Watchdog Report Vol.13 No.47 April 21, 2013 Est.05.05.00 – I go when you cannot – Celebrating 14 years May 5th

CONTENTS

Argus Report: Weapons in the public domain topic of the day, vexing problem splitting the nation, could solution be “smart guns” that only work for the owners?

Florida: Miami Children’s Hospital bid for 10 maternity beds riles Jackson Health System, could cost public hospital millions in lost revenue

Miami-Dade County: Commission gives thumbs up to new helipad at Jackson South Hospital for new Trauma Center, with some sound mitigation

Miami-Dade Public Schools: WLRN/NPR and WLRN/Herald News wants to become “media news juggernaut,” in coming years says station G.M. Labonia

City of Miami: Is mayoral race between Regalado & Suarez starting to bleed into running of the city? Expect campaign rhetoric to get more heated running up to Nov. 5 election

City of Miami Beach: Oceana Makes Noise to Save Dolphins and Whales in Atlantic – Event Draws Attention to Threat of Seismic Airgun Testing

City of Coral Gables: Hail Commissioners Lago & Keon, Tuesday their first debut on five member commission, what changes will they bring to discussions?

City of Homestead: Director of Non-Profit Convicted in BP Claims Fund Fraud Trial

>>> Other stories around Florida

Broward County: Upcoming commission meeting agenda

City of Coral Springs: Former CEO Pleads Guilty to Securities Fraud

Palm Beach County: Palm Beach County Man Pleads Guilty in Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme

Lee County: Gov Scott taps Reynolds to 20th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission

Monroe County: Gov. Scott makes the following appointments to Judicial Nominating Commission

Community Events: STU – Ethical Issues in Non-Profit Agencies – National Immigration Forum’s Bethlehem Project – Downtown Bay Forum – Why Should Taxpayers Fund Dolphin Stadium?

Editorials: If elected leaders want to be a community Great One, temperament and humbleness is a key ingredient, ego must be kept in check — Check out the past national story in the Tribune papers:  Paperwork Tiger By Maya Bell, Miami Bureau, Orlando Sun-Sentinel January 20, 2003 >>> And a 2004 UNC Chapel Hill study of the Southeast United States 15 states media outlet study where the Watchdog Report is listed as writing a “influential” column in Florida with over 100,000 readers: http://www.unc.edu/~davismt/SouthNow.pdf

Letters: Reader appalled at U.S. Senate vote killing background checks on gun buyers

Sponsors: Publisher’s mission statement & Subscription information is at the bottom of this issue — Scroll down for all the headline stories text.

>>> 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 and you are free to e-mail this on to friends.


>>> The Watchdog 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 the University of Miami’s School of Communication www.miami.edu to maintain my webpage. The Watchdog Report webpage is free, has no ads, pops-up and is just the news in a mainstream reporting manner.

>>> Red Alert: If you think it is important to have an alternative mainstream news service, I hope you will consider becoming a financial supporter for I do have to live and pay my rent. I also want to thank again all those people and organizations that have supported me and I have been honored by that trust and support of my efforts over the past almost 14 years trying to keep the community, state, nation and world informed of the political and governmental happenings in South Florida. How to support and contribute to the WDR is at the bottom of the Report.

ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street

>>> Weapons in the public domain topic of the day, vexing problem splitting the nation, could solution be “smart guns” that only work for the owners?

While the U.S. Senate last week failed to pass by a small margin federal legislation on expanded background checks for gun owners, large capacity magazines and assault rifles. Locally a discussion on the issue showed the wide range of opinions that seem to polarize both sides of the gun debate and gun control. At The Good Government Initiative luncheon hosted by former Miami-Dade Commissioner Katy Sorenson Wednesday. A broad panel of people discussed the highly charged topic that is receiving wide national interest, (with polls showing some 90 percent of Americans wanting expanded background checks); especially after the recent Sandy Hook school shootings. The panel included Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Steven Leifman, Special Advisor on Criminal Justice &  Mental Health for the Supreme Court of Florida; Francisco Alvarado, Reporter, Miami New Times; Jorge Corbato, Rifle Manufacturer; Lisa Peters, NRA member; Judy Schaechter, M.D. Pediatrician and Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine; as they discussed the politics of gun regulation and its effect on public health and the event was moderated by Katy Sorenson, President and CEO of the Good Government Initiative.

However, while gun control and background check proponents around the nation see the issue in a very black and white way and they believe high capacity magazine clips should be banned as well as assault weapons like the AR-15 and AK-47. In fact, these types of assault weapons are a small percentage used in the killings of the 30,000 Americans, representing around “10 percent” of the deaths each year and handguns are the more prevalent murder weapon. And there are more “deaths from blunt trauma than all assault rifles,” “Where hammers and baseball bats” were used to kill someone in the nation, said Corbato.

Further, when it comes to expanded background checks, the idea seems well and good. However, critics note that criminals will not undergo such procedures and the issue is the large number of handguns available underground in the nation and the police are unable to enforce the existing laws.  Reporter Alvarado said he had done a story where he studied the issue and found “there is no magic pill for the violence in this country” and  “gun violence lies in the inner city,” and events like “Newtown are isolated [and tragic but] it is the inner city violence,” that happens everyday that needs to be addressed, he said.

Leifman noted after the recent mass shootings that the issue of mental health of the shooter has come to the forefront but noted these such murderers’ only account for some “160-170” killings around the nation when it comes to the perpetrators mental health. And he said most people that commit these crimes “are sane people,” and this other perception they are mentally ill only “feeds into the mental health stigma,” society puts on these people. He also noted Miami-Dade has the largest percentage of people with mental issues in the nation he said. The judge noted here in the county, some “9.1 percent,” of the 2.5 million county population, “suffer serious mental illness.” He noted these people have an “organic brain illness,” and with the right treatment these people responded better than other people with such diseases like “diabetes,” he said. The judge said when it came to people with bipolar disorders, there are about “77,000 adults and 55,000 children” suffering from varying levels of the disease in the state that has some 115,000 people a year in Florida having to be Baker Acted since they “were dangerous to their self or others,” he said. And nationally, some “three percent of Americans have been diagnosed with a bipolar disorder,” that includes mild to more extreme symptoms of behavior, he said.

