Original Case Details

A 44-year-old man from Novi was recently federally charged for allegedly committing fraud to obtain over $3 million in federal pandemic loans. He is alleged to have developed a plot to cheat banks by submitting applications for loans that had false and fraudulent information. He was flagged for 19 different loan applications that were all allegedly tied to him in some way. The information submitted for these loans includes paperwork for multiple businesses that either did not exist or did not actually have the employees and wage information that the man allegedly submitted. One of the businesses listed was called “Bless My Grind LLC.” The loans, if valid, would have been distributed by the federal government under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that were guaranteed by the Small Business Administration under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The PPP allows businesses who qualify to receive loans at a 1% interest rate which can later be forgiven if the businesses spend the money within a specific time period with a minimum percentage going towards payroll expenses. Federal authorities have placed a special focus on investigating and prosecuting those who they suspect of fraud related to the pandemic fund and pandemic assistance. This is the latest in a wave of federal pandemic fraud cases that the federal government has pursued. It is expected that cases similar to this will become more commonplace as federal authorities continue to investigate pandemic assistance claims. index2-300x129

Federal Wire Fraud Charges and Related Penalties

Original Case Details

A 60-year-old dump truck driver from Chesterfield Township is facing charges relating to the death of a 10-year-old girl in a traffic accident. A months-long investigation has indicated that the dump truck driver ran a red light at the intersection of 10 Mile Road and Ryan Road in Warren, MI, causing an accident. A mother and daughter were coming out of a Tim Hortons restaurant after they had stopped in for a breakfast sandwich. It is alleged that the mother’s car ran into the dump truck after the dump truck ran a red light which caused a front-end loader construction vehicle to fall off the attached trailer and onto the car, crushing it. The mother made it out alive with minor injuries, the young daughter unfortunately did not. The 10-year-old was fatally crushed as a result of the accident. The man turned himself into Warren police to face arraignment of his charges. iStock_000000687101_Large-2-300x200

Criminal Charges Faced by Dump Truck Driver

Courts During the Pandemic

Courthouses across the state of Michigan are slowly trying to phase in the remainder of regular courtroom activity. Courts have been reopening different departments as they follow social distancing guidelines and the reopening plan set by the State Court Administrators Office (SCAO). Courts will not truly be open, however, until they are able to conduct in-person jury trials. Once this occurs, then it can be said that Michigan courts are really back to work as they were before the pandemic. Jury trials have been backed up in all courts across the state as they are the last thing on the list that courts will be able to do once open. In St. Clair County, trials have been postponed since April because of the pandemic. It looks as if that will soon change if a Circuit Court judge’s ruling denying a motion to adjourn jury trials stands. If your case has been delayed due to a court closure, or you do not have information about your case, then it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney who can best help guide you. index2-300x129

Judge Decides to Move Forward with Jury Trials

Original Case Details

Kiernan Brown, a 28-year-old Delta Township man recently withdrew his guilty pleas after being accused of beating two women to death and was reportedly also looking to kill others on a killing spree. He stands accused of trying to break into his ex-girlfriend’s house during May 2019 before attempting to complete a plan to kill four different women. He was allegedly successful in killing Kaylee Brock in her home in Holt, MI and Julie Mooney in a motel room in Meridian Township on the same day. Medical examiner results showed that both women died from blunt force trauma from numerous blows to the head. Sheriff’s deputies later pulled Brown over on the freeway and Brown allegedly confessed to the murders and even showed the deputies pictures of the bodies of the victims on his cell phone. Brown was also on parole at the time of the offense for a strangulation felony and domestic violence charges. He was also accused of violating a personal protection order that was in place against him from a former girlfriend. iStock_000011602905_Large-2-300x200

Judge Aquilina’s Rejects Plea Deal

Social Justice Group Study

A social justice group known as Citizens for Racial Equity in Washtenaw (CREW) County has found that black defendants in Washtenaw County are more likely to get harsher punishments and more likely to see additional criminal charges than similarly situated white defendants. CREW examined case data from the Washtenaw County Circuit Court relating to criminal felony cases and released its findings on August 27th. The data examined spanned a 6-year period from 2013-2019 and found that black defendants were exponentially more likely than whites to be charged with felonies such as: iStock_000025943007_XXXLarge-2-300x200

