Thursday, January 31, 2013

Michigan Audit of Children's Ombudsman Politically Problematic.

The Michigan Auditor General released its findings on the investigative operations of the Office of Children's Ombudsman.  The general tone of the report was that the Ombudsman's investigations were partially effective due to the lack of technological access to the Department of Human Services databases and files.

Due to the fact that the Auditor General has locked all reports since I started publishing them for general accessibility, I have been reduced, for lack of resources, to posting a personally created, direct link to the final report.  Here it is.

There are other reasons why the Ombudsman investigations into abuses of children under the auspices of the state are, in my words, perfunctory.  It is because of:

(1) a lack of necessary resources and staff; and,

(2) a status quo culture.

A lack of necessary resources and staff:
The office has about 13 investigators to take on the entire State of Michigan child welfare system, far more than 39,000 children and youth.  That equates to a responsibility of investigation of about 3,000 children per staff.   The child welfare system includes cps, foster care, its child placing agencies, adoption services, juvenile justice, and mental/medical health, and education.

Typically, on any given day, there is only one person to man the phones for intake.  Within a few minutes of the conversation with the concernedly distraught person, the "screener" can determine if there is a violation by, and I quote directly from a House Hearing a few years back when a representative from the office testified that she screened by, "thinking fast on my feet".

"Think fast on her feet" caused one kid to be murdered and a few others to be raped and tortured.

Out of about 1,000 calls a year, there are less than 10% that are investigated.  Out of that number, many are designated into the category of "Valid, not open".  This means that violations of law and policy were found but the office will not act upon it.

Acting upon a valid violation would mean that there is mandate for referral to the counties prosecutor or Attorney General for further investigation and prosecution but the office does not have the authoritative resources for this because the Ombudsman, Verlie Ruffin, takes the helm as the perfunctory prissy lil missy who has successfully made sure that the public and elected officials have no idea of who she is or what she does or what she has been doing throughout her tenure.

I am not one for scurrilous attacks, I just present the facts.  Not one single referral has been made the counties prosecutors or Attorney General for violations of law or policy.  See reference statute below:

Per the Children's Ombudsman Act 204 of 1994, MCL 722.927 §7(4) in relevant part:
If the ombudsman finds in the course of an investigation that an individual's action is in violation of state or federal criminal law, the ombudsman shall immediately report that fact to the county prosecutor or the attorney general.  If the complaint is against a child placing agency the ombudsman shall refer the matter to the department for further action with respect to licensing.
A status quo culture:

The Office of Children's Ombudsman, under the failed leadership of Verlie Ruffin, has powers beyond getting hair and nails done once a week.  The ombudsman has the blessing of Michigan's greatest Attorney General Frank Kelley, to investigate the Michigan Children's Institute (MCI).  Not only has the ombudsman denied authority to investigate MCI, to date, it has never done so.

It is my opinion, therefore in answer to your second question, that the Children's Ombudsman Act gives children's ombudsman the authority to investigate adoption decisions of the Michigan Children's Institute and to obtain adoption records of the Michigan Children's Institute.
Michigan Attorney General Frank Kelley, 1996 

The reason I mention MCI is not because the Auditor General has never, ever audited this secret operation which warehouses the guardianship for more than 7,000 children of the state under the legal authority of one, omnipotent Superintendent, Bill Johnson, it has never been investigated for the deaths, abuses and neglects of children who were subject to a class action settlement agreement.  Not one time during the course of the entire lawsuit was MCI ever mentioned.

The status quo of OCO is to remain inconspicuous and do nothing to change operations.  The more people know about the duties of the office, the more work must be done but in a culture of administrative stagnation in child welfare, the longer the administrative keystone cops can ride out a paycheck until they can safely retire, the greater the job security.

To prove my point that the Director, Verlie Ruffin has not done shit for the office, here is the direct link to the site.

