News Story

Foster family charged by Nessel were plaintiffs against her in 2019

Flore family’s involvement in two cases was ‘coincidental,’ says spokesman for Michigan AG

A family that was involved in a lawsuit against Attorney General Dana Nessel over adoption services in 2019 is being criminally charged by Nessel’s office for child abuse.

Nessel stated in a Dec. 4 press release that she is pursuing charges against Jerry and Tamal Flore as well as another couple, Joel and Tammy Brown. The announcement came eight months after Tony Spagnuolo, the Clinton County prosecutor who originally investigated and charged the Flores, dropped the charges, according to the Lansing State Journal.

“These two families have adopted or fostered at least 30 children toward an end of immense financial gain,” Nessel said.

This is not the first time Nessel has faced the family in court. Shamber Flore was adopted by the Flores through St. Vincent Catholic Charities and was a plaintiff in the 2019 lawsuit Buck v. Gordon, with Nessel listed as a defendant.

The plaintiffs alleged St. Vincent’s was being targeted by Nessel and the Department of Health and Human Services because of the agency’s Catholic beliefs on same-sex marriage. Nessel announced prior to the lawsuit that the health department would enforce non-discrimination policies including canceling state contracts with agencies that did not comply.

Flore was dismissed due to lack of standing but Judge Robert Jonker allowed St. Vincent’s to proceed and ultimately sided with the adoption agency. “St. Vincent was targeted based on its religious belief, and it was Defendant Nessel who targeted it,” Jonker said.

Nessel’s past statements “raise a strong inference of hostility toward a religious viewpoint,” the court ruled at the time.

The Flore family was notified in 2023 it will most likely face Nessel in court again due to claims of child abuse. The Detroit News investigated the case against the Flore Family and published a story titled, “Error-filled child abuse investigation reports lead to charges against two families.” 

The Blaze also reported on the charges and talked with the Flore family. The story notes that the Flores’ adult children defend their parents.

Nessel stated in her December press release that the parents were motivated by financial gain.

“The Flore and Brown defendants were easily able to manipulate the system to receive over $1 million tax free,” said Nessel in the briefing.

The Flores fostered and adopted children over 16 years, beginning in 2007. Varying sources report that they fostered anywhere from 30 to 60 children during that time.

The family received just over $562,000 in foster-related subsidies and spent $2,500 to $3,000 per month on food alone, according to the Blaze report. This does not include the money they spent on clothing, tutoring, sports, vacations, braces, or transportation. 

“These are completely separate matters. That the Flores appeared in another legal matter is only coincidental to the felony child abuse charges” Danny Wimmer, press secretary for the attorney general’s office, told Michigan Capitol Confidential. “Civil litigation and criminal prosecutions are handled by separate and distinct divisions comprised of completely different teams of attorneys. Civil litigation attorneys would not (and did not) participate in criminal investigations or charging decisions. The subject matter of the civil litigation was not related to the criminal charges or alleged underlying conduct.”

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.