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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 17, 2007

Contact: Mary Dettloff 517-335-3014


Ludington Area Retailer Charged With Larceny in License Sales Scam


A Ludington area license agent has entered a plea agreement with the
Mason County Prosecutor’s Office on a count of larceny by conversion
between $200 and $1,000 for his part in a license sales scam.

Vaughn Flewelling, owner of the Hamlin Grocery, was arraigned in 79th
District Court in Mason County last week and entered a plea on Monday.
Judge Peter Wadel sentenced Flewelling to pay $23,000 in restitution to
the State of Michigan. Flewelling paid $18,793.03 on Monday, and has
180 days to pay the remaining $4,206.97. He was also ordered to pay $440
in fines and costs, ordered to serve 40 hours of community service, and
given 90 days in jail but suspended lieu of satisfying the ordered
judgment.

Working on a tip received by a conservation officer from a woman who
bought a restricted fishing license from Flewelling, the Special
Investigative Unit of the Department of Natural Resources launched an
investigation in the fall of 2006, with undercover officers visiting the Hamlin
Grocery to gather evidence. The woman had purchased her license from
the store in early 2006, and later that year visited a local Wal Mart
store to purchase her “all-species” upgrade because she was going
salmon fishing. Upon attempting to purchase the upgrade, the Wal Mart store
told her they were not able to sell her one because there was no record
that she had purchased the required restricted license. She ended up
purchasing another restricted license, and later told the conservation
officer she encountered in the field about the incident.

The large-scale investigation by the Special Investigative Unit showed
that Hamlin Grocery had voided nearly 40 percent of their license
sales, while the average retail license agent only voids 1 to 2 percent. The
investigation showed that over a two-year period, Hamlin Grocery had
stolen almost $25,000 from the State of Michigan through voided out
license sales. The license sales terminal at the grocery store has been
removed.

“This scam defrauded the State of Michigan out of nearly $25,000 that
would normally have gone into our Game and Fish Protection Fund to help
pay for the day-to-day fish and wildlife activities of the DNR,” said
DNR Law Enforcement Chief Alan Marble. “We are grateful to the
hunters and anglers out there who offer us information and tips to help our
investigations.”

The DNR is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use
and enjoyment of the state’s natural resources for current and future
generations.
 

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" Vaughn Flewelling, owner of the Hamlin Grocery, was arraigned in 79th
District Court in Mason County last week and entered a plea on Monday.
Judge Peter Wadel sentenced Flewelling to pay $23,000 in restitution to
the State of Michigan. Flewelling paid $18,793.03 on Monday, and has
180 days to pay the remaining $4,206.97. He was also ordered to pay $440
in fines and costs, ordered to serve 40 hours of community service, and
given 90 days in jail but suspended lieu of satisfying the ordered
judgment."

This is the part that irritates me. He was basically slapped on the wrist and has to pay the money back. This is crap, he stole $25000. Put the loser in the can!
 

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Glad someone was smart enough to report this to the appropriate authorities.................

Have been in there before but luckily never purchased a license there.
 

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This is probably one of the oldest scams in the book however--"sandbagging" a hunting license--that is an absolute new one to me.

We put a lot of trust in "agents" to forward on the money that we give them in good faith which, they in turn, are responsible for passing along to some higher authority (administrator) after keeping a small portion of your money as their commission. Bottom line it's greed and also, foolish thinking that they'll never get caught?

Ever buy an extended warranty from a car dealer only to find out 3 years later when you have your first claim that the extended warranty company has no record of you whatsoever? "yeah, but I have my copy of the contract" you bark. Still they insist they never heard of you.

So, you hi-tail it back to the car dealer and say, "what gives?". Then, a few minutes later, the manager comes out with this sheepish expression and states: "golly gee, it appears that darn office gal, Ms. Snodgrouper, simply forgot to mail in your warranty registration form when you bought your car. Nothing to worry about, I'll take care of this for you immediately."

DON'T BELIEVE THAT LINE OF CRAP FOR A SECOND!

The dealer, in this case the hunting licence agent, knowingly and with full intent, rolled the dice hoping that you would (1) never have a claim, (2) forget that you had a warranty altogether or (3) trade/sell your car before the base manufacturer's warranty expired. "Sandbagging"; it's as common a practice as peanuts in peanut butter! Insurance agents do it, car dealers do it, and now apparently, hunting license agents do it.

This guy committed fraud. He deserves jail.
 

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Pisses me off to no end.....I happily send in my checks each week.....to the tune of over $120,000.00 last year alone.

It is a priviledge for me to sell Licenses, and helps bring business into the store, while making sure my customers have the appropriate tags/info.

What a disgrace....he deserves a more fitting punishment.
 