Schaechter, a pediatric physician at the University of Miami said she got involved in the issue of guns in the 1990s because of the “firearm epidemic” that had “more children being killed with guns than any other cause.” She said parents must accept some of the blame when it comes “to accidental deaths,” because the gun was not secure. The parents have to accept the consequences “of firearms left unattended and these people, “don’t realize how dangerous the guns are and the children are the unintended victims.” She also carped the Florida Legislature was wrong to “ban” physicians last year in a new state law from talking to parents about firearms in their house and the risk the weapons pose. She said while a court has granted an injunction to the law last year. The state law banning physicians “not being able to ask about guns is being appealed,” by the Sate of Florida, she said.

Further, Peters, representing the NRA position and an Ivy League College graduate took a more sober position and she grew up in the North East. She is a registered independent who voted for Obama in 2008 and only more recently got involved in the debate and she “has a concealed gun permit,” and considers herself. A “very responsible” gun owner and has gone through a “FBI” background check and says the “NRA notes criminals do not submit to background checks,” and that is part of the problem for the legitimate gun owner. However, when she asked to make a comment later some in the room started to grumble or snicker and belittle her comments and that is the problem with the whole gun debate said Corbato.

“It’s not that simple [the background checks and banning assault rifles and the challenge was to] come up with real solutions,” the assault rifle manufacturer said. He said both “The far right and the far left” needs to “not ridicule” the other side and to “be tolerant and listen to the others point of view,” he thought. And acknowledged around the nation for many people, “The Second Amendment is part of the American Heritage.” And one solution that seemed to get some traction at the event was technology and the manufacturing of “smart guns that can only be used by the owners,” and the “technology is out there,” and while this new type of gun maybe in the future. Leifman noted, “Most of the violence in Miami-Dade is with handguns and not assault rifles,” he grimily noted.

>>> White House press release Friday night and remarks by President Barack Obama: Good evening. Tonight our nation is in debt to the people of Boston and the people of Massachusetts.  After a vicious attack on their city, Bostonians responded with resolve and determination.  They did their part as citizens and partners in this investigation. Boston police and state police and local police across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts responded with professionalism and bravery over five long days.  And tonight, because of their determined efforts, we’ve closed an important chapter in this tragedy.

I’ve been briefed earlier this evening by FBI Director Mueller.  After the attacks on Monday, I directed the full resources of the federal government to be made available to help state and local authorities in the investigation and to increase security as needed.  Over the past week, close coordination among federal, state, and local officials — sharing information, moving swiftly to track down leads — has been critical to this effort. They all worked as they should, as a team.  And we are extremely grateful for that.  We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to all our outstanding law enforcement professionals.  These men and women get up every day, they put on that uniform; they risk their lives to keep us safe — and as this week showed, they don’t always know what to expect.  So our thoughts are with those who were wounded in pursuit of the suspects and we pray for their full recovery.

We also send our prayers to the Collier family who grieve the loss of their son and brother, Sean.  “He was born to be a police officer,” said his chief at MIT.  He was just 26 years old.  And as his family has said, he died bravely in the line of duty, doing what he committed his life to doing — serving and protecting others.  So we’re grateful to him. Obviously, tonight there are still many unanswered questions.  Among them, why did young men who grew up and studied here, as part of our communities and our country, resort to such violence?  How did they plan and carry out these attacks, and did they receive any help?  The families of those killed so senselessly deserve answers.  The wounded, some of whom now have to learn how to stand and walk and live again, deserve answers.

And so I’ve instructed the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security and our intelligence community to continue to deploy all the necessary resources to support the investigation, to collect intelligence, and to protect our citizens.  We will determine what happened.  We will investigate any associations that these terrorists may have had.  And we’ll continue to do whatever we have to do to keep our people safe. One thing we do know is that whatever hateful agenda drove these men to such heinous acts will not — cannot — prevail.  Whatever they thought they could ultimately achieve, they’ve already failed.  They failed because the people of Boston refused to be intimidated.  They failed because, as Americans, we refused to be terrorized.  They failed because we will not waver from the character and the compassion and the values that define us as a country.  Nor will we break the bonds that hold us together as Americans.

That American spirit includes staying true to the unity and diversity that makes us strong — like no other nation in the world.  In this age of instant reporting and tweets and blogs, there’s a temptation to latch on to any bit of information, sometimes to jump to conclusions.  But when a tragedy like this happens, with public safety at risk and the stakes so high, it’s important that we do this right.  That’s why we have investigations.  That’s why we relentlessly gather the facts.  That’s why we have courts.  And that’s why we take care not to rush to judgment — not about the motivations of these individuals; certainly not about entire groups of people.

After all, one of the things that makes America the greatest nation on Earth, but also, one of the things that makes Boston such a great city, is that we welcome people from all around the world — people of every faith, every ethnicity, from every corner of the globe.  So as we continue to learn more about why and how this tragedy happened, let’s make sure that we sustain that spirit. Tonight we think of all the wounded, still struggling to recover.  Certainly we think of Krystle Campbell.  We think of Lingzi Lu.  And we think of little Martin Richard.  Their lives reflected all the diversity and beauty of our country, and they were sharing the great American experience together.

Finally, let me say that even as so much attention has been focused on the tragic events in Boston, understandably, we’ve also seen a tight-knit community in Texas devastated by a terrible explosion.  And I want them to know that they are not forgotten.  Our thoughts, our prayers are with the people of West, Texas, where so many good people lost their lives; some lost their homes; many are injured; many are still missing. I’ve talked to Governor Perry and Mayor Muska and I’ve pledged that the people of West will have the resources that they need to recover and rebuild.  And I want everybody in Texas to know that we will follow through with those commitments.

