Thomas Nafso

Thomas (“Tommy”) Nafso is Of Counsel to Butzel Long, practicing in the firm’s Detroit office. Mr. Nafso is a former prosecutor in the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and assistant attorney general with the State of Michigan Department of Attorney General. He has extensive administrative, criminal, civil litigation, and government relations experience. Mr. Nafso has first-chaired more than 100 combined jury and bench trials to verdict and held hundreds of administrative hearings. Mr. Nafso’s diverse experience has evolved into an innovative outside general counsel practice for clients who have varied legal needs.

Upon earning his law degree and MBA from the University of Detroit Mercy, Mr. Nafso became a prosecutor in Wayne County. As a prosecutor, he conducted warrant review, preliminary examinations, and felony trials – handling white collar and other complex criminal litigation matters such as homicide, narcotics trafficking, criminal enterprise, embezzlement, and fraud prosecutions.

During his tenure at the State of Michigan Department of Attorney General, Mr. Nafso represented several state agencies including the Department of Treasury, Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) and the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulation (LARA), Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC).

As general counsel to the MGCB, Mr. Nafso:

  • Oversaw regulation of the three Detroit Casinos: MGM Grand Detroit Casino, MotorCity Casino, and Greektown Casino.
  • Successfully represented the executive director and several employees of the MGCB in a first amendment retaliation claim argued in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • Successfully litigated in federal court, along with co-defendants MotorCity Casino and Michigan State Police troopers, a Section 1983 procedural due process claim against the MGCB and one of its regulation officers.
  • Handled numerous matters pertaining to labor and employment, casino gaming licensing, occupational licensing, supplier licensing, and disciplinary hearings.
  • Gained a deep understanding of the Gaming Control and Revenue Act, Horse Racing Law, and the Bingo Act, having handled several Horse Racing matters and charity licensing matters, including regulation of charity poker (“millionaire parties”).

As general counsel to the MLCC, Mr. Nafso:

  • Handled numerous administrative matters such as violation hearings, appeal hearings, and licensing matters under the Michigan Liquor Control Code.
  • Represented the MLCC in litigation matters, including cases in the Michigan Court of Claims.

Mr. Nafso has significant Government relations and legislative affairs experience working with local, state and federal agencies, and assisting clients with complex political, legislative, regulatory, professional licensing, and compliance issues. Mr. Nafso has drafted legislation and administrative rules and has extensive experience with the Michigan Administrative Procedures Act. Mr. Nafso actively examines mainstream regulatory topics such as virtual and social gaming and daily fantasy sports (DFS). Mr. Nafso’s regulatory and compliance experience has made him a leading source on the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act and the Medical Marihuana Facilities Act.

Mr. Nafso’s general counsel clients span a broad range of industries, including franchising, fin-tech, entertainment, and auto finance. Mr. Nafso’s regulatory and compliance experience, as well as his comprehensive knowledge in labor and employment law, has allowed him to build a practice around providing legal services to growing businesses that are required on a day-to-day basis. Taking a hands-on, on-site approach, Mr. Nafso forms personal relationships with each of his clients, enabling him to provide counseling related to the intricate details of each business as is usually only provided by in-house counsel.

Mr. Nafso is a graduate of Michigan State’s, Michigan Political Leadership Program (MPLP) - a bipartisan fellowship program that selects a diverse group of 24 individuals from across the state to engage in a public policy and leadership curriculum. Mr. Nafso is currently on the City of Novi Zoning Board of Appeals.

Mr. Nafso resides in Novi with his wife and 3 kids.

Cited Cases

  • Moody v. Michigan Gaming Control Bd., 847 F.3d 399 (6th Cir. 2017)
  • Wong v. Detroit Entm't, LLC et al., No. 14-CV-13798, 2017 WL 564352 (E.D. Mich. Feb. 13, 2017)

Education

  • University of Detroit Mercy 2009, M.B.A.
  • Oakland University 2006, B.S.
  • University of Detroit Mercy School of Law 2009, J.D.

Memberships

Appointee, City of Novi Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA)

Delegate, Oakland County Precinct Delegate

Detroit Athletic Club (DAC), Membership Development Committee

Past Committeeman, 14th Congressional District Executive Committee

Past Director, Chaldean American Bar Association

Past Treasurer, Wayne County Government Bar Association

Past President, Alpha Iota Delta decision sciences fraternity

Past Treasurer, International Association of Jesuit Business Schools Honors Society

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