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 Encourages Participation in National Drug Take Back Day
LANSING – In a continued effort to fight opioid abuse in the state of Michigan, Attorney General Bill Schuette is encouraging participation in National Drug Take Back Day on April 30, 2016. This initiative is designed to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding homes of potentially dangerous, expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs, with previous events collecting more than 4 million pounds of drugs.
“The sad fact is that kids who abuse prescription drugs often obtain them straight from the medicine cabinet,” said Schuette. “The take back initiative is a simple way to get rid of unused medications and help protect our children against the dangers of prescription drug abuse.”
Prescription drug and opioid abuse has tripled since 1990, creating a public health epidemic. Michigan has taken steps to address the growing issue by creating the Michigan Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Task Force. Schuette, chair of the task force subcommittee on Regulation, Enforcement, and Policy, helped release recommendations for curbing the drug and opioid problem in the state in October of 2015.
To discard medication residents should visit one of nearly 200 statewide safe disposal sites. The service is free and anonymous – no questions asked. Participating locations are listed on the U.S. Justice Department's website.
In addition, all Michigan State Police posts now serve as safe disposal sites for these unused medications Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Disposal sites can only collect pills and/or patches, no liquids, needles or sharps will be accepted. Since previous methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—are now known to pose public safety and health hazards, Drug Take Back Day is the safest way to dispose of medications.
- Schuette Statement on Plains LPG Withdrawing Oil Pipeline Request
April 28, 2016
LANSING – On April 15, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette called on U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to deny Plain LPG from running oil through the 98-year-old pipeline running under the St. Clair River. Today, he issued the following statement on Plains LPG withdrawing their request to transport petroleum under the St. Clair River between Marysville and Sarnia, Ontario:
“On April 15, I urged U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to say no to the Plains LPG request to run oil through a 98 year-old pipeline sitting on the bottom of the St. Clair River. Today, I am pleased to see that Plains LPG has withdrawn its request. We each have a responsibility to protect the Great Lakes and the waters that feed into them. A spill or leak into the St. Clair River would have been devastating to the both the drinking water supply and our freshwater ecosystem.”
- Wyeth, Pfizer to Pay Michigan $17.1 Million to Resolve Allegations of Underpaying Rebates Owed To Medicaid Program
April 27, 2016
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced today that Michigan and 34 other states have reached an agreement in principle to settle allegations against Wyeth, a subsidiary of Pfizer, Inc. The settlement will resolve allegations that Wyeth knowingly underpaid rebates owed under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program for the sales, Protonix Oral and Protonix IV between 2001 and 2006. Both are drugs that are used to treat conditions such as acid reflux. Under the settlement Wyeth agreed to pay $784.6 million to the United States and the States. Over $371 million of this amount will go to the Medicaid Program. Michigan, one of 35 states in the law suits will receive $17,172,274.24 under the settlement.
“Gaming the system of drug pricing doesn’t work for Michigan taxpayers who paid more than needed to support the Medicaid program,” said Schuette. “Everyone must obey the law and there are consequences for companies who attempt to circumvent them.”
The settlement stems from two whistleblower lawsuits which were filed in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The United States, 35 states (including Michigan) and the District of Columbia intervened in the lawsuits.
Pfizer acquired Wyeth, Inc., in 2009, after the conduct alleged in the lawsuits. Wyeth distributed, marketed and/or sold pharmaceutical products in the United States, including Protonix Oral and intravenous Protonix IV. Protonix Oral and Protonix IV are in a class of drugs called Proton Pump Inhibitors which inhibit the production of gastric acid.
The Medicaid Prescription Drug Rebate Program was enacted by Congress in 1990 as a cost containment measure for Medicaid’s payment for outpatient drugs. The Medicaid Drug Rebate Program requires participating pharmaceutical manufacturers to pay quarterly rebates to State Medicaid programs for each of its drugs sold to pharmacies that were reimbursed by Medicaid. The quarterly rebate was determined from each pharmaceutical manufacturer’s reported “Best Price,” or the lowest price for which it sold a covered drug in a particular quarter.
