Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and Michigan State Police (MSP) Director Colonel Kriste Kibbey Etue announced the success of Michigan's student safety initiative, OK2SAY, in its first semester. Since the start of this school year, OK2SAY has already generated 410 confidential tips submitted by Michigan students. These tips included reports of bullying, suicide threats, and child abuse. "If even one child's life is saved by OK2SAY, this program will have been a success. OK2SAY has passed its first semester with flying colors," said Attorney General Bill Schuette.
Read more: http://1.usa.gov/17IFXOK
- Schuette Secures Racketeering, Bribery and Forgery Conviction of Former DPD Officer
January 30, 2015
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced that former Detroit Police Officer Tamboura Kenyatta Jackson, 41, of Clinton Township, was sentenced to serve up to 20 years in prison before Wayne County Circuit Judge Mark T. Slavens after being convicted of felony racketeering, forgery, and bribery charges by a Wayne County jury on December 23, 2014. The case originated from an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI)-led Detroit Area Public Corruption Task Force in collaboration with Schuette's Public Integrity Unit.
"Public officers who abuse the public's trust for personal gain greatly undermine the integrity of law enforcement," said Schuette. "Confidence in public safety is vital in Michigan's turnaround. I'd like to thank Chief Craig for his efforts to bring accountability to the force and the FBI for their assistance and hard work on this case."
"This department does not and will not tolerate such egregious acts by our members," said Chief James Craig. "We will cooperate with all law enforcement agencies to vigorously investigate any and all crimes of this nature. I would like to emphasize that the actions of this employee are not conducive to the vast majority of officers who serve the citizens of this city with the utmost level of integrity and dedication."
"Law enforcement officers who sell their services for criminal and fraudulent purposes breach their duty to protect and serve the public," stated Paul M. Abbate, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Detroit Field Office. "FBI Detroit, in concert with our partners on the Detroit Area Public Corruption Task Force and in the Michigan Attorney General's Public Integrity Unit, will continue to pursue those who breach the public trust for their own personal gain, and hold them accountable under the law for their actions."
Co-defendant Lisa Curtis, 35 of Macomb, previously pleaded guilty to bribing Jackson and testified against him.
Background on Tamboura Jackson Case
Beginning in 2009, Jackson took cash bribes in exchange for fraudulent police reports in an elaborate scheme concocted with co-defendant Lisa Curtis. Curtis told dozens of southeast Michigan clients she could improve their credit score through her Waterford-based company, Bright Star Consulting, LLC. In exchange for her credit improvement services, Curtis solicited a fee ranging from $200 to $1,000.
After Curtis collected the fees from consumers, Curtis and Jackson conducted a scheme to file false police reports claiming identity theft related to certain credit card transactions. Curtis provided Jackson her clients' information, including a fake identity theft story. Jackson then created and submitted false police reports, which were filed without the clients' knowledge or consent. Curtis would then pay Jackson bribes in the range of $50 to $200 for creating the false police reports. Under federal law credit reporting agencies must remove negative credit instances when they get a police report stating identity theft.
Jackson also used the scam to improve his own credit by creating a false police report signed by another officer, without the officer's knowledge or consent. Jackson accessed the Detroit Police Department's crime reporting system using the other officer's log-in information to file a false police report on his own behalf and had Curtis submit the claim to the credit reporting agency.
After Schuette filed charges against Jackson, the Detroit Police Department suspended him without pay and Jackson later resigned from the Detroit Police Department.
On October 22, 2014, Curtis pleaded guilty to Bribery of a Public Officer and was sentenced to two years of probation by Judge Mark Slavens in the Wayne County Circuit Court.
On January 30, 2015, Jackson was sentenced by Judge Slavens to immediately serve:
Racketeering (CCE) – two and a half to 20 years in prison; and,
Public Officer Accepting Bribes – eleven months to ten years in prison (concurrent with Racketeering); and,
Forgery – eleven months to fourteen years in prison (concurrent with Racketeering).
A.G. Schuette's Public Integrity Unit: Cleaning Up Public Corruption
Upon taking office in 2011, Attorney General Schuette launched a new Public Integrity Unit (PIU) in the Attorney General's office to accelerate the combat of corruption in state and local government, protect tax dollars, and restore the public's trust in government. The unit is a member of the multi-agency Detroit-area Public Corruption Task Force. Since its inception, Schuette's PIU has filed 303 charges against 61 individuals holding positions of public trust, including state and local government officials. To date, 45 defendants have been sentenced following their convictions on a total of 126 charges.
- Schuette Announces Charges Against State Employee for Fraud
January 29, 2015
LANSING – Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced that his Public Integrity Unit (PIU) has charged Werner Noll, 63, of Kalamazoo with fraud. Noll has been employed by the State of Michigan's Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) as an Elevator Inspector since 1998. These charges follow an investigation by Schuette's PIU and LARA into Noll's alleged golfing activity and use of a state vehicle for private use while on the state taxpayers' dime.
