St. Clair Shores, Warren, RosevilleFebruary 7, 2013
Attorney charged with embezzling from trust fund
By Brian Louwers
C & G Staff Writer
WARREN — Family members said Derek Tate knew he was dying in 2007 when he made the son of a longtime business acquaintance the sole trustee of a $500,000 living trust for his own boys.
They also said the man Tate trusted to shepherd the funds he left for his children, attorney Robert Buschmohle, violated that trust both literally and figuratively when he blew a big portion of the money over the last five years.
Buschmohle of St. Clair Shores, 39, now faces an embezzlement charge that could put him in jail for 20 years. The Roseville-based lawyer was arraigned before Chief Judge John Chmura in the 37th District Court Feb. 5 on one count of embezzlement over $100,000.
Outside of the courtroom, Tate’s ex-wife, Ilona Mossop, said she became concerned when her eldest son, Stephen Tate, was about to turn 19 and was thinking about college. That’s when the family began asking how payments from the trust would be dispersed.
She said Buschmohle, who had been in contact with the boys since Derek Tate’s death and even acted like their “best friend” at times, became harder and harder to reach.
Growing increasingly frustrated, Mossop asked the state’s Attorney Grievance Commission to look into the matter. In a statement released Feb. 4, Macomb County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Smith said the commission handed the matter to the Warren Police Department.
Investigators now allege Buschmohle embezzled $389,000, including $197,450 that was electronically transferred from the trust fund to his own personal account.
“Over the course of the last five years, unfortunately, he has embezzled all the money,” Mossop said after the hearing was adjourned. “It’s gone.”
Reached by phone later, Stephen Tate of Warren, now a 20-year-old tool and die apprentice, described the anger he felt when he learned what happened to the money his father set aside for him and his 17-year-old brother, Keith Tate of Warren, and another of Derek Tate’s sons.
“My dad got bone and liver cancer and, you know, it was terminal. He knew he needed to start getting his things in order before his death,” Stephen Tate said. “He had a sizable life insurance policy and he wanted to set as much money aside for me and my brother as possible, and my older brother, Michael.
“This was someone we thought we could trust and was going to be a friend, a friend of our father’s. Not only did he take advantage of us, he took advantage of a dying man who was just trying to look out for his kids’ best interests.”
Defense attorney Andrea Ferrara filed a limited appearance on Buschmohle’s behalf at his arraignment. Both Buschmohle and Ferrara declined to speak with reporters as they walked out of the courtroom, and Ferrara did not return a phone call seeking comment.
The number listed for Buschmohle’s law office in Roseville is no longer in service, and the number at his home in St. Clair Shores is unlisted.
A preliminary examination in the case was scheduled for 8:45 a.m. March 5 before Judge Jennifer Faunce.
Buschmohle remained free on a $100,000 personal recognizance bond granted by Chmura at the agreement of police and defense counsel. He was also ordered to surrender his passport and instructed not to leave the state.
While police and prosecutors continued to build their case against Buschmohle, Stephen Tate said it’s about more than money to him.
“All I really want is for justice to be served,” Stephen Tate said. “I hope he gets 20 years or more. I hope he serves every single day of it. I hope it’s a living hell for him at the same time.
“I’m going to be in court with the biggest smile. I’m going to sit right behind him if I can.”