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 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.
- Schuette Launches OK2SAY PSA in Michigan Movie Theaters, Releases 2016 Annual Report
May 17, 2017
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today released the OK2SAY student safety program’s 2016 Annual Report and began a new statewide public service announcement campaign in movie theaters across Michigan.
OK2SAY is the most effective prevention-based reporting mechanism tool, logging in more than 7,844 tips from Michigan students since September 2014.
“Since its creation in 2013, I’ve believed that saving even one student’s life makes this program a success,” said Schuette. “OK2SAY has not only saved lives, it’s stopped violence and ensured that Michigan students have a safe place to learn and grow. But our work is not done. There are more students who need our help. It’s time to remove the sunset so this vital program can continue beyond the 2017 Fiscal Year.”
“Michigan’s children should feel safe wherever they are – home, school, on the internet,” said Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, director of the Michigan State Police. “We remain committed to reaching as many students as possible and assuring them that we take this seriously. Nothing is too small or insignificant to report.”
2016 OK2SAY Annual Report
To date, OK2SAY student safety educational seminars have been presented to nearly 2 million Michigan students at public, private, and charter schools. At the close of 2016, OK2SAY programming has reached more than 80% of Michigan’s 83 counties.
OK2SAY received 3,359 tips in 2016 - an increase of more than 54% compared to the previous calendar year. Tips were received in 30 categories including:
- 800 tips on bullying;
- 569 tips on suicide threats;
- 480 tips related to “other” (e.g. depression, stress, and harassment);
- 307 tips on self-harm; and
- 279 tips on cyberbullying.
The year 2016 was filled with milestones for OK2SAY. In July, the department was awarded a Conference of Western Attorneys General (CWAG) “WAGGY” award for Best Mobile App for the OK2SAY app. Later that fall, OK2SAY logged its 5,000th tip, exceeding expectations and establishing itself as Michigan’s most effective prevention-based reporting mechanism.
Public Service Announcement Campaign in Theaters
The Department of Attorney General worked with a group of five local animators, visual designers, and sound artists, led by a professor, to create an animated 30-second public service announcement. The team was a mix of both current students and recent graduates from Kendall College in Grand Rapids.
“By having students work on this project, students are helping reach other students about OK2SAY,” said Schuette. “I hope this new campaign will expand our scope outside the classroom, empowering all Michigan kids with the tools they need to be heroes in the hallway.”
“The project was a lot of fun to work on. We wanted to tie into the coming super hero season by giving it an action-packed flare,” said Brad Yarhouse, professor at Kendall College of Art and Design. “Everybody had a great time not only working on the design, but having the opportunity to make a difference and to help K-12 students. It wasn’t just a job- it had meaning to it.”
Over 60 movie theaters across the state will feature the public service announcement. The Department aims to reach students during some of the spring’s big block busters.
Professor Brad Yarhouse (far right) with his team of student collaborators (left to right: Joshua Workman, James Driessche, Melanie Dionne, Erica Syverson; not pictured: Lee Albrecht) who produced the newest OK2SAY public service announcement, now running in movie theaters across Michigan.
About the OK2SAY Program
OK2SAY is a student safety program that acts as an early warning system in Michigan schools to prevent tragedies before they occur. Launched in 2014, the program encourages students to submit confidential tips to trained technicians regarding potential harm or threats 24/7.
Through the 3,359 tips received in 2016, OK2SAY has saved lives. Submitted tips have prevented school violence, thwarted suicide attempts and provided help to many Michigan students in need of mental health or social services.
OK2SAY is effective in combatting the culture of silence that permeates Michigan schools. In reports filled out after a tip is received and acted upon, 67% of schools, law enforcement and mental health professionals who received the tip from OK2SAY said they were previously unaware of the problem. OK2SAY has proven to be immensely successful in saving lives and preventing tragedies.
The Key Features of OK2SAY
- Confidential Reporting: State law protects the confidentiality of the reporter’s identity. The identity of the reporting party will not be disclosed to local law enforcement, school officials, or the person about whom a tip is offered, unless the reporter voluntarily chooses to disclose his or her identity. If the reporter is a minor, the parent or guardian must also consent.
- Comprehensive Technology: Anyone can confidentially submit tips 24/7 using any of the five tip methods detailed below. Multi-media attachments like photos, videos, and links to additional information are encouraged.
- Coordinated Intervention: Upon receipt of a tip, specially trained OK2SAY technicians at the Michigan State Police screen and forward tips to an appropriate responding agency including: local law enforcement, schools, local community mental health organizations, or the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
- Accountability: Each responding organization is asked to complete an Outcome Report detailing the nature of the tip, how the tip was handled, and whether the tip situation was resolved or requires ongoing attention. This provides local entities an opportunity to illustrate that student safety threats are tracked and taken seriously. The 2016 Annual Report details the types and numbers of tips handled throughout the year.
How to Submit an OK2SAY Tip
OK2SAY encourages confidential tips on criminal activities or potential harm directed at students, school employees, and schools. Tips can be submitted through the following ways:
Call: 8-555-OK2SAY, 855-565-2729
Text: 652729 (OK2SAY)
OK2SAY Email: (firstname.lastname@example.org)
OK2SAY website: (www.ok2say.com)
- Schuette Recognizes Michigan's Fallen Law Enforcement Officers on National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day
May 15, 2017
LANSING – As part of National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette paid tribute to the Michigan officers who gave their lives in the line of duty protecting our communities over the last year.
Schuette demonstrated his admiration and appreciation for all the men and women who stand between danger and our families, serving our cities, counties and state.
