Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Supreme Court Removes Detroit Judge

Judge Brenda Sanders
Last March, the Judicial Tenure Commission recommended the removal of 36th District Court Judge Brenda K. Sanders due to her mental illness. Earlier this month, the Michigan Supreme Court ordered her removal.

Trouble first began for Judge Sanders when she let her docket balloon to more than 400 backlogged cases. Next, she sent an ill-advised letter to U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade stating there was a conspiracy to remove her from the bench.

The investigation into Judge Sanders' fitness to remain on the bench uncovered that she suffers from paranoid delusions. For example, in her communications with the U.S. Attorney, she thought she was being framed in an investigation looking into what she characterized as the "suspicious" deaths of other 36th District Judges. Also, she believed she was being evicted from her home by the Michigan Supreme Court.

Judge Sanders' lawyer, our good friend Cyril Hall, told the Detroit News that his client was not going to appeal her removal, but added that she was not ruling out another run for the bench in some future election. Judge Sanders' said, however, that her removal from the Motor City district court bench was "fraudulent and unfounded". She vowed to review her legal remedies relative to the removal.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Detroit Police Department Seeks Additional Officers

These days, if you're a big city police officer, you can look forward to making split second decisions that could affect the rest of your life. Depending on how you act, you could be: a) reprimanded, b) sued, or c) incarcerated.

All this for a starting salary of about $42,000. What's not to like?

Of course, we recognize that issuing a badge and a sidearm to the wrong dude is asking for trouble; there's a whole lot of that going down these days.

It's true; the Detroit Police Department since February of this year has been seeking qualified candidates for fill 200 new police spots approved, budgeted and designed to fill the attrition-based erosion of the Department.

To be sure, a police officer is a special calling. Detroit sure could use some good ones.

That's why we here at the Motor City Law Blogger hope dozens of highly qualified candidates apply. We need skilled police officers to protect and serve our community.

Having competent honest police officers patrolling the mean streets of the "D" will assist the strong perception building momentum that our city could come back. There is evidence of this downtown, if this DPD plan succeeds, then the recovery could reach into all of Detroit's neighborhoods.

Certainly, it will take more than rookie police officers, but this is a good start.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Detroit Pizza King Sentenced to Prison for Tax Fraud

Happy Asker hales from West Bloomfield but started his pizza empire right here in the Motor City. Unhappy Asker was sentenced to 50-months prison last week in Detroit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Asker was sentenced by Judge Denise Paige Hood following a 10-day jury trial last November where he was accused of filing false tax returns and under-reporting employee income.  Evidence adduced at Asker's trial revealed conspiracy among several pizza franchise owners and two sets of books. Also part of Asker's judgment of sentence was a hefty $2.5 million fine.

The FBI's official web site summarizes the case against the Chaldean pizza mogul:
Evidence at trial established that from 2004 through 2011, Asker, along with certain franchise owners and employees, executed a systematic and pervasive tax fraud scheme to defraud the IRS. Gross sales and payroll amounts were substantially underreported on numerous corporate income tax returns and payroll tax returns filed for nearly all 60 Happy’s Pizza franchise locations. From 2008 to 2010, Asker and his co-conspirators diverted for personal use more than $6.1 million in cash gross receipts from approximately 35 different Happy’s Pizza stores in the Detroit area, Illinois and Ohio. In total, Asker and certain employees and franchise owners failed to report approximately $3.84 million of gross income and approximately $2.39 million in payroll taxes from the various Happy’s Pizza franchises to the IRS. A portion of the unreported income was shared among most of the franchise owners, including Asker, in a weekly cash “profit split.” As a result of the scheme, the IRS is owed more than $6.2 million in income and employment taxes. The evidence also established that Asker intentionally misled IRS-Criminal Investigation special agents during voluntary interviews conducted with him in 2010.
The IRS catches only a fraction of such transgressors. If business owners paid their fair share of taxes and stopped letting greed influence their conduct, then a level playing field is maintained for all businesses.

As a law firm owner filing a Schedule C every year, this blogger certainly does not appreciate the tax cheat. Asker's transgression makes the dollars I dutifully pay to the IRS every quarter throughout the year seem ill-spent, but I will continue paying just the same.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Murder in Detroit: One

This morning's murder victim is anonymous. The brutality of the crime, while breathtaking, is ordinary here in the Motor City.

You know, we here at the Motor City Law Blog have grown used to murder, robbery and assault leading the local evening news; no different than any other large U.S. city.  But this morning's murder in Detroit, of a 55-year old cyclist, did give us pause.

We are roughly the same age as the victim; and could see ourselves on an early morning cycle trying to get somewhere or to keep in shape with a morning workout. Then, out of nowhere, on the dangerous streets of Detroit, two young men drive by and take your life at close range; just like that.

It is not news, and this murder gives us pause because it may be one of those many many Detroit murders that goes unsolved for years; maybe forever. The victim's family, friends, neighbors, will just need to deal with it. Justice delayed, at best.

No victim's name reported in this story. No arrests, clues or leads; barely an investigation even possible at all, especially when eye-witnesses -and there were a few- will not come forward.

So no need for lawyers and no judicial resources expended meting out elusive justice, because this one could be unsolved for a while; forever. The fireworks are over here in the "D" so it's every man for himself again.

Hope we're wrong about the outcome of this, our first Detroit murder post.