Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and Michigan State Police (MSP) Director Colonel Kriste Kibbey Etue announced the success of Michigan's student safety initiative, OK2SAY, in its first semester. Since the start of this school year, OK2SAY has already generated 410 confidential tips submitted by Michigan students. These tips included reports of bullying, suicide threats, and child abuse. "If even one child's life is saved by OK2SAY, this program will have been a success. OK2SAY has passed its first semester with flying colors," said Attorney General Bill Schuette.
Read more: 410 Tips Received by OK2SAY!
- Schuette Statement on DeBoer v. Snyder Brief Filing
February 27, 2015
LANSING – Attorney General Bill Schuette today released the following statement regarding the submission of the plaintiff's brief to the United States Supreme Court:
"This case involves people of good will, sincerely motivated, on both sides. All of Michigan's voters, as well as the citizens of our great nation, will be well served by the court's decision to decide this case and resolve such important issue. I am pleased that the Supreme Court has chosen to review this case, so that important issues involving the fundamental institution of marriage, our Constitution and the rights of voters will be decided. Court cases by their very nature create an adversarial atmosphere between those representing the two sides of an argument. But in a democracy, reasonable people can disagree without being disagreeable. We look forward to the oral arguments being scheduled soon."
- Schuette Files Lawsuit to Permanently Dissolve The Mandatory Poster Agency, Inc. of Lansing
February 10, 2015
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today filed a lawsuit to permanently dissolve The Mandatory Poster Agency, Inc. of Lansing, Michigan and enjoin its principals, brothers Thomas Fata, Steven Fata, and Joseph Fata, based on allegations they engaged in unlawful conduct meant to deceive businesses.
The lawsuit alleges the Fata brothers have been sending misleading and deceptive mailings to businesses in Michigan and across the country since 1999. The complaint alleges the defendants used the name "Corporate Records Service" to send mailings that were designed to look like "official" governmental forms that businesses had to fill out in order to comply with corporate filing requirements. Schuette received hundreds of complaints about the company and these mailings.
"Our friends and neighbors who live out the dream of running their own business work hard every day," Schuette said. "I will not tolerate companies that seek to take advantage of Michigan citizens and get rich on the backs of hard-working entrepreneurs through trickery and deception."
The complaint alleges the Fata brothers targeted small businesses, churches, and non-profit organizations such as Habitat for Humanity groups with their deceptive mailings.
In addition, the lawsuit outlines the previous times the Attorney General has had to take action against the defendants. In 2001, the defendants signed an Assurance of Discontinuance which limited their ability to send out misleading solicitations to businesses. In 2007, the defendants were parties to a court Order that prohibited them from sending out misleading solicitations for hand washing posters. As outlined in the lawsuit, Schuette alleges that the defendants violated both of these prior agreements.
Schuette's charges allege that the Fata brothers continually change the content of their solicitation following each interaction with a regulatory body, but ultimately have not changed their conduct and continue to willfully operate in an unlawful manner in Michigan and several other states.
"Our goal here is to prevent businesses in Michigan and around the country from being misled and deceived by improper business practices," said Schuette.
A civil lawsuit is merely an allegation and defendants are not liable until the Court enters a judgment in the case.
- Schuette Charges Southeast Michigan Doctor with Felony Sex Offenses, Drug Delivery and Fraud
February 3, 2015
LANSING – Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced his Health Care Fraud Division has charged Dr. John Ronald Verbovsky, 67, of Southfield, Michigan, with two counts of first degree Criminal Sexual Conduct, one count of Conducting a Criminal Enterprise -Racketeering, one count of Conspiracy to Deliver Controlled Substances less than 50 grams, and nine counts of Medicaid Fraud - False Claim. The charges allege Verbovsky orchestrated an ongoing scheme to prescribe controlled substances in exchange for sexual favors and money.
"Physicians are supposed to heal their patients, not exploit them," said Schuette. "We will continue to aggressively prosecute anyone attempting to compromise the integrity of our healthcare system at the expense of patient safety and taxpayer dollars."
Verbovsky practiced as a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine at his clinic, Progressive Family Medicine, in Sterling Heights, Michigan, and at Stout Family Medicine in Detroit. Charges against Verbovsky stem from an Attorney General investigation into allegations that Verbovsky was prescribing controlled substances based not upon medical need, but instead allegedly using his prescriptive authority as a physician to coerce sexual favors and money from patients. The Attorney General investigation also revealed that the Medicaid program was allegedly billed and paid for prescriptions that were written by Verbovsky without medical necessity.
