Probe

The Detroit News - - News -

Morse has not been charged with wrong­do­ing by the Jus­tice De­part­ment. He was not avail­able Fri­day af­ter­noon at his South­field law firm.

“Michael Morse and his law firm are not a party to any le­gal ac­tion which as­serts that ei­ther of them im­prop­erly ob­tained po­lice re­ports,” Morse’s lawyer I.W. Win­sten wrote in an email to The News. “The rea­son is sim­ple. They did not.”

The full scope of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and ad­di­tional po­ten­tial tar­gets were un­clear Fri­day.

“If some­one is an in­ci­den­tal ben­e­fi­ciary of bribery or kick­backs it doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean they will be caught up in the crim­i­nal case,” said Peter Hen­ning, a Wayne State Univer­sity law pro­fes­sor and former fed­eral pros­e­cu­tor. “This isn’t a good sign, but it doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean Morse will be charged or is even a target of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

The money for the bribe pay­ments was laun­dered through an en­tity cre­ated by phys­i­cal ther­apy cen­ter owner Jayson Rosett, 50, of Bloom­field Hills and oth­ers, ac­cord­ing to court records.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion was re­vealed on the side­lines of a civil law­suit filed by State Farm Au­to­mo­bile In­sur­ance Co. against 18 de­fen­dants, in­clud­ing Rosett, doc­tors and health fa­cil­i­ties, in­clud­ing Elite Health Cen­ters Inc., for al­leged fraud and in­flated costs in­volv­ing MRI test­ing at Metro Detroit lo­ca­tions.

Rosett is try­ing to de­lay be­ing de­posed un­der oath in the civil law­suit be­cause he is the target of two crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions in­volv­ing some of the same al­le­ga­tions in­volved in the civil case,ac­cord­ing to a fil­ing by his de­fense lawyer, Ben Gonek.

Gonek re­vealed the fo­cus of the crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion Fri­day while try­ing to de­lay his client’s de­po­si­tion. He de­clined to com­ment Fri­day evening.

On Fri­day, U.S. Mag­is­trate Judge An­thony Patti ruled that Rosett must be de­posed Oct. 26.

Morse has faced sev­eral per­sonal le­gal is­sues re­cently. Last year, Morse was the sub­ject of law­suits from five women who al­leged sex­ual mis­con­duct or un­wanted touch­ing by Morse in sep­a­rate in­ci­dents. Morse – known for pro­vid­ing back­packs and school sup­plies for dis­ad­van­taged chil­dren – has de­nied all ac­cu­sa­tions.

Morse’s lawyer Deb­o­rah Gor­don called the law­suits “frivolous” and part of a “co­or­di­nated me­dia strat­egy” to hu­mil­i­ate Morse by at­tor­ney Ge­of­frey Fieger, a high-pro­file ri­val.

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 Kathy Joseph­son 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.

A sep­a­rate court fil­ing Fri­day by the fed­eral mag­is­trate of­fered de­tails about the first con­fir­ma­tion that fed­eral agents had launched a crim­i­nal case.

On April 18, FBI agents raided the Florida home of Rosett’s father, Robert Rosett, ac­cord­ing to the mag­is­trate’s order. One month later, Robert Rosett, 76, re­ceived a let­ter from the Jus­tice De­part­ment in­di­cat­ing he was a target of a grand jury in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Two months later, in July, State Farm served Rosett with a sub­poena seek­ing spe­cific com­mu­ni­ca­tions be­tween father and son and about pay­ments Robert Rosett re­ceived or made for po­lice re­ports.

In Au­gust, Robert Rosett sought to de­lay pro­vid­ing any in­for­ma­tion “dur­ing the pen­dency of the crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion against him,” ac­cord­ing to the mag­is­trate’s order.

Patti, the mag­is­trate, re­fused to block the sub­poena, say­ing Robert Rosett failed to prove that there is an over­lap be­tween the crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion and civil law­suit.

Ear­lier this month, Rosett’s son tried to de­lay an­swer­ing ques­tions un­der oath in the civil law­suit.

“Mr. Rosett is cur­rently the target of two fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tions that in­volve con­duct di­rectly re­lated to some of the al­le­ga­tions State Farm has made in this case,” Gonek wrote in an Oct. 4 court fil­ing.

Jayson Rosett ex­pects to be charged in a crim­i­nal in­for­ma­tion next month, his lawyer wrote in a sep­a­rate fil­ing Fri­day. A crim­i­nal in­for­ma­tion in­di­cates a guilty plea is ex­pected and sug­gests Rosett is co­op­er­at­ing with in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

Patti, the mag­is­trate, re­fused to de­lay the de­po­si­tion, prompt­ing Jayson Rosett’s lawyer to pro­vide new de­tails about the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, bribery and Morse’s law firm.

Gonek de­scribed what hap­pened af­ter the of­fi­cers were paid bribes in ex­change for un­of­fi­cial ac­ci­dent re­ports.

“Af­ter the un­of­fi­cial re­ports were ob­tained, they were pro­vided to the Elite en­ti­ties and the Michael Morse law firm for the pur­pose of solic­it­ing pa­tients for the Elite en­ti­ties and clients for the Michael Morse law firm,” Gonek wrote.

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