Articles Posted in Embezzlement

Original Case Details

In the fallout from the Eric Smith scandal, another member of the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office is facing criminal charges. This time it is Derek Miller, who is the suspended chief of operations for the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office. Miller’s ex-boss was former Macomb County Head Prosecutor Eric Smith. Smith is accused of using money from a civil forfeiture fund for personal benefit to the tune of approximately $600,000 over the course of six years from 2012-2018. Smith is currently charged with a litany of embezzlement and public corruption charges. More information about his case can be found here. Derek Miller has served as a state representative and Macomb County Treasurer along with his time in the Prosecutors office. He is fourth person to be criminally charged in connection with the misuse of forfeiture funds.

Criminal Charges Involved

A woman facing embezzlement charges has just gotten another adjournment much to the judge’s chagrin. The judge asked, “what are we doing with this case? This is the ninth adjournment in this case.” While the judge holds the ultimate authority over giving adjournments, there is an interest in working towards a resolution if it is possible. The defense attorney stated that this adjournment was to finalize plea negotiations. Sometimes an adjournment is exactly what is needed, just a little more time. If both the prosecutor and defense attorney are in agreement in asking for an adjournment, it is rarely denied.

Original Case Details

The woman, 64, is accused of embezzling over $20,000 from the Eastpointe chapter of the International Order of Odd Fellows. She was hired as secretary to the club back in June 2018. She has been accused of stealing the money over a period of time. Investigators believe that she would write duplicate checks to herself, listing things like “vacation” and “hotel reservation” on the memo lines. Additional, out of numerical order checks were also made out to her totaling over $12,000. This woman’s rap sheet goes back to 1990 where she had her first conviction for a false identification in the use of a financial transaction device. She has been convicted of embezzlement previously in 2015 and in 2008 where she embezzled more than $35,000 between both cases. In 2003, she was convicted of theft for stealing over $20,000.

Eric Smith, the Macomb County Prosecutor, charged with embezzlement, was given a Personal Recognizance (PR) Bond at his arraignment today. Smith and his former chief of operations were given $100,000 personal bonds on numerous criminal charges related to the alleged embezzlement of $600,000 from drug and alcohol forfeiture funds since 2012. The question of whether or not this was fair has led to debate. To gain insight into this issue, we spoke to several leaders of our criminal justice community.

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates and has built a criminal defense firm that is known as the top team in the state of Michigan. When asked about Eric Smith’s case and the bond, Grable stated, “A PR Bond is placing the defendant on the honor code. If the defendant comes to court and fulfills their obligations, they do not have to go into their pocket. As for Eric Smith, he was never the easiest to deal with. The fact that he may have tampered with forfeiture funds is of great concern to the integrity of our just criminal community.”

William Amadeo is a Partner at McManus and Amadeo in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and a Senior Associate for Grabel and Associates. Amadeo did work in Macomb County and was reached for comment on the issue. In response, Amadeo said, “Listen, I understand the outrage. Eric Smith is not one of my favorite people, but with that stated, in the wake of COVID-19, jails do not want to detain defendants. This is a time when the jails are living in a state of fear. If a PR has ever been appropriate across the board, it is now as we are living with the Coronavirus.”

A special prosecutor will decide if a former jail administrator will face criminal charges related to inappropriate conduct alleged between him and inmates. These accusations first came to light when several corrections officers approached a newly named Undersheriff and told him about the jail administrator’s alleged activity. The case was previously sent to the Michigan State Police to be reviewed and investigated. The Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan petitions for a special prosecutor when they may be a conflict of interest with the local prosecutor in a given case. A special prosecutor in this case has yet to be named.

Original Case Details

This Jail administrator served the Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Department for decades in various roles was forced to resign in April of 2019 following allegations of inappropriate conduct with past inmates. An investigation found lewd text messages and photos of former and current inmates on the jail administrator’s phone. He has also been accused of delivering coffee and lunches to a former inmate while he was on duty and in uniform. Another accusation has the jail administrator taking a former inmate on a trip to Lansing, calling it a work trip, and subsequently charging their hotel room to the Sheriff’s department. These accusations are among many that this administrator is facing. He is facing potential charges of criminal sexual conduct and embezzlement for his alleged actions.

