Schuette: Flint Residents Should Be Aware Of Potential Water Crisis Scams
Schuette’s Consumer Protection Division released a consumer alert to help Flint residents protect themselves, their families and neighbors by being aware of common scams attempted during crisis situations. The consumer alert offers tips on avoiding scam artists and criminals who may attempt to exploit emergency situations like the one in Flint.
"The outpouring of support and volunteerism in Flint is a reassuring sign of the warmth and compassion Michiganders have for one another, especially during a crisis, and I strongly encourage those in need to seek help,” said Schuette. “But, even in these times of generosity and need, we must be aware of the common scams that could further hurt Flint families and those attempting to assist them. That can be done with a few simple steps before taking action.”
- Schuette and Michigan Human Trafficking Commission Announce Fall Conference
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and the Michigan Human Trafficking Commission today announced the commission, along with the State Court Administrative Office and the Department of Health and Human Services, will hold its first conference this fall on Thursday, September 29, 2016 in Ann Arbor.
The conference, which is open to law enforcement, legal professionals, victim service providers, protective services workers, judiciary staff and other human trafficking related groups will serve as an opportunity to collaborate on how to bring further awareness to the issue of human trafficking and help eliminate the crime in our state.
“Human Trafficking is a deplorable crime that unfortunately is happening in our own backyard every day,” said Schuette. “The goal of this conference is to bring important groups together so we can further the Commission’s efforts, eradicate this atrocious crime in Michigan and give victims a chance at a normal life.”
The one-day conference will take place at Weber’s Inn, located at 3050 Jackson Road in Ann Arbor. Judicial staff, protective services workers, prosecutors, attorney guardians ad litem, defense attorneys, law enforcement, and victim service providers interested in attending the conference can register on the conference website.
“Human trafficking happens everywhere, including in communities across Michigan, in both urban and rural settings,” said Judge Michelle Rick, a circuit court judge and the Chair of the Human Trafficking Commission Conference Subcommittee. “To effectively recognize and combat this horrific problem, the courts, law enforcement, attorneys, protective services workers, and victim advocates must work together so that traffickers are prosecuted and victims are protected. This multi-disciplinary conference is a good start for communities who are committed to taking such action.”
Additional Awareness Efforts
The Attorney General has also partnered with the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) to place human trafficking notices in all welcome centers, rest areas, local bus and rail transportation services, public airports, and adult entertainment establishments throughout the state.
The “Human Trafficking Notification Act” applies to all welcome centers, rest areas, local bus and rail transportation services, public airports and adult entertainment establishments. As well as, entities that own property that has been found by a court to constitute a public nuisance due to acts of prostitution or human trafficking being conducted on the property or arising out of the ownership or use of the property. The act requires that these entities post a notice in English and Spanish as well as other languages, depending on the geographic area in that part of the state.
The Act requires the posters to state: “If you or someone you know is being forced to engage in any activity and cannot leave, whether the activity is commercial sex, housework, farm work, or any other activity, please contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline at 888-373-7888 or text 233733 to access help and services. The victims of human trafficking are protected under U.S. laws and the laws of this state.”
“The addition of these signs is just one more step to create awareness for the issue of human trafficking,” said Schuette. “It will not only grab people’s attention and alert those unaware that this is an issue in our own backyard, it will also give those who are trapped in the cycle of trafficking a way to get help.”
“I would like to thank all of our partners in the effort to ensure these mandatory posters are displayed at the required locations across the state,” said LARA Director Shelly Edgerton.
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 sons, daughters, mothers and fathers into victims, permanently impacting the lives of those involved, their families and their loved ones.
Human trafficking is the second-largest and fastest-growing criminal industry in the world, after drug trafficking. Victims of human trafficking are in bondage through force, fraud or coercion, solely for the purpose of sex or labor exploitation. Children are especially vulnerable. According to the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2,515 incidents of human trafficking were recorded nationwide between January 2008 and June 2010. Of those incidents, 1,016 involved the sexual exploitation of a child, 1,218 involved the sexual exploitation of adults, and 350 involved labor trafficking.
For more information, please visit the Attorney General’s human trafficking webpage.
- Schuette: "Bar Rescue" Bar Owner Receives Prison Time, Ordered to Pay $1.5 Million in Restitution for Failing to Pay Sales Tax for 10 years
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced that Brian Michael Flore, 53, of Brighton, was sentenced to two-to-five years in prison and ordered to pay $1,508,214 in restitution for collecting more than $700,000 in sales tax from customers in his bar “The Arena”, and pocketing it.
Flore was sentenced on Wednesday, July 13, before Judge Rosemarie Aquilina in the 30th Circuit Court in Ingham County.
Flore originally pleaded guilty as charged on July 22, 2015. His sentence on the first five charges was held in abeyance, while he was given an 11-month delayed sentence in order to pay toward his past due and pay his current sales tax obligations. Flore did not complete the delayed sentencing requirements, leading to today’s sentence. He received two to five years on each of the 120 counts, which will be served concurrently.
In 2013, an investigation into “The Arena”, a bar owned by Flore and featured on the TV program "Bar Rescue", was started by the Department of Treasury for failure to pay sales tax for over 10 years. An auditor determined that the bar owned by Flore was purchasing liquor that was sold to the public, he also charged his customers sales tax but had failed to ever pay any of that to the state. Flore confirmed he had not remitted sales taxes to the state and a request was made for the Attorney General’s office to open the case after Flore failed to cooperate further.
The Department of Attorney General began an investigation and an auditor determined the bar made over $9 million in taxable sales, which resulted in over $700,000 in back taxes. A 100% fraud penalty and interest was added, leading to the current restitution amount.
