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July 2015 Archives

Partner Jim Fausone Elected VP of U of M’s Civil & Environmental Engineering Association

Canton, MI – The University of Michigan’s Civil & Environmental Engineering Friends Association (CEEFA) recently elected local resident and business owner Jim Fausone as their Vice President. Fausone graduated from U of M with an engineering degree.

“It’s an honor to serve in this position where I have the opportunity to give back the University engineering community and help support current and future students,” said Fausone.

CEEFA provides a network for alumni, as well as a network of alumni for current students to tap into. The group sponsors scholarships and career mentorship programs for current students as well.

Fausone’s engineering background includes serving in the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and working in civil and environmental engineering fields. Eventually, he would become the president of a multi-million dollar industrial services, waste transportation and environmental contracting company. In addition, Fausone now serves as the Chair of the Detroit Board of Water Commissioners – soon to be the Great Lakes Water Authority.

Today, Fausone runs the Northville-based law firm of Fausone Bohn, LLP, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. And, Fausone also established a veteran’s practice, Legal Help For Veterans, PLLC, now one of the largest veterans law firms in the country.

Fausone said he hopes his multi-faceted background will help him in his new role. “It’s important to show students that there’s a lot you can do with an engineering degree, whether you’re working on hard technical problems or trying to become an entrepreneur. And the degree even comes in handy as a lawyer.”

Fausone lives in Canton, MI with his wife, Carol Ann, also a U of M graduate in the School of Nursing. 

Officials in Great Lakes Region to Act on Algae Problem, Water Diversion

Last month, Quebec City hosted a conference of the 8 Governors from the Great Lakes US States and 2 from Canadian Provinces to discuss issues facing the Great Lakes.  One of the top issues discussed was the algae blooms on Lake Erie; to which Michigan, Ohio, and Ontario pledged to a reduction of 40% by 2025.

While the pledge is a step in the right direction, environmental groups have tried to call attention to this issue for years but have been largely ignored by government officials in the region.  In 2011, a sixth of Lake Erie was covered with toxic algae blooms. It reduced fish populations, fouled beaches, and most importantly it contaminated the drinking water. The bloom produced a concentration of a liver toxin that was 1,200 times the limit set by the World Health Organization.

The drinking water contamination continues to be one of the largest issues associated with the algae blooms. Just last August, Toledo was without drinkable water for 3 days because of dangerous toxin levels.

Some environmental groups are not only angry with the delayed action, but with the announcement itself. The conference provided no details on how the reduction will be carried out nor any mechanism to ensure compliance. The governors only said that “adaptive measures” will be taken by State environmental agencies.

The Sierra Club and the Food and Water Watch believe the announcement just shows how the agricultural industry continues to remain untouchable. Since the algae blooms are largely created by agricultural runoff containing phosphorus, measures would be taken to regulate agricultural pollution. Unfortunately, no such measure was expressed in the announcement.

A spokeswoman for the Food and Water Watch issued a statement “Relying on voluntary action is irresponsible and leaves a major source of drinking water for the region at the mercy of an industry looking to profit above all else”.

Another big issue raised was whether or not Great Lakes water should be diverted to Waukesha, Wisconsin. This community has had a polluted well for years, and now the Wisconsin DNR requests access to the safe water in the Great Lakes. In order to have access, the request needs approval from all 8 Great Lakes States. Just one vote against it can deny the whole proposal.

State leaders are expected to proceed with caution in forming their response because they believe the decision will become precedent for all future water diversion requests, which will be highly significant in the near future as water becomes scarcer around the country.

Michigan will arguably be the most important voice in the matter as it is the only state completely in the Great Lakes Basin. While it is important to provide those in need with available water sources, Michigan has the most to lose if diversion requests start to flood in.

Former Nursing Home Employee Terrorizes Resident in Michigan

Daniel Williams, Esq.

The arrest of 21 year old Tyler Malone serves as a reminder that nursing home abuse does not have to simply be physical abuse, but can also take form as emotional and mental abuse.

While working in 2014 as a resident assistant at Life House Crystal Springs in Gaines Township, Michigan, he targeted an 86-year-old female resident to prey on. The abuse he inflicted was equivalent to psychological torture. He harassed her with repeated phone calls; threw shoes at her; dumped water on her; made threats of sexual assault; and stalked her.