  • The site has not been updated, revamped, edited since it was originally built.  
  • There are no social networks.  
  • There are no community networks.  
  • There is no history of the office.
  • There is no referral policy for public or private agencies to give out its contact information. 
  • There is no appeal process when denied, in that quick on your feet telephone interview.  
  • There is no legislative action to ask for more funding and resources. 
  • There is no initiative to even privately subcontract.  
  • There is no complaint process against an investigation.  
  • There are no press releases on current statewide activities.  
  • There are no public speaking engagements.  
  • There are no guest appearances.  
  • There is no annual agenda of priorities.  
  • There is not even a logical explanation why only a selected few are granted a limited investigation.  
  • There is no reason why there are no referrals for criminal activities to the counties prosecutors or attorney general.  
  • There is not even a picture of Verlie Ruffin, the Ombudsman.  
  • Hell, the ombudsman is not even gender neutral considering the ombudsman is a woman.   
  • There are no community partnerships.  
  • There are no public awareness campaigns.  
  • There is no recordkeeping for suicides in foster care.
  • There is no recordkeeping for sexual assaults in foster care.
  • There is no recordkeeping for drug ovedoses in foster care (prescription or street)
  • Five will get you ten there is no letter of appointment of the Governor, with advice and consent of the Senate, on file with the office of the Great Seal of the State Department.

I want to see a public database of the number of referrals, and other more detailed variables of investigative findings.  It can be done on an excel spreadsheet by some interns without compromising confidential information.  I even know where to find funding for these initiatives.

I want an audit of MCI and a separate division for investigations of complaints.

I know for a fact that DHS has refused to respond to investigative inquiries of the office since 2005.  It is now 2013 and Ruffin has not done a damn thing to ensure her staff has full access to the databases and files of DHS.  She knew about it and made sure to sweep the problem under the rug, just like she did over at Luthern Family Services.

All in all, the investigative staff of the OCO are wonderful people who engage in grueling work under pressure, in a politically constrained environment with limited resources.  The ombudsman is lazy and refuses to participate in change.  She lets people get away with murder and condones the filing of millions in false claims by these contracted child placing agencies.  She covers up for her cronies like Steve Yager and Bill Johnson.

She needs to resign, yesterday.  Bitch needs to go, now.  I dare someone to challenge me on this.

Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The LK Minute - January 30th 2013

The LK Minute - January 30th 2013 - What's been happening on over the last 24 hours. Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

The LK Minute - January 28th 2013

Legally Kidnapped launches a daily journal on the child protection industry. Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

Is Michigan To Have A False Claims Act?

Do mine eyes deceiveth me?  Could it be that there are people who have heeded my advice.  Is Michigan to finally have an official, living, breathing false claims act?

Will Medicaid fraud in child welfare be referred to the Attorney General?

Will Michigan have its first Qui Tam?

I quiver with anticipation.

Introduced by Rep. Kurt Heise (R) on January 22, 2013, to create a new “false claims” cause of action, in which an individual or the Attorney General could sue a person who performs one of a wide range of actions that constitute a false or fraudulent monetary claim against the state or a local government. A court would be authorized to award triple damages against the perpetrator, and the individual who brought the suit (or the Attorney General’s office) would be eligible to receive a portion of the damages.
  • Referred to the House Judiciary Committee on January 22, 2013.

Does a Michigan House Representative dare to challenge his colleagues and Governor in demanding a fully compliant state false claims act?

Well, my dear Representative Heise, allow me to tell you a story...

Michigan has a long history of allowing the filing of false claims in child welfare.  Just ask Maura Corrigan.  

Michigan just granted, by statute, civil immunity to child welfare organizations.  False claims in child welfare can never be prosecuted for contractual debarment, license revocation, let alone recovery.

In child welfare, there exists no referral process to the Attorney General Medicaid Fraud Control Unit in the suspected filings of false claims against the state.

The U.S. HHS OIG has been trying to get Michigan up to speed for some time.  Unfortunately, it just may take longer than expected, all because of that infamous middle of the night lame duck session.

Please note that Attorney General Mike cox was no longer in office at the time of generation. I called from the Congressional Office to correct the Inspector General on the seriousness of this error. I could not get too mad. She called back and was really regretful for the oversight.

Michigan has until March 31, 2013 to come into compliance.
Stay tuned.  The show is about to begin.

Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Maine Steals More Kids - Baby LK Report For January 27th 2013

Baby LK recaps the week in news for the child protection industry. Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

CPS Vs. The 2nd Amendment - Baby LK Report For January 6th 2012

Baby LK recaps the week in news for the child protection industry.
Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

Michigan Medicaid Proposed Policy for Autism

The dedicated leadership of Michigan Lt. Governor Brian Calley has allowed the state to realize that it has one of the worsts records in child welfare.