In this case, the governments alleged that during the third quarter 2001 through 2006, Wyeth sold Protonix Oral tablets and Protonix IV to hospitals at discounted prices. However, Wyeth did not treat the sales of these drugs as “bundled” within the meaning of the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program and therefore failed to properly allocate the discounts available under the contract. As a result of this failure, Wyeth falsely reported its Best Prices for these drugs thereby causing the rebate amount to be understated during the relevant period. The governments alleged that Wyeth concealed, avoided or decreased its obligation to pay Medicaid drug rebates to the State for Protonix Oral tablets and Protonix IV.
Because the Medicaid program is jointly funded by the federal and State governments, Pfizer will pay in excess of $413 million of the $784.6 million to the United States.
- Schuette: Human Trafficking Commission Holds Second Meeting of 2016
April 26, 2016
LANSING – The Michigan Human Trafficking Commission held its quarterly meeting today at the Department of Attorney General. The Commission, chaired by Schuette’s office and comprised of victims’ advocates, law enforcement officials, medical professionals and representatives from state and local government is focused on improving the lives of victims and works to prevent human trafficking in Michigan.
“The Michigan Human Trafficking Commission continues to bring awareness and find solutions to end the tragedy of human trafficking,” said Schuette. “Together we are dedicated to fighting this issue and finding ways to help the victims of this horrific crime reclaim their lives.”
At today’s meeting, the Commission heard from Valiant Richey, Senior Deputy Prosecutor in King County Washington. Richey is responsible for prosecuting cases involving the purchase of children for sex and training law enforcement, service providers, and the general public on sex trafficking throughout Washington State. In 2013, he was appointed to Washington State’s Commercially Sexually Exploited Children Statewide Coordinating Committee.
Richey also talked about a program in King County, Washington, that was developed in conjunction with Google and Bing to create awareness for an intervention program designed to reduce the demand for prostitutes. When individuals seeking to buy sex, type certain search terms into Google or Bing advertisements aimed at deterring their behavior will appear on their list of search results. The advertisements will also direct them to intervention services. This program is designed to reach individuals at the moment and time they are searching for these illegal services.
Today’s meeting also introduced a new appointee to the Commission, Hassan Beydoun, Majority Legal Counsel for the Michigan House of Representatives. Beydoun was appointed as a representative of the legislature and will serve on the Commission through March 17, 2017. A complete list of all the Commission members can be found on the Human Trafficking webpage.
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 daughters and mothers 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 Charges Three with Multiple Felonies in First Stage of Flint Water Crisis Investigation
April 20, 2016
FLINT, MI — Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced that he filed a total of 13 felony charges and 5 misdemeanor charges against two state officials and one city official as a result of their actions in the Flint water contamination crisis currently gripping the city.
Charges were filed this morning in the Genesee County 67th District Court in Flint against the following three individuals:
- Stephen Busch, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality District 8 Water Supervisor (3 felonies, 2 misdemeanor)
- Michael Prysby, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality District 8 Water Engineer (4 felonies, 2 misdemeanor)
- Michael Glasgow, City of Flint Laboratory and Water Quality Supervisor (1 felony, 1 misdemeanor)
The maximum sentences for each of the felonies, which are summarized below, range from 4-5 years in prison, with fines for each in a range between $5,000-$10,000.
The charges are the first announced as a result of Schuette’s investigation into the crisis, which is being conducted by Special Prosecutor Todd Flood, Chief Investigator Andy Arena, and Deputy Chief Investigator Ellis Stafford. Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton is also working with Schuette on the investigation and joined Schuette in Flint for today’s announcement.
Schuette noted the investigation remains fully active and that the charges filed today do not preclude additional charges at a later date.
