—Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today praised the Michigan House and Senate for the passage of three House sponsored bills that are designed to put human traffickers in jail for longer and help victims of trafficking.
“The primary role of government is to protect citizens from harm. The more cases of human trafficking we investigate and the more victims we discover, the more we realize just how damaging this horrific crime is, harming virtually every aspect of a victim's life,” said Schuette. “The passage of these house bills will better protect and help human trafficking victims heal which is incredibly important.”
The bills passed today were part of the legislative fight against human trafficking and now await the governor’s signature:
HB 5542, sponsored by Rep. Laura Cox, will make it easier for victims of human trafficking to expunge local ordinance prostitution violations resulting from human trafficking from their criminal record.
HB 5543, sponsored by Rep. Gary Howell, will allow expungement of local ordinance prostitution violations of juveniles convicted of human trafficking related crimes.
HB 5544, sponsored by Rep. Nancy Jenkins, will increase the penalty to 15 years for human trafficking involving commercial sex, also known as sex trafficking.
Background on Human Trafficking
Around the country, and right here in Michigan, children, women and men are forced into prostitution, domestic servitude and other labor for little or no pay, resulting from the use of force, fraud or coercion.
Demand for illegal activities, such as paid sex, fuels human trafficking, turning both children and adults into victims, permanently impacting the lives of those involved, their families and their loved ones.
Human trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery and it is the second-largest and fastest-growing criminal industry in the world.
Attorney General Schuette has made fighting this crime a priority by creating the first-ever human trafficking prosecution unit in his office and by helping create the Michigan Human Trafficking Commission.
Schuette has charged 12 people with crimes through his Human Trafficking Unit. Most recently, he charged Jonathan Colon, of New York, with running a multi-county human trafficking ring. Colon is accused of coercing these women into prostitution by getting them addicted to highly addictive drugs. Guilty convictions have been secured in the 11 other cases.
For more information, please visit the Attorney General’s human trafficking webpage.