Kent County sheriff’s deputies were made aware of his actions from family members and coworkers, who quickly arrested the suspect. He is charged with second-degree vulnerable adult abuse and stalking and is currently held in the Kent County Jail.

Sadly, there are more people like Malone still employed at assisted living facilities around the state. Their method of abuse leaves victims with emotional scars instead of physical scars. With no visible injuries, it is difficult to prove any abuse has taken place, especially if the aggressor uses scare-tactics to keep the victim silent.

This is why it is paramount for victims of elder abuse to speak up immediately. Family and friends also need to be vigilant when visiting the elder in a nursing home. Your family deserves aggressive representation to ensure your loved ones' rights are protected. No citizen deserves that kind of neglect or harmful treatment.

If you suspect a care facility or in-home care service has acted negligently, you need to contact attorney Dan Williams immediately. As a former Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for Wayne County in the Elder Abuse Unit, and a current elder abuse attorney for Fausone Bohn LLP, he has vast expertise handling these types of cases. He will fight to ensure that all involved in the matter are held accountable, and is prepared to go to trial if need be.

Give us a call today for a consultation on your case. 

Bikes for Vets Helps 8 Veterans at Event

On July 1st, eight more vets were equipped with brand new bikes, thanks to Bikes for Vets, Qauligence, and D&D Bikes and Hockey. With the money raised by Qauligence, D&D Bikes and Hockey was able to purchase a bike, mesh backpack, helmet, lock, and kickstand for each veteran.

The crowd of around 40 people gathered for the presentation included state politicians, private contributors, and community leaders. The room was filled with smiles, laughter, and excitement as each veteran explained what he/she planned to use the bike for. Many vets were eager to exercise daily to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Others were relieved that they finally had a reliable method of transportation for work and school. One such veteran, Demien DeYonte, plans to go to school to become a prosthetics manufacturer so he can provide prosthetic limbs to fellow servicemen and women that were wounded while in service.

Bill Mowder, the director of the program, is ready to take the next step in building Bikes for Vets. While 15 donated bikes is great, he plans to reach every veteran in need statewide. He is not concerned with creating a national brand nor making money. Instead, as long as a veteran was made better-off by the program, then his job was done.


DWSD Water Master Plan to Reduce Costs

At a special joint meeting Wednesday, July 8, officials with the Great Lakes Water Authority – the new regional water authority – and the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department received an update on the Detroit water department’s master plan.

The five-year master plan is projected to save the city about $40 million annually in operating costs. These savings would come from closing operations at one of five water treatment plants, and scaling back energy costs and implementing similar changes designed to accommodate declining water sales.

Jim Fausone, Fausone Bohn partner and chairman of the DWSD Board of Water Commissioners, says a primary benefit of the plan is helping leaders in Detroit and the suburbs avoid future water rate hikes. Jim was quoted in the Detroit Free Press Wednesday saying, “The best we can do is drive out of the cost structure any excessive costs. That’s part of what the water master plan does.” Jim says it is reasonable to expect the DWSD board to take up the master plan in September. 

Bikes for Vets Program: Cruising on the Path of Success

Unemployment continues to be one of the biggest struggles veterans face after exiting the military. Whether it’s due to emotional distress, physical injury, or financial hardship, many veterans are unable to land a job. Making matters worse, there are far too few programs that veterans can look to for help.

Fortunately, one Metro Detroiter’s has a simple, yet genius, answer to this problem: “Give them a bike”. It may not sound like much, but Bikes for Vets is the real-deal. It eliminates the one of the largest barriers to employment, transportation. The cost of maintaining and insuring a car is very high in Michigan. If a person cannot afford a car, they have no way of getting to work unless he/she relies on someone else for a ride. When you are dependent on someone else to get you to work, there are always scheduling conflicts that will force you to be late or miss work.

Bikes for Vets aims to solve this money and dependency issue. By providing a vet virtually free transportation, they can arrive to work on a consistent basis. Add this to the large public bus systems of Metro Detroit, and you can provide people with a fast, reliable, rock-bottom priced method of transportation.

Bill Mowder, the creator of the Bikes for Vets program, said the idea suddenly hit him one day as he was watching a person load his bike on to the front of a public bus. As an Americorps Navigator, he is assisting veterans every single day. Yet, he thought there was more to be done, particularly with finding them transportation.

