Friday, November 28, 2014

Maura Corrigan Corrects The Record On Michigan Foster Care As A Business

Madame Maura Corrigan
The glorious Madame Maura Corrigan has come out the woodwork to pontificate on the wonderful world of Michigan Child Welfare.

I have arisen to slam her with fact.

(I will update with links).

DHS does not treat foster care as if children are a business


She erroneously implies that the Michigan Department of Human Services profits financially from removing children from their homes and that we remove children without proper investigations.
Nothing could be further from the truth.

Actually, this is true.  Michigan Department of Human Services does not profit financially from removing children as it is the privatized Child Placing Agencies and other so-called community contracted entities who profit, with non-profit, charitable status.

It is called false billing but I prefer to call it fraud.

The Madame calls it revenue maximization.

There is no contractual performance oversight other than "self-reporting".  This is when the contractor reports to the state that everything they do is perfect.

There is no contractual disbarment, sanctions, license revocation or criminal prosecution for fraudulent billing.
Our committed caseworkers are primarily concerned with the safety and well-being of vulnerable children and for keeping families together whenever it's safely possible, and are responsible to courts in every case where a removal occurs.

Responsibility typically means there is some form of consequence.  I have not checked lately but the Child Welfare Training Institute was run by second semester community college kids who only trained in what they were instructed to train: bill.
When evidence of child abuse or neglect exists, DHS staff are legally required to assist parents and families to address those concerns through services that help to resolve any risks to child safety and well-being.

Legal assistance is "checking the box" on the "reasonable efforts" court form for removal, which of course I would be remiss to not to mention are ex-parte (you are not told to be in court) hearings.
If the safety of a child cannot be reasonably assured, our workers are legally obligated to bring these concerns to the court for swift and deliberate action — including, but not limited to, placing that child in another home until those concerns can be successfully resolved.

This sounds lovely considering the fact most workers are aware of the high financial hurdles most relatives must jump in order to care for the removed children.  This is just state culture of unenforced policy.
When a child must be placed in out-of-home care for safety reasons, the department petitions the family division of circuit court. This petition must show steps DHS took to prevent removal. DHS must show why it is unsafe for the child to remain in the home.

Poverty is a big reason for removals but what does the Madame Corrigan care, she is focused on criminalizing poverty, a sub-industry of child welfare, instead of going after fraud, particularly Medicaid Fraud.  

Due to privacy laws and poorly trained court appointed attorneys, there is no legal challenge to the ex-parte petition.  CPS just shows up at your door.
Only the court can order a removal and only after the court has made findings that Children's Protective Services has worked to prevent removal or that the risk to the child is so great that out-of-home placement is the way the child will be safe.
These requirements were enacted into federal and state law to ensure no children are placed in foster care who could be protected in their homes.

There are also federal requirements to make sure a child is placed in the least restrictive environment, but since there is no way to file a grievance, as the Chidlren's Ombudsman's Office cherry-picks which complaints it will take, or even which substantiated investigative findings will make it to any legal action.
Of the nearly 150,000 complaints of child abuse and neglect DHS received last year, fewer than 2.5 percent (3,706 in 2013) resulted in court involvement and out-of-home placement of children.

How conveniently does the Madame neglect to state how many children are under the auspices of Michigan.  I include juvenile justice and mental health.  Dare I be so bold to include every child in Michigan eligible for the school lunch program and in a household receiving SNAP benefits.

The state's social safety net quickly unravels under the Madame's leadership, but this is part and parcel of the revenue-maximization scheme.  The more children and families reliant upon the state there is a direct correlation to federal dollars to fund programs which are ultimately outsourced to private corporations who are not accountable for transparent billing practices.
Next, DHS does receive federal Title IV-E dollars for children in the foster care system. That money is spent to reimburse actual costs related to case management.

What about Title IV-B or even Title XIX?  Each federal child welfare program under Title IV has variant cost reimbursement formulas.  

Oh wait, Michigan got busted on those billing schemes with HHS a few times.

Some of that federal money went to political campaigns.  Right, Madame Corrigan?
Plus, Michigan is required to match federal Title IV-E funding. Federal law prohibits DHS from drawing down more Title IV-E dollars than needed to reimburse for services and payments for foster families.

Michigan snatched Black Grant dollars to cover some of its foster care programming.  