The charges include:
Stephen Busch and Michael Prysby:
COUNT 1 DEFENDANTS (01) (02) – COMMON LAW OFFENSES – MISCONDUCT IN OFFICE
did between February 2015 and November 2015, commit misconduct in office, an indictable offense at common law, by willfully and knowingly misleading federal regulatory officials in the Environmental Protection Agency, including, but not limited to, Miguel Del Toral, and/or Genesee County Health Department officials, including, but not limited to, James Henry, in violation of his duty to provide clean and safe drinking water to the citizens of the County of Genesee, State of Michigan and to protect the public health; contrary to MCL 750.505. [750.505]
FELONY: 5 Years and/or $10,000.00
COUNT 3 DEFENDANTS (01) (02) – CONSPIRACY - TAMPERING WITH EVIDENCE
did, between on or about January 2015, through November 2015, unlawfully conspire, combine, confederate and agree together with persons, both known and unknown to the People of the State of Michigan, to commit an offense prohibited by law, to wit: Tampering with Evidence, including but not limited to manipulating monitoring reports mandated by law; contrary to MCL 750.157a. [750.483A6A][C]
FELONY: 4 Years and/or $10,000.00
COUNT 4 DEFENDANTS (01) (02) – TAMPERING WITH EVIDENCE
did knowingly and intentionally remove, alter, conceal, destroy, or otherwise tamper with evidence, to wit: reports entitled “Lead and Copper Report and Consumer Notice of Lead Result” dated February 27, 2015 and/or July 28, 2015 and/or August 20, 2015; contrary to MCL 750.483a(6)(a). [750.483A6A]
FELONY: 4 Years and/or $5,000.00
COUNT 5 DEFENDANTS (01) (02) – TREATMENT VIOLATION - MICHIGAN SAFE DRINKING WATER ACT
did cease the utilization of optimal corrosion control treatment at the Flint Water Treatment Plant after the Plant switched to the Flint River as a water source and/or did refuse to mandate optimized corrosion control treatment at the Flint Water Treatment Plant in a timely manner after the lead action level was exceeded; contrary to MCL 325.1001. [325.1001]
MISDEMEANOR: 1 Year and/or $5,000.00 for each day of violation
COUNT 6 DEFENDANTS (01) (02) – MONITORING VIOLATION - MICHIGAN SAFE DRINKING WATER ACT
did improperly manipulate the collection of water samples by directing residents to “pre-flush” their taps by running the water for five minutes the night before drawing a water sample and/or did fail to collect required samples included in the Tier 1 category of serviced lines and/or did remove test results from samples to be included in the Lead and Copper Report and Consumer Notice of Lead Result; contrary to MCL 325.1001. [325.1001]
MISDEMEANOR: 1 Year and/or $5,000.00 for each day of violation
Additional charge against Michael Prysby:
COUNT 2 DEFENDANT (02) – COMMON LAW OFFENSES – MISCONDUCT IN OFFICE
did, on or about April 4, 2014, commit misconduct in office, an indictable offense at common law, by authorizing a permit to the Flint Water Treatment Plant knowing the Flint Water Treatment Plant was deficient in its ability to provide clean and safe drinking water for the citizens of the County of Genesee, State of Michigan; contrary to MCL 750.505. [750.505]
FELONY: 5 Years and/or $10,000.00
COUNT 7 DEFENDANT (03) – TAMPERING WITH EVIDENCE
did knowingly and intentionally remove, alter, conceal, destroy, or otherwise tamper with evidence to be offered in an official proceeding, to wit: the report entitled “Lead and Copper Report and Consumer Notice of Lead Result” dated February 27, 2015 and/or July 28, 2015 and/or August 20, 2015; contrary to MCL 750.483a(6)(a). [750.483A6A]
FELONY: 4 Years and/or $5,000.00
COUNT 8 DEFENDANT (03) – WILLFUL NEGLECT OF DUTY
did willfully neglect to perform a duty enjoined upon him by Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act, to wit: by failing to perform the duties of an F-1 Certified Operator employed by the Flint Water Treatment Plant; contrary to MCL 750.478. [750.478]
MISDEMEANOR: 1 Year and/or $1,000.00
Comments offered at today’s announcement:
Attorney General Bill Schuette:
“The justice system in Michigan is not rigged. Anyone that says Michigan has a wink and nod justice system is wrong. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you do, if you break the law there will be consequences.”
“So many things went so terribly wrong in Flint. I made a decision that I must investigate what went wrong. It is my job as Attorney General to protect the citizens of Michigan. The citizens of Flint deserve that, the citizens of Michigan deserve that. This investigation is ongoing, it is broad, detailed and comprehensive."
“What happened here in Flint is a tragedy, and we will continue to investigate all information that comes our way. This is not something I take lightly."
Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton:
“We are working closely together on this investigation because the people of Flint deserve nothing less than the truth and we will keep working until we get to the bottom of this.”