Traditional transportation assistance involves helping veterans with car expenses, but as we know, this can be expensive. For example, for a veteran to get assistance on a car repair he must get two certified estimates and verification of car insurance. Most veterans cannot even afford the mechanic inspections, let alone car insurance payments. On average, the cost of inspection, parts, and service totals to about $900.00.

The Bikes for Vets solution, on the other hand, is cost-effective and easy. Bill found that most people in the Metro Detroit area live within 10 miles of where they work. In addition to this, public busing systems are available in most areas and all Metro Detroit buses are fitted with a bike rack. These circumstances allow for biking to be a realistic option of transportation.

With the help of the local store D&D Bicycles and Hockey, he was able to purchase a reliable bike at an affordable price. At $437.00, a veteran receives a bike, helmet, kickstand, rack, and bike lock so they are ready to hit the road the next day. D&D Bicycles and Hockey has several locations around the Metro Detroit area including Northville and Westland.
The program’s first four participants gave rave reviews of the concept, namely the health and work benefits. One man was able to arrive to work on-time consistently and finally get 40 hours a week. A woman reported her 22 mile-a-day ride allowed her to lose 7 pounds in just a week of work.

Besides the obvious physical health benefits, veterans also reported better mental health from participating in Bikes for Vets. By avoiding car payments and maintenance, their stress levels are significantly reduced. This saved money allows them to pay their bills, building their self-esteem.

Since the first test of concept, he has given bikes to 15 veterans thus far. Private donations have allowed this program to flourish. Bill expects that as awareness increases, the program will quickly spread statewide, and hopefully throughout the country.

If you would like to contribute to this worthy cause, please contact Bill at [email protected]

Dementia, Alzheimer's Puts Seniors in Financial Danger

Daniel Williams, Esq.

As people age, they are increasingly at risk to develop cognitive impairments or suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s. Recent studies have estimated around 11% of Americans aged 65 or older have Alzheimer’s. As those diseases progress, the person suffering from them loses the ability to do daily tasks and to care for their financial needs. 

When those persons begin to exhibit problematic financial behavior, it may be a sign that they are in need of either someone to take power of attorney or to have a guardianship and conservatorship in place to allow someone else to look after those everyday needs.

While those processes are important and necessary, there is also the possibility of exploitation as well. Since Americans over the age of 50 control over 70% the nation’s wealth, they are a highly-valued target for scammers. The common fear for persons suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is that they are susceptible to phone scammers and home-visits from strangers who use phony stories of tragedy and empty-promises to swindle victims.

While these predators will continue to be a cause of concern as the technology boom creates new opportunities for exploitation, they are not the only ones we should worry about. There is another set of individuals whose familiar face and established relationship allow them to operate undetected.

This group, of course, is the family members of the victims. In some instances, it is the person holding power of attorney, or who has been appointed guardian and conservator who tries to take advantage of their elderly, and disabled family member.  According to the National Council on Aging, in elder abuse cases with known perpetrators, 90% are family members.

The amount of abuse and exploitation done by family members to an elderly or disabled person is substantial and is terribly underreported. A conservative estimate places the total financial loss due to theft/deceit enabled by a trusting relationship at $6.6 Billion per year. If all abuse was uncovered, this amount would be significantly higher.

Many times, even when the abuse is discovered, there is a lack of desire to use the court process, in all of its forms, criminal, civil and probate, to try and recover the lost assets and to enforce criminal sanctions for the conduct. It is estimated that for every one case of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation, about 5 more go unreported. The simple fact is, there is no reason that anyone, including a family member, can simply be left to take care of another person without being watched.

There are pros and cons to both Powers of Attorney and guardianships and conservatorships.  However, it is important that more than one person keep an eye on how the persons in those capacities are handling mom and dad’s money, once they are unable to do it for themselves any longer.

There are criminal and civil remedies that can be implemented to try and recover and punish persons who exploit the elderly.  As a former Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor, I was assigned to the Elder Abuse Unit and saw more than my share of financial exploitation cases.  Most of the Defendants that I dealt with in that arena were family members, or persons that the victim trusted.  While there are criminal charges that can be levied against the offenders, there are also civil remedies as well, which provide an avenue by which the aggrieved elder can be made whole and obtain a money judgment to hopefully have their finances restored.

If you suspect that a family member has been the victim of elder abuse or financial exploitation, the attorneys at Fausone Bohn, LLP have the experience and knowledge to ensure that justice can be obtained on your behalf.

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