• Resisting or obstructing an officer,

Original Case Details

Former Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith’s fall from grace continues. Smith resigned from his post as Macomb County Prosecutor six months ago amid 10 state felony corruption charges. He is the highest-ranking Macomb County official to have been involved in the criminal crackdown on corruption that has been the story of the county this past year. 22 different people have been convicted since 2016 for their varying roles in local corruption. On the state level, Smith is charged with conducting a criminal enterprise, five separate counts of embezzlement by a public official, tampering with evidence, conspiracy to commit forgery, accessory to a crime after the fact, and public office misconduct. Smith’s home was also raided by federal investigators in connection with Smith’s suspected illegal use of campaign funds. He is alleged to have tried two subordinate assistant prosecutors and a friend to lie to a federal grand jury and investigators from the FBI about fraud schemes he allegedly used to illegally take $75,000 from his political election fund and convert it for his own personal use. This allegation has led to a federal criminal charge, which Smith has agreed to pled guilty to. iStock_000000687101_Large-2-300x200

Former Macomb Prosecutor Pleads to Federal Charge

Original Case Details

Back in January of this year, 46-year-old David Michael Barber was sentenced to up to 15 years in Michigan state prison for his conviction of involuntary manslaughter, felony firearm, and trespassing. He was given a minimum sentence of three years in prison by 13th Circuit Court Judge Thomas Power. Barber must serve these three years before he is eligible for parole. Investigators found that Barber had entered onto land owned by the victim while hunting on the first day of deer season. Barber thought he saw a buck about 60 yards away and fired a shot, killing the owner of the land. The victim was found lying over a deer that he was apparently field dressing. Field dressing is a process in which the animal’s internal organs are removed in order to preserve the meat. The big issue in Barber’s case was whether his actions constituted the amount of negligence needed in order to convict Barber of involuntary manslaughter. It doesn’t appear that Barber ever took the position that he did not shoot the gun. The facts that Barber entered onto another’s land and ended up accidentally killing the owner of the land were simply too much for Barber to overcome at trial. Grabel04a-2-300x146

Court of Appeals Decision

COVID-19 Court Closures

The COVID-19 pandemic has obviously had its effects on pretty much everything in society today. Michigan courtrooms are no different; the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant effect on the operation of Michigan courtrooms. Most courtroom business is now conducted over Zoom, changing a historic tradition of requiring defendants in appear in court, and in person for criminal matters. Along with these closures came significant reductions in the jail and prison populations in an effort to keep inmates safe from COVID-19. Michigan courts are now looking to continue the process of reopening safely under guidance from the state. Courts have been reopening different departments as they follow social distancing guidelines. Courts will not truly be open, however, until they are able to conduct in-person jury trials. Once this occurs, then it can be said that Michigan courts are really back to work as they were before the pandemic. Jury trials have been backed up in all courts across the state as they are the last thing on the list that courts will be able to do once open. If your case has been delayed due to a court closure, or you do not have information about your case, then it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney who can best help guide you.index2-300x129

Phased Reopening Plan

Original Case Details

In a previous blog, we detailed the case of Michael Thompson of Flint. Thompson was sentenced to a maximum of 60 years in state prison for his convictions of delivery of marijuana, felony firearm, and being a felon in possession of a firearm, with a minimum sentence of 42 years before he is eligible for parole. He has since served nearly 25 years of that sentence and will not be eligible for parole until he is 87 years old if his current sentence stands. Thompson is currently 69 years old. Briefly, Thompson was arrested in 1994 for selling three pounds of marijuana to a confidential informant. He was charged with the additional gun charges when police searched his home and found various firearms, mostly antiques. Due to the habitual offender law at the time, it allowed the judge to sentence Thompson to any term of years up to life in prison. This 42-60-year sentence isn’t even possible in today’s time for Thompson’s crimes. This issue has resulted in strong support for Thompson from various people, including the Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. index2-300x129

Support from Attorney General

Original Case Details

A Pontiac man in his early 30s is facing multiple felony charges including three counts of first-degree murder for a triple homicide that appears to have been in response to a neighborly dispute that has continued over a period of years. The man, Kenneth Clay, turned himself into police the same night of the shooting. Police say that a total of four people were shot at Clay’s home on his front porch. They allege Clay came outside of his home armed and proceeded to open fire and shoot all four victims before leaving the scene. Three of the four that were shot died, one survived, and is listed in serious condition at a local hospital. Clay was arraigned in Pontiac’s 50th District Court by Judge Michael Martinez and was denied bond by Judge Martinez. He is currently lodged at the Oakland County Jail.iStock_000008551433_Large-2-300x200

Criminal Charges and Potential Penalties

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