I even go so far to allege that the state used federal dollars as part of its federal match.
In fiscal year 2014, DHS received $97.2 million in Title IV-E funding for foster care. But DHS actually spent $202 million on foster care services — including state general fund, local and federal dollars. For every 66 cents in Title IV-E foster care funding DHS receives, the department must match those dollars with 34 cents of spending.

"If it does not make money, it does not make sense."  Michigan Child Welfare Institute Training Program.  Seriously.
Our state's foster care system still has room for improvement. I took over leadership of the department because of a lawsuit that led to federal oversight of Michigan's child welfare system. At our last court hearing, U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds and the plaintiff in the lawsuit both praised our incredible progress in improving the child welfare system.

No where is that Children's Rights lawsuit, or the monitoring reports have ever addressed Michigan Children's Institute, the dark and nefarious arm of the state to cover up its fraudulent billing and severe violations of civil rights.

It has never been audited.
We do not arbitrarily place children into foster care. And Michigan has no financial incentive whatsoever for doing so. Thankfully, out-of-home foster care does not occur frequently — only when we have no other way to keep children safe, according to a judge.

Madame Corrigan is absolutely correct. 

DHS "arbitrarily and capriciously" place children into foster care.

Michigan Department of Human Services does not, nor has it ever, removed children for profit because it is called revenue maximization and it creates jobs.

Besides, not all children in foster care are not removed.

Child welfare is a multi-billion dollar industry,

If anyone questions the veracity of my statements, fell free challenge me.  I got docs.
Maura D. Corrigan is director of the Michigan Department of Human Services.
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Thursday, November 27, 2014

5 MAJOR SPORTS LEAGUES RESPOND TO CONGRESSIONAL LETTER ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE POLICIES



WASHINGTON – Earlier this year on September 10, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. and eleven other House Judiciary Democrats issued a letter to the National Football League (NFL) raising questions as to how the league handled the Ray Rice situation and about their domestic violence polices.  Also copied on the letter were the National Hockey League (NHL), Major League Soccer (MLS), Major League Baseball (MLB), and the National Basketball Association (NBA).

In addition to the Ranking Member,  the letter was also signed by Reps. Jerrold Nadler (NY-10),  Luis Gutierrez (IL-04), Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Cedric L. Richmond (LA- 02), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson Jr. (GA-04), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Judy Chu (CA-27), Karen Bass (CA-37), Suzan K. DelBene (WA-01) and Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08).

Specifically, the Representatives called for transparency concerning the NFL’s misconduct by Ray Rice.  In February, Rice violently struck his then-fiancé, Janay Palmer, in the elevator of an Atlantic City casino in February. 

“I am glad to be able to shed light on the policies of our major professional sports leagues concerning domestic violence.  As to the questions my colleagues and I posed to the NFL concerning the league’s handling of the domestic violence perpetrated by Ray Rice, we look forward to receiving the report from former FBI Director Robert Mueller once he has completed his investigations,” said Rep. Conyers.  “It is important that we continue to examine the manner in which our professional sports leagues handle incidents of domestic violence.  These high-profile leagues are, in many ways, in a position of public trust and should be at the forefront of handling such incidents appropriately.”

In response, the NFL wrote that the league is, in addition to the previously-announced enhanced disciplinary consequences for violations of the league’s personal conduct policy that include domestic violence and sexual assault, the NFL is engaged in a “comprehensive review” of its those policies, including issues related to investigation, assessment, and punishment of violations.  The league also announced various actions designed to educate players and league employees about these issues in order to prevent future violations and victimization.  As to the questions specifically asked about the Ray Rice incident by the Members in their letter to the NFL, the league’s response refers to the pending investigation by former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller. 

In their individual responses, MLB and the NBA stated that they are in the process of reviewing their policies concerning these types of incidents.  MLB outlined steps it is taking related to training and education for players and staff, and announced that it will engage the Major League Baseball Players Association on these issues. 

The NHL and MLS also provided information about their efforts to educate players about these issues and provided copies of their policies covering off-ice and off-field misconduct, which would include instances of domestic violence. 

“We asked the leagues to provide information about their policies concerning domestic violence because it is in the public interest that their policies and implementation thereof be transparent to the public.  I trust that the leagues will continue to review and augment their policies in a manner commensurate with the seriousness of the issue,” added Rep. Conyers.

Following issuance of the letter, all leagues have responded with letters or documents regarding their domestic violence policies.  See below for each league’s response.






Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. was one of the key authors of the original Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 1994.  VAWA funds programs provide victims with critical services such as transitional housing, legal assistance, and supervised visitation services.  Since its enactment, VAWA has helped decrease domestic violence by 53%.  
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CONYERS URGES PEACE IN PURSUIT OF JUSTICE AFTER FERGUSON GRAND JURY DECISION



DETROIT – Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13) released the following statement after the announcement of the grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson, MO police officer Darren Wilson:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“Though the judicial process was fully exercised in this case, I am disappointed in the grand jury’s decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed, African-American 18 -year-old.  This result underscores the legal hurdles faced in holding the police accountable for abuse of authority and further illustrates the need for major reform in our criminal justice system.

“It is my sincere hope that in the coming days, we can all focus on the fact that the issues contributing to the Michael Brown shooting are more complex than the criminal indictment of a single police officer can begin to address.  Just as we did during the Civil Rights Movement, I urge those who are upset by the decision to peacefully voice your opposition and exercise non-violent protests to pursue equal justice.

“I hope that the troubling circumstances in Ferguson will serve to galvanize our national resolve to address the much larger history of adversarial relationships between the police and communities of color.  Despite the fact that the majority of law enforcement officers  perform their duties professionally and without bias – and we value their service highly – the issues of race and reasonable suspicion of criminal conduct are so closely linked in law enforcement practices that profiling bias has an impact on virtually every area of criminal justice policy.  In cases like Michael Brown, this specter of racial profiling runs the substantial risk of rendering young minority men suspect as potential perpetrators to be met with the deadliest of force.

“Decades ago, this country made clear through the passage of sweeping civil rights legislation that race should not affect the treatment of individual Americans under the law.  Racial profiling is a direct affront to the Constitutional promise of equal protection that was the goal of the 1960's.  We can cultivate community focused, smart policing that rebuilds trust between residents and law enforcement by ending use of racial profiling and use of excessive force.  The Department of Justice has achieved this result using its pattern and practice authority (42 U.S.C. 14141) in numerous cities across the nation, most dramatically in the Los Angeles Police Department consent decree.  We must reaffirm the concept that when law-abiding citizens are treated differently by those who enforce the law- simply because of their race, ethnicity, religion, or national origin- they are denied the basic respect and equal treatment that is the right of every American.”


On August 11, 2014, Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Marcia Fudge (OH-11), and Congressman Wm. Lacy Clay (MO-01) issued a letter to the Department of Justice asking for a full civil rights investigation into the shooting of Michael Brown.
On August 14, 2014, Ranking Member Conyers and Reps. Ranking Member John Conyers Jr. (MI-13), Subcommittee on Crime Ranking Member Bobby Scott (VA-03) and Subcommittee on the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice Ranking Member Steve Cohen (TN-09) issued a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (VA-06) requesting a Congressional hearing on several incidents of local law enforcement using excessive force–sometimes deadly–and other violations where civil rights have been infringed upon. The letter also expresses concern over the extensive militarization of local law enforcement.
The Department of Justice opened a civil rights “pattern and practice” investigation into the Ferguson, Missouri Police Department for possible discriminatory misconduct on September 4, 2014. 
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CONYERS SUPPORTS PRESIDENT OBAMA TAKING CRITICAL 1ST STEP TOWARD IMPROVING OUR BROKEN IMMIGRATION SYSTEM


WASHINGTON –House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. released the following statement in support of President Obama’s impending announcement that he will exercise his authority under existing law to improve our broken immigration system through executive action:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“President Obama has the authority, under the U.S. Constitution and the Immigration and Nationality Act, to improve our broken immigration system so that it better serves American families, our communities and the economy.  Like so many presidents before him, President Obama has chosen to use his authority to defer removal where it is in the national interest.

“Because of President Obama’s decisive executive action, countless American families will gather around the Thanksgiving table next week free from the fear of being torn apart by a broken immigration system.  Husbands and wives, parents and children – who follow the rules and continue making positive contributions to our society – will now be able to emerge from the shadows and live without fear of being separated from their loved ones.  The President’s executive order means that the Administration will be able to focus limited enforcement resources on those who pose a threat to our national security and public safety.

