Family: Lawyer stole money meant for brothers from dying father (MI)

Derek Tate had expected money from a $500,000 life insurance policy would help with things like college and weddings for his children after he died of cancer in 2007.

Instead, much of the money was drained by a Macomb County attorney from the trust fund set up to financially help Tate’s sons, authorities said.

“There’s a lot we could be using that money for,” son Stephen Tate, 20, of Warren, said today at a court hearing for St. Clair Shores attorney, Robert Buschmohle, who is accused of stealing more than $300,000 from the fund the family says was set up for Stephen and his brothers, Keith and Michael.

Stephen wants to start school at Macomb Community College in the fall. His younger brother, Keith, needs to get his broken-down car repaired.

The Tates’ mother, Ilona Mossop, said, in the end, the insurance money probably won’t be used for what Derek Tate intended. She thinks it probably will be paid back a penny here or there.

Buschmohle, 40, was charged in February, accused of writing checks to himself over a four-year period from the trust fund. The boys’ mother complained to the Attorney Grievance Commission, which contacted Warren police, after Buschmohle failed to return her calls as the boys reached the fund distribution age of 19, authorities have said.

Stephen Tate said he believes the money went to Buschmohle’s family and friends.

Buschmohle was expected to plead no contest today to embezzlement of $100,000 or more, a 20-year felony, in Macomb County Circuit Court, but the plea did not go off.

Assistant Prosecutor Sian Hengeveld said there was some misunderstanding with the terms and conditions of the sentence the judge was going to give. She said the sentencing agreement was for one year in the county jail and $315,000 in restitution, with 10% due at or before sentencing.

She said the prosecution and defense agreed on the $315,000 figure but there was a separate agreement between the judge and the defense on the jail time. Hengeveld said the Prosecutor’s Office is not offering anything, including a plea offer, and “we are not in agreement with the sentence.”

Buschmohle and his attorney quietly left the court. His attorney could not be reached later in the day.

Buschmohle was disbarred effective May 22 and ordered to pay more than $462,000 in restitution, according to a notice Friday of disbarment and restitution posted on the state Attorney Discipline Board’s website. He had a notice of reprimand and restitution from the board in 2009.

The notices did not detail specifics of the complaints.

Buschmohle was involved in a high-profile case in Macomb County in 2011 when he represented Lisa Buehler, who with her husband, Mark Buehler, failed to put more than $260,000 in prepaid funeral money into escrow for about 100 clients at their former Roseville funeral home.

Stephen Tate said that he does not believe that Buschmohle is broke and that the embezzlement case has a better chance if it goes to trial.

“I will not tolerate a slap on the wrist (for Buschmohle),” he said.

A pretrial is set for Aug. 1 at which time Buschmohle could enter a plea. A trial is set for Aug. 20 before Judge James Biernat Jr.


Family: Lawyer stole money meant for brothers from dying father
Christina Hall
May 29, 2013
Detroit Free Press