Flore was charged with 120 counts of Failure to File Taxes, one count for each month over the 10 year period that Flore failed to pay. The Department appreciates the work of the Department of Treasury in this case.
- Schuette Assures Independent Line 5 Pipeline Risk Analysis and Alternatives Analysis
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, the Michigan Agency for Energy, Department of Environmental Quality, and Department of Natural Resources today announced that Det Norske Veritas (U.S.A.), Inc. and Dynamic Risk Assessment Systems, Inc. were selected to conduct the independent risk analysis and alternatives analysis, respectively, for the Enbridge Line 5 pipelines under the Straits of Mackinac.
“Our Great Lakes are the crown jewels of Michigan and we have a duty preserve them for generations to come,” said Schuette. “We are now taking the next step forward to formally define the environmental and financial risks we face.”
The risk analysis will focus on identifying the current risks of the Line 5 pipelines and the alternatives analysis will comprehensively evaluate the current pipelines and the alternatives to them. Both analyses will help the State of Michigan make decisions about the future of the pipelines.
Enbridge, the owner of the pipelines, has agreed to pay $3,581,294 into an escrow account to fund the studies. Enbridge offered no opinion on the companies independently selected by the State to perform the studies. The State, not Enbridge, will oversee the studies.
Independent Risk Analysis
Det Norkse Veritas (U.S.A.), Inc., is a organization that develops standards and provides technical expertise in the maritime and energy industries. It has extensive experience in assessing and mitigating risks of oil and gas pipelines, including offshore pipelines. Information about the company is available at https://www.dnvgl.com/.
Independent Alternatives Analysis
Dynamic Risk Assessment Systems, Inc. is a pipeline engineering and consulting firm. Together with its four sub-contractors, it has extensive experience in pipeline engineering, integrity management, risk analysis, and impact analysis. Information about the company is available at https://dynamicrisk.net/.
Request for Proposal Process and Pipeline Safety Advisory Board
Seven proposals were submitted, 3 for the alternatives analysis and 4 for the risk analysis. An inter-agency technical review team reviewed each of the proposals and made recommendations based upon the bidders’ demonstrated qualifications, experience, and ability to perform the work in a timely and cost-effective way, after reviewing actual or apparent conflicts of interests. The State selected the contractors based upon those recommendations and after considering comments and advice from members of the Pipeline Safety Advisory Board.
The following State of Michigan officials are members of the Pipeline Safety Advisory Board and agreed to the selection of the companies as well as signed off on the agreement with Enbridge to fund the studies:
Michigan Agency for Energy: Valerie Brader
Department of Environmental Quality: Keith Creagh
Department of Natural Resources: Bill Moritz
Department of Attorney General: Bill Schuette
Michigan Petroleum Pipeline Taskforce
Schuette served as co-chair of the Michigan Petroleum Pipeline Task Force, which released recommendations in 2015 for an independent review and risk analysis of the pipelines that run underneath the waters of the Mackinac Straits. Implementing the recommendations of the task force continues as the State of Michigan, with advice from the Michigan Pipeline Safety Advisory Board works toward ensuring the safety, upkeep and transparency of issues related to Michigan’s network of pipelines.
- Schuette: Coalition of 10 States File Suit Against Obama's Unconstitutional Federal Directive
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today offered the following comments regarding joining Nebraska in filing an action in federal court challenging the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice’s recent federal directive changing current Title IX law:
"Every child in every school must be provided with dignity, privacy, respect and safety. That is why today, I joined a coalition of 10 attorneys general, led by the State of Nebraska, in a lawsuit that seeks to protect the dignity and privacy of all Michigan students. The Obama administration’s unilateral directive on education policy and Title IX funding is yet another example of federal overreach. The manner in which this directive was made ignored the essential role of parents in making decisions about their children, omitted participation of local schools, violated the Administrative Procedures Act and bypassed Congress' constitutional responsibilities.
This lawsuit is not about same-sex marriage. The United States Supreme Court has ruled and this issue is settled. This lawsuit is about children and our schools.
My office takes the issue of discrimination very seriously. That is why my office works daily to protect children from bullying and address the issue of teen suicide. Last year, our program to stop school violence, OK2SAY, received 1,336 tips concerning bullying, drugs, suicide, self-harm and other potential acts of violence, allowing officials to come to the aid of students in need of help, including transgender students.”
Michigan was also joined by the following states in this action: Arkansas, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wyoming. In addition to the suit filed today, Texas previously filed a suit with Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin. The total number of states party to a lawsuit on this issue now equals 24.
- Schuette Recognizes Contributions of Michigan Dairy Farmers at the Start of National Ice Cream Month
LANSING – Attorney General Bill Schuette today marked the important economic contributions made by Michigan dairy farmers as he recognized National Ice Cream month.
“Michigan’s dairy industry is a driving economic force with Michigan, ranking seventh in the nation for milk production," said Schuette. “The dairy products produced by Michigan dairy farmers and companies provide products that reach far across the country and boost the economic impact of Michigan.”
Schuette served as Michigan's Director of Agriculture under then-Governor John Engler, and was a member of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee while in Congress.
Home of the nation's first land grant college, Michigan State University is well known nationally as a premier institution for developing pioneering research in both dairy and other farming.
Michigan’s dairy farms are 98% family owned. Michigan farmers started Hudsonville Ice Cream in 1895 with just six ice cream flavors. Now the company has expanded to over 40 ice cream flavors made with milk and cream that comes from right here in Michigan.
“Ice Cream month is more than just a time to celebrate the delicious summer treat,” said Schuette. “It’s an opportunity to thank and appreciate Michigan’s thriving dairy industry.”