Schuette filed the following charges against John R. Verbovsky in Ingham's 54B District Court on January 28, 2015:
Two counts of first degree Criminal Sexual Conduct, a felony punishable by up to life or any term of years in prison; and,
One count of Conducting a Criminal Enterprise - Racketeering, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and/or a $100,000 fine; and,
One count of Conspiracy to Deliver less than 50 grams of a Controlled Substance, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and/or a $35,000 fine; and,
Nine counts of Medicaid Fraud - False Claim, a felony punishable by up to four years in prison and/or a $50,000 fine.
Verbovsky surrendered himself to the court on February 3, 2015 and was arraigned in Ingham's 54B District Court before Judge Andrea Larkin. Verbovsky was granted a $50,000 personal recognizance bond by Judge Larkin. Verbovsky is next due in court for his pre-exam conference on February 20, 2015 at 8:30 a.m. before Judge Richard D. Ball and his preliminary exam is set for February 26, 2015 also before Judge Ball.
Citizens with additional information that may assist this investigation should please contact Attorney General Schuette's Health Care Fraud Division at their 24-hour Hotline: 1-800-24-ABUSE/1-800-242-2873.
The Attorney General Health Care Fraud Division exists to identify, prosecute and prevent fraudulent activity by doctors, dentists, pharmacists and other health care providers participating in the Medicaid program. Taxpayer dollars provide health care to indigent patients and other recipients. It is vital that these dollars be effectively spent to help those in need. Fraud affects everyone including the recipients of care, the taxpayers who pay for it and the overwhelming majority of providers who conscientiously provide quality care.
A criminal charge is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
- Army Corps Must Act Quickly at Asian Carp Choke Point
February 2, 2015
LANSING – Attorney General Bill Schuette today continued his fight against Asian carp by submitting formal comments to the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers concerning the prevention of upstream movement by Asian carp and other harmful invasive species into the Chicago Area Waterway and the Great Lakes. This was in response to the Corps' request for comments on this extension of its Great Lakes Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS).
The Great Lakes Commission currently recommends "designing, engineering and constructing modifications to the Brandon Road lock and dam structure including electric barriers at the entrance and exit of the lock, use of fish deterrents, modifications to the gates on the dam, and other technologies."
"We must do everything we can to protect the Great Lakes, and that begins with safeguarding our ecological and economic resources from invasive species like Asian carp," said Schuette. "Michigan simply cannot afford to wait on a federal government that fails to act. We need to permanently separate these two bodies of water as soon as possible and until that is done, take other actions to prevent Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes. The time for talk is over. We need action."
Schuette supports taking swift action at the Brandon Road site, noting it is a logical "choke point" for reducing the risk that Asian carp can move upstream to the Waterway. As the Corps itself has noted, the Brandon Road site has several advantages, and that "[o]peration of the lock at this location currently provides the only known aquatic pathway that allows transfer of the Mississippi River ANS [aquatic nuisance species] to the Great Lakes through the CAWS [Chicago Area Waterway System]."
Schuette also noted that his April 2014 comments on the Corps' GLMRIS Report urged the Corps to move forward immediately with actions like those recommended by the Great Lakes Commission, which included interim measures at Brandon Road.
Schuette's formal comments emphasized the following:
Constructing additional measures in Joliet, Illinois are only interim steps. They may serve as a "bridge" in time to reduce risks until an effective permanent remedy—hydrologic separation—is implemented, but they are not a substitute for it.
Time is of the essence. The Corps' existing electrical barrier system cannot be relied upon to prevent the movement of Asian carp through the Chicago Waterway into Lake Michigan. With each day that this situation continues, the risk that enough Asian carp will enter the Lake to trigger the establishment of a reproducing population increases. Thus, it is imperative that the Corps move as quickly as possible to design and implement measures to reduce that risk.
The Corps should not wait until it completes further study of all potential control measures for Brandon Road. Instead, the Corps should proceed in phases, and prioritize those risk-reduction measures that can be most quickly designed and implemented. For example, the Corps could expeditiously design and install technologies (e.g., underwater cameras and/or sonar) to monitor, in real time, for the presence of Asian carp within the Brandon Road Lock. The results of that monitoring could then be used to guide immediate responses, such as changes in lock operations or selective application of fish poison.