Nationally, the rates of autism in children, as of 2008, are 1 in 88.  In Detroit, Michigan, the rates skyrocket to less than 1 in 10 in boys.  Unfortunately, particularly in Detroit Metropolitan region, it was once common belief that abuse and neglect were the causes of Autism.  Once these children entered the foster care system, life only got worse with high rates of unnecessary psychotropic drugging of children and subjected to violent treatment of caregiver environments.

Expansions of Medicaid policy, as well as private insurance mandates to cover autism treatments, is basic finance.  Invest in the welfare of a child to achieve the best interest to generate a profitable, future return of a productive, tax paying citizen.
Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Conyers Applauds $8.5 Million Renovation Funding for the David Whitney Building

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.

(DETROIT) Today, the Michigan Strategic Fund approved a $1 million Michigan Community Revitalization Program performance-based grant and a $7.5 million loan to Whitney Partners, LLC for the renovation of the David Whitney building in Detroit. The Michigan Community Revitalization Program is managed by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, a public-private partnership supported by a state appropriation from the Michigan Strategic Fund Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) issued this statement following the announcement

 “I am delighted that $8.5 million in performance-based grant and loan funding has been provided to a local real estate development company, through a public-private partnership, for the renovation of the David Whitney building,” said Conyers.

 “This funding will go towards the construction of 108 residential apartments, 135 hotel rooms, and the creation of 75 permanent full-time jobs. In addition, this renovation project will restore the community’s access to the Detroit People Mover, and will bring in investment capital of $82.5 million. “I commend the Michigan Community Revitalization Program for their innovative public-private partnership model that addresses local challenges. This project has the potential to be an integral part of the continued revitalization of our great city.”

Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

Conyers Joins Gun Violence Prevention Forum in Calling for Action Now

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.

(WASHINGTON) – Yesterday, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) participated in a forum put on by the Gun Violence Prevention Taskforce, established by Minority Leader Pelosi. Following his participation in the forum, Congressman Conyers issued this statement:

“As gun violence continues to pervade our nation, I commend the Gun Violence Prevention Taskforce for their continued focus on the issue,” said Conyers.

“A broad spectrum of witnesses at today’s hearing, and at the hearing of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee last week,  have proposed a number of ways for Congress to act to help reduce gun violence in our communities.  Based on those ideas, and the recommendations announced last week by the President and Vice President, I call on Congress to act now, including adoption of these important priorities:

“First, we must require background checks for all gun sales. Current law only requires licensed gun dealers to perform the checks before selling a gun.  Non-licensed sellers do not have to perform checks, and it’s estimated that 40% of guns are sold by private sellers without checks. This is unacceptable, and is a major drive of gun violence in this country.

“Second, we must ban semi-automatic assault weapons. In 1994, Congress enacted a ban, but it expired in 2004. Military-grade weapons simply do not belong on our streets.
“Third, we must ban high-capacity ammunition magazines. As with assault weapons, Congress had banned high-capacity ammunition magazines but the ban expired in 2004 due to the law’s sunset provision.  High-capacity magazines, which have the capacity of holding more than 10 bullets, allow shooters to spray a high-volume of bullets at people without reloading, making guns much more deadly.

“Fourth, we must address the root causes of violent crime in our communities through programs which are proven to prevent crime.
“Fifth, we must also address the mental health crisis in our country, in which approximately 26% of our population suffers from serious mental illness. I applaud President Obama’s call for a new initiative to train mental health professionals and deploy them in our communities.  And I commend the action the President is taking to finalize regulations to establish insurance parity between mental health treatment and treatment for physical health. 

“Above all else, we must take a comprehensive approach to preventing firearms violence, including these actions and others as President Obama has recommended, because the scope of the problem is enormous.

“There are 33 people murdered with firearms every day in America.  The actions we take must reflect that the fact that we have the equivalent of a mass shooting every day.  Over 58,000 U.S. soldiers were killed during the entirety of the Vietnam War.  However, gun violence kills more civilians in America every two years. 

“In the past several years, tragedies arising from gun violence have impacted our schools, movie theaters, and even local Congressional events. The time is now for Congress to take action on these proposals, so we can address the national crisis of gun violence before another tragedy occurs yet again.”

Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

House & Senate Democrats Reintroduce Comprehensive Voting Rights Bill

Voter Empowerment Act Will Strengthen Our Democracy 
Through Ensuring Equal Access to Registration and Voting
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Rep. John Lewis (GA-5), House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD-5), Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (SC-6), Rep. John Conyers (MI-13), and Rep. Robert Brady (PA-1) reintroduced the Voter Empowerment Act in the House of Representatives.  Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York introduced a companion version in the Senate.  The Voter Empowerment Act will help ensure equal access to the ballot for every eligible voter, will modernize our voter registration system to help more Americans participate, and takes steps to eliminate deceptive practices and voter fraud that deter voters from casting their ballots. 
As more and more stories of voting problems emerge from last year’s general election, Democrats are continuing to press the issue of ensuring Americans’ voting rights through Congressional action, especially at a time when some states have implemented or are planning to implement new barriers to voting for certain groups, including seniors, students, low-income Americans, and members of our Armed Services.  The bill is being reintroduced on the anniversary of the 24th Amendment, which banned the discriminatory practice of the poll tax.
Click for a section by section descriptionfact sheetquotes in support, or full bill text of the Voter Empowerment Act.

Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

Pelosi, Conyers and Moore Reintroduce Violence Against Women Act Vow to Work for Swift Reauthorization of Vital Legislation

Washington, D.C. – Today, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, House Judiciary Ranking Member John Conyers and Rep. Gwen Moore (WI-4) were joined by a number of their colleagues to reintroduce the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013.  The legislation strengthens the abilities of the federal government, states, law enforcement, and service providers to combat domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.  The Violence Against Women Act currently has 158 cosponsors in the House.

“For nearly two decades, the Violence Against Women Act has brought domestic violence out of the shadows, protected women and children from harm, and saved lives.  Congress must build on this history of progress and reauthorize and strengthen this law without any delay,” said Leader Pelosi.  “No woman should ever be forced to suffer in silence in the face of abuse, and Democrats are committed to expanding protections for America’s women and giving law enforcement the tools they need to enforce the Violence Against Women Act and keep women safe.”

“Since the Violence Against Women Act was signed into law in 1994, it has always enjoyed strong bipartisan support,” said Conyers.  “Last Congress, partisan politics got in the way of action, and the Violence Against Women Act was not reauthorized.  I call on my colleagues today to put aside their differences and pass this bill as soon as possible for President Obama to sign.  Victims of domestic violence can wait no longer.”

“Domestic violence is a cancer that pervades our communities and our homes,” said Rep. Moore.  “As a survivor of domestic violence I feel it is my personal responsibility to reach back and help those who have been victimized.  No woman should ever feel afraid in her own neighborhood or home.  No woman should ever have to endure the physical and psychological pain of domestic violence.  Yet, too many women continue to live in fear.  And that is why we must reauthorize – and strengthen – the Violence Against Women Act.”

The Violence Against Women Act has a strong track record of success, demonstrably improving the criminal justice system’s ability to keep victims safe and hold perpetrators accountable.  The annual incidence of domestic violence has dropped more than 50 percent since the law was originally enacted.  This Act provides life-saving support to victims of domestic violence and strengthens communities to help end this brutality.

Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©



Detroit, Michigan January 24, 2013 -The outmigration that resulted in Detroit's 25 percent population loss between 2000 and 2010 was driven, to a large degree, by families with children. In spite of that loss, children still accounted for 194,347 of Detroit's residents, or 27 percent of the city's total population. The 2012 State of Detroit's Child report tells their story.
Consisting of five major sections: Demographic Overview; Family Economic Security; Early Childhood Development; K-12 Education; and Health and Safety, the second annual State of Detroit's Child (SDC) report provides an extensive overview of the conditions of Detroit's children, utilizing the most recent data available. The Skillman Foundation asked Data Driven Detroit (D3) to produce the 2012 report in order to provide essential information for policy-makers, educators, child advocates, and community stakeholders in the region.   
The report documents the 9.2 percent decrease in the number of births to teen mothers, and the increase of 11.5 percent in the number of mothers who sought and received appropriate prenatal care. Births to mothers who did not smoke during their most recent pregnancy also increased dramatically. Another positive outcome was the decreasing rate of children testing positive for elevated blood lead levels, down more than 75 percent across all age group between 2001 and 2010.
According to Kurt Metzger, Director of Data Driven Detroit (D3), "Data Driven Detroit was created to work across sectors and organizations in Detroit and the region to develop the data that can serve to inform collaborative efforts toward measureable outcomes. The 2012 State of Detroit's Child report is designed to serve as a catalyst for any and all who are dedicated to improving the lives of Detroit's children. The data are consistently reported at the city level in order to allow D3 to cover a wide range of issues and sources. Our goal is that these data allow selected issues to create community momentum that will result in collective efforts necessitating more detailed analyses and strategies."
The large increase in the share of children living in poverty was the real story of the last decade. Nearly 60 percent (57.3 percent) of Detroit children were living in poverty in 2011. This represents a 64.7 percent increase in child poverty since 1999, eliminating all gains that were made during the decade of the 1990s, and exceeding the high rates reached in the recession of the early 1980s. The poverty rate was highest, 62.7 percent, for children under the age of five.
The report also contains a section dedicated entirely to education. With the emergence of charter schools, schools of choice and the new school district, the Education Achievement Authority, enrollment in Detroit Public Schools dropped from 80.4 to 45.7 percent of all Detroit school-age children in a little more than ten years. According to the most recent data, 2 of every 5 Detroit school-age children attend a charter school.
According to Carol Goss of the Skillman Foundation in her introduction to the report, "...we place tremendous value on having reliable, timely data to inform our decisions and drive our changemaking efforts....D3 has once again created an excellent tool for us to glean valuable information about the state of our city's youth. We rely on this report, and we think others invested in the city's future should too."

Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

State social worker program ramps up in Detroit, Flint, Saginaw and Pontiac public schools

It should be noted that incentives for this program are part of what is called Obamacare. The purpose is to reduce short and long term costs, eventually reducing the reliability of social services while maximizing social resources.

State social worker program ramps up in Detroit, Flint, Saginaw and Pontiac public schools

LANSING, MI - A program putting state social workers in Detroit, Flint, Pontiac and Saginaw public schools potentially could serve as a model for expansion including other state services in other locations.
The Department of Human Services' “Pathways to Potential” program is putting more workers into public schools in the four cities early this year, building on a pilot program. An estimated 135 schools – mostly elementary schools – are expected to have social workers or “success coaches” on location by mid-February or so.
The program was discussed Wednesday in a wide-ranging media roundtable with Director Maura Corrigan and other DHS officials. The Pathways to Potential program was mentioned by Gov. Rick Snyder in his State of the State speech last week.
The focus is to send state employees to where clients are located, rather than relying on clients to come to state offices. It helps residents who may have transportation problems, and it allows social workers to more directly observe clients’ situations.
A goal is “to go mobile, to be where the clients are, to get them to results,” Corrigan said.
Detroit, Flint, Pontiac and Saginaw have had relatively high crime rates – drawing an emphasis from the Snyder administration. The same cities have recently had more state resources committed to law enforcement.
The Pathways to Potential program is designed to help children and families get access to resources – both public and private – for which they qualify. The social workers will be able to assist DHS clients, and also work with families and children that are not DHS clients.
Cutting down on truancy – making sure students attend classes – will be one of the primary goals for the state employees that DHS is calling “success coaches.”
The program isn’t expected to cost extra money. It’s designed to meet the needs of DHS clients more effectively and directly by putting social workers directly into school buildings.
“It became very clear to us last year that our business model – how we were serving those people in desperate need – was a horrible business model,” said Duane Berger, chief deputy director of the Department of Human Services. “It was a model of brick-and-mortar where they come to us, rather than us go to them.”
It’s a program that at some point could expand to other parts of the state, DHS officials said. And it also could serve as a precursor or model for making other state services – such as health and employment services – available in schools or other community hubs.

Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

Monday, January 21, 2013

Time to Tackle America's Real Debt: Jobs

By Congressman
John Conyers, Jr.

