Schuette Reminds Residents of Ways to File Consumer Complaints
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is reminding residents of the consumer complaint process. Complaints may be submitted three ways.
Online by filling out a Online Consumer Complaint/Inquiry
By mail to:
Consumer Protection Division
P.O. Box 30213
Lansing, MI 48909-7713
By fax: 517-241-3771
Before submitting a complaint, remember to check the Complaint Directory to ensure your complaint is filed correctly as to avoid unnecessary delays.
For detailed instructions on what to include when filing a complaint visit the Consumer Complaint Directory section of the website.
If you have any questions, please call the Consumer Protection Division Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM at 517-373-1140 or toll free 877-765-8388.
- Schuette Urges Legislature to Use $859,000 Settlement for Opioid Education, Addiction Prevention Programs
May 24, 2017
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today urged the Michigan Legislature to direct $859,120 in proceeds Michigan will receive as part of a $33 million dollar national settlement his office helped negotiate with a pharmaceutical company towards opioid addiction education and prevention efforts, as well as law enforcement opioid response training across the State of Michigan.
“One of the many ways we can help to slow the scourge of addiction is to stop it before it starts,” said Schuette. “In addition to medical treatment for those already struggling with addiction and various legal reforms, we should also expand public education programs aimed at reducing the amount of drugs available and educating the public about just how dangerous an opioid addiction is.”
In a letter to Michigan’s legislative leadership, Schuette explained that with an average of five Michigan residents dying every day from opioid overdoses, Michigan has been identified by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control as one of 19 states that has had a statistically significant increase in opioid-related deaths.
As a result, Schuette proposed that the legislature take a close look at using the nearly $1 million in settlement funds arriving next month in the state’s General Fund to enable the creation of state and/or local opioid awareness programs.
Schuette said in the letter that, “This pharmaceutical settlement, which came in response to problems with unrelated pharmaceutical products, can and should be used to help educate the public about the dangers of addiction before people get hooked, train citizens how to spot the signs of drug use by family members and friends, and learn how to properly dispose of unused opioids so they do not fall into the wrong hands. Such a program or programs could be conducted at the state level, for example, by creating a state opioids-focused informational website and other educational materials, or at the local level involving county health departments and schools.”
“Like you, I am fully committed to efforts to save Michigan lives from this tidal wave of addiction. Our entire state has been impacted from north to south and east to west because opioid addiction knows no social or economic barriers. It doesn’t care about race or gender and it claims young and old alike.”
Michigan Opioid Taskforce Called For Education Programs
Schuette was the Chair of the Regulation, Enforcement, and Policy Subcommittee for the Michigan Prescription Drug and Opioid Taskforce, which recommended a multi-faceted public awareness campaign be undertaken to inform the public of the dangers of abuse, how to safeguard and properly dispose of medicines, publicize improper prescribing practices, and reduce the stigma of addiction. The taskforce also recommended additional training for law enforcement in the area of recognizing and dealing with addiction for those officers who do not deal directly with narcotics regularly.
Michigan saw a more than 13% increase in opioid-related deaths from 2013-14 to 2014-15 and was one of 19 states identified by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control as having a statistically significant increase in opioid-related deaths.
Opioid drugs, including prescription painkillers and heroin, killed over 33,000 people in the United States in 2015, more than any year on record, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Michigan’s Automated Prescription System reported more than 21 million prescriptions for controlled substances written in 2014, an increase of roughly more than four million prescriptions since 2007.
Meanwhile, Michigan’s population fell from 10 million in 2007 to 9.9 million in 2014. Michigan ranks tenth nationally per capita for opioid-based prescriptions, and 18th for overdose deaths.
The $859,120 in settlement funds are a result of recalls in 2015 of Tylenol, Motrin, Benadryl, Rolaids and several other Johnson & Johnson products. While no direct injuries were reported, Johnson & Johnson’s McNeil subsidiary attempted to conceal manufacturing defects and failed to report the issues to the FDA.
Schuette, along with 42 other state attorneys general, reached a $33 million Consumer Settlement with Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. and Johnson & Johnson to resolve allegations they misrepresented the quality of certain over-the-counter (OTC) medications.
