Watchdog Report Vol. 15 No.20 September 14, 2014 EST.05.05.00 -I go when you cannot – Celebrating 15 Years May 5th

CONTENTS

Argus Report: Federal Judge Scola tells former Congressman Rivera to man up regarding his role in bogus candidate case as he sentences gal pal Alliegro

Florida: State Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla in the spotlight, lobbyist’s net worth rises to $863, 0000, up from $660,040 the previous year

Miami-Dade County: County Select healthcare plan gives “platinum,” level benefits to 45,000 lives, is hoped to save millions in self-insured program

Miami-Dade Public Schools: Return Preparer Pleads Guilty in Identity Theft Tax Refund Scheme Involving Personal Identification Information of Miami-Dade County Public School Students

Public Health Trust: Jackson Memorial Hospital Cardiology Team Saves Man’s Life Using New Defibrillator JMH First and Only Hospital in Miami-Dade to Implant Subcutaneous Implantable Defibrillator

City of Miami: Resident Sentenced in Identity Theft Tax Fraud Scheme

Coconut Grove Playhouse: Will Grove Playhouse Rehab be Arquitectonica plan?

City of Miami Beach: Mayor Levine updates residents on recent Beach initiatives from theater to police wearing cameras

City of Hialeah: Owner of Home Health Care Company Sentenced to Nearly Six Years in Prison for Role in $6 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

City of Coral Gables: Police Chief Weiner resigns under charges of inaccurate police crime statistics, Major Hudack gets tapped as interim top cop, solid cop

City of Homestead: Owner of Home Health Care Company Sentenced to 75 Months in Prison for $6.5 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

Broward County: Tax Return Preparers Charged in Fraudulent Refund Scheme

Palm Beach County: Seven Defendants Charged in Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme

Monroe County: Keys Resident Charged with Illegally Trafficking in Marine Life

Community Events: U.S. Sen. Bill Fernandez – Mike Fernandez Flag of gratitude

Community Events: Greater Miami October Chamber luncheon: U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson – Mike Fernandez Flag of gratitude and video – The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County and the University Of Miami Present The Regional Premiere Of Peter and the Starcatcher

Arsht Center production- Margulies Warehouse opens in Oct. Lotus House benefits, public students enter free

Editorials: The Alvah Chapman Jr., Partnership for Homeless serves some 100,000 people since 1993, a major achievement for the community

Letters: What happened to parking at County Hall, part of FEC project says Noriega of Miami Parking Authority – Reader on video tapeing county procurement bid protests-  Grovite urges public to come to City of Miami public budget hearing to urge the hiring of more police officers- Reader wishes me a speedy recovery-

Sponsors - Publisher’s mission statement & Subscription information is at the bottom of this issue

>>> Just because you do not take an interest in politics does not mean politics will not take an interest in you. –Pericles (430 B.C.)

>>> If you wish to be deleted, just e-mail me with that message.

>>> I apologize to the few people that may get this tonight who asked to be deleted, from an old list that was used last week, I think I got all of you but just in case I apologize in advance for the inconvenience and intrusion.

Report publisher would like to thank the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation www.knightfoundation.org for funding by the Knight Foundation with technical support from the Knight Center for International Media http://knight.miami.edu within  www.miami.edu to maintain my webpage. The Watchdog Report webpage is free, has no pops-up and is just the news in a mainstream reporting manner.

ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street

>>> Federal Judge Scola tells former Congressman Rivera to man up regarding his role in bogus candidate case as he sentences gal pal Alliegro

Former Congressman David Rivera was told to man up by the federal judge Robert Scola, Jr., sentencing his former girlfriend Ana Alliegro last week after she took the fall and had been in prison for her role in a bogus  candidate scheme a few years ago and the investigation of the congressman who has yet  to be indicted is ongoing. Rivera also has an issue with the state’s Ethics Commission.  http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/09/12/4344690/panel-rules-rivera-violated-ethics.html
>>>Ana Alliegro Pleads Guilty to Violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announce that Ana Alliegro, 44, of Miami, pled guilty today before U.S. District Court Judge Robert N. Scola, Jr. to having violated the Federal Election Campaign Act in connection with the Democratic Party primary election for Florida’s 26th Congressional District. Sentencing for Alliegro has been scheduled for September 10, 2014 at 8:30 a.m. before U.S. District Court Judge Scola.

Specifically, Alliegro pled guilty to engaging in a conspiracy to make false statements to the Federal Election Commission and to violate the contribution limits of the Federal Election Campaign Act (Count 1); making a false statement (Count 2); and making illegal campaign contributions (Counts 3 & 4). At sentencing, Alliegro faces a maximum term of five years in prison on each count and a fine of up to $250,000 on each count.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI’s Miami Area Corruption Task Force. The case is being prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel Thomas J. Mulvihill.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

>> Good Government Initiative takes up local VA problems with panel of experts at Beacon Council function. The Good Government Initiative and the Miami-Dade Beacon Council are holding a discussion on the Miami VA and given the millions of veterans that were promised healthcare for their service to the nation after fighting in two wars over the past 13 years it is sure to be an interesting discussion that already cost the department’s Secretary his job. The VA responds that veterans get only the best medical care but here in Miami a number of patients got colonoscopies from equipment that was not properly cleaned a few years ago and the latest scandal involved long waiting lists for people needing treatment and ultimately cost the Secretary his job and below is the information on the meeting and panel discussion. http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/va-hospital-scandal An ACCESS Series Event | Thursday, August 28 | promptly at 8 am The Beacon Council | 80 SW 8th Street, Suite 2400, Miami, FL

>>>> UM President Shalala, Ph.D. says sayonara to U, was point of spear for academic excellence, formidable fundraiser, but also had the common touch with people around the globe from Clinton to Arafat

The Watchdog Report a few months ago heard that Dr. Donna Shalaya was planning to leave the University of Miami when her contract would be ending last May or June but also that she would stay through the massive fundraising endeavor that would conclude in 2015. Further, Shalala was a two term, Sec. of Health and Human Services under President Bill Clinton, She was also was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush and the former Peace Corps Volunteer in Iraq, is of Lebanese descent and got her Ph.D. from Syracuse University. However, she may be most remembered for her successful fundraising campaign, which had 140,000 donors raise some 1.6 billion for the second phase of the Momentum 2 Campaign the most successful fundraiser in the university’s history. Shalala though is a global figure and her replacement will be no easy task to find someone with her global and international stature that includes the U holding a presidential debate in 2004 and other high profile gatherings over the years while she was at the helm and she significantly raised the level of scholarship and national stature including the University’s Miller medical School though the buying of a new hospital caused considerable controversy and fiscal challenges and exasperated a rocky relationship with the public hospital Jackson Health across the street, with claims patients were being poached that Shalala denied and the Medical school Dean Pascal Goldschmidt, M.D. denied and said any doctor that did that would be disciplined. But Shalala set the U on a new course and when http://www.miami.edu/index.php/news/releases/leadership_for_next_fundraising_campaign_announced/


Goldschmidt

Shalala

Goldschmidt   Shalala

She first arrived the woman talked to students to find out what was bothering them and it was campus “parking” and she worked to create more parking and that attitude of resolving issues will be her legacy in the years ahead. And it was that personal touch be it a thank you note or the wearing of a scarf given to her by Yasser Arafat, that made her a beloved force on campus. But finding someone of her stature to follow will be the trustees challenge at the private university and South Florida alumni are waiting to see who gets tapped to fill her large shoes. Since she formerly was also President of the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Press release: Democrats Lead Republicans 42%-30% in Congressional Generic By: John Zogby Forbes.com Contributor

One thing you should know before I even get started: I have never missed a Congressional generic ballot yet. No other polling company has published a generic ballot in September so this is the first out of the chute and the new Zogby Analytics matchup shows the Democrats leading by 12 points – 42% to 30%. Now, in the full interests of truth, the Congressional generic is not the best barometric reading for an election outcome, but it is at least a useful trend to watch. So this is not a prediction but look at what we found.