“The need to protect families and to bring millions of undocumented immigrants out of the shadows is one of the most pressing civil rights issues we face today.  But for more than 8 years, congressional Republicans have blocked every effort to legislatively fix our broken immigration system.  House Republicans are now poised to close out the 113th Congress without bringing a single immigration reform bill to the Floor or even allowing debate on the bipartisan Senate-passed legislation.  The cost of inaction is just too great to continue this partisan gamesmanship.”


In June 2013, the Senate passed a bipartisan immigration bill by a vote of 68-32.  The legislation would have overhauled U.S. immigration law, by establishing a fair pathway to citizenship, further securing our borders, and revamp our visa programs for high and low-skilled workers.

For more information on how President Obama’s Immigration Accountability Executive Actions will impact undocumented immigrants, click on either link below:


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CONYERS STILL SUPPORTS USA FREEDOM ACT BLOCKED BY SENATE REPUBLICANS



WASHINGTON – Today, House Judiciary Committee ranking member John Conyers, Jr., released the following statement after the Senate fell two votes short of ending debate on the USA FREEDOM Act of 2014.  The 58-42 vote effectively cuts off any prospect of surveillance reform in the 113th Congress.  The USA FREEDOM Act would have introduced sweeping reforms to various government surveillance programs, including the bulk collection of telephone metadata at the National Security Agency.

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
"Although Senate Republicans have blocked progress on the USA FREEDOM Act, the fight to defend our privacy and our civil liberties is far from over.  I was proud to champion this critical legislation through the House which has bipartisan support in the Congress, and has been endorsed by the tech community, privacy advocates, the intelligence community, and the President of the United States.  Each of these constituencies knows that the expiring provisions of the PATRIOT Act sunset on June 1, 2015.  With that deadline fast approaching, we will continue our work to restore the full measure of privacy guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. 

"I extend my sincere gratitude for Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) for his tireless dedication and leadership on this issue, and I look forward to working with him again to strengthen our national security laws in the 114th Congress."
# # #
On May 22, 2014, the House of Representatives passed the USA Freedom Act of 2014 (H.R. 3361) by a vote of 302-121.  The bipartisan bill authored by Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.), would have ended bulk collection of data by the government and reform our nation’s intelligence-gathering programs operated under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
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Saturday, November 15, 2014

CONYERS AND 115 HOUSE DEMOCRATS URGE PRESIDENT OBAMA TO USE LEGAL AUTHORITY TO TAKE EXECUTIVE ACTION ON IMMIGRATION REFORM



WASHINGTON – Today at a press conference led by Rep. Luis Gutierrez (IL-04), Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13) joined many House Democratic Colleagues in urging President Obama to use his broad legal authority to implement administrative reforms to improve key aspects of America’s broken immigration system.

“Republicans have refused every effort in Congress to fix our broken immigration system despite countless opportunities.  In the face of Congressional inaction, like those before him, the President must act,” said Rep. John Conyers. 

Spearheaded by Rep. Gutierrez and House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Rep. Conyers and over 115 House Democrats issued a letter to President Obama urging him to exercise his power under existing law to prevent the separation of undocumented family members of U.S. citizens, lawful permeant residents, and deferred action beneficiaries.  The letter also encourages the President to recognize undocumented farmworkers that face exploitation and abuse.   

Last year, after substantial negotiations between a bipartisan group of 4 Democratic and 4 Republican Senators, the Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation that would have overhauled U.S. immigration law.  If enacted, the bill would establish a fair pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants after undergoing several security measures before obtaining a green card, further secure our borders, and ensure that our nation’s economic needs could be met through improved visa programs.  House Republicans have repeatedly blocked progress of this critical legislation by refusing to allow a vote on the bipartisan immigration reform bill.

“At this time, it is clear to me that the only path forward on immigration policy is through Executive action.  I encourage the Obama Administration to move forward with bold, Executive action because it’s the right thing to do for the country,” added Rep. Conyers.


Text of the letter to President Obama urging him to take “bold and meaningful” executive action is below:


November 13, 2014



Dear Mr. President:

It is most unfortunate that Republican leaders in the House refused to allow a vote on the bipartisan immigration reform bill the Senate passed last year.  Even today, if Republican leaders allowed a vote, the bill would pass.  But they won’t.

When Republicans blocked legislation, your pledge to use Presidential power under existing law to improve our immigration system gave us hope. Without such changes, our economy will continue to suffer and families in our communities will continue to be torn apart.

Although we were very disappointed when you postponed action until after the November election, we were encouraged last week when you reaffirmed your promise to act before the end of the year.

