WARREN — A disbarred attorney accused of bilking more than $300,000 from a trust fund set up for the children of his father’s deceased business acquaintance has been ordered to appear for sentencing in Macomb County Circuit Court Oct. 9.
Robert Buschmohle, 40, of St. Clair Shores, who investigators said was the sole trustee of a fund established by Derek Tate for his three sons prior to Tate’s death in 2007, pleaded no contest to embezzlement over $100,000 in August. He now faces up to 20 years in prison and has been ordered by the court to pay $315,000 in restitution to the trust.
“What I’d like to say to him I really can’t say in open court,” said Stephen Tate, 20, of Warren, one of Derek Tate’s sons. “I am extremely happy with the prosecution and with the Warren Police Department and the attorney grievance board, and everyone who has helped us thus far.
“I’m realizing that the wheels of justice turn slowly, but they do turn. For Rob, I hope he gets everything that’s coming to him,” Stephen Tate said.
The amount of restitution ordered in the criminal case is significantly less than what would be required for Buschmohle to again practice law in the state of Michigan.
In May, the Michigan Attorney Discipline Board issued a judgment following an investigation by the state’s Attorney Grievance Commission that began with a series of allegations against Buschmohle in 2012. A complaint brought by Stephen and Keith Tate — and by their mother, Ilona Mossop — after they could not reach Buschmohle regarding payments from the trust after the boys turned 18 fueled the commission’s investigation.
Dina Dajani, senior associate counsel with the Attorney Grievance Commission, said the commission contacted Warren police after a subpoena led to the examination of bank records.
“When we learned that and the amount of money involved, we had to contact law enforcement,” Dajani said.
According to the Attorney Disciplines Boards’ order of disbarment and restitution, Buschmohle allegedly “converted/misappropriated the money in the trust account to his own benefit or for the benefit of his family” by making checks payable to himself, his law Roseville law firm and his father between December 2007 and March 2009 totaling $44,700. The order found other disbursements that allegedly included cash withdrawals totaling $229,091 between July 2008 and April 2009; an ATM withdrawal of $5,000 on Oct. 17, 2008; and online transfers to Buschmohle’s personal checking account between November 2008 and March 2011 totaling $193,000.
The balance of what was intended to be a $500,000 trust fund established by Derek Tate’s life insurance payout was found to be $3.47 in the negative on June 12, 2012, according to the order.
Dajani said the difference in the restitution amount ordered by the court in the criminal case and by the commission in the professional misconduct probe resulted from the calculation of payments due or disbursed to one of Derek Tate’s wives, who was also entitled to some of the money.
“The way the trust was set up, she was supposed to be paid in a very specific manner. She was not,” Dajani said. “My feeling was Mr. Buschmohle did not pay her in accordance with the terms of the trust. The prosecutors felt differently. They deducted the amount paid to the wife from the restitution amount that was ordered in their matter.
“It’s two different systems. They’re not bound by what we did, and of course we’re not bound by what they do,” Dajani said. “Of course, to my knowledge, Mr. Buschmohle has not paid back a penny.”
Buschmohle and his attorney, Andrea Ferrara, have repeatedly declined opportunities to comment on the case after court. Ferrara did not return phone calls seeking comment at press time.
The sentencing hearing in the criminal case has been scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Oct. 9 before Judge James M. Biernat Jr. in Macomb County Circuit Court.
Call Staff Writer Brian C. Louwers at (586) 498-1089.