The Democrats hold a double digit lead among both men (43%-29%) and women (40%-30%). They also lead 64% to 10% among 18-29 year olds and 44% to 28% among 30-49 year olds. The Republicans lead among older voters, however – 41% to 31% among 50-64 year olds and 38% to 31% among those over 65. The “Democratic congressional candidate” does better among Democrats (87% to 3%) than the “Republican congressional candidate” does among Republicans (74% to 7%). The same is true among liberals who support the Democrat in their district (83% to 6%), while conservatives only back the Republican 61% to 15%.

Please click on the link below to view the full release:
http://zogbyanalytics.com/news/494-democrats-lead-republicans-42-30-in-congressional-generic

A new book by John Zogby and Joan Snyder… Veteran pollster John Zogby teams up with leading Millennial Management Consultant Joan Snyder Kuhl to provide a detailed analysis of why Americans born between 1979 and 1994 are truly more globally aware and sensitive, how they want to make their workplace and planet a better place, and how we begin to understand them and position them better to play out their destiny. First Globals are a transformative group and Zogby and Kuhl provide a clear road map for managers, marketers, change-makers, parents, and First Globals themselves. The eBook is Available Now! amzn.com/B00DE3N19WThe Hardcopy is Available Now! interactive.zogbyanalytics.com/eBook

FLORIDA

>>>> State Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla in the spotlight, lobbyist’s net worth rises to $863, 0000, up from $660,040 the previous year

State Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami is in the spotlight this week after his brother Renier lost his bid to become a circuit court judge   and the loss has clipped the political wings of the well-known political family in South Florida. MDLP a former county commissioner and the first Cuban American the chair of the body also works as a lobbyist and is an attorney. He has been the point of the spear for the red light traffic light companies and because of this duel role many politicians give the man deference since he could hurt a municipality in the state legislature and that is why the WDR keeps an eye on him at meetings especially at the City of Miami.

What do we know about his finances?

The senator through Dec. had a net worth of $873,742 which is up from $660,040 the previous year.

Diaz de la Portilla

>>>> Now there are now two, Gov. Scott and Crist to face off in November General Election, money is abundant, how low will they go in negative campaigns?

With the Florida Democratic Party Primary over and former Gov. Charlie Crist beating challenger former state Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston in the primary Tuesday the race is set and Gov. Rick Scott and the GOP are rolling out new campaign attack ads linking Crist to former Ponzi attorney Scott Rothstein and his claim that he tried to influence the governor regarding judicial appointments that Crist says is not true and he was as fooled as everyone else when it came to Rothstein and his scam that has him serving years in federal prison with the convictions continuing by federal authorities.

However, Scott is expected to raise around $100 million for his campaign and Crist should have around $50 million but since both men have extensive public records the variety of attack ads will be plentiful and Scott is already rolling out some new ads saying Crist could be bought when it came to judicial appointees though that claim has yet to be validated. Further, Scott once again is getting ink for not following the state’s Sunshine Law and emails and texts are emerging regarding Scott’s desire to put a park around the governor’s mansion and it is another example of him skirting the state’s Sunshine law and is contrary to Scott’s pledge to be the most transparent governor in the state’s history but he has failed to follow through on that promise while being in office. Further, Scott is also promising to push $1 billion in tax cuts that will need Legislative approval to fire up his base in Florida. And Crist will also need a big voter turnout in Miami-Dade and Broward to win, http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/08/29/4316878/gov-rick-scott-promises-1-billion.html


Crist

Scott

Governor Rick Scott Appoints Six to Judicial Nominating Commissions

Press release: Governor Rick Scott announced six appointments to two Judicial Nominating Commissions.

Tenth Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission*

Timothy McCausland, 63, of Bartow, is the City Attorney for the City of Lakeland. He is reappointed from a list of nominees submitted by the Florida Bar for a term beginning September 24, 2014, and ending July 1, 2018.

Mark Miller, 65, of Lakeland, is a shareholder with GrayRobinson PA. He succeeds Donald Wilson Jr., and is appointed from a list of nominees submitted by the Florida Bar for a term beginning September 24, 2014, and ending July 1, 2018.

Edward Blake Paul, 43, of Lakeland, is an attorney with Peterson Myers PA. He succeeds Victor Smith and is appointed for a term beginning September 24, 2014, and ending July 1, 2018.

* Hardee, Highlands, and Polk Counties

Thirteenth Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission*

Jeffrey Carter Andersen, 45, of Tampa, is a shareholder with Bush Ross PA. He is reappointed from a list of nominees submitted by the Florida Bar for a term beginning September 10, 2014, and ending July 1, 2018.

Dorothy DiFiore, 48, of Tampa, is a partner with Hass Lewis DiFiore. She succeeds Jack Fernandez and is appointed from a list of nominees submitted by the Florida Bar for a term beginning September 10, 2014, and ending July 1, 2018.

Thomas Newcomb Hyde, 70, of Tampa, is a self employed attorney. He succeeds Scott Borders and is appointed for a term beginning September 10, 2014, and ending July 1, 2018

>>> Press release: Florida’s favorable agricultural climate positions the state as the second largest produce exporter in the nation, according to a new report from Florida Tax Watch, the independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit taxpayer research institute and government watchdog. The report finds that farming and processing of Florida produce contributes more than $7.5 billion to the state economy.

“Florida’s agriculture industry is vital to diversifying our state’s growing economy,” said Dominic M. Calabro, president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch, the independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit taxpayer research institute and government watchdog. “Fresh produce, such as fruits, vegetables, and juices are a key part of the agriculture industry and enhances our global trade impact.” Florida is home to more than 47,500 commercial farms covering 9.25 million acres, and producing fresh fruits, vegetables and juices. In addition to the positive impact on Florida’s agricultural industry, the production of these crops benefits other Florida industries, such as manufacturing. For example, 8.4 percent of Florida’s food and kindred products manufacturing output is tied to produce.

In 2012, Florida was the 7th largest state exporter of agricultural products, sending the majority of exports to Canada, the Netherlands, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic and Panama. Produce accounts for more than $500 million of the total agricultural exports in Florida. These exports help diversify Florida’s economy and contribute to an already positive balance of trade.

Unsurprisingly, citrus is one of Florida’s highest produced crops. Florida oranges and grapefruits exceed 65 percent of the total U.S. production. However, Florida is the nation’s leader in production of many other types of produce, including squash, snap beans, cucumbers, fresh sweet corn and watermelons. “These Florida-grown fresh fruits and vegetables provide healthy food for families and provide jobs for agricultural producers, for food processors, and transporters in our state and those who export Florida crops,” said Jerry D. Parrish, Ph.D., Chief Economist and Director of the TaxWatch Center for Competitive Florida. Learn more about how Florida’s produce impacts the economy and interacts with other sectors.