We hope that your actions will prevent the separation of undocumented family members of U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and DACA beneficiaries and offer protection to others who have long worked in the United States and have established strong ties with our communities.  We similarly hope that you will recognize that undocumented farmworkers are “essential for agriculture” and that our country would benefit greatly if they were permitted to work in our fields without fear.  We further hope that you will reform our immigration enforcement efforts to make them more sensible and humane.

Bold and meaningful executive action will provide a boost to our national and local economies.  It will strengthen communities and promote family unity.  It will help the government focus limited enforcement resources on those who pose a true danger to the public.  And by providing an opportunity for millions of undocumented immigrants to register with the government—provide detailed biographic information, undergo criminal background checks, demonstrate continuing compliance with tax laws—it will protect American and immigrant workers alike by reducing the threat of exploitation and abuse.

The legal authority for taking executive action is clear and substantial.  Just two years ago, the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Roberts reaffirmed that the administration retains “broad discretion” to decide “whether it makes sense to pursue removal at all.”  Arizona v. United States, 132 S.Ct. 2492, 2499 (2012).  And executive action in this area is anything but unprecedented.  In fact, every past President starting from President Dwight D. Eisenhower more than half a century ago has used such authority when dealing with similar issues regarding the national interest.

Like us, you have heard Republicans warn that any actions you take will “poison the well” and prevent them from using their upcoming majority in the Senate to address our broken immigration system. However, for the past two years it was not Senate Democrats that blocked much-needed legislation, it was House Republicans. That obstacle to sensible immigration reform still remains. Let us also not forget that congressional Republicans previously blocked reform in 2006 and 2007.

As you said last week, “What we can’t do is just keep on waiting. There’s a cost for waiting.” That cost is measured in the tens of thousands of parents of U.S. citizen children who are deported each year. It is measured in the emotional price children and DACA recipients pay worrying about whether their parents will come home at the end of the day. Our national security suffers whenever we spend precious enforcement resources on hardworking immigrant families, rather than on criminals and those who mean our communities harm.  And American workers’ wages and working conditions are consistently undermined as long as millions of immigrant workers are working in the shadows and off the books. We agree with you, Mr. President. We can no longer afford to wait.

As you have said, it is ultimately the job of Congress to reform our broken immigration system by enacting legislation. But by failing to do their job—and repeatedly interfering with your efforts to do your job—congressional Republicans threaten to take our immigration system hostage and preserve a status quo that everyone agrees is unacceptable. Their failure to act must not inhibit your commitment to governing.

We will stand with you as you take bold and meaningful action, consistent with existing law and historical precedent, to protect American families, strengthen local communities and grow the economy.