On Wednesday November 4 it was announced by U.S. Attorney Patrick A. Miles, Jr. that 40-year-old Yashica Toshian Tucker of Grand Rapids had been sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison after filing a false tax return with the IRS (U.S. Government). Special Agent in Charge Jarod J. Koopman of the IRS – Criminal Investigation joined in the announcement.

Close up of a hand signing a check. Please note that the signature is fictitious.

Tucker pleaded guilty in August to one of 10 counts against her involving the filing of fraudulent tax returns on behalf of others. This activity occurred beginning in January of 2011 and continued until February of 2013, according to news reports. The total of the false tax returns filed with the IRS was $71,606 according to an indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids. Tucker was charged in April of this year.

Recently, 42-year-old Stephanie Sumner, an ex-Oak Park deputy city clerk, was ordered to stand trial on charges of embezzlement after she and her husband, Michael Sumner, stole more than $433,000 while she was employed by the city. According to a news report at The Oakland Press, all of the money has been spent.

Copyright David Hardman

Oakland County Sheriff’s Sgt. Christopher Cole said that investigators were not able to recover any of the money, and that it did not appear it was spent on anything illegal. Cole said the Sumners did not make any large purchases, that the money was used as it came in on ordinary, everyday items.

Recently, Mary Leona Gillison, a 50-year-old Arcadia resident, was arrested for allegedly having embezzled more than $50,000 from the Traverse City Area Public School district. Gillison had been employed as an administrative assistant for the district, according to a news article at MI Headlines.

Gillison was arrested on December 18 after the school district performed a forensic audit, working in unison with Sheriff’s detectives. Detectives had obtained a warrant to arrest Gillison on charges of embezzling following the audit, which took several months to complete. An auditing firm for the school district reviewed procedures involving cash handling and purchase card use after Gillison resigned her position at West Middle School unexpectedly in March of this year.

Officials believe that Gillison used a district purchasing card to make “questionable” purchases, one of which was a personal item bought using the card by Gillison in December of last year. It appears that she resigned her position as administrative assistant once she suspected authorities were “on” to her scheme, although until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, she is innocent.

On October 6, it was announced by U.S. Attorney Patrick Miles that Mohamad Abduljaber, husband of Dr. Shannon Wiggins of Okemos, was sentenced to three and a half years in prison after being convicted in a healthcare fraud scheme in which Abduljaber and his wife received healthcare kickback payments. Abduljaber also signed a false tax return, according to the press release.

In sentencing Abduljaber to prison, U.S. District Judge Robert Holmes Bell also ordered him to forfeit $550,000 and to pay more than $285,000 in restitution to the IRS and Medicaid.

Between January of 2004 and April of 2011, Abduljaber and Dr. Shannon Wiggins, his wife, conspired to receive kickbacks for referring patients for electrodiagnostic testing. According to the press release, Abduljaber worked at Dr. Wiggins’ medical practice in the position of office manager. He admittedly signed a fraudulent tax return in which he claimed income for the billing of medical marijuana certifications, however the amount of cash income disclosed on the return was inaccurate.

On June 25, 29-year-old Alicia Marie Simatos is expected to be sentenced after pleading no contest to charges that she stole approximately $55,000 from her employer, Holistic Care Approach in Plainfield Township.  Simatos could face up to 10 years in prison in connection with allegations that she embezzled money from the health facility.

According to news reports at, Simatos pocketed cash as she logged customers’ cash payments as if the customers were redeeming gift certificates.  Holistic Care Approach provides an array of services to clients which include Reiki, skin tightening, acupuncture, and massage therapy.  Kent County Sheriff’s Department investigators claim that the activity took place beginning in January of 2010 and continuing through January of this year.  According to police, Simatos confessed.

While it was estimated that the defendant embezzled about $55,000 which would have left her facing a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, part of her plea agreement includes making restitution.  The agreement allowed Simatos to plead no contest to embezzlement of between $20,000 and $50,000, which reduces the penalties and maximum prison time to 10 years. Continue reading

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