On the web at www.FloridaTaxWatch.org.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY

>>> New County Select healthcare plan gives “platinum” level benefits to 45,000 lives, is hoped to save millions in self-insured program

County Commissioner’s and Mayor Carlos Gimenez had a major discussion Thursday on the county’s new select healthcare insurance program that will have 45,000 lives in it and managed by AV Med. The administration is trying to bring down the staggering costs for its healthcare and the plan being offered to employees is considered a platinum level program and is considered rich in benefits said staff.

A security scare on Sept. 11 at the Stephen P. Clark government Center because there was “law enforcement activity in the building’s lobby” kept commissioners having a discussion in their place and unable to leave to have lunch.  Mayor Carlos Gimenez said as this security alert dragged on that it was part of the new “county wellness program, which we take very seriously” since it was denying commissioners from eating lunch.

County press release on the matter: “Out of an abundance of caution, a Miami-Dade Police Department canine sweep is being conducted at the Stephen P. Clark Center. Further information will be provided when the sweep is concluded.”

Gimenez

>>> The valuation of property values by the county’s Property Appraiser that seem to be out of whack in some cases caused a discussion among commissioners last week and Mayor Gimenez noted there “were undervalued properties throughout the whole county,” he predicted and noted a piece of property on the Miami River was valued at $10 million but recently sold for $125 million,” as an example of some of the variances, he said.

>>> The largest County funded Community Based Organizations (CBOs) is Farm Share that receives some $500,000 in county funds and the organization feeds tens of thousands of residents statewide with excess food it collects and distributes and is a key source for food for many people of need. For more go to www.farmshare.org

>>> Here is an update on the Miami Museum of Science

Here is the latest video on what is going on at the new Miami Science Museum that recently fired its construction company and is scheduled to open in late 2015.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ny04j2eBDyU&feature=youtu.be

MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOLS

>>> Return Preparer Pleads Guilty in Identity Theft Tax Refund Scheme Involving

Personal Identification Information of Miami-Dade County Public School Students

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Donnell Young, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Paula Reid, Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service (USSS), Miami Field Office, and J. Scott Dennis, Chief, North Miami Beach Police Department, announce that Donald Claude, 34, of Miramar, pled guilty today to one count of wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343, and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A(a)(1).  Sentencing is scheduled for October 24, 2014. At sentencing, Claude faces up to 20 years in prison for wire fraud, and a mandatory term of two years in prison, consecutive to any other term in prison, for aggravated identity theft.

According to court documents, Claude was the Chief Executive Officer of J&D Tax Services, LLC. Claude obtained an Electronic Filing Identification Number (EFIN) for J&D Tax Services, LLC which permitted Claude and co-defendant James Jean-Baptiste to file tax returns electronically in the names of other individuals. Claude also obtained a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) as a tax preparer that permitted him to identify himself as the preparer on tax returns electronically filed in the names of other individuals.

Claude and Jean-Baptiste obtained the personal identification information (PIl) of students from an employee of Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Claude and Jean-Baptiste used the students’ stolen identities to file false and fraudulent tax returns with the IRS to fraudulently obtain tax refunds for their personal use and benefit. Claude and his co-conspirators caused over $200,000 in false and fraudulent tax refund claims to be submitted to the IRS from 2009 through 2011 through his EFIN and PTIN.

James Jean-Baptiste was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349, seven counts of wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343, and seven counts of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A(a)(1). Jean-Baptiste remains at large.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI, the USSS, and the North Miami Beach Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gera R. Peoples. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov

>>> Here is the close out memo on the controversial Arts and Minds Charter School in Cpcpnt Grove where the schools landlord had a sweetheart rent deal paid for with public money, to read the report go to http://mca.dadeschools.net/AuditCommittee/AC_September_16_2014/item6a.pdf

PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST

>>>> Jackson Memorial Hospital Cardiology Team Saves Man’s Life Using New Defibrillator

JMH First and Only Hospital in Miami-Dade to Implant Subcutaneous Implantable Defibrillator

Press release: Johnny White considers himself a walking miracle. In December 2012, the 40-year-old was rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital with a massive aortic dissection, or a tear in his aorta, due to his untreated high blood pressure.

Doctors from Jackson Memorial Hospital’s cardiology team saved White’s life by performing a very complicated surgery, which required repairing his aorta and creating a bypass graft connecting his auxiliary artery to femoral artery.

During his stay in the hospital, he was also diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, or weakness of the muscle of his heart. Despite prolonged treatment with medications, his cardiac function remained at only 10 to 15 percent. This reduced function of the heart made White prone to sudden cardiac death secondary to fatal arrhythmias.

Doctors informed White that a defibrillator would be the best option to prevent sudden cardiac death – but implantation had to be delayed due to persistent large draining wounds in his lower extremities. Due to his chronic wound infections, a history of sepsis and bilateral complex surgery, he was not a candidate for a conventional defibrillator, which requires that leads be placed inside the heart via the veins. Instead, he was offered the Subcutaneous Implantable Defibrillator (S-ICD) System, a device recently approved in the United States.

The subcutaneous defibrillator system consists of a shock box and connected wire, also known as a lead, and it is implanted without actually entering the veins or the heart. If White were to develop a fatal arrhythmia, this defibrillator would detect it and deliver a shock to prevent him from dying.

“We are proud to be the first and only hospital in Miami-Dade County to implant this subcutaneous defibrillator, which has multiple benefits and is a great alternative to patients who are prone to life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias for whom the routine defibrillator device is not ideal,” said Assaf Tzur, M.D., medical director of electrophysiology at Jackson Memorial. “Especially in young patients like Mr. White, who are extremely prone to infections, this device sits outside the heart and still provides the same lifesaving function as a traditional defibrillator. It has revolutionized medical care.”

In May 2014, White successfully underwent implantation of the subcutaneous defibrillator system.

“The last couple of years have been tough, but now I have a chance at survival,” White said. “I know that I have a defibrillator that can help me right away.” Doctors are optimistic about White’s future with the new defibrillator.

“In young and active patients, there is a significant risk of the leads of a traditional defibrillator to malfunction due to lead fracture,” said Abhijit Ghatak, M.D., a University of Miami/Jackson cardiology fellow. “It is known that more than one-third of the leads of the traditional defibrillator may fail over the period of eight years. This new system is not only much safer to implant, but also the leads are prone to much less stress – and hence, significantly lower risk of malfunction over its lifetime.” White is grateful to Jackson doctors and believes his new defibrillator will give him a second chance at life. “I am very blessed to be alive,” he said. “Jackson first saved my life when my aorta tore and now thanks to this latest procedure and their miracle work, I feel more at peace with my heart.”

>>>A joint meeting between the Public Health Trust board and the Board of County Commissioner’s was held Wednesday and it was a Staid affair in comparison to past years when the public volunteer oversight board met with commissioners. Commission Chair Rebeca Sosa asked the PHT administration to upgrade its equipment as much as possible,  especially in “cardio,” and PHT President Carlos Migoya said that was in the cards but in the case of robotics, surgeons were not asking for the technology but a new Cath lab was being built. She also noted that Jackson South was getting rave reviews when it came to the facilities after a $100 million upgrade in county bond funds but Commissioner Javier Souto, a long time Jackson fan said he thought the campus would benefit with better lighting so that it could be the “shinning [medical jewel] on the hill,,,,” so to speak and he thought the extra lighting would make the healthcare district more inviting to paying patients, he suggested.