Sincerely,

1.         Karen Bass
2.         Earl Blumenauer
3.         Suzanne Bonamici
4.         Tony Cárdenas
5.         Joaquin Castro
6.         Judy Chu
7.         David Cicilline
8.         Katherine Clark
9.         Yvette Clarke
10.       Wm. Lacy Clay
11.       Emanuel Cleaver
12.       James Clyburn
13.       Steve Cohen   
14.       John Conyers, Jr.
15.       Jim Costa
16.       Joseph Crowley
17.       Elijah Cummings
18.       Danny Davis
19.       Susan Davis
20.       Diana DeGette
21.       Rosa DeLauro
22.       Suzan DelBene
23.       Theodore Deutch
24.       Lloyd Doggett
25.       Tammy Duckworth
26.       Donna Edwards
27.       Keith Ellison
28.       Eliot Engel
29.       Anna C. Eshoo
30.       Sam Farr
31.       Chaka Fattah
32.       Bill Foster
33.       Marcia Fudge
34.       Joe Garcia
35.       Alan Grayson
36.       Al Green
37.       Gene Green
38.       Raul Grijalva
39.       Luis Gutierrez
40.       Janice Hahn
41.       Alcee Hastings
42.       Ruben Hinojosa
43.       Rush Holt
44.       Michael Honda
45.       Steny Hoyer
46.       Jared Huffman
47.       Sheila Jackson Lee
48.       Hakeem Jeffries
49.       Hank Johnson
50.       Marcy Kaptur
51.       Robin Kelly
52.       Joseph P. Kennedy, III
53.       John B. Larson
54.       Barbara Lee
55.       Sander Levin
56.       John Lewis
57.       Zoe Lofgren
58.       Alan Lowenthal
59.       Ben Ray Luján
60.       Carolyn Maloney
61.       Doris O. Matsui
62.       Betty McCollum
63.       Jim McDermott
64.       James P. McGovern
65.       Jerry McNerney
66.       Gregory Meeks
67.       Grace Meng
68.       George Miller
69.       Gwen Moore
70.       James P. Moran
71.       Jerrold Nadler
72.       Grace Napolitano
73.       Gloria Negrete McLeod
74.       Eleanor Holmes Norton
75.       Beto O’Rourke
76.       Frank Pallone
77.       Bill Pascrell
78.       Donald Payne, Jr.
79.       Ed Perlmutter
80.       Scott Peters
81.       Pedro Pierluisi
82.       Chellie Pingree
83.       Mark Pocan
84.       Jared Polis
85.       Mike Quigley
86.       Charles Rangel
87.       Lucille Roybal-Allard
88.       Bobby Rush
89.       Linda Sanchez
90.       Loretta Sanchez
91.       Janice Schakowsky
92.       Adam Schiff
93.       Bradley S. Schneider
94.       Kurt Schrader
95.       Allyson Y. Schwartz
96.       Robert C. “Bobby” Scott
97.       Jose Serrano
98.       Terri A. Sewell
99.       Albio Sires
100.     Adam Smith
101.     Jackie Speier
102.     Eric Swalwell
103.     Mark Takano
104.     Mike Thompson
105.     Dina Titus
106.     Paul Tonko
107.     Chris Van Hollen
108.     Juan Vargas
109.     Nydia Velazquez
110.     Marc A. Veasey
111.     Filemon Vela
112.     Maxine Waters
113.     Henry Waxman
114.     Peter Welch
115.     Frederica Wilson
116.     John Yarmuth

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CONYERS STATEMENT ON NOMINATION OF LORETTA LYNCH AS ATTORNEY GENERAL

Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. released the following statement today on President Obama’s nomination of U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch, Eastern District of New York, to serve as the next Attorney General of the United States:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
Loretta Lynch is an accomplished and committed public servant who has proven that she can withstand various challenges in the pursuit of justice.  As a federal prosecutor from the Eastern District of New York, Lynch has worked hard to crack down on political corruption and terrorism.  As America continues its struggles to protect and expand civil rights for all, I am confident Ms. Lynch will bring a fresh perspective in securing voting rights, addressing over-criminalization and improving the criminal justice system as a whole.

“President Obama’s nomination of Ms. Lynch to be our next Attorney General would make her a dynamic addition to his diverse and distinguished cabinet.  Once confirmed, Ms. Lynch would continue the legacy left behind by our current Attorney General Holder, as the first African-American woman to hold the position. 

“I encourage the Senate to confirm Ms. Lynch as our next Attorney General without delay to reassure the American people that the Justice Department will continue its diligent work under first-rate leadership seamlessly.”
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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuettee Does Nothing About Human Trafficking in Michigan Before His Re-election

To the Michigan Attorney General, Bill Schuettee,

Dear Sir,

It is understood that there is a substantial, inherent conflict of interest within your office of contemporaneously advising and advocating for those of whom contract with the State of Michigan to care for children in need.

In the same breath I ask you to take time out of your campaign to make the Charitable Section of your office sing for its supper.  By that I mean light a fire under the arses of your Assistant Attorneys General and do something about these child, and for the purposes of this story, adult caregiving, non-profits' practice of human usury, or rather human trafficking.

This has been going on for decades with an absolutely intentional hoodwinked culture within the Attorney General's Office.  I can further my disdain of your lack of leadership to point a finger to the Madame Maura Corrigan, former Michigan Supreme Court Justice and current Director of  Department of Human Services for turning up her nose to the rampant fraud, waste and abuse within her Department...and the courts.

Children, under your watch, under the auspices of the State, are raped, beaten, tortured and killed, yet you do nothing about it.

If you are in need of further documentation of non-profit, "charitable" organizations enslaving and torturing the most vulnerable of our society for a pretty, non-taxable penny, please, feel free to look into my filings within your office or just google my name.

You suck and so does the Director of Department of Human Services.