As President Obama prepares to take the oath of office, an elite consensus has emerged in Washington: The first term was about reducing unemployment; the second is about tackling the federal debt.
The Economist Magazine put it succinctly: "The crisis and recession are past," it declared. "Mr. Obama's priority now is dealing with the deficit they left behind."
For tens of millions of unemployed and underemployed Americans, there is a different reality, however: The Great Recession is alive and kicking. Rather than buying into the defunct economic ideology that underlies today's budget-cutting fervor, President Obama should focus on restoring workers' dignity and the nation's economy by restoring full employment.
For all the talk about the end of the Great Recession, there are still 12.2 million unemployed people in the United States. This does not include millions more who are working part-time but want and need full-time work. Worse still, this does not include millions of others who are too discouraged to continue looking for work.
Even these grim statistics mask the urgency of the situation. Empirical research over the past four years has shown that people who lose their jobs bear lasting damage to their earnings potential, their mental and physical health and the life opportunities of their children.
The costs are borne not only by individuals and families but cities, regions and the national economy. Years of persistently high unemployment have undermined the base of technical skills on which the nation relies to compete in manufacturing and other sectors globally; these years of high unemployment have reduced consumer demand, causing countless American firms to close.
All told, unemployment is still a national emergency in 2013.
Yet Washington politicians, spurred by an extreme conservative faction, are now pretending that it isn't.
The narrative that has taken hold in the nation's capital -- that America is broke and must sell off its assets and abandon key services for its most vulnerable people -- is based not on facts but fear.
Insider interest groups like the Peterson Institute, intent on reducing taxes for the wealthiest 1% by cuttingvital programs including Social Security and Medicare, have been screaming since the early 1990s that investors will soon boycott U.S. bonds unless the nation drastically reduces its spending on the social safety net. These "bond vigilantes", they argue, will force our national borrowing costs -- the interest rates on our bonds -- through the roof, wreaking havoc on the economy.
Yet, tellingly, this never happens. For all the hysteria about budget deficits, there's a simple fact that's evident today: the cost of government borrowing is very low. The federal government can raise funds in the short term with practically no interest; it can borrow funds over ten years for less than two percent. These rates are not simply an economic advantage for the United States: They are a powerful statement that global markets still have great confidence in our national finances.
These low rates are also, crucially, a sign that we should assign urgency where urgency is due: dealing with our debilitating jobs crisis.
This is why I am proposing the "21st Century Full Employment Act" to invest in workers' skills and create public-interest work opportunities for all those who seek them. Such an approach would not only help the nation to overcome its educational challenges, environmental crises, and infrastructure deficits; it would also boost private sector economic growth by injecting desperately needed demand into the economy.
In seeking election in 2008, President Obama invoked a powerful line from Dr. Martin Luther King: "The fierce urgency of now." With regards to jobs, I pray that he continues to feel this urgency today.

Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

Friday, January 18, 2013

Macomb County juvenile court referee suspended over possible health insurance fraud

A Macomb County Court juvenile court referee has been suspended with pay while under investigation for possible health insurance fraud.
John J. Kennedy was placed on indefinite administrative leave Jan. 3 while county officials investigate whether his stepson may be improperly collecting health insurance benefits through Kennedy’s county-paid health plan. His stepson may have health insurance available to him through a job with a health system.
“He’s been placed on paid administrative leave so we can do an investigation into possible misconduct,” Macomb County Chief Judge David Viviano said Friday. “I don’t want to get into why or where it goes from here.”
Viviano would not reveal the exact nature of the investigation or whether another agency may be involved in the probe.
He said court officials are working with officials from the county Human Resources Department.
Kennedy could not be reached for comment.
He is one of six referees, quasi judges, in Macomb who preside over juvenile delinquency and child abuse and neglect cases while serving under family/juvenile judges. He earns a salary between $63,450 and $79,313.

Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

Justices ponder proposed changes to court rules

Justices ponder proposed changes to court rules
Rules for retaining and destroying case files and other court records in various juvenile cases — such as child protection, personal protection orders against juveniles, and juvenile delinquency — would be clarified under proposed changes to Michigan Court Rule 3.925.

The proposed amendment is on the agenda for the Michigan Supreme Court’s January 30 public administrative hearing. 

The hearing will take place in the court’s courtroom on the 6th floor of the Michigan Hall of Justice, 925 W. Ottawa Street, Lansing. The hearing will begin at 9:30 a.m. and adjourn by 11:30 a.m. 

Anyone wishing to address the court on an agenda item may contact the clerk of the court at or in writing at PO Box 30052, Lansing, MI 48909, no later than Monday, January 28 to reserve a place on the agenda. 

Speakers are limited to three minutes per agenda item. 

The proposed amendment to MCR 3.925 (ADM File No. 2012-12) would amend the rule to require the register of actions, and numerical and alphabetical indexes, to “be maintained permanently.” 