>>>> New FIU Wertheim medical school admits 125 new students says Dean Rock, highly diverse class with 80 percent of students from Florida and 79 percent from S. Florida

FIU Herbert Wertheim Medical School Dean John Rock, M.D. told the PHT board at the monthly meeting that the medical school welcomed 125 new medical students for the year and the goal next year is to have a class with 480 students, and 80 percent of the applicants were from the state of Florida and 80 percent were from South Florida he told the board. He said the class was highly diverse with 43 percent of the applicants Hispanic, 14 percent were Afro American, 28 percent were Asian and 25 percent were Caucasian, he said.

CITY OF MIAMI

>>>> Miami Resident Sentenced in Identity Theft Tax Fraud Scheme

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Donnell Young, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and Paula Reid, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service (USSS), announce that Markinson Dolce, 25, of Miami, was sentenced today before U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra to 72 months in prison, followed by two years of supervised release and ordered to pay $141,768 in restitution to the IRS.

Dolce previously pled guilty to one count of theft of government monies, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 641, and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A.

According to court documents, on February 2, 2012, a marked Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) unit stopped a vehicle driven by Dolce that resulted in the seizure of six debit and credit cards, a laptop computer and flash drive, a notebook (containing handwritten lists of approximately 300 individuals’ names, social security account numbers, dates of birth, and employer identification numbers), and numerous items of mail in different names listing Dolce’s home address. In total, Dolce had the personal identifying information (including names, dates of birth and social security numbers) of 461 different persons in his possession. It was later determined that the debit cards contained approximately $33,000 in fraudulent federal income tax refunds from 16 different fraudulent federal income tax returns that were filed.

In total, at least 75 different fraudulent federal income tax returns were filed in an attempt to secure $545,563.00 in fraudulent income tax refunds from the United States Treasury in Dolce’s scheme. All of the names linked to the fraudulent tax refunds were found in the seized notebook from the FHP car stop.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI and the USSS. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Carlton.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

Coconut Grove Playhouse

>>> Will Grove Rehab be Arquitectonica plan?

The Watchdog Report is being told that after reviewing submissions of a host of different plans to rehabilitate the historic theater closed since 2006 that the submission by Arquitectonica will be the plan that the county goes with if county commissioners approve the plan. The county has some $20 million available to rehabilitate the ageing structure and the money cannot be released without commission approval.

CITY OF HIALEAH

>>> Owner of Home Health Care Company Sentenced to Nearly Six Years in Prison for Role in $6 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

Press release: A co-owner of Professional Medical Home Health LLC was sentenced today to serve 70 months in prison and ordered to pay $6.2 million in restitution for her participation in a health care fraud scheme involving the now defunct home health care company.

U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office, and Acting Special Agent in Charge Reginald France of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Office of Investigations Miami Office made the announcement.  U.S. District Judge Federico A. Moreno of the Southern District of Florida imposed the sentence.

According to court documents, Annarella Garcia, 44, of Hialeah, Florida, was a co-owner of Professional Medical Home Health, a Miami home health care agency that purported to provide home health and therapy services to Medicare beneficiaries.  Between December 2008 and February 2014, Garcia and others engaged in a scheme to bill the Medicare Program for expensive physical therapy and home health care services that were not medically necessary or were not provided.  During that time, Professional Medical Home Health was paid approximately $6.25 million by Medicare for the fraudulent claims.

Specifically, Garcia and her co-conspirators paid kickbacks and bribes to patient recruiters in return for their providing patients to Professional Medical Home Health for home health and therapy services that were not medically necessary or were not provided.  In furtherance of the scheme, Garcia and her co-conspirators falsified patient documentation to make it appear that beneficiaries qualified for and received home health care services, when, in fact, many of the beneficiaries did not actually qualify for such services and did not receive such services.

Garcia pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud on June 25, 2014.

The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.  This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys A. Brendan Stewart and Anne P. McNamara of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 1,900 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

>>> Mayor Levine updates residents on recent Beach initiatives from theater to police wearing cameras

It’s been an honor to serve as your Mayor for almost one year now. As part of an ongoing effort to keep Miami Beach residents abreast of the City Commission’s latest developments, here are some of our recent initiatives:

CITY OF MIAMI BEACH

  • O Cinema at the Byron Carlyle Theater: The City Commission unanimously voted to enter into an agreement with the cutting-edge, independent nonprofit, which currently operates O Cinemas in Wynwood and in Miami Shores. The third O Cinema, located in the Byron Carlyle Theater and part of our efforts to stimulate the economy of North Beach, is set to open sometime this fall.
  • Body Cameras for Police Department and Other City Departments: Police officers’ body-worn cameras are proven to reduce the number of misconduct complaints and the use of force. This fall, 50 cameras will be deployed for use by Miami Beach Police Department to improve the organization’s transparency and accountability. There are also five cameras being deployed for evaluation and testing by the Fire Department, Code Compliance Division, Parking Department, and Building Department.
  • Millage Rate: At the most recent City Commission meeting, your elected officials voted to decrease the millage rate by 0.0926 mills. This will account for a reduction in property taxes to median or average property owners that qualify for the homestead exemption and the Save Our Homes cap.
  • Voluntarily Forgoing Salary and Benefits: As I did last year, I will be forgoing my City salary, compensation, and benefits for the upcoming fiscal year. The total amount, which comes to about $44,000, will be allocated to the elderly and to senior-related activities throughout Miami Beach.
  • Traffic Management on Causeways during Accidents: In the wake of the numerous recent traffic fatalities on the Causeways, the Police Department and new Police Chief have recommended that the City invest in 3-D imaging cameras. The state-of-the-art equipment will catalog evidence at the scene of a traffic accident, reducing the duration of road closures by up to 50%. Also under consideration is the installation of HD video cameras at strategic locations along the Causeways, which will help reduce the amount of time it takes to reconstruct an accident scene.

**We encourage you to forward this email to your email contact list so that others can opt to receive future notifications. Also, please visit our Facebook page, Mayor Philip Levine, for real time information from our office.**

Sincerely,

Philip

CITY OF CORAL GABLES

>>>> Police Chief Weiner resigns under charges of inaccurate police crime statistics, Major Hudack gets tapped as interim top cop, solid cop

Police Chief Dennis Weiner resigned last week amid charges that police crime statistics were ginned ip and not accurate and the Gables Commission tapped Major Ed. Hudack to be the next interim top cop in the City Beautiful. Hudack is a solid choice and the major is well respected in the community. However, Weiner had been an absentee chief since he also is in the naval reserve and years ago had a tour of duty in Guantanamo Cuba and was absent from his Chief post for at least a year back then.

>>> Former head of private college settles ethics complaint

M-DC Ethics commission press release: The Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics & Public Trust today approved a settlement with former Dade Medical College President Ernesto Perez, who was accused of lobbying Homestead and Coral Gables city officials from 2011 to 2013 on behalf of his school without first registering, as required by County ordinance.  As part of the negotiated agreement to the complaint (C 14-24), Perez pled No Contest to two counts of unregistered lobbying and will pay a fine of $1,500 plus costs of $500, and will also accept a Letter of Instruction from the Commission.