Much love,

Beverly Tran

Woman investigated for using special needs children to sell candy in nonprofit scam


Fox 2 News Headlines
DEARBORN HEIGHTS, Mich. (WJBK) -
A Dearborn Heights woman is under investigation for using special needs children she took legal guardianship to sell candy for what appears to be a fake nonprofit.
Children trapped for so long, they are now adults, going on for 20 years. The victims don't know they've been robbed of the lives they could have had.
"I miss them so much they just don't know how much it hurts," said Kathy Williams.

"They" are her children, turned into modern day slave labor, she says and all Williams can do for the past 20 years is helplessly watch.
It all started almost twenty years ago in 1995 when Williams' husband died unexpectedly.
She was on the brink of a nervous breakdown, left on her own to raise four children. Two have mental disabilities, the youngest just 5 years old.
"I was lost, confused emotional wreck," Williams said. "I didn't have any money, nowhere to go."
And then appeared a ray of light in Williams' darkest hour. An acquaintance, Catherine Bergum, offered to take the kids in.

"I should have never gone down that rode should have known better," Williams said. 
Little did Williams know, those kids would eventually become part of what appears to be an elaborate and shameful money making scheme.

And now the kids have grown to be adults.
Fox 2 watched them for months as they sold candy door to door. Business to business. On foot all day, everyday, rain or shine.
They live with Catherine Bergum and her husband Don, both of whom records show became the kids' legal guardians in the mid-1990s. 
Five out of the seven young people, including their own grandson with their own documented mental disabilities.
Each have a range of challenges from schizophrenia, to retardation, to depression and emotional impairment.
Instead of nurturing and caring for her special needs family inside their Dearborn Heights home, numerous complaints say Catherine Bergum forced the kids to work and live like animals.
Sleeping on the kitchen floor, or in backyard shed that doesn't have heat or bedding, and made to use a porta potty set up on the side of the house.
The day starts with chores and when they are finished, they hit the streets.
Bergum's daughter Nancy Britt picks them up from the Bergum home and drops off in a different location. Sometimes as far away as the Upper Peninsula. Always on the move, so no one catches on..
Each day they are not allowed to come home until every box of the candy is sold. 
A man who worked as a former driver for Bergum, wanted us to conceal his identity and says regrettably, he knows first-hand.
"If they sell 150 boxes a day,  $8 a box we're talking $1,000 dollars or more a day," he said.
Fox 2's Taryn Asher: "And how much do the kids keep?"
"Nothing," the former driver said. "The reason I left, I got tired or it.  I've seen how she was treating the kids. I got tired of it."
Bergum's sellers claim the money goes toward a nonprofit and are happy to provide laminated proof - a document no more official than the cheap plastic around it.
Fox 2: "So what's the name of your company? 
"Americans of Today," said the candy seller. "See it's right on there, Americans of Today."
Fox 2 discovered  Americans of Today may be filed with the state as a nonprofit, but right now the attorney general's office which regulates charities, says it's questioning whether it's legitimate cause.
Americans of Today is not even registered as a charitable trust. Because for years documents show the non profit hasn't proved to the state where the money was going.

It didn't provide copies of Internal Revenue Service returns or financial statements, or a description of all methods of solicitation - a violation of state law.
Americans of Today is licensed by the city of Livonia, but not to sell candy according to clerk. Only to pass out fliers, but one can see here in Livonia, they are not.
In fact, one came up and even sold candy to Fox 2.
On each box of candy it says WorkingTeens.com "Proven fact that a teen kept busy stays out of trouble."
On the website which has no contact information, and tries to fend off curious media - claims the working teens get to keep 33 percent of the money. 
But here's another problem - the people working for Catherine Bergum are no longer teens..
Fox 2: "How long you been involved in the program?"  
"21 years, yep," the young man said.
Fox 2: "Done a lot for you?" 
"Oh yeah," he said.
Fox 2: "How long have you been associated with the program?"  
"Twenty-something years," he said. 
The former driver for Bergum said the sellers never receive any money they make.
"That's why they claim it's a nonprofit," the former driver said.
Fox 2: "But she is the one profiting." 
"Definitely," he said. 
Fox 2: "There are no kids, there is no charity this money is going toward."
 "No, not at all," the driver said. 
Williams agreed.