The settlement requires Johnson & Johnson’s McNeil to ensure that its marketing and promotional practices comply with the law in promoting their OTC drug products. Specifically, McNeil must comply with the following:
- The company cannot state that their OTC product facilities meet FDA guidelines for cGMP if McNeil has had a Class I or Class II Recall of OTC drug products within the previous twelve months.
- They must follow its internal standard operating policies regarding whether to open a Corrective Action/Preventive Action plan (CAPA) during the manufacture of an OTC drug; and
- Must provide information to participating attorneys general within sixty (60) days of a written request regarding the identity of wholesalers or warehouses to which any OTC drugs that were subject to a recall were distributed in their state.
Schuette encouraged the legislature to take advantage of the fact that unlike many state drug settlements, these funds are not tied to a restricted fund and will instead be sent to the state General Fund. Additionally, the terms of the settlement include increasing consumer protection as a proper use of the funds.
- Schuette Announces Multistate Settlement with Target Corporation Following 2013 Data Breach
May 23, 2017
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced that his Corporate Oversight Division – along with attorneys general of 46 other states and the District of Columbia – negotiated an $18.5 million settlement with the Target Corporation to resolve the states' investigation into the retail company's 2013 data breach. Michigan will receive $399,459.58 from the settlement.
“Keeping customers’ personal information safe must be a top priority for all retail companies,” said Schuette. “Target’s data breach broke some of the trust they had built with consumers and hopefully their willingness to change their security practices will restore faith in the company.”
The settlement represents the largest multistate data breach settlement achieved to date. The breach itself affected more than 41 million customer payment card accounts and contact information for 70 million customers.
As part of the settlement, Target is required to hire an independent, qualified third-party to conduct a comprehensive security assessment to ensure customer data is safeguarded. This settlement only applies to the participating state cases against Target not private lawsuits related to the Target data breach. Michigan’s portion of the settlement will go to the state General Fund.
Investigation and Settlement Details
The states' investigation found that, on or about November 12, 2013, personal data from millions of customers was stolen from Target stores. The cyber attackers accessed Target’s gateway server through credentials stolen from a third party vendor. The thieves loaded malware and accessed the data from Target’s point-of-sale systems. Target’s investigation into the incident revealed that personal information of 70 million customers, including name, addresses, phone numbers; email addresses, payment card numbers, expiration dates, CVV1 codes; and encrypted debit PINs were also stolen.
Michigan worked with 46 states and D.C. to investigate the breach. That multistate investigation identified numerous failures within Target’s system that may have led to the breach.
In addition to the monetary payment to the states, the settlement agreement requires Target to develop, implement and maintain a comprehensive information security program and to employ an executive or officer who is responsible for executing the plan.
The settlement further requires Target to maintain and support software on its network; to maintain appropriate encryption policies, particularly as pertains to cardholder and personal information data; to segment its cardholder data environment from the rest of its computer network; and to undertake steps to control access to its network, including implementing password rotation policies and two-factor authentication for certain accounts.
In addition to Michigan, the settlement includes Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia and the District of Columbia.
- Schuette Statement on New Law Protecting Human Trafficking Victims
May 23, 2017
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today issued the following statement regarding the signing of House Bill 4219 into law. PA 35 will allow human trafficking victims the opportunity to have their prostitution related charges diverted by the court.
"Victims of human trafficking are just that, victims. The crimes they committed while they were under the control of a trafficker were overwhelmingly done out of fear, force and coercion. I will continue to support legislation that gives human trafficking victims a chance at regaining a normal life which was so cruelly robbed from them."
- Schuette Charges Macomb County Insurance Agent with Embezzling over $800,000 from Southeast Michigan Seniors
May 22, 2017
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced his Corporate Oversight Division has filed charges against Paul Garceau, 51, of Grosse Pointe Park, that include Embezzlement and Conducting a Criminal Enterprise, for allegedly stealing money from unsuspecting seniors in a Ponzi scheme.
“These charges are a step toward justice for those who trusted Mr. Garceau with managing their money,” said Schuette. “Individuals who take advantage of their relationships and conspire to exploit the elderly for personal financial gain will face the consequences and it should serve as a reminder that this type of criminal activity will not be tolerated.”