“When a police officer is killed, we remember them as heroes not for how they died, but for how they lived,” said Schuette. “Today we honor each man and woman for their ultimate sacrifice and thank those on patrol for their courage and commitment to our nation.”
Schuette also recognized the bravery of the heroic Detroit policeman, Officer Johnson, who continues to fight for his life after being shot on April 30, 2017 responding to a domestic violence call on Detroit’s west side. Schuette expressed his hope for a steadfast recovery and said his thoughts and paryers remain with Officer Johnson, his family and fellow officers.
Seven Michigan Law Enforcement Officers Killed Since 2016
2016 and 2017 were dangerous years for Michigan law enforcement. Officers were honored at the Annual Candlelight Vigil this Saturday, May 13th at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Joseph Peter Zangaro; Berrien County Sheriff’s Department 61, was head of security for the Berrien County Courthouse and was killed when a prisoner disarmed an officer and fired at bailiffs. Zangaro had worked in the Courthouse since May 2004. Zangaro was a retired Michigan State Police First Lieutenant and is survived by his wife, two daughters, and grandchildren, as well as his mother, sister, and nephew.
Ronald E. Kienzle; Berrien County Sheriff’s Department 63, was a bailiff at the Berrien County Courthouse and was killed when a prisoner disarmed an officer while entering a courtroom and fired at bailiffs. Kienzle had been with the Berrien County trial court since April 2005 after retiring as a sergeant from the Benton Charter Township Police Department. He previously served in the United States Army. Kienzle is survived by his two daughters and grandchildren.
Michael Arthur Winter; Branch County Sheriff’s Department 39, was a Branch County Deputy assigned to the sheriff’s posse who was riding in the Quincy Memorial Day Parade when his horse bucked, causing Winter to fall to the ground, hitting his head. Winter had been a deputy with the sheriff's office and a member of the mounted patrol for five years. He was also a veteran of the United States Navy. Winter is survived by his wife and daughters.
Kenneth Melvin Steil; Detroit Police Department 46, was shot in the shoulder area while pursuing a suspect who was believed to have already shot his father and been involved in carjackings. He was a 20-year veteran of the department and is survived by his wife and two boys.
Kevin Dwayne Miller; Detroit Police Department 49, suffered a fatal heart attack while attending firearms training at the Detroit Police Department's Rouge Range. Other officers at the range immediately began CPR before he was transported to a local hospital. Sergeant Miller had served with the Detroit Police Department for 29 years and was assigned to the 11th Precinct.
Myron Anthony Jarrett; Detroit Police Department 40, was killed in a hit-and-run accident during a routine traffic stop. He was an eight-year veteran of the Detroit Police Department and a father of four.
Collin James Rose; Wayne State University Police Department 29, was shot in the head while investigating possible thefts of navigation systems from vehicles. Rose was engaged to be married.
Jon Ginka; Norton Shores Police Department 34, fell victim to a fatal crash involving his cruiser in Norton Shores, Mich. Ginka was a 10-year veteran of the force and leaves behind a wife and two children.
Michigan Law Enforcement Officers Memorial
In 2004, the Michigan Law Enforcement Memorial Commission was created under Public Act 177. The commission was established to oversee the financing, design and construction of Michigan’s Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.
In 2007, the commission selected a design for the memorial and work now continues to raise funds to build it in the Capitol Complex in Lansing.
The Commission hopes to raise the remaining $900,000 needed for the memorial by September 2018. Those interested in donating online can do so at the State of Michigan e-store. Information on how to mail a donation is available on the Law Enforcement Officers Memorial website.
- Schuette Charges Southwest Michigan Chiropractor with Medicaid Fraud
May 11, 2017
LANSING — Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced he has filed two felony counts of Medicaid Fraud—False Claim, a four-year felony, against Southwest Michigan chiropractor Ahad Lotfi, 53, of Lawton.
Lotfi, who owned and operated chiropractic clinics in Hartford, Paw Paw, Bangor, and South Haven, was allegedly billing supplies to the Medicaid program that were not eligible for Medicaid billing. These supplies included custom made shoe inserts and therapeutic pillows, which Medicaid pays $270.50 and $97.96 respectively per item. The Medicaid program allegedly paid Lotfi nearly $200,000.00 over two years as a result of billing these two item codes.
“The Michigan Medicaid program exists to pay healthcare costs for eligible Michiganders—not to function as a cash cow for unscrupulous providers,” said Schuette.
Lotfi was arraigned today before Judge Richard D. Ball of the 54B District Court in East Lansing and given a $20,000 personal recognizance bond. Lotfi is next due in court on May 19, 2017 at 8:30 a.m. for a pre-exam conference.
Schuette’s Health Care Fraud Division used new techniques involving data mining to identify a stark change in established billing patterns. It is alleged that Lotfi billed the two codes that correspond to the inserts and pillows beginning in 2015 for medical supplies.Schuette’s Health Care Fraud Division used new techniques involving data mining to identify a stark change in established billing patterns. It is alleged that Lotfi billed the two codes that correspond to the inserts and pillows beginning in 2015 for medical supplies. While these two are eligible codes in the Medicaid program, certain codes are prohibited for certain types of providers. Chiropractors are not eligible to bill Medicaid for medical supplies.
Data mining involves actively policing Medicaid data in search of anomalies that could indicate fraud.
Schuette’s Health Care Fraud Division recently became the first such unit in the nation to secure special approval from the federal government to engage in data mining of Medicaid data.
A criminal charge is merely an allegation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.