"It's all about money with her," Williams said. "She doesn't love my kids she uses my kids, all of those kids. Not just mine, anybody's kids."
Fox 2's Taryn Asher confronted Bergum outside a metro Detroit restaurant.
"Catherine, I need to speak with you for a moment," Asher said. "I want to hear about what you've been doing for the last 20 years, making mentally challenged kids sell candy door to door."
"I don't know what you are talking about," Bergum said.
"You want to tell me about your fake nonprofits you set up, where's all the money?" Asher asked.
In 2009, records show Bergum filed for bankruptcy and claims she made $600 that year from her nonprofit Americans of Today.
Several documents show Bergum isn't only profiting from her lucrative candy business, she is collecting all of their social security checks.
As their representative payee she gets nearly $700 a month for each of the six who are now adults she cares for. That comes to about $4,200 a month. 
It appears she uses all of that ill-gotten money to go shopping, drive nice cars, dine out almost every night and got to casinos. She can be seen in multiple photos at Soaring Eagle time and time again. 
Yet those special needs adults are said to make nothing.
Elmer Cerano leads a Lansing-based organization that protects the rights of people with disabilities. He is appalled by what Fox 2 discovered.
"People are complaining that somebody is walking through the neighborhoods selling candy and it just doesn't feel right, follow up on that," Cerano said. "Adult protective services, child protective services if it started when people were young. Where the hell were they?"
Over the last 12 years there have been 14 different complaints filed with adult protective services against Catherine Bergum and her husband. The complaints detail the candy scam with allegations of exploitation, neglect, emotional physical and even sexual exploitation.

To this date nothing has been done to remove the vulnerable, special needs adults.
The complaints date back to 2002 filed by concerned citizens, family members even the victims themselves, stating:
  • How they live in horrendous conditions
  • How they are forced to sell candy against their will and punished and ridiculed when they do not.
  • How they are forced to eat onion sandwiches and clean the privacy fence with a toothbrush.
  • How they are moved around to different locations to conceal the candy selling scam.
State regulators say allegations aren't substantiated and the case is closed. But for those with little concept of time, the case is never closed.
Fox 2 "How long have you been associated with the program?"
"Twenty-something years," the seller said.
The candy seller was asked what they get out of it.
"We get trips and activities," the seller said.
"They something but they still work when they camp," the former driver said. "They don't go on activities or anything like that, maybe once or twice a year."
Once or twice a year. or about how often the state has been to the Bergum house.
It all goes according to script. Records claim Catherine Bergum will set it up like everyone is living in a comfortable home with more than enough food.  
She will get rid of the porta potty in the back and she won't allow the mentally impaired adults to be interviewed alone. The alleged victims say they are happy and deny anything was wrong.
"My kids are brainwashed, " Williams said. "I know they are brainwashed."
"Are they forced to say certain things," Asher asked.
"Oh yeah," the former driver said. "I've been to therapy with them before no one-on-ones with them. Cathy always has to be there."
When it came to probate court, for years Bergum had to provide annual reports on the condition of each of the legally incapacitated, developmentally disabled people in her care.
She documented all of the family activities she claims they go on, and each time it appears her word was good enough..
"They don't know any different," Cerano said. "If you're controlling everything that happens to them from when they're a kid, what choice do they have. 
"When they are taken advantage of, people need to pay a price for that."
Bergum, when confronted, did not answer questions.

"What do you have to say about that," Asher asked Bergum. "What do you have to say about yourself exploiting these kids Cathy. All these years.
"You took guardianship of these kids. It's your duty to take care of them. Where's all the money Cathy?"
Bergum did not answer the questions, climbing into her vehicle to leave the parking lot.
Through the years Williams says she has tried to get her kids back, get them away from Bergum. But the courts always felt the Bergums were able to provide a more stable home.
Now that they are adults, it hurts her to think this is the only life they've ever known.
"It really get me upset," Williams said. "But there is nothing I can do. I just hope and pray they will wake up one day and realize what is going on."
In response to Fox 2's story, the Michigan Department of Human Services issued this statement from Bob Wheaton, the acting manager of communications.
The Michigan Department of Human Services has begun a thorough review of cases involving these guardianships. There are questions and concerns related to these cases. 
The department and its director, Maura Corrigan, take very seriously its responsibility to protect the safety and well-being of vulnerable adults. 
That's the job of our Adult Protective Services. The DHS Office of Family Advocate is reviewing the cases. 
To provide a fresh pair of eyes, the Oakland County Department of Human Services also has been assigned by DHS to review the cases - as well as other active cases involving this guardian that were already being investigated.
Two separate investigations have been launched because of Fox 2's story.
Now something may be done.
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