Morse pal, three others charged in tax conspiracy
High-profile attorney Mike Morse's college friend and three others were charged with a tax crime in federal court Tuesday, weeks after being linked to a bribery conspiracy that allegedly benefited Morse.
The college friend Jayson Rosett, was charged with conspiring to defraud the United States, a five-year felony, two months after his lawyer said the FBI and a federal grand jury were investigating a conspiracy involving bribed police officers who sold a stream of accident reports that flowed to Morse's firm.
Rosett, 50, a Bloomfield Hills physical therapy clinic owner, was charged alongside his father, Robert Rosett, 76, of Boca Raton, Florida, and two others and accused of participating in a tax conspiracy that involved a series of payments flowing to the law enforcement personnel.
The other two defendants are Carol Almeranti of Farmington Hills who served as a sergeant in the Detroit Police internal affairs division, and Karen Miller of St. Clair Shores, who Chief James Craig believes has retired from the department.
Robert Rosett was arraigned Tuesday and released on $10,000 unsecured bond. The other three defendants are expected to be arraigned Thursday.
A lawsuit filed last month by Allstate Insurance Company against several doctors and health centers makes similar allegations and identifies Almeranti and Miller as police officers but does not identify their department.
The four were charged in a criminal information, which indicates a guilty plea is expected.
“People don’t pay taxes on cash bribes so this becomes a pretty easy charge to establish,” said Peter Henning, a Wayne State University law professor and former federal prosecutor. “This may be the real strength of the government and a way they can build their bribery case against the payers.”
The conspiracy dates to 2012, lasted until April and involved the Rosetts and others paying more than $375,000 to Almeranti and Miller, federal authorities allege. The Rosetts hid the payments from the Internal Revenue Services through a series of entities, according to the government.
There were few additional details in the criminal case and Morse, a well-known personal-injury lawyer due to his firm’s television commercials and roadside billboards, is not identified in the filing. But the allegations mirror claims made in the Allstate suit.
The Allstate complaint claims Robert Rosett paid police personnel to obtain unofficial accident reports that were used to solicit clients for Morse's law firm and a chiropractic center owned by Morse's former brother-in-law, Mark Radom.
"Morse knew that the police reports were unapproved and that it was illegal for him and his firm to obtain them because the reports were stamped 'Unapproved Report' on every page," Allstate lawyer Jacquelyn McEttrick wrote in the civil lawsuit.
The unapproved police reports gave Morse a competitive advantage over rival law firms, Allstate alleged.
"There is no evidence that Morse knew his law office was given police reports that were improperly obtained by others," Morse's lawyer I.W. Winsten previously told The News. "None."
Morse has not been charged with wrongdoing.
There was no immediate comment from lawyers for the Rosetts. Almeranti and Miller could not be reached for comment.
“This is another stain on the department, although it’s not reflective of the majority of our officers," Craig said. "People need to realize there is no tolerance for criminal behavior. This kind of thing compromises the trust we’ve built up with the community.”
The money flowed from Jayson Rosett to his father through two unnamed entities, according to the criminal filing Tuesday.
Robert Rosett directed payments through one entity to a joint bank account he held with Almeranti, the government alleged.
Almeranti and Miller used ATM cards to withdraw money from the bank account, the filing says.
The two officers failed to report the taxable income from the Rosetts, according to the criminal filing.
The Rosetts, meanwhile, failed to report the payments as business expenses, the government alleges.
The payment allegations echo claims made in a second civil lawsuit filed against Rosett and others by State Farm Automobile Insurance Co.
In mid-2012, Jayson Rosett and others started planning to use a limited-liability company, the Accident Information Bureau, to solicit clients for Morse, and patients for rehabilitation centers, according to State Farm.
Without identifying the company, Jayson Rosett's lawyer Ben Gonek wrote in an earlier court filing that money used to bribe police officers was "laundered" through an entity created by the Bloomfield Hills entrepreneur and others.
The civil lawsuit filed by State Farm two years ago alleges Morse "played a critical role in facilitating the success of the (defendants’) fraud scheme and received substantial financial benefits from the fraudulent claims generated by the clinics...," the insurance company's lawyer wrote in an earlier court filing.
The financial benefits included $550,000 to buy property for an addition on Morse's house and $100,000 to an entity that owns Morse’s private jet, according to the civil lawsuit.