All in all, this has been a tough week.  But we’ve seen the character of our country once more.  And as President, I’m confident that we have the courage and the resilience and the spirit to overcome these challenges — and to go forward, as one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

>>> Press release:  GOP and Guns: Just Digging a Hole By: John Zogby Forbes.com Contributor

I wrote last week about the fact that the Newtown incident is a defining moment that requires reflection, action, and sacrifice. Just yesterday, the Senate rejected the very mild Manchin-Toomey compromise that would have add background checks to gun shows and internet sales, but not to private and family transfers. This is a very mild reform and no one has really been able to show how it infringes upon anyone’s rights. The only arguments actually revolve around a sort of domino theory: i.e. this step will lead to a national gun registry, which will lead to… which will lead to…

When I renew my driver’s license I have to take an eye exam and pass it. My success or failure to see is recorded somewhere. A document that states that I am legally blind or that I need corrective lenses in order to operate a motor vehicle is certainly a violation of my rights – though I am not sure which amendment – but beneficial to my community. It is a tradeoff we make for the community good. So too is the statement I need to sign that I have been treated for heart ailments.

I don’t necessarily want people to know that but I guess they should be aware that if I have a massive coronary attack and jump a highway median, that it wasn’t the open container of Chavas Regal in the brown paper bag next to me. Talk of a denial of rights. You mean I can’t drink and drive after a hard day annoying people with my polls? I can’t drive a motorcycle at 90 miles an hour without a helmet? What else do we pay public works employees to do except pick up pieces of bloody brains and craniums? Please click the link below to read the full release: http://www.zogbyanalytics.com/news/288-gop-and-guns-just-digging-a-hole

>>> Press release: Title Attorney, Two Mortgage Brokers and Their Coconspirators Sentenced in Mortgage Fraud Scheme

Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and J.D. Patterson, Director, Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD), announced the sentencing of Rafael Ubieta, 50, of Miami, Florida, and Angel Barroso, 46, of Miami, Florida, following their January 2013 convictions of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud, as well as the sentencing of Joel Zaldivar, 33, of Studio City, California, and Kyle Baker, 33, of Beverly, Massachusetts,  following their January 2013 guilty pleas to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.  Ubieta, a Title Attorney, was sentenced to 240 months (20 years) of imprisonment.  Barroso was sentenced to 210 months of imprisonment.  Zaldivar and Baker, who were both Mortgage Brokers, were each sentenced to 48 months of imprisonment. Two other co-defendants, Martha Otero and Fernando Tolon, were previously sentenced to 78 months of imprisonment and 37 months of imprisonment, respectively, following their December 2012 guilty pleas to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.  All sentences were imposed by United States District Judge K. Michael Moore.

According to the evidence presented at trial, Ubieta, a member of the Florida Bar, served as the Title Attorney for multiple fraudulent real estate transactions involving the use of straw buyers on whose behalf loan applications and supporting documents containing false information were submitted to various mortgage lenders across the United States by Zaldivar and Baker, who, at the time, were Mortgage Brokers and the Presidents of First Class Mortgage and Lending Corp. Straw buyers were recruited and paid by Barroso, Otero and Tolon. After the lenders approved the loans based on the false information provided, defendant Ubieta, then President of Bayside Title Services, Inc., prepared false HUD-1 Settlement Statements that contained false information.  For example, the forms falsely represented to the lenders that the straw buyers were bringing their own money to closing. None of the straw buyers brought their own money to closing. Instead, on multiple occasions Ubieta released lenders’ proceeds to other members of the conspiracy, including Barroso and Otero, prior to receiving the buyers’ required cash-to-close payments.  Members of the conspiracy, including Barroso and Otero, then used those proceeds to make the cash-to-close payments on behalf of the straw buyers. Ubieta also signed multiple Title Commitments falsely stating who the owner of record was on various properties. The false Title Commitments allowed Ubieta to conduct real estate closings in which an initial straw buyer resold properties to a second straw buyer before the initial straw buyer appeared as the owner of the property in the public records.  Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the MDPD. 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.

>>> The Watchdog Report turns 14 on May 5th , I’ve taken a licking but keep on ticking thanks to my supporters and friends

The Watchdog Report is celebrating its 14th Anniversary on May 5 and I would like to thank all the people and sponsors that thought what I was doing back then was important to the community and the internet allowed me to reach the reader base I have today, along with the help of The Miami Herald, WLRN/NPR and WPBT for having me so often on their shows. It has been a real honor, and I have tried to shine a high definition light and reporting of what is going on at your public institutions that benefit from your tax dollars and provide the services all residents enjoy every day from police, fire rescue, the Miami-Dade School District to Jackson Memorial Hospital to name just a few of the public institutions covered over the weeks over the years. And not in my wildest dreams did I ever believe I would hit this milestone and would be starting a 14th year next month. And to those people that helped me achieve this milestone. I thank you from the bottom of my heart and those people that have passed over the years. Your contribution, friendship and advice are always part of me.

>>> All photos in the Watchdog Report are taken from public government sites, and the Report goes on line at www.watchdogreport.net on Monday sometime during the day usually. >>> If you believe it is important to have someone watching your public institutions consider supporting the Watchdog Report for I am a low cost news service, yet I do have to live, thank you! Further, I have been honored over the years by being named a WFOR-4 Hometown Hero in 2000, being profiled in a major way by The Miami New Times and was Best Citizen in the 2003 Best of Miami of The Miami New Times, profiled twice in The Miami Herald, and the Orlando Sentinel ran a nationwide story on me in the Tribune papers on Jan. 2003, and UNC Chapel Hill named me one of the top columnists in Florida in a  multi-state study of the media back in 2004. I also thank Joseph Cooper for the opportunity to be on the WLRN/NPR showTopical Currents on www.wlrn.org 91.3 FM since 2000, including yearly election coverage since then, and also numerous times over the past decade. Further, I am a frequent guest on WWW.WPBT2.ORG on Helen Ferre’s show Issues, and have also appeared on  Eliott Rodriguez’s show News & Views on www.CBS4.com and The Florida Roundup on www.wlrn.org

FLORIDA

>>> Miami Children’s Hospital bid for 10 maternity beds riles Jackson Health System, could cost public hospital millions in lost revenue

Miami Children’s Hospital, the world-renowned specialty hospital that has helped thousands of children over the decades since it was first known as Variety Children’s located in Schenley Park http://www.mch.com/ is trying to establish a 10 bed maternity facility and is pitting the hospital with Jackson Health System for these patients. Children’s over the past few years has tried to establish such a maternity facility at the hospital but has failed to get state approval in the past. The institution is now trying to get the Florida Legislature involved http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/04/18/3352232/legislature-opens-door-to-giving.html to grant the hospital the capability even though the Florida Agency of Health Care Administration (ACHA) had not approved a certificate of need and birth rates are down in Miami-Dade County.