The Ethics Commission approved a Letter of Instruction to the owner of an architectural firm interested in the redevelopment of the Miami Beach Convention Center who last month settled a complaint (C 14-30) that he illegally lobbied for the work.  John “Jack” Portman claimed that he was unaware that he would have to register as a lobbyist when he met with several city commissioners from January to July of 2013. The Letter states that Miami Beach’s lobbying ordinance is “clear and unambiguous.  It clearly specifies that a ‘principal’ is included in the definition of a lobbyist.”  It adds, “The Ethics Commission does not condone alleged ignorance of the law as an excuse for the violation of ethics rules.”  In addition to receiving the Letter, Portman also paid a fine of $1,000 and investigative costs of $1,000.

During the meeting, Executive Director Joseph Centorino reported to the Commission on two proposals under consideration by the Board of County Commissioners that would affect the Conflict of Interest and Code of Ethics Ordinance.  One would extend the ban on lobbying by former County employees from two to four years after leaving their posts, and that is expected to go before the County Commission for a final hearing next month.  Another proposal would grant an exception to the Sunshine Law and the County’s Cone of Silence rule that would close public participation when proposals are presented by vendors before selection committees or when vendor negotiations or negotiation strategy sessions take place.

>>> Now there are five candidates vying to be next city manager, pool of candidates includes some local administrators, but is new blood what the city commission is looking for?

CITY OF HOMESTEAD

Owner of Home Health Care Company Sentenced to 75 Months in Prison for $6.5 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

Press release: The owner and operator of a Miami home health care company was sentenced to 75 months in prison today for her participation in a $6.5 million Medicare fraud scheme involving the now defunct home health care company, Nestor’s Health Services Inc. (Nestor Home Health).

U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office, and Acting Special Agent in Charge Derrick Jackson of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Miami Regional Office, made the announcement.  U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola Jr. of the Southern District of Florida imposed the sentence. Cruz Sonia Collado, 64, of Homestead, Florida, was an owner and operator of Nestor Home Health, a Miami home health care agency that purported to provide home health and physical therapy services to Medicare beneficiaries.  On June 23, 2014, Collado pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to offer and pay health care kickbacks and to defraud the United States, and one count of offering and paying health care kickbacks.  In addition to her prison term, Collado was sentenced to serve three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $6,536,657 in restitution. According to court documents, Collado paid kickbacks and bribes to patient recruiters in return for the recruiters providing patients to Nestor Home Health for home health care and therapy services that were medically unnecessary and, in many instances, not provided.  Collado then fraudulently billed the Medicare program for home health care services on behalf of the recruited patients.

From March 2009 through at least January 2014, Nestor Home Health submitted more than $6.5 million in false claims for home health services.  Medicare paid Nestor Home Health more than $6.1 million for these fraudulent claims. The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.  This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Anne P. McNamara and A. Brendan Stewart of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 2,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers. To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

BROWARD COUNTY

>>> Broward Realtor Charged with Making False Statements

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Alysa D. Erichs, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), announce that Christopher White, 43, of Fort Lauderdale, was charged with three counts of making material false statements to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001(a)(3).

According to the indictment, these statements were included on White’s April 16, 2014, application for naturalization submitted to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The indictment charged that White made the following material false statements in his naturalization application: (1) that he had never claimed to be a U.S. Citizen; (2) that he had never committed, assisted in committing or attempted to commit a crime or offense for which he was never arrested; and (3) that he had never failed to support his dependents. If convicted, White faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000 for each count.Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and ICE-HSI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Randy Katz and Thomas P. Lanigan.An indictment is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov

PALM BEACH COUNTY

>>>>Seven Defendants Charged in Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Donnell Young, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and Amos Rojas, Jr., U.S. Marshal, U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), announce the indictment of seven individuals for their roles in a stolen identity tax refund fraud scheme.  The indictment charges defendants Lukner Blanc, 31, of Royal Palm Beach, Frank Fleuzinord, 29, of Cape Coral, Jean Juste, a/k/a “Junior” or “Shorty,” 24, of West Palm Beach, Benoit Placide, a/k/a “Snow” or “Mario,” 26, of West Palm Beach, Shelda Phadael, 28, of Lake Worth, Marie Claude, 25, of Lantana, and Marie Demesyeux, 29, of Lake Worth. Six of the defendants have been arrested. Fleuzinord remains at-large. Defendants Phadael, Claude, and Demesyeux were arraigned today before United States Magistrate Judge Dave Lee Brannon.  All three of the defendants pled not guilty. A trial date has not yet been set. Placide’s arraignment is scheduled for August 26, 2014, Juste’s arraignment is scheduled for August 27, 2014, and Blanc’s arraignment is scheduled for August 28, 2014.

All defendants are charged with one count of conspiracy to receive, conceal and retain monies stolen from the United States, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371. In addition, Defendant Blanc is charged with three counts of theft of government money, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 641, nine counts of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A(a)(1), and five counts of wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343.  Defendant Fleuzinord is charged with two counts of aggravated identity theft.  Defendant Juste was charged with one count of theft of government money, five counts of aggravated identity theft, and five counts of wire fraud.  Defendant Placide is charged with five counts of aggravated identity theft and five counts of wire fraud.  Defendant Phadael is charged with one count of theft of government money.

Defendants Claude and Demesyeux are each charged with one count of perjury, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1623(a), for making a false statement while testifying under oath before a Federal Grand Jury.

According to court documents, the defendants stole the identities of real persons (names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers) and used the information to file fraudulent income tax returns online to the IRS. The defendants opened personal bank accounts and purchased debit cards that were utilized to receive the fraudulent income tax refunds. After the fraudulent refunds were sent by wire to the bank accounts and debit cards, the defendants and their co-conspirators withdrew the funds at automatic teller machines (ATMs) and point of sale electronic terminals at various retail establishments. If convicted, the defendants face a maximum of five years in prison for the conspiracy charge, a maximum of ten years in prison for the theft of government money charge, a mandatory term of two years in prison for the aggravated identity theft charge, a maximum of twenty years in prison for the wire fraud charge, and a maximum of five years in prison for the perjury charges. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI and the USMS Regional Fugitive Task Force. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Carlton. An indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST

A joint meeting between the Public Health Trust board and the Board of County Commissioner’s was held Wednesday and it was a Staid affair in comparison to past years when the public volunteer oversight board met with commissioners. Commission Chair Rebeca Sosa asked the PHT administration to upgrade its equipment as much as possible,  especially in “cardio,” and PHT President Carlos Migoya said that was in the cards but in the case of robotics, surgeons were not asking for the technology but a new Cath lab was being built. She also noted that Jackson South was getting rave reviews when it came to the facilities after a $100 million upgrade in county bond funds but Commissioner Javier Souto, a long time Jackson fan said he thought the campus would benefit with better lighting so that it could be the “shinning [medical jewel] on the hill,,,,” so to speak and he thought the extra lighting would make the healthcare district more inviting to paying patients, he suggested.