The Corps need not wait for further Congressional authority before taking any additional action at Brandon Road, or elsewhere in or near the Chicago Waterway. Instead, it should use its existing legal authorities under 2012 and 2014 laws to the fullest extent possible in order to expedite action.
View a map of the Brandon Road site at the following link: Brandon Road map.
- Schuette Secures Racketeering, Bribery and Forgery Conviction of Former DPD Officer
January 30, 2015
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced that former Detroit Police Officer Tamboura Kenyatta Jackson, 41, of Clinton Township, was sentenced to serve up to 20 years in prison before Wayne County Circuit Judge Mark T. Slavens after being convicted of felony racketeering, forgery, and bribery charges by a Wayne County jury on December 23, 2014. The case originated from an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI)-led Detroit Area Public Corruption Task Force in collaboration with Schuette's Public Integrity Unit.
"Public officers who abuse the public's trust for personal gain greatly undermine the integrity of law enforcement," said Schuette. "Confidence in public safety is vital in Michigan's turnaround. I'd like to thank Chief Craig for his efforts to bring accountability to the force and the FBI for their assistance and hard work on this case."
"This department does not and will not tolerate such egregious acts by our members," said Chief James Craig. "We will cooperate with all law enforcement agencies to vigorously investigate any and all crimes of this nature. I would like to emphasize that the actions of this employee are not conducive to the vast majority of officers who serve the citizens of this city with the utmost level of integrity and dedication."
"Law enforcement officers who sell their services for criminal and fraudulent purposes breach their duty to protect and serve the public," stated Paul M. Abbate, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Detroit Field Office. "FBI Detroit, in concert with our partners on the Detroit Area Public Corruption Task Force and in the Michigan Attorney General's Public Integrity Unit, will continue to pursue those who breach the public trust for their own personal gain, and hold them accountable under the law for their actions."
Co-defendant Lisa Curtis, 35 of Macomb, previously pleaded guilty to bribing Jackson and testified against him.
Background on Tamboura Jackson Case
Beginning in 2009, Jackson took cash bribes in exchange for fraudulent police reports in an elaborate scheme concocted with co-defendant Lisa Curtis. Curtis told dozens of southeast Michigan clients she could improve their credit score through her Waterford-based company, Bright Star Consulting, LLC. In exchange for her credit improvement services, Curtis solicited a fee ranging from $200 to $1,000.
After Curtis collected the fees from consumers, Curtis and Jackson conducted a scheme to file false police reports claiming identity theft related to certain credit card transactions. Curtis provided Jackson her clients' information, including a fake identity theft story. Jackson then created and submitted false police reports, which were filed without the clients' knowledge or consent. Curtis would then pay Jackson bribes in the range of $50 to $200 for creating the false police reports. Under federal law credit reporting agencies must remove negative credit instances when they get a police report stating identity theft.
Jackson also used the scam to improve his own credit by creating a false police report signed by another officer, without the officer's knowledge or consent. Jackson accessed the Detroit Police Department's crime reporting system using the other officer's log-in information to file a false police report on his own behalf and had Curtis submit the claim to the credit reporting agency.
After Schuette filed charges against Jackson, the Detroit Police Department suspended him without pay and Jackson later resigned from the Detroit Police Department.
On October 22, 2014, Curtis pleaded guilty to Bribery of a Public Officer and was sentenced to two years of probation by Judge Mark Slavens in the Wayne County Circuit Court.
On January 30, 2015, Jackson was sentenced by Judge Slavens to immediately serve:
Racketeering (CCE) – two and a half to 20 years in prison; and,
Public Officer Accepting Bribes – eleven months to ten years in prison (concurrent with Racketeering); and,
Forgery – eleven months to fourteen years in prison (concurrent with Racketeering).
A.G. Schuette's Public Integrity Unit: Cleaning Up Public Corruption
Upon taking office in 2011, Attorney General Schuette launched a new Public Integrity Unit (PIU) in the Attorney General's office to accelerate the combat of corruption in state and local government, protect tax dollars, and restore the public's trust in government. The unit is a member of the multi-agency Detroit-area Public Corruption Task Force. Since its inception, Schuette's PIU has filed 303 charges against 61 individuals holding positions of public trust, including state and local government officials. To date, 45 defendants have been sentenced following their convictions on a total of 126 charges.