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Tag Archive | "Attorney General Dana Nessel"

Former EGLE employee charged with embezzlement

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. Photo from State of Michigan.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and EGLE announced Wednesday that a former employee of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) has been charged with embezzling more than $850,000 from the State of Michigan. 

Joseph Pettit, 49, is charged with the following: three counts of embezzlement over $100,000, a 20-year felony; four counts of uttering and publishing, a 14-year felony; and using a computer to commit a crime, a 20-year felony. 

Any entity that wants to drill or operate any type of well in the State of Michigan must apply for a permit and post a conformance bond with the Oil, Gas, and Minerals Division of EGLE. When the owner of the well changes hands, the original owner gets the bond back. 

As an employee of EGLE, most recently as an environmental quality specialist, Pettit was responsible for completing the process of releasing bonds back to companies and facilitating the transfer of bonds back to the original owner. Instead, Pettit created fake vendors and diverted these funds to bank accounts that he supplied for these vendors. Pettit worked at EGLE from 1996 until January of 2020. 

“This case is a reminder that my office treats it very seriously when anyone abuses the system for their own gain,” said Nessel. “I am grateful to EGLE for their cooperation and diligence in ensuring those who violate the public trust are held accountable and in working to ensure something like this never happens again.” 

EGLE leadership became aware of potential discrepancies in September of 2020, and immediately contacted Michigan State Police, which conducted the investigation. 

“Our discovery of potential crimes was immediately referred to law enforcement, and we continue to provide them everything they need to ensure justice is done on behalf of the State of Michigan,” said Liesl Clark, EGLE director. “We are also doing everything we can to prevent this from occurring again, including strengthening internal financial controls to provide even greater checks and balances against fraud.” 

It is alleged that between 2018 and 2020, Pettit embezzled more than $850,000. Suspected losses from 2013 through 2016 are barred by the statute of limitations. 

“We hold ourselves to the highest standards of government ethics at EGLE and that starts with vigilantly stewarding public funds,” Clark said. “So when an employee disregards department values and violates the public trust, it harms not only Michigan’s 10 million residents who count on us to use their resources wisely to protect the environment and public health, but also fellow members of the EGLE team who dedicate their lives to that mission.”         

Pettit was charged in the Lansing District Court 54-A. He Is expected to appear in court Friday, April 16, for arraignment.  

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Efforts to stop robocalls to customers a step in the right direction

LANSING -Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel commended a move by Verizon Wireless to better protect its customers from robocalls. The move comes days after Nessel and 50 other Attorneys General entered into an agreement with 12 major telecom providers to fight illegal robocalls and one day after the same Attorneys General sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission urging it to encourage telecom providers to implement anti-robocall technologies, including default robocall blocking.

As part of its efforts, Verizon will immediately begin automatic protections for eligible Android device users through its free robocall-blocking software. Customers who use iPhone and Apple devices will be required to download the company’s Call Filter app to enroll for these free protections.

The company reports eligible customers can expect the following protections:

If they receive a call from a number that’s been reported as fraudulent, that call will be blocked by the app and forwarded to voicemail.

If a customer receives a known spam or nuisance call, they will see “Potential Spam” label instead of a name on the incoming call screen. This is essentially a warning of a potentially unwanted call, and they have the option to turn on blocking for these types of calls.

If they receive a call from a known contact, nothing changes. Their contact’s name will appear on the screen, the same as it does today.

“Protecting consumers from robocalls shouldn’t have to be an opt-in benefit, it should be an automatic service,” Nessel said. “Verizon’s swift action is a step in the right direction and I encourage the company to further its commitment by automatically enrolling ALL of its customers in this already-available technology to help further our efforts to end to this public nuisance once and for all.”

Since the beginning of this year, it is estimated that Michiganders have been on the receiving end of more than 900 million robocalls. 

(See https://robocallindex.com/history/states for statistics.)

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