>>>> New FIU Wertheim medical school admits 125 new students says Dean Rock, highly diverse class with 80 percent of students from Florida and 79 percent from S. Florida

FIU Herbert Wertheim Medical School Dean John Rock, M.D. told the PHT board at the monthly meeting that the medical school welcomed 125 new medical students for the year and the goal next year is to have a class with 480 students, and 80 percent of the applicants were from the state of Florida and 80 percent were from South Florida he told the board. He said the class was highly diverse with 43 percent of the applicants Hispanic, 14 percent were Afro American, 28 percent were Asian and 25 percent were Caucasian, he said.

CITY OF MIAMI

>>>>Tax Return Preparers Charged in Fraudulent Refund Scheme

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Ronald A. Cimino, Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, and Donnell Young, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), announce that Claudia Zuloaga, 43, and Sharon Elizabeth Angulo, 49, both of Miami, have been charged in a 32 count indictment with one count of conspiring to defraud the United States, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, and 20 and 11 counts, respectively, of assisting in the preparation of false federal income tax returns, in violation of Title 26, United States Code, Section 7206(2). If convicted, the defendants face a maximum of five years in prison on the conspiracy count and a maximum of three years in prison on each of the Title 26 counts. According to the indictment, beginning in approximately September 2008 and continuing through September 2012, the defendants jointly operated a tax preparation business from offices located at 18710 SW 107th Avenue, Miami, Florida. The indictment further alleges that Zuloaga and Angulo recruited clients by falsely representing that they could eliminate a substantial portion of their debts by obtaining sizable tax refunds for them. As alleged in the indictment, this would be accomplished through false and fraudulent tax returns which the defendants would prepare for each client in exchange for fees usually amounting to 30percent of the tax refunds fraudulently obtained and totaled in excess of $250,000 from those clients who were successful in receiving fraudulently obtained refunds. As further alleged in the indictment, the tax returns prepared by the defendants falsely set forth that certain financial institutions had withheld sizable amounts of tax from falsely declared interest income earned from these same financial institutions. Through this fraudulent mechanism, each return gave the false appearance of entitling the client to a significant tax refund due to over-withholding of tax payments in connection with their claimed interest earnings. In addition, the indictment alleges that, in order to provide false substantiation for these fraudulent tax refund claims, the defendants caused fictitious IRS Forms 1099-OID to be created which set forth the false interest and tax withholding amounts fraudulently reported upon their clients’ tax returns. The indictment also alleges that Zuloaga and Angulo promoted the fictitious “redemption theory” to their clients as the purported justification for their fraudulent tax refund claims. Through this promotion, clients were falsely informed that the submission of tax returns in this manner allowed their clients to legitimately access large amounts of money allegedly contained in certain non-existent “straw man” accounts which the defendants claimed were being maintained by the United States Treasury for each individual who possessed a Social Security number. As part of the conspiracy, Zuloaga and Angulo are also alleged to have engaged in various acts designed to prevent the IRS from investigating their fraudulent activities and collecting the repayment of any tax refunds falsely and fraudulently obtained. These acts included the submission of numerous false documents on behalf of both their clients and themselves which were designed to obstruct the IRS from taking investigative and enforcement actions against their clients and themselves.Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the IRS-CI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter B. Outerbridge and the department’s Tax Division Trial Attorney Alexander Effendi. An indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

What about the Civilian Investigative Panel meeting this past week?

A panel of five residents reviewing what has been going on at the CIP that Miami Commissioner’s have called “dysfunctional” and is chaired by Israel Reyes, a retired Circuit Court Judge heard a mixed bag of testimony Thursday afternoon and one issue has surfaced concerning the Independent Council role at the CIP attorney Charles Mays and his negotiated “agreement” that the Watchdog Report is being told is around $175,000 but I could not confirm if that is per month or yearly and an e-mail to the Miami manager last week on the subject went unanswered by my deadline.

CITY of HIALEAH

>>>> Owner of Home Health Care Company Sentenced to Nearly Six Years in Prison for Role in $6 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

Press release: A co-owner of Professional Medical Home Health LLC was sentenced today to serve 70 months in prison and ordered to pay $6.2 million in restitution for her participation in a health care fraud scheme involving the now defunct home health care company.

U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office, and Acting Special Agent in Charge Reginald France of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Office of Investigations Miami Office made the announcement.  U.S. District Judge Federico A. Moreno of the Southern District of Florida imposed the sentence.

According to court documents, Annarella Garcia, 44, of Hialeah, Florida, was a co-owner of Professional Medical Home Health, a Miami home health care agency that purported to provide home health and therapy services to Medicare beneficiaries.  Between December 2008 and February 2014, Garcia and others engaged in a scheme to bill the Medicare Program for expensive physical therapy and home health care services that were not medically necessary or were not provided.  During that time, Professional Medical Home Health was paid approximately $6.25 million by Medicare for the fraudulent claims. Specifically, Garcia and her co-conspirators paid kickbacks and bribes to patient recruiters in return for their providing patients to Professional Medical Home Health for home health and therapy services that were not medically necessary or were not provided.  In furtherance of the scheme, Garcia and her co-conspirators falsified patient documentation to make it appear that beneficiaries qualified for and received home health care services, when, in fact, many of the beneficiaries did not actually qualify for such services and did not receive such services. Garcia pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud on June 25, 2014.

The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.  This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys A. Brendan Stewart and Anne P. McNamara of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 1,900 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers. To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to:www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.

CITY OF HOMESTEAD

Homestead Resident Sentenced in Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme

Press release: Wilfredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Donnell Young, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and Paula Reid, Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service (USSS), Miami Field Office, announce that Mark Anthony Dacres, Jr., 30, of Homestead, was sentenced today before U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro to 81 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release.  Dacres was also ordered to pay $34,920.00 in restitution.Dacres previously pled guilty to one count of possessing fifteen or more unauthorized access devices (social security numbers), in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1029(a)(3), and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A(a)(1).

According to court documents, special agents executed a search warrant at the residence where Dacres stayed and found numerous prepaid debit cards, printed lists, handwritten notes/papers and books containing the names, date of births, and social security numbers of at least 1,750 individuals. Eighty-five tax returns were filed from the IP address registered to the residence using the names and social security numbers of individuals found on the printed lists and handwritten notes/papers. IRS-CI special agents contacted six of these eighty-five taxpayers and all six taxpayers stated that they did not know Dacres, that they did not authorize Dacres to possess their names, date of births, and social security numbers, and that they did not authorize Dacres to file federal tax returns for the 2013 tax year using their names and social security numbers.Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Identity Theft Strike Force, with special commendation to IRS-CI and the USSS. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gera R. Peoples. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.

BROWARD COUNTY

>>>> Tax Return Preparers Charged in Fraudulent Refund Scheme

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Ronald A. Cimino, Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, and Donnell Young, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), announce that Claudia Zuloaga, 43, and Sharon Elizabeth Angulo, 49, both of Miami, have been charged in a 32 count indictment with one count of conspiring to defraud the United States, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, and 20 and 11 counts, respectively, of assisting in the preparation of false federal income tax returns, in violation of Title 26, United States Code, Section 7206(2).If convicted, the defendants face a maximum of five years in prison on the conspiracy count and a maximum of three years in prison on each of the Title 26 counts.

