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.
- Sean Phillips Sentenced 19 to 45 Years for Murder of Daughter "Baby Kate"
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced that Sean Phillips, 25, was sentenced to 19 to 45 years time in prison for the second-degree murder of his infant daughter Katherine Phillips, also known as “Baby Kate.”
“Not only was a little girl denied the opportunity to grow up, but her family was forever changed by this man’s actions,” said Schuette. “Those actions can never be undone, but my one hope is that today’s sentencing provides a small amount of peace in knowing that the person responsible is finally facing the consequences of their actions.”
Phillips was sentenced December 9, 2016 before Judge Peter Wadel in 79th District Court Court. He was convicted by a jury of second-degree murder on October 14, 2016, following a two- week trial.
The conviction followed a joint prosecution by the Attorney General’s office and Mason County Prosecutors Office and a multi-jurisdictional investigation by local, state and federal authorities.
"I'd like to thank Mason County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola, Chief Mark Barnett, Sheriff Kim Cole, the Michigan State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for providing their assistance in this trial and prior investigation," said Schuette.
Phillips was the last person to be seen with four-and-a-half-month-old Katherine Phillips on June 29, 2011. After an argument, Phillips took the infant from her mother’s home. For the next two hours he was unreachable and his whereabouts were unknown.
When Phillips resurfaced at his parents’ house, his daughter was gone. The clothes she had been wearing were found in the pocket of the cargo shorts Philips was wearing, while her empty car seat and diaper bag were found in the trunk of his vehicle.
His actions and statements following this led to a charge of unlawful imprisonment of the infant. Phillips was convicted of unlawful imprisonment in 2012 by Mason County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola, resulting in a 10-15 year prison sentence for Phillips. Since August 2012, Attorney General Schuette's Appellate Division has represented Mason County in opposing Sean Phillips' appeal of that conviction.
This evidence along with statements made while Phillips was serving his unlawful imprisonment sentence then led to the current murder charge.
Schuette and Spaniola filed one open murder charge against Phillips, of Scottville, on October 4, 2013, more than two years after Baby Kate went missing. The charge alleged that Sean Phillips murdered his daughter, Katherine 'Kate' Phillips on June 29, 2011. By definition, an Open Murder charge allows jurors to determine the level of the defendant's culpability.
He was found guilty by a jury of second-degree murder in October 2016.
Despite exhaustive efforts by law enforcement over the past five years, Baby Kate has never been found.
- Schuette Statement on Victory in Federal Court
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today issued the following statement after his victory in the U.S. District Court in which Judge Goldsmith upheld the Court of Appeals ruling stopping Green Party candidate Jill Stein's frivolous request for a statewide presidential recount:
"In a huge victory for Michigan taxpayers and the rule of law, this recount is stopped. Our State of Michigan judicial system and the State Board of Canvassers protected Michigan taxpayers from a frivolous recount that would have cost millions of more tax dollars a day."
- 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."