Courts would also be required to maintain certain juvenile records permanently, including orders terminating parental rights, orders terminating jurisdiction in child protective cases, and orders appointing or dismissing guardians for juveniles. 

These requirements are consistent with existing court record retention timelines under General Schedule 16. 

Other provisions provide a timetable for destroying other records, such as case files in juvenile offenses and child protective proceedings. 

Also before the Court is a proposed change to MCR 3.976, “Permanency Planning Hearings” (ADM 2012-13). 

The court rule is one of several that govern proceedings in terminations of parental rights; under MCR 3.976, courts are required to order child welfare agencies to start proceedings to terminate parental rights in child abuse and neglect cases where the child has been in out-of-home care for 15 of the last 22 months. 

However, the statutory framework also allows courts an exception to this requirement if the court finds there is good cause to do so. 

Under the proposed amendment, a court that declines to require DHS to file a petition for termination of parental rights “shall state on the record the reason or reasons for its decision.” 

A staff comment to the rule states that the revision “would require a court to indicate on the record the reason that no petition for termination of parental rights need be filed, thus providing a record to future auditors who review the state’s foster care program that the court explicitly chose the option.” 

The remaining item on the January 30 agenda is a proposed amendment to MCR 3.616, “Proceeding to Determine Continuation of Voluntary Foster Care Services” (ADM File No. 2012-20).

The proposed revisions state that the files of a young adult remaining in foster care are confidential, similar to child protective cases that are confidential under MCR 3.903, but adds that “[t]he Department of Human Services and the youth are entitled to access” to the files. 

The changes also would revise the notice provisions of the rule. 

All three proposals are supported by the Michigan Judges Association and the State Bar of Michigan.
Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

Seven Arrested, Charged with $22 Million Detroit-area Home Health Care Fraud Scheme

Six Detroit-area residents and one Chicago-area resident were arrested today by federal agents on charges arising from the ongoing investigation into an alleged $22 million home health care fraud scheme.  The indictment was announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan; Special Agent in Charge Robert D. Foley III of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Chicago Regional Office; and Special Agent in Charge Erick Martinez of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Detroit Field Office.

According to the 18-count indictment returned Jan. 15, 2013, and unsealed today, the seven individuals allegedly participated in a Medicare fraud scheme operating out of four Oakland County, Mich., home health agencies claiming to provide in-home health services: Royal Home Health Care Inc., Prestige Home Health Services Inc., Platinum Home Health Services Inc. and Empirical Home Health Care Inc.  The indictment alleges Medicare paid the agencies approximately $22 million for fraudulently reported services since August 2008.

In addition to the arrests, law enforcement agents suspended Medicare payments to four health care companies associated with the alleged scheme.
Muhammad Aamir, 42; Usman Butt, 39; Hemal Bhagat, 31; Syed Shah, 50; Tariq Tahir, 46; and Raquel Ellington, 56, of the Detroit area; and Tayyab Aziz, 43, from the Chicago area, each are charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud.  All but Aziz are also charged with health care fraud and with conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute.  Butt, Bhagat, Shah and Aziz are additionally charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering.

According to the indictment, Aamir and Butt owned and operated Prestige; Butt, Bhagat and Shah owned and operated Royal; and Aamir owned and operated Platinum and Empirical – all of which allegedly claimed to provide home health therapy services to Medicare beneficiaries that were unnecessary and/or were never performed.  The indictment alleges Tahir and Ellington recruited Medicare beneficiaries, paying them kickbacks for their Medicare information and signatures on documents that detailed physical therapy and/or skilled nursing services that were either never rendered or not medically necessary.  Aamir, Butt, Bhagat, Shah, Tahir and Ellington are also charged with conspiring to pay kickbacks to Tahir and Ellington for their recruiting work.  Butt, Bhagat, Shah and Aziz allegedly conspired to launder the proceeds of the scheme.

The charges of health care fraud conspiracy and health care fraud each carry a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  The charge of conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $25,000 fine.  The charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

An indictment is merely a charge and defendants are presumed innocent unless nad until proven guilty.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Niall M. O’Donnell of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.  The investigation is conducted jointly by the FBI and HHS-OIG, as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, and IRS-CI, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan.
Since their inception in March 2007, strike force operations in nine locations have charged more than 1,480 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $4.8 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©