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With the computer system it is more difficult. Before the computer system there was a lot more of it along with trying to prove it much harder too.

Bet if the embezzeled money was from the county budget the penalty would have been much more but heck, it's only licenses.
 

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blk82072 said:
Put the loser in the can!
So then we can pay for him to sit in jail?

Better idea - have him pay back double what he stole. The first half ASAP and the next half over a slightly longer period of time.
 

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Ninja,

I don't know you or your store, but I hope that this incident doesn't tarnish the reputations of honest small businessmen(women) who sell licenses on behalf of the DNR and hurt your business. I personally go to "mom and pop" stores to get my licenses so that the "small guy" gets the profit instead of some large chain. Hopefully, the stores I go to are honest. People like this deserve to loose the privilege, not to mention jail time.

DM
 

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duckmeister said:
Ninja,

I don't know you or your store, but I hope that this incident doesn't tarnish the reputations of honest small businessmen(women) who sell licenses on behalf of the DNR and hurt your business. I personally go to "mom and pop" stores to get my licenses so that the "small guy" gets the profit instead of some large chain. Hopefully, the stores I go to are honest. People like this deserve to loose the privilege, not to mention jail time.

DM
Thank you....I appreciate that.

AND....my store is only about 10-12 minutes from you.
Stop in sometime and see what we have to offer!!!:)
 

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OSXer said:
So then we can pay for him to sit in jail?

Better idea - have him pay back double what he stole. The first half ASAP and the next half over a slightly longer period of time.
He is a criminal, he belongs in Jail. Agreed the system is screwed up, and it cost way to much to house prisoners. But I would rather pay for him to sit in Jail, than to pay for him to keep stealing and be free to spend it.
This is money stolen from the DNR, its being made up some where (read-taxpayer).

So according to you, we shouldn't put anybody in prison cause it cost the tax payer money?
 

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Sad how sad. This guy should have to pay back double the $$ amount and then look into the faces of the customers he defrauded and apologize to each and every one of them....I have shopped at this store many times and i now I wont in the future...
 

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Probably explains why my brother has only 3 preference points which he should have 5, it makes you wonder how many others are doing the same thing........All i know i wont be visiting that store.......
 

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I frequent that area regularly and used to stop in there from time to time but that has ended. I will take all my business to some other location. Hopefully any other sportspersons in the area will do the same and he will get what is coming to him, out of business.

Slim bag.
 

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If he's been convicted of scamming, wouldn't he be banned from selling licenses in the future?

I guess that would just stop him from selling licenses though, not from having a store. I can't imagine that many hunters would shop there once the learn he was scamming them, so I'm betting he does go out of business.
 

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Ninja said:
Thank you....I appreciate that.

AND....my store is only about 10-12 minutes from you.
Stop in sometime and see what we have to offer!!!:)
Hey Ninja, if you are only 10-12 minutes from Midland, I must be have to drive north about 15-20 minutes! If I'd realized you were that close I'd surely have shown up at your store long before this! I only live about 30 miles south of Midland but figured you was much further away.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Gunslingergirl said:
If he's been convicted of scamming, wouldn't he be banned from selling licenses in the future?

I guess that would just stop him from selling licenses though, not from having a store. I can't imagine that many hunters would shop there once the learn he was scamming them, so I'm betting he does go out of business.

Hamlin Grocery had
stolen almost $25,000 from the State of Michigan through voided out
license sales. The license sales terminal at the grocery store has been
removed.
 

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Ummmmm,,,,,,,,,, does anyone else see another problem with this???

With the way the computer system is set up,,, how on earth could it take 2 YEARS,, to figure this out???? How many clicks of the mouse do you think it would take to decipher that this terminal/agent was voiding 40% of their licenses?? :16suspect







Disclaimer: I realize some time went into the "investigation/undercover work",,, but still,,, come on.:rolleyes:
 

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William H Bonney said:
Ummmmm,,,,,,,,,, does anyone else see another problem with this???

With the way the computer system is set up,,, how on earth could it take 2 YEARS,, to figure this out???? How many clicks of the mouse do you think it would take to decipher that this terminal/agent was voiding 40% of their licenses?? :16suspect
Exactly, a simple audit of the system would reveal the abuse in a short time and a sting could be set-up and carried out in a few months after noticing the problem.

:sad:
 

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When a license dealer voids a license he must send the voided license to the DNR. I am really surprised they didn't catch this right off.
 

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Backwoods-Savage said:
Hey Ninja, if you are only 10-12 minutes from Midland, I must be have to drive north about 15-20 minutes! If I'd realized you were that close I'd surely have shown up at your store long before this! I only live about 30 miles south of Midland but figured you was much further away.
My mistake.....I thought he was from Milford!!!:D
 
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