The Watchdog Report contacted state Rep. Eddie Gonzalez, R-Hialeah (Net worth Neg. $18,326) on Thursday to ask about the matter he is championing along with state Rep. Jose Oliva, R- Miami Lakes (Net worth $9.67 million), the potential Speaker of the House in 2016. Gonzalez said he is pushing the issue that is an amendment to another House bill that applies to the Villagers development in Central Florida owned by a major GOP backer and is still working its way through the legislature. Gonzalez the “Father of three” children said he is pushing the measure because “These kids ultimately get transported” to Miami Children’s because these “are precondition mothers with the kids,” including “Blue Babies,” and the bill now would require the hospital to have “Maternity Center Staff” and it is not “About the dollars, but saving lives,” the legislator said. He also noted that the House budget included significant “funding for Jackson” and said a former ACHA expert said if he had been asked about this ten years ago. He would have “responded no” but he said recently after all the technical medical advances. “It should be looked at” and Gonzalez noted the pediatric specialty hospital sees babies from around the “entire state” and why he brought it to the legislature, he said. And critics that have expressed concern about the mothers health and available specialists on site should be mollified he thought since a full maternity staff requirement was added to the amendment’s language he thought.

The Watchdog Report in an exclusive interview with Miami-Dade Commission Chair Rebeca Sosa Thursday on the matter indicated she “Tries to support all the hospitals in my area,” which has Miami Children’s Hospital smack in the middle of her commission district. However, she did “not know the details,” of the state legislation, she said. However, she did “believe mothers whose babies might be at risk should be able to have that choice,” of where they might want to give birth to their new child, she thought.

Sosa

What is Jackson Health System’s position on the matter?

The watchdog Report contacted Ed O’Dell the senior media representative for Jackson Health System and in an email, he wrote. “Though our collaboration with physicians from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Jackson Health System provides the highest-standard of quality maternal care for all of Miami-Dade County. Our care is globally recognized for its compassion and positive outcomes. In Miami-Dade County, only Jackson and Holtz Children’s Hospital have the expert doctors and nurses to respond immediately to any medical condition facing mother or baby. With one of the nation’s largest neonatal intensive care units, one of the world’s top fetal surgery programs, and physicians with specific expertise on treating high-risk mothers, Holtz and Jackson have the capacity to serve our entire community with the highest level of care.”

>>> Press release: Governor Rick Scott made the following statement about the state’s plan to file a new lawsuit against BP and Halliburton to obtain economic damages resulting from the catastrophic oil spill three years ago: “Many Florida communities were impacted by the BP oil spill that began with a tragic explosion in the Gulf three years ago tomorrow. The new lawsuit our state will file against BP and Halliburton gives us the ability to continue to fight to hold these companies accountable for the economic losses both our state and communities sustained when beaches were closed and many of our businesses lost income as a result of the spill. We will continue to hold these companies accountable, as we ensure that our Florida communities and businesses are treated fairly in the wake of this disaster.” Attorney General Pam Bondi’s release on the lawsuit announcement is available here: http://www.myfloridalegal.com/newsrel.nsf/newsreleases/ECB588F426A63B2785257B52006F1ED6

>>> Press release: Governor Rick Scott released the following statement on the House passage of HB 759:

“Today, in passing HB 759, the Florida House took a major step in protecting the life of mothers and the unborn. I consider every life precious and worth protecting, and this bill helps make sure those who kill or harm an unborn baby are held accountable for taking or injuring an innocent life. I would like to recognize the efforts of Speaker Weatherford, Representative Larry Ahern and Representative Jamie Grant for their leadership.”

HB 759, creates the “Florida Unborn Victims of Violence Act,” which specifies that if a person commits a crime that causes the death of or bodily injury to, an unborn child, that person commits a separate offense in addition to that against the mother.  The bill does not require proof that the person committing the offense had knowledge or should have had knowledge that the mother was pregnant, nor does it require the person to have intended to cause the death of or bodily injury to the unborn child.

>>> Children’s Movement of Florida  Voices of Florida – We all have a story, a story that defines us. It is our collective story, our challenges and our triumphs that inspire a movement. Floridians from all walks of life have joined together with an understanding that the future of our state rests on the well-being of our children. Visit The Children’s Movement website to read their stories and share your own. >>> I find it unacceptable, as all of us should, that at least a half-million children in Florida – all citizens — have no health insurance. How could this be in our beloved country that seeks to be a beacon to the world? Health insurance for all children is one of the five major planks of The Children’s Movement. With the support of Florida Covering Kids and Families, The Children’s Movement is working with dozens of local partners to help build a meaningful signing-up initiative in more than a dozen Florida communities. Already we have: Completed 18 KidCare trainings around the state. Signed up, trained and deployed more than a hundred volunteers. Begun to build a growing collaboration between local school districts and KidCare outreach coalitions. It’s a good start, but only the start. If you’d like to become a volunteer, just click here. Another way to help is to make a contribution – of any size – to help support this work. It is easy. Just click here. A real movement isn’t possible without your helping in some meaningful way. Dave Lawrence, Chair The Children’s Movement.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY

>>> Commission gives thumbs up to new helipad at Jackson South Hospital for new Trauma Center, with some sound mitigation

During a marathon Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners meeting Thursday. Commissioners approved a resolution sponsored by Commissioner Dennis Moss for the erection, construction and operation of a helipad at Jackson South Community Hospital, a necessary feature if the hospital is to be a Class II Trauma Center, as the Jackson South Hospital wants it to be. Moss detailed the history of why the hospital was so important in South Dade and when it was bought by the Health Trust back in the early 2000s and fulfilled a “promise” made to residents back in 1991 when a county wide vote dedicated a half-cent sales tax in revenues to the county’s public hospital. The pledge was made back then to the South Dade community by County Commissioner Arthur Teele, Jr., and Jackson CEO Ira Clark, both now deceased, and Moss believed the helipad was an important component to bring trauma patients too the newly revamped facility.