"At all levels of government, taxpayers deserve honesty and accountability from those who work on their behalf," said Schuette. "Scam artists who aim to take advantage of state resources will face justice."
"We thank Attorney General Schuette and his staff for working closely with our department to bring this individual to justice," said LARA Director Mike Zimmer. "We are committed to upholding the highest level of honesty and integrity for the citizens we serve."
Last August, a Kalamazoo news reporter uncovered possible fraud by Noll after allegedly observing Noll play golf several times during normal State of Michigan working hours. An Attorney General investigation revealed that Noll allegedly used state time for personal activities in 2012, 2013 and 2014 for a total of 84 days in question and a cost to taxpayers of more than $8,000. It's also alleged that Noll used a State of Michigan vehicle during these personal activities.
On January 29, 2015 in the City of Lansing's 54A District Court, Schuette filed three counts of False Pretenses, a felony, which carries a punishment of up to five years in prison, against Noll.
Schuette's Public Integrity Unit
On January 4, 2011, Attorney General Schuette created a new Public Integrity Unit (PIU) in the Attorney General's office to ratchet up the fight against corruption in state and local government, protect tax dollars and restore the public's trust in government. The Public Integrity Unit allows the office to put an increased focus on public corruption cases, a priority Schuette identified upon taking office.
Since taking office in 2011, Schuette's PIU has filed 303 charges against 61 individuals holding positions of public trust, including state and local government officials. To date, 45 defendants have been sentenced following their convictions on a total of 126 charges.
A criminal charge is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
- Schuette: Consumers Should Proceed with Extreme Caution on Pension Advances
January 27, 2015
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today issued a consumer alert through his Corporate Oversight Division cautioning consumers of the high risks associated with pension advances.
"Seniors who have worked hard through retirement deserve to know the high risks involved with pension advances," said Schuette. "I hope pensioners from across Michigan find our Consumer Alert helpful and do their due diligence to read the fine print before considering pension advances."
Pension advances, also known as pension sales, loans or buyouts, require you to sign over all or a portion of future monthly pension checks, typically for a five to ten-year term. In return, consumers receive a one-time lump sum payment from the pension advance company for an amount less than the total future pension payments signed over. Even if you don't have a pension, you may be approached to invest in funding someone else's pension advance while being promised that your investment is "guaranteed."
"Consumers always need to be vigilant about protecting themselves and their families when they consider any kind of loan, advance or investment," said Lisa Dedden Cooper, Manager of Advocacy for AARP Michigan.
What You Need to Know Before Getting a Pension Advance or Loan
Not all pension advances or loans are legal. There are Michigan laws that prohibit the assignment or sale of State or local pensions. There are also federal laws that either prohibit or restrict the assignment or sale of military, federal employee and private employee pensions. The way the pension advance is structured as well as the interest rate will determine its legality. Learn about the structure of the pension advance and determine if the advance is legal before agreeing to one.
Before you get a pension advance or loan, know how much you will actually be paying. To receive a lump sum, you will actually be receiving less, often much less, than the future sum of your pension payments. This is due to transaction costs, fees, and commissions of the pension advance salesperson. The APR for a pension advance typically ranges from 27% to 106% a year. Consumers need to find out how much pension income they are giving up to receive the lump sum payment.
Some advances require you to buy life insurance to name the company or the individual funding your advance as the beneficiary. In the case of your death, life insurance payments would be paid to the beneficiary to cover the balance owed. This specific requirement is yet another cost of a pension advance; be sure you take this into account when you are calculating the total cost.
You cannot repay a pension advance early. Repayments to the investor funding the advance depend on extracting your pension benefits for the full five to ten-year period you agreed to.
Know the potential tax implications. Consider the tax implications of a pension advance, determining if the lump sum payment will put you in a higher tax bracket.
Don't agree to a joint account and get all the details in writing. Make sure to never give a pension advance company or salesperson joint access to a bank account. Also, know exactly what you are signing up for and make sure you have everything in writing.
Less Costly Alternatives to Pension Advances
There are many less costly alternatives to receiving a loan that do not hinder your future pension payments. Consider a small loan from a bank or credit union, or from a licensed small loan company. Even a cash advance on a credit card may be cheaper than the 27% to 106% rate that a pension advance charges. If possible, talk to an independent financial advisor to look into alternatives and determine the impact of a pension advance on your future financial goals.
Investors - Be Aware of Hidden Risks, Fees and Fine Print from Salespeople
No investment is "guaranteed," and investing in someone else's pension advance carries numerous risks despite what a salesperson may tell you. Because of the increased risks of a pension advance investment, these salespeople may not disclose all the material facts of the investment. Ask them if the investment is properly registered and ask for company financial statements, a prospectus and other documents that disclose the risks of investing. Make sure the salesperson also discloses their own compensation for your investment, and how much he or she is keeping for commissions and fees. Check to see if the salesperson is registered to sell securities with state or federal regulators.