According to the indictment, beginning in approximately September 2008 and continuing through September 2012, the defendants jointly operated a tax preparation business from offices located at 18710 SW 107th Avenue, Miami, Florida. The indictment further alleges that Zuloaga and Angulo recruited clients by falsely representing that they could eliminate a substantial portion of their debts by obtaining sizable tax refunds for them. As alleged in the indictment, this would be accomplished through false and fraudulent tax returns which the defendants would prepare for each client in exchange for fees usually amounting to 30percent of the tax refunds fraudulently obtained and totaled in excess of $250,000 from those clients who were successful in receiving fraudulently obtained refunds. As further alleged in the indictment, the tax returns prepared by the defendants falsely set forth that certain financial institutions had withheld sizable amounts of tax from falsely declared interest income earned from these same financial institutions. Through this fraudulent mechanism, each return gave the false appearance of entitling the client to a significant tax refund due to over-withholding of tax payments in connection with their claimed interest earnings. In addition, the indictment alleges that, in order to provide false substantiation for these fraudulent tax refund claims, the defendants caused fictitious IRS Forms 1099-OID to be created which set forth the false interest and tax withholding amounts fraudulently reported upon their clients’ tax returns. The indictment also alleges that Zuloaga and Angulo promoted the fictitious “redemption theory” to their clients as the purported justification for their fraudulent tax refund claims. Through this promotion, clients were falsely informed that the submission of tax returns in this manner allowed their clients to legitimately access large amounts of money allegedly contained in certain non-existent “straw man” accounts which the defendants claimed were being maintained by the United States Treasury for each individual who possessed a Social Security number. As part of the conspiracy, Zuloaga and Angulo are also alleged to have engaged in various acts designed to prevent the IRS from investigating their fraudulent activities and collecting the repayment of any tax refunds falsely and fraudulently obtained. These acts included the submission of numerous false documents on behalf of both their clients and themselves which were designed to obstruct the IRS from taking investigative and enforcement actions against their clients and themselves.Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the IRS-CI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter B. Outerbridge and the department’s Tax Division Trial Attorney Alexander Effendi. An indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.

PALM BEACH COUNTY

Seven Defendants Charged in Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Donnell Young, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and Amos Rojas, Jr., U.S. Marshal, U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), announce the indictment of seven individuals for their roles in a stolen identity tax refund fraud scheme.  The indictment charges defendants Lukner Blanc, 31, of Royal Palm Beach, Frank Fleuzinord, 29, of Cape Coral, Jean Juste, a/k/a “Junior” or “Shorty,” 24, of West Palm Beach, Benoit Placide, a/k/a “Snow” or “Mario,” 26, of West Palm Beach, Shelda Phadael, 28, of Lake Worth, Marie Claude, 25, of Lantana, and Marie Demesyeux, 29, of Lake Worth. Six of the defendants have been arrested. Fleuzinord remains at-large.

Defendants Phadael, Claude, and Demesyeux were arraigned today before United States Magistrate Judge Dave Lee Brannon.  All three of the defendants pled not guilty. A trial date has not yet been set. Placide’s arraignment is scheduled for August 26, 2014, Juste’s arraignment is scheduled for August 27, 2014, and Blanc’s arraignment is scheduled for August 28, 2014.

All defendants are charged with one count of conspiracy to receive, conceal and retain monies stolen from the United States, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.

In addition, Defendant Blanc is charged with three counts of theft of government money, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 641, nine counts of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A(a)(1), and five counts of wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343.  Defendant Fleuzinord is charged with two counts of aggravated identity theft.  Defendant Juste was charged with one count of theft of government money, five counts of aggravated identity theft, and five counts of wire fraud.  Defendant Placide is charged with five counts of aggravated identity theft and five counts of wire fraud.  Defendant Phadael is charged with one count of theft of government money.

Defendants Claude and Demesyeux are each charged with one count of perjury, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1623(a), for making a false statement while testifying under oath before a Federal Grand Jury.

According to court documents, the defendants stole the identities of real persons (names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers) and used the information to file fraudulent income tax returns online to the IRS. The defendants opened personal bank accounts and purchased debit cards that were utilized to receive the fraudulent income tax refunds. After the fraudulent refunds were sent by wire to the bank accounts and debit cards, the defendants and their co-conspirators withdrew the funds at automatic teller machines (ATMs) and point of sale electronic terminals at various retail establishments. If convicted, the defendants face a maximum of five years in prison for the conspiracy charge, a maximum of ten years in prison for the theft of government money charge, a mandatory term of two years in prison for the aggravated identity theft charge, a maximum of twenty years in prison for the wire fraud charge, and a maximum of five years in prison for the perjury charger. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI and the USMS Regional Fugitive Task Force. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Carlton. An indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

MONROE COUNTY

>>> Florida Keys Resident Charged with Illegally Trafficking in Marine Life

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Tracey Dunn, Acting Special Agent in Charge, NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement, and David Pharo, Resident Agent In Charge, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Miami Area Office of Law Enforcement, announce that Charles R. Jamison, 74, of Little Torch Key, was arraigned Friday in Key West for conspiring with others to transport, sell, receive, acquire, and purchase juvenile bonnethead sharks (Sphyrna tiburo), with a fair market value in excess of $350.00, and attempt to do the same, knowing that the bonnethead sharks were taken, possessed, transported, sold, and intended to be sold in violation of the laws and regulations of the State of Florida, in violation of Title 16, United States Code, Sections 3372(a)(2)(A), 3372(a)(4)and 3373(d)(1) and (2), all in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371. Jamison faces a possible sentence of up to five years in prison, a term of supervised release of up to three years, and a criminal fine of up to $250,000. He also faces forfeiture of the vessel, engine, trailer, tackle, and gear used in the commission of the Lacey Act violations.

According to the allegations of the information filed against him, at the relevant times, Jamison was a resident of Monroe County and engaged in the harvest and sale of bonnethead sharks (Sphyrna tiburo). At no time did Jamison, directly or as a third party contractor, possess or hold any State of Florida special activities license to collect, harvest, or transport shark species, nor did he possess and hold a valid federal annual vessel permit for sharks issued pursuant to 50 C.F.R. 635.4 to harvest, collect, or take shark species as required by the laws of the State of Florida. The information further alleges that between approximately June 2012 and October 2012, at Monroe County, Jamison and others, harvested bonnethead sharks from Florida state waters in the Florida Keys, thereafter negotiating the purchase, sale, transportation, and transfer of the bonnethead sharks in interstate commerce. The bonnethead sharks would then be shipped in interstate commerce by a variety of means, including rental truck and as commercial air cargo.