Moss after being elected a county commissioner back then pushed the Jackson board over the years to make that a reality he said. He noted that his efforts to get a public hospital in the area, after the county tore down a earlier facility but did not replace it that he met “a lot of resistance,” in getting this done. And the acquisition of the then Deering Hospital was a “promise made and a promise kept,” said Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz during the discussion and Commission Vice Chair Lynda Bell noted that while “Jackson [South] has been a good neighbor, Jackson has to continue working with the neighbors.” She also got a amendment passed that would have the county looking at the placement of “sound barriers” and perhaps look at the cost of the “extension of the wall” trying to mitigate the effect of the sound of the helicopters arrival to local residents.


Bell

Moss

Diaz

>>> Press release: The Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners (BCC) unanimously approved an application for a helipad at Jackson South Community Hospital, moving the hospital closer to readiness for being a part of Jackson Health System’s expansion of its world-renowned trauma service. The helipad approval satisfies one of the state requirements to bring a Level 2 trauma center to the residents of south Miami-Dade County. On March 19, 2013, the North Miami Beach City Council voted 5-2 to approve the construction of a helipad for Jackson North Medical Center, which sits in that community. “The combination of approving votes for both trauma helipads at Jackson North last month and Jackson South today is a vote for saving lives in all of south and north Miami-Dade County,” said Carlos A. Migoya, president and CEO of Jackson Health System. “When tragedies unfortunately occur, victims will be taken to the closest trauma center, and Jackson wants to provide those centers.”

Trauma centers at Jackson South and Jackson North will bring those specialized services closer to victims in need. They also provide immediate access to the experts at the world-class Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

In seeking approval for the helipads, Jackson conducted extensive studies, including acoustical and safety evaluations. Hospital officials also met with homeowners interested in the impact that the proposed helipad could have on their neighborhoods. Both helipads would be located to safe areas of the hospital campuses, and helicopter transports would be landing roughly one to three times a week on average. Most trauma patients are transported by ground. Mr. Migoya expressed Jackson’s gratitude to the BCC as well as optimism that state regulators will draft appropriate new rules for determining where and when new trauma centers will open. Thanks to the resources of Ryder – Miami-Dade County’s only adult and pediatric Level 1 trauma center – Jackson North and Jackson South are the community’s best-prepared hospitals to bring that service into our neighborhoods. Jackson has received approval from the FAA for both helipads.

>>> GMCVB press release: RECORD ACCOMMODATIONS AND FOOD SERVICE JOBS IN GREATER MIAMI AND THE BEACHES REPORTED FOR MARCH 2013 – MARKING 3 YEARS AND 3 MONTHS OF CONSECUTIVE JOB INCREASES

Greater Miami’s Accommodations and Food Service jobs increased +5.7% in March, 2013 compared to the same period in 2012. This marks 3 years and 3 months of consecutive increased employment in Greater Miami’s Accommodations and Food Service Industry. In March 2013, 112,600 people were employed in Greater Miami’s Accommodations and Food Service sector compared to 106,500 in March 2012, a +5.7% increase.

GREATER MIAMI LEISURE AND HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY JOBS
March 2013 March 2012 % Change
112,600 106,500 +5.7%

MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOLS

>>> WLRN/NPR and WLRN/Herald News wants to become “media news juggernaut,” in coming years says G.M. Labonia

John Labonia in a Mar. 25 memo called “Reinventing Our Future” the man details an audacious plan to make WLRN/NPR and WLRN/ Herald News into a “media news juggernaut  that has no equal” by 2014 and the plan will begin in 2013. And in a similar document on the subject called “A Strategic Plan to Reinvent Our Future” someone details the role Friends of WLRN will play in this role of making the station a “new public media powerhouse composed of WLRN/Miami Herald News, WLRN productions and WLRN.org to name a few of the listed entities in this expanded programming activity. The “goal is to make WLRN the around the clock pervasive and constant source of news and information” about South Florida and the go to site for news and investigative reports. The station has recently won a series of Edward R. Morrow awards last week and has a host of other awards under its belt over the past few years. Since an affiliation was established with The Miami Herald back around 2003 and will now include a shared newsroom, being built in WLRN’s second floor headquarters.

Funding for the news operation in the Friends budget for this news expansion is being increased from $1.1 million in 2012 to $1.9 million in 2013 and investments in “high definition infrastructure” is a key component of the coming years plan. And Dan Grech, a former Miami Herald reporter, and now the point of the collaborative spear is predicting these changes will allow listeners a whole spectrum of digital formats attempting to capture the new younger emerging listeners and sets the foundation for when people no longer get the F.M. station from the radio in their car or home, but on a host of digital portable devices.

What about The Herald and WLRN?

WLRN, a station owned by the Miami-Dade Public School Board and started 64-years ago as a public station raised eyebrows when the first link up with The Miami Herald was made years ago and while the venture has been successful. Critics worry that the interests of the general public might get lost when brought together with a for profit venture such as the paper. Moreover, while journalistic firewalls have been created this new collaboration is bringing this relationship even closer. In addition, Friends primary role has been to raise money for WLRN and to supplement the public station’s budget that has faced federal and state cutbacks over the years for the quality programming the public station has become known for. However, this is definitely a new expanded direction that the station plans to take and the blending of a not-for –profit and a for profit news organization needs to be watched closely say critics.

PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST

>>> FRB Chair Lapciuc tells BCC “Jackson meltdown delayed,” but substantial challenges ahead with “$600 million in capital infrastructure” needs unaddressed

Marcus Lapciuc, the only Chair of the Financial Recovery Board created a few years ago by the Miami-Dade Commission and pushed by then Commission Chair Joe Martinez gave the commission Tuesday the organization’s monthly update. The smaller seven-member board wraps up in June and was considered “a great experiment,” said Lapciuc. However, the FRB has turned the hospital around after years being on financial life support and hemorrhaging hundreds of millions of dollars in losses over the last three years but is in the black to the tune of about $26 million while also giving almost $1 billion in charity and uncompensated healthcare.