Garceau, who operated the alleged scheme through his Harrison Township insurance agency, Apex Wealth Management, is now facing the following charges:
- One count of Conducting a Criminal Enterprise, a twenty-year felony
- One count of Embezzlement by an Agent $100,000 or more, a twenty-year felony
- Five counts of Embezzlement by an Agent $50,000 or more but less than $100,000, a fifteen-year felony
- One count of Embezzlement by an Agent of $20,000 or more but less than $50,000, a ten-year felony
Garceau was arraigned late afternoon on Friday, May 19, 2017 before Magistrate Daniel Goulette. Bond was set at $50,000 10% cash surety. His next court appearance will be May 31, 2017 in front of Judge Linda Davis.
“Garceau’s actions were illegal and unacceptable,” said DIFS Director Patrick McPharlin. "The staff of the Department of Insurance and Financial Services, together with the Department of Attorney General, did an outstanding job of uncovering these schemes that were targeting the elderly.”
Garceau had his Michigan insurance producer license revoked on February 16, 2016 by the Department of Insurance and Financial Services; Garceau’s company, Apex, also had its license revoked on that day. The Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) referred the case to Corporate Oversight in July of 2016.
An investigation began in October 2014, when Michigan State Police responded to an embezzlement and forgery complaint. A subsequent investigation by DIFS allegedly yielded more evidence of Garceau’s scheme. The charges were brought in Macomb County.
It is alleged that between January 2008 and January 2015, Garceau embezzled $800,918.00 of his clients’ funds without their knowledge or consent, many of whom were elderly. The 12 alleged victims live in Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne Counties.
Garceau allegedly convinced his victims to withdraw funds from legitimate investments, stating he would reinvest their funds in more lucrative opportunities with higher returns. Instead, Garceau allegedly deposited the funds into his company’s account, spending the money on himself or to further his alleged Ponzi scheme.
- Schuette: UP Man Sentenced to up to 30 Years in Prison for Running Large-Scale Cocaine Operation
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced Kenneth Brunke, 47, of Schoolcraft County, was sentenced to 225 to 360 months in prison. Brunke pleaded no contest to 3 felony counts related to the delivery of cocaine in March 2017.
“Mr. Brunke’s drug crimes were very serious and his sentence today reflects that,” said Schuette. “While no prison sentence will undo what happened in 2015, I hope this sentence provides some sense of closure to the local community and serves as a reminder that criminal activity comes with consequences.”
In February 2016, Schoolcraft County prosecuting Attorney Timothy Noble filed drug charges against Brunke based on evidence obtained during a 2015 triple homicide investigation involving Brunke. The Attorney General’s office was asked to assist with the drug case in May 2016. Brunke was sentenced last year in relation to that triple homicide that occurred at his home and is currently serving 40 to 60 months in prison.
Brunke pleaded no contest to one count of Controlled Substance – Delivery / Manufacture (cocaine) 1,000 or more grams; one count of Conspiracy Controlled Substance – Delivery / Manufacture (cocaine) 1,000 or more grams; and one count of Controlled Substance – Delivery / Manufacture less than 50 grams and was sentenced to 225 months to 360 months in prison as well as fines and costs totaling over $500,000.00 for the two counts of more than 1,000 grams. Brunke was sentenced to 752 days for the Delivery less than 50 grams count.
Brunke was sentenced on Thursday, May 18, 2017 by Judge William Carmody in Schoolcraft County Circuit Court. Brunke’s sentences will be served concurrently.
In the spring of 2015, a triple homicide was committed in Schoolcraft County. The bodies of the victims were discovered inside a victim’s car, which had been lit on fire. Kenneth Brunke was one of three suspects charged in relation to the murders.
Before the case reached trial, one of the suspects passed away. In exchange for testimony against the third and final suspect Gary Cordell, Brunke pleaded to one count of Lying to a Peace Officer and one count of Obstruction of Justice. Brunke was sentenced in 2016 to 32 to 40 months for the Lying to a Peace Officer count and 40 to 60 months for the Obstruction of Justice count in the Michigan Department of Corrections. Cordell pled guilty to three counts of First Degree Murder and is currently serving three non-parolable life sentences.