The information, in a series of “overt acts”, describes multiple instances when specific numbers of sharks were harvested, the transfer of sharks from Jamison to a commercial marine life facility on Big Pine Key, and specific payments received by Jamison for sharks sold in interstate commerce.Mr. Ferrer commended the joint investigative efforts of the NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement and the Fish & Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement. Mr. Ferrer also noted the assistance of the Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuges and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air Marine Branch. This matter is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas Watts-FitzGerald and Antonia Barnes. An information is only an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov

EDITORIALS

Community Events

>>>> U.S. Senator bill nelson to address the october trustee luncheon

Please make plans to join us for the October Trustee Luncheon on Wednesday, October 1 at Jungle Island. We are honored that U.S. Senator Bill Nelson will be our keynote speaker. And, to elaborate on the Flag of Gratitude project, you will want to hear a presentation and a video by Community Leader Mike Fernandez, Chairman of MBF Healthcare Partners. Contact: Signature Events, 305-577-5433 | spevents@miamichamber.com Register Online

>>>The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County

and the University of Miami Present The Regional Premiere of

A grownup’s prequel to Peter Pan! Five-time Tony Award-winning play by Jersey Boys writer Rick Elice based on the best-selling novel by Miami native Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. For the fourth consecutive season, bridge program offers UM students an opportunity to work alongside theater experts on a professional production at the Arsht Center  “Miraculous! Spectacle, wit, and joy spill out of this production like treasure from a magic pocket.” – New York Magazine Opens the Arsht Center’s 2014-2015 Theater Up Close Season, October 9, 2014 – Preview, October 10, 2014 – Opening Night

Through October 26, 2014, Tickets: $45*, Carnival Studio Theater in the Ziff Ballet Opera House. MIAMI, FL September 10, 2014 – The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County and the University of Miami are proud to present the regional premiere of PETER AND THE STARCATCHER, a five-time Tony Award-winning play about how Peter Pan became “The Boy Who Never Grew Up”. Kicking off the Arsht Center’s critically-acclaimed Theater Up Close Season, playing October 9-26, 2014 in the intimate Carnival Studio Theater (Ziff Ballet Opera House), PETER AND THE STARCATCHER continues the Center’s partnership with UM’s Department of Theatre Arts for a fourth consecutive season.

The Arsht Center’s 2014-2015 Theater Up Close Season is supported by Alan and Diane Lieberman and the Riviera South Beach Hotel. Tickets to PETER AND THE STARCATCHER are $45* and may be purchased through the Adrienne Arsht Center box office by calling (305) 949-6722 or online at www.arshtcenter.org.

Rick Elice’s PETER AND THE STARCATCHER is the innovative and imaginative play with music based on the best-selling novel by Miami native Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. In this high-flying adventure, twelve actors play more than 100 unforgettable characters – plus most of the scenery and furniture – in an exhilarating journey to answer the century-old question: How did Peter Pan become “The Boy Who Never Grew Up”? This epic origin story proves that one’s own imagination is the most captivating place in the world!

“We’re thrilled to launch our 2014-2015 Theater Up Close Season with PETER AND THE STARCATCHER – a fantastical, award-winning play that provides a humorous backstory for the beloved character of Peter Pan,” said Scott Shiller, executive vice president of the Adrienne Arsht Center. “This play is bound to inspire the audience and trigger their imagination with the use of inventive props, lighting and talent from an incredible cast of local actors. We can’t wait to transport theatergoers to the land of make believe!”

Under the direction of Henry Fonte, producing artistic director of The Jerry Herman Ring Theatre, the cast of PETER AND THE STARCATCHER features two incredible Carbonell Award-winning local actors, Nick Richberg as Black Stache and Tom Wahl as Lord Astor, as well as fresh-faced professionals from UM (Timothy Bell, Abigail Berkowitz, Timothy Boehm-Manion, Robert Fritz, Alejandro Gonzalez Del Pino, Joshua Jacobson, Thomas Jansen, Michael Mancini, Liam Merkle and Matt Sawalski).

The multi-faceted collaboration between the University of Miami’s Department of Theatre Arts and the Adrienne Arsht Center continues to serve as a professional learning experience that offers the theater majors at the University an opportunity to work with seasoned professionals in creating a professional production. Miami’s hottest regional theater actors join UM’s talented student actors to create more than 100 characters. Students majoring in technical theater and design will work side-by-side with the Adrienne Arsht Center/UM production and creative team to develop a professional set, costumes and lighting design and will assist the production manager, stage manager and other key production staff members.

After a premiere in California, PETER AND THE STARCATCHER transferred to Off-Broadway in 2011 and opened on Broadway in April 2012. The show ended its Broadway run in January 2013, and reopened Off-Broadway once again at New World Stages in March 2013, ending in January 2014

>>> The Margulies Warehouse will be reopen at the end of October   and all adult admission charges $10.00 will go to Lotus House Women’s and Children’s Shelter in Overtown and students are free. For more go to http://www.margulieswarehouse.com/ And the Lotus House Gala will be Oct. 25th For more information go to http://lotushouse.org/

Editorial:

>>>> The Alvah Chapman Jr., Partnership for Homeless recently served some 100,000 people since 1993, a major achievement for the community

Trish Bell the board co-chair of the Alvah H. Chapman, Jr., Community Partnership for Homeless in a Miami Herald Editorial http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/09/08/4336446/homeless-advocates-achieve-milestone.html writes about the achievements of the organization that has helped some 100,000 people since it was created back in 1992. And that is no small achievement given how back then there were some eight to nine thousand people living on the street versus now where the bi yearly Homeless census puts that number at around 850 people and the local county program under the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust is an international model that other communities have tried to emulate and while not perfect.  Miami when it comes to our homeless population is nothing like it was a decade ago and the Chapman Partnership played a key role in changing this demographic that was driving tourists away from Miami after being hassled and there programs are a helping hand back up to many of these folks in need and the Watchdog Report gives a Tip of the Hat to Chapman for a job well done and may you continue your good works in the decades to come. For more on the Partnership go to http://www.chapmanpartnership.org/

Chapman

LETTERS

>>> Come on Dan, an actual stroke! Mini, I trust and hope. However, even that. Do us all a big favor. GET WELL!

>>>> Save the money.  Rather than video tape bid protests, for large dollar procurements, Miami-Dade (and Broward) County should adopt standards, process, and ALJ’s from Florida’s Administrative Procedures Act.  At least in state procurements, participants in procurements have real substantive and procedural due process.  Trying to win a bid protest in Miami-Dade and Broward County is next to impossible due to the lack of discovery, limited ability to present evidence, and selection of Hearing Officers hired by the County.

Joe Goldstein, Esq.

>>> What happened to parking at County Hall? Part of FEC project says Noriega of Miami Parking Authority

Those lots are owned by FEC. They are part of the All Aboard rail project. They won’t reopen until the new rail platform is finished. Then, it will be Garage Parking to accommodate the entire mixed use project. Very important project for downtown. You doing ok?

Arthur Noriega

CEO

Miami Parking Authority

>>>.I am in Singapore and just heard the news about your medical (The stroke) condition. Please take care of yourself and know that we are praying for you. I return early next week and hope to see you soon.PS. smoking cessation program begins immediately! If I can kick it, so can you!

>>> No I did not know about your stroke, How are you doing, Any lasting effects from the stroke. ?

Frank Nero

>>>>Letter from Grove activist Amandi on attending Miami Public budget hearing meeting asking for more police for the city

Fellow residents,

Last night, thanks directly to the outpouring of support from a coalition of residents from all across the City of Miami, the City Commission voted to appropriate the funds necessary to hire an additional 80 new police officers. This is yet another significant milestone for public safety, because it now increases the ratio of police presence across our City to three officers per one thousand residents.

The vote last night was an important first step that we now expect to be formally ratified at the final budget hearing in two weeks. A special word of thanks is owed to Commissioners Gort, Hardemon, Sarnoff and Suarez as well as Mayor Regalado and the City Administration for their leadership and ultimate support of this initiative when it counted most.

We are especially grateful to those of you who lent your time and your voice last night and who working together as a united coalition of residents were successful in pushing to make public safety and crime prevention the most important priority for our City of Miami.

-Fernand

Fernand R. Amandi

Managing Partner

Bendixen & Amandi

Phone: 305-529-9916

famandi@bendixenonline.com

http://www.bendixenonline.com

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