Lapciuc said to commissioners that “we can breathe a little sigh of relief” and the “Jackson meltdown” has been delayed for the moment but there are substantial challenges ahead he warned elected leaders. He noted there is still the unknown impact of “ObamaCare” and whether the Florida Legislature “expansion of Medicaid” for state residents and would impact about 1 million people but has House leaders bulking at the cost of the expansion and the hit to the state budget after the first three years when the federal government will no longer subsidize these new state Medicaid costs. He also noted the current national debate on Immigration Reform could have a disproportionate impact in South Florida given its demographics where around 250,000 people in “Miami-Dade could be involved,” and when it comes to medical outcomes, cost efficiencies and competition with other hospitals. He said the Jackson Health System (JHS) faces “threats” when it comes to state Medicaid “capitation payments” that could cost JHS up to “$45 to $50 million” in reduced funding he said.

The volunteer chair and an international businessman and attorney then mentioned one of the chronic problems facing the public hospital. He noted when it came to infrastructure, the immediate need is about “$600 million in capital infrastructure” that ranges to a host of areas including new “medical wings, IT, air conditioners and elevators,” and has been a persistent problem since 2000 when the county commission shifted some $65 million a year, that has grown to over $100 million, in unfunded mandates JHS has been forced to pay for, at the cost of its physical facilities that look old and dated. In addition, when it came to the over 50-year plus relationship of the University of Miami Miller Medical School and its Annual Operateing Agreement. He says the relationship is becoming one that is “crystallizing into “nothing more than a vendor/ supplier relationship,” he said.

Lapciuc

CITY OF MIAMI

>>> Is mayoral race between Regalado & Suarez starting to bleed into running of the city? Expect campaign rhetoric to get more heated running up to Nov. 5 election

With the race for Mayor of Miami in November heating up, incumbent Mayor Tomas Regalado is trying to sum up his past four years in office, while also fending off his primary challenger Miami Commissioner Francis Suarez who through press releases is sniping at the mayor on a variety of issues. Regalado still with strong backing in many parts of the city’s voters is facing the fresh faced younger Suarez who is also being backed by his father. Former Miami Mayor Xavier Suarez, now a Miami-Dade County Commissioner and this alliance has given the younger Suarez a prodigious campaign war chest. However, Suarez is still an unknown commodity in many ways and while first elected in 2009 to the five-member commission and was made the commission chair a couple of years later by Regalado. His initial push was to get voters to approve a strong mayor form of government; something attempted by former Mayor Joe Carollo back in the 1990s but failed to get traction with city voters at the time. But Suarez later has dropped this push and focused instead on running for mayor and trying to follow in his father’s footsteps. And both men are feverishly fundraising as the November election clicks closer and is expected to be unusually nasty race.

Regalado has had a number of setbacks over the past four years including a bruising battle to remove the Miami Police Chief Miguel Exposito. The ousted Chief objected to gambling machines in local cafes saying these were illegal and were made illegal by the state of Florida recently when Gov. Rick Scott signed the legislation and had the mayor and new Miami Chief Manuel Orosa crushing some of the machines at a press event last week, machines that had been confiscated years earlier. However, Regalado says many of the things that have plagued the city since he took office were left over from the previous administration of Miami Mayor Manuel “Manny” Diaz who drained the city’s reserves to below $10 million down from over $100 million back when he took office and a state financial oversight board had a fiscal blow torch pointed at the commission and administration before dissolving in late 2001 just before Diaz took office. Regalado also notes considerable resources have been expended fighting two SEC investigations if investors were deceived on city bonds sold in the past under the Diaz administration and millions are being spent on legal fees in these two federal cases.

Further, this political battle will only escalate in the coming months leading up the commission voting on a new 2013-2014 budget in September and these two meetings are expected to be contentious as the body decides what to do with any excess revenues coming into the city and should this revenue be used to hire more cops or banked into the reserve account. But it is clear the rhetoric is going to be amped up in the coming months and residents can only hope that the their interests will still be in the mix, and not cast aside for political expediency and one of the candidates getting elected.


Regalado

Suarez

>>> Miami Man Sentenced in Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, José A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CID), Antonio J. Gomez, Acting Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), and Sergio Velazquez, Chief, Hialeah Police Department (HPD), announced that defendant Marckell Steward, 21, of Miami, was sentenced yesterday for his participation in a $1.7 million identity theft tax refund fraud scheme.  Specifically, U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga sentenced Steward to 72 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.  A restitution hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, June 25, 2013 at 9:45 a.m.  Steward previously pled guilty to conspiracy to commit access device fraud and aggravated identity theft.

According to court documents and testimony, Steward along with co-conspirators Lineten Belizaire, 22, Earnest Baldwin, 36, and Earl Baldwin, 42 all of Miami, were involved in an identity theft tax fraud scheme that operated from July 2011 through June 2012.  During the course of their fraud scheme, approximately $1.7 million in fraudulent refund claims were submitted to the IRS for payment. As stated in documents filed in court, Steward conspired with Belizaire and Earnest and Earl Baldwin on a plan to use stolen personal identification information of others to file fraudulent and unauthorized tax returns claiming refunds on debit cards. Some of the refund claims were filed from Earl Baldwin’s residence.  According to the factual proffer, Steward exchanged text messages with Belizaire where the defendant sent and received personal identification information of victims and also sent and received debit card account numbers that were used for receiving victims’ tax refunds.

As stated in trial testimony and evidence, Earnest Baldwin was found with over 1,000 individual names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers and approximately 40 pre-paid debit cards in other people’s names.  Some of these papers seized included high school report cards with identity information and data from an organization for disabled persons containing identity information.  The evidence at trial also showed that Earnest and Earl Baldwin withdrew money from debit cards loaded with fraudulent refunds in the names of victims in the papers and notebooks found on Earnest Baldwin.  Lineten Belizaire pled guilty to access device fraud and aggravated identity theft on March 18, 2013.  He faces a maximum possible sentence of 12 years and is scheduled to be sentenced on May 28, 2013 at 8:30 AM before Judge Altonaga.

Sentencing for Earnest and Earl Baldwin has been scheduled for June 17, 2013 beginning at 8:30 AM before Judge Altonaga.  Defendant Earnest Baldwin faces a maximum possible prison sentence of 41 years and defendant Earl Baldwin faces a maximum possible prison sentence of 29 years. Mr. Ferrer commended IRS-CID, USPIS, and HPD for their work on the case.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael N. Berger and Maurice Johnson.