More Helpful Resources on Pension Advances
Read Schuette's full consumer alert, Pension Advances Are a Shaky Deal for Borrowers and Investors Alike by visiting the following link: http://1.usa.gov/1L30bCc. Additional information about pension advances is available from the Federal Trade Commission, "Pension Advances: Not So Fast". The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) also provides resources for pensioners.
How to File a Complaint with the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division
Complaints about an advance or loan on your pension, or about investing in someone else's pension advance or loan, may be made to the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division at:
Michigan Department of Attorney General
Consumer Protection Division
P.O. Box 30213
Lansing, MI 48909
Toll free: 877-765-8388
www.michigan.gov/ag (online complaint form)
Contact the LARA Corporations, Securities, and Commercial Licensing Bureau
Complaints about an investment in a pension advance loan may be made to the Enforcement Division of the Corporations, Securities and Commercial Licensing Bureau, Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs at:
Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
Corporations, Securities & Commercial Licensing Bureau
P.O. Box 30018, Lansing, MI 48909
- Schuette Secures Conviction of Oakland County Nursing Home Embezzler
January 27, 2015
LANSING – Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced his Healthcare Fraud Division secured the conviction of a former nursing home employee for her role in an embezzlement scheme from an Oakland County nursing home. Tina Binkley, 44, of Lapeer County, pleaded guilty to one count of Embezzlement from Vulnerable Adults ($100,000 or more), a felony punishable by 20 years in prison and/or a $50,000 fine or three times the value of the money or property involved, whichever is greater. As part of the plea, Binkley has agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $460,266.82 to 136 victims.
"Families deserve to know their precious loved ones in nursing homes are being cared for, not being exploited for personal financial gain," said Schuette. "I am happy to secure restitution for victims of this case so they and their families can begin to rebuild their lives."
Binkley pleaded guilty in connection with her scheme to embezzle more than $460,000 from approximately 136 residents of Boulevard Health Center (BHC), a Rochester Hills nursing home facility. The embezzlement scheme took place between May 2010 and April 2013 while Binkley was employed as the facility's business office manager.
Background on Binkley Case
BHC fired Binkley in April 2013 after she failed to follow standard financial reporting procedures. BHC self-reported major bookkeeping discrepancies to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). The accountant hired to examine their books more closely following Binkley's termination discovered several significant points of financial concern. LARA then referred the case to the Department of Attorney General for further investigation.
Schuette's charges alleged that between 2010 and 2013 Binkley used her position as the BHC business office manager to embezzle $460,266.82 from 136 residents at the facility. As business office manager, Binkley was authorized to access and manage funds in two separate accounts including: the BHC general account, where facility income was deposited and day-to-day facility expenses were paid; and the Resident Trust Fund (RTF) account, which contains funds presented to BHC by residents, deposited into the account and held until residents request funds for their incidentals.
Attorney General investigators analyzed BHC bank records which revealed a scheme to embezzle funds as Binkley transferred residents' overpayments for room and board from the general account into the RTF account and later made cash withdrawals from the RTF account for personal expenses.
Resident overpayments to the BHC sometimes occur because many residents pay out-of-pocket for room and board and skilled nursing care while waiting for Medicaid or other insurance to be approved. In this case, residents or their representatives were not advised of the switch to Medicaid or other insurance in a timely manner.
Binkley embezzled funds by directing subordinate employees to make cash withdrawals and turn the cash over to her. Investigation revealed the subordinates were unknowing accomplices in Binkley's alleged scheme. BHC has cooperated with the Attorney General at every stage of this process and there is no indication of any lingering concerns with the facility's books beyond the charges alleged against Binkley in this case.
Binkley is scheduled for sentencing on March 2, 2015 at 8:30 a.m. before Hon. Martha Anderson in the Oakland County Circuit Court. This amount was determined by a forensic audit that was conducted at the expense of the facility.
- Schuette Charges St. Clair County Man in Alleged Murder-For-Hire Scheme
January 22, 2015
LANSING – Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced that his Criminal Division has charged Michael Christopher Still, 28, of St. Clair County with solicitation of murder in Branch County and a further charge as a fourth habitual offender. The Attorney General’s Criminal Division will be handling the prosecution based on a request from the Branch County Prosecutor’s Office.
Still is currently being held at Ionia Correctional Facility on unrelated charges. The charges filed by Schuette follow an investigation by Schuette’s Criminal Division and the Michigan State Police.
“A murder-for-hire plot would have devastating consequences for the victim and the victim’s family,” said Schuette. “Thankfully, law enforcement was able to thwart this alleged plan before it could be carried out.”
On April 10, 2014, officials at Lakeland Correctional Facility intercepted a letter that was returned to Still as undeliverable. In the letter, Still allegedly attempted to solicit a former prison inmate to kill Still’s ex-girlfriend.
On January 21, 2015 in 3-A District Court, Schuette filed one count of Homicide – Solicitation of Murder, a felony, which carries a punishment of up to life in prison, against Michael Christopher Still. Schuette also filed notice to supplement Still as a fourth time habitual offender due to his prior criminal record.
A criminal charge is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.