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 MIAMI BEACH

>>> Oceana Makes Noise to Save Dolphins and Whales in Atlantic – Event Draws Attention to Threat of Seismic Airgun Testing

Press release: Marking the three-year anniversary of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, international ocean conservation group Oceana held a public demonstration in Miami Beach today to highlight the risk of expanded offshore oil drilling on the East Coast and to call for a clean energy future. After first distributing earplugs to nearby pedestrians, organizers and volunteers sounded air horns, vuvuzelas and other noise making devices in an attempt to draw attention to proposed seismic airgun testing in the Atlantic Ocean, which could begin as early as this fall unless the Obama administration pulls the plug.

“Offshore drilling is still as dirty and dangerous as it was three years ago,” said Oceana campaign organizer Rebecca Marques, “Instead of learning from the Deepwater Horizon disaster, President Obama is now considering expanding offshore drilling to the Atlantic Ocean. The seismic airgun testing sought by the oil industry to search for oil and gas deposits is an insult to whales, dolphins and everyone who makes their living from healthy oceans.” According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, the sound pulses emitted by seismic airgun testing would injure or possibly kill 138,500 dolphins and whales in the Atlantic, including critically endangered North Atlantic right whales, of which only five hundred individuals remain.

Marques explained the basic horror of seismic airguns as she held up Oceana’s new report on the subject, which was released last week. “Imagine dynamite going off in your living room every ten seconds, 24 hours a day, for days to weeks on end. That’s the kind of situation that dolphins and whales will have to deal with. Seismic airgun testing will lead to disorientation and this can lead to death.”

Thirteen members of Florida’s congressional delegation sent a letter to President Barack Obama this week urging him to stop proposed seismic airgun testing in the Atlantic Ocean. Three Republicans joined this letter, as did Senator Bill Nelson. The letter highlighted the fact that in Florida alone, seismic airgun testing puts over 380,000 jobs in the fishing, tourism and recreation industries in jeopardy.

Oceana members handed out fliers and stickers, and promoted a whitehouse.gov petition started by actor and Oceana spokesperson Ted Danson asking President Obama to reject seismic airgun testing. The petition will guarantee a written response from the Obama administration if it gets 100,000 online signers by May 14. “Seismic airgun testing in an area twice the size of California off the East Coast comes with unprecedented risk,” added Marques, “including risks to the 730,000 jobs in the fishing, tourism and coastal recreation industries in the blast zone.” Pedestrians in the area were made acutely aware of the kinds of blasts Oceana is warning about. Despite the loud display, organizers insisted it was nothing compared to the airguns used by the oil industry. “What we’re doing is a whisper compared to what they want to do,” explained Marques. “Seismic airguns are literally 100,000 times more intense than a jet engine.” The event was one of more than 20 such events coordinated by Oceana nationwide this month to mark the third anniversary of the BP oil spill and call attention to seismic airgun testing in the Atlantic. To learn more about Oceana’s campaign to Stop Seismic Airgun Testing, please visit www.Oceana.org/seismic.

CITY OF CORAL GABLES

>>> Hail Commissioners Lago & Keon, Tuesday their first debut on five member commission, what changes will they bring to discussions?

This Tuesday, Coral Gables residents and voters will get to see their two new commissioners in action for the first time since the Apr. 9 election and the swearing-in ceremony later on Apr.12. Commissioners Vincent Lago and Pat Keon will start their political careers on the five member dais. And it will be interesting to see their political take on how city services are delivered and how to deal with some of the long term structural problems facing the city, like the over $200 million pension fund liability that was a discussed item during the campaigns for the then two open four year seats on the five member body.

CITY OF HOMESTEAD

>>> Director of Non-Profit Convicted in BP Claims Fund Fraud Trial

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, Antonio J. Gomez, Acting Inspector in Charge, Miami Division, U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Paula Reid, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service (USSS), Miami Field Office, and Richard L. Walker, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General – Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigation, announced that Jean Mari Lindor, 32, of Homestead, Florida, was convicted by a federal jury in Miami yesterday, for his participation in filing false claims in connection with the Deepwater Horizon explosion and pollution incident in the Gulf of Mexico.  Lindor was convicted on charges of mail fraud, wire fraud, access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft, all in connection with fraudulent claims filed by the defendant seeking lost income against the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, the filing of fraudulent tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service, and false claims for unemployment compensation against the State of Florida, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1341, 1343, 1029(a)(2) and (b)(1), and 2.

The guilty verdicts were returned before U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore, who set the sentencing hearing for July 30, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. in Miami.  Lindor faces possible terms of imprisonment of up to twenty years on each of the thirty-four counts of mail fraud and wire fraud, up to ten years imprisonment on the three counts of access device fraud, and a consecutive sentence of two years each on the two counts of aggravated identity theft.  The defendant also faces a fine of up to $250,000 on each count or twice the intended gain or loss caused by the conduct, as well as a period of supervised release of up to five years. According to the allegations in the Indictment and evidence presented in court, in June 2010, BP established the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) for the purpose of administering, mediating, and settling certain claims of individuals and businesses for costs, damages, and other losses incurred as a result of oil discharges due to the April 20, 2010 explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon, an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico that had been drilling an exploration well.  In August 2010, the GCCF began receiving and processing such claims of individuals and businesses for costs, damages, and other losses they had incurred as a result of the Deepwater Horizon incident, paying the claims from a $20 billion Trust Fund established for that purpose.

The evidence at trial established that Lindor filed fraudulent claims against the fund, in his own name, and in the name of a Not-For-Profit business he established, Noula, Incorporated, located in Homestead.  The value of the claims charged in the Indictment and presented at trial were in excess of $1.2 million.  Trial evidence demonstrated that the records supplied to the GCCF to support the many claims were materially false and fraudulent because they purported to show the claimants were employees of various hotels, restaurants, and clubs in the Florida Keys at the time of the spill and that their income had been adversely affected as a result of the Deepwater Horizon incident. Lindor also used unauthorized access devices during the scheme, consisting of the unique GCCF Claim numbers assigned to his fictitious claims, and without which he would have been unable to communicate with the GCCF, or cause payments to be issued to them.  Moreover, Lindor also sought unemployment compensation for more than a year from the State of Florida, falsely certifying that he was not earning income when, in fact, he was actively directing the scheme at Noula. Furthermore, the evidence at trial showed that Lindor possessed and used without lawful authority the social security numbers of two identity theft victims to file fraudulent tax claims against the IRS, and directed the refunds into either his personal bank account or to bank debit cards. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI, Postal Inspection Service, Secret Service, Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate.  Mr. Ferrer would also like to thank the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF).  This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Watts-FitzGerald.  Members of the public can report fraud, waste, abuse, or allegations of mismanagement involving disaster relief operations, including the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, through the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Disaster Fraud Hotline at 877-NCDF-GCF (623-3423), the Disaster Fraud Fax at 225-334-4707, or the Disaster Fraud e-mail at disaster@leo.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.

>>> OTHER STORIES AROUND FLORIDA

BROWARD COUNTY

>>> Thank you for using the Broward County Commission Agenda E-mail Notification System. A new Broward County Commission Agenda is available. Point your browser to http://www.broward.org/commission/welcome.htm to view the new agenda.

CITY OF CORAL SPRINGS

>>> Former CEO Pleads Guilty to Securities Fraud

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announced that defendant Scott Haire, 48, a resident of Coral Springs, Florida, pled guilty yesterday before U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams.  Haire pled guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, in United States v. Scott Haire and Douglas Martin, Case No. 12-Cr-60133-Williams(s). At sentencing, Haire faces a maximum of five year’s imprisonment, three years supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.

This case is part of the Southern District of Florida Securities and Investment Fraud Initiative (the Initiative), first announced in December 2010 and designed to combat securities and investment fraud and protect the interests of the investing public.  The Initiative was established to address the increase in securities and investment fraud schemes in the Southern District of Florida.  In addition to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, FBI, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Florida’s Office of Financial Regulation, other participating agencies in the Initiative include the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CID), U.S. Secret Service (USSS), U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of Inspector General (FDIC-OIG), U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Southeast Region.  Among the goals of the Initiative is to alert the public about the prevalence of these types of schemes, educate the public on how to avoid falling prey to these schemes, and to highlight the law enforcement response to the problem.

The Southern District of Florida ranks second in the nation in securities and investment fraud investigations and prosecutions.  Using the strike force model successfully developed in the health care and mortgage fraud areas, the Initiative has yielded similar success.  Since its inception in December 2010, the Initiative has resulted in charges against 144 defendants in the Southern District of Florida, resulting in more than $1.76 billion in restitution ordered. Haire – the former CEO of Wound Management Technologies, Inc., and the former CFO and Chairman of VHGI, Inc. –was captured on video and audio recordings engaging in securities fraud during an undercover FBI operation.  During the recordings, Haire discussed his football career at the University of Kentucky before turning to fraud.

According to court documents, Haire bribed a pension fund fiduciary to induce the fiduciary to invest in Wound Management, in violation of the pension fund fiduciary’s obligation to act in the best interest of the pension fund’s beneficiaries.  In addition, Haire bribed a stock broker to invest money from his client’s discretionary accounts, in violation of the stock broker’s obligation to act in the best interest of his clients.  Haire agreed that he conspired with Douglas Martin, a conspirator who previously pled guilty, to inflate the volume and stock of VHGI, a publicly traded company. To date, 37 individuals have been convicted as part of the FBI’s undercover operation in this and related cases. >> Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI in this and other cases targeting penny stock fraud in South Florida.  Mr. Ferrer would also like to thank the SEC for its assistance in this matter.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys H. Ron Davidson and Jodi L. Anton. 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

>>> Palm Beach County Man Pleads Guilty in Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Paula A. Reid, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service (USSS), and José A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), announced that defendant Fednol Pierre, 34, of West Palm Beach, pled guilty before U.S. District Judge James I. Cohn to one count of theft of government money and one count of aggravated identity theft.  The sentencing hearing is set for June 26, 2013 in front of Judge Cohn.  At sentencing, Pierre faces a mandatory minimum statutory sentence of two years in prison and a maximum possible sentence of 12 years in prison.

According to documents filed in court, on September 29, 2009, Pierre added an individual to his bank account as a joint account holder — without this individual’s knowledge or consent — using this individual’s name, Social Security number, date of birth, and driver’s license number.  The following day, Pierre deposited a $22,081 tax refund check from the U.S. Treasury in the name of this individual.  In the weeks following this deposit, Pierre withdrew funds from the joint account.  On December 3, 2009, Pierre closed the joint account and transferred the remaining funds into his account. >> Mr. Ferrer thanked USSS and IRS-CI for their work on the case.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin C. Coats.  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.

LEE COUNTY

>>> Gov Scott taps Reynolds to 20th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission

Twentieth Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission Susan Z. Reynolds, 58, of Fort Myers, is a self employed attorney and part owner of PocoLoco in Sanibel. She received her bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and her law degree from the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law. Reynolds succeeds John Hooley, and has been appointed for a term beginning April 16, 2013, and ending July 1, 2016.

MONROE COUNTY

>>> Press release: Gov. Scott makes the following appointments to Judicial Nominating Commission:

Third District Court of Appeal Judicial Nominating Commission Robert A. Spottswood, 55, of Key West, is the president of Spottswood Companies, Inc and has been a member of the Florida Bar for over 30 years. Spottswood received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and his law degree from the University of Miami. He fills a vacancy and has been appointed for a term beginning April 16, 2013, and ending July 1, 2016.

Sixteenth Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission Piper L. Smith, 49, of Key West, is the vice president of marketing for Historic Tours of America, Inc. Smith received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida. She has been reappointed for a term beginning April 16, 2013, and ending July 1, 2016.

Anthony J. Barrows, 35, of Ramrod Key, is an assistant regional counsel in the Office of Criminal and Civil Regional Conflict. He also practices law in his solo practice. Barrows received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and his law degree from Nova Southeastern University. He fills a vacancy and has been appointed for a term beginning April 16, 2013, and ending July 1, 2015.

Nathalia M. Abondano, 28, of Key West, is an attorney with the law firm of Garcia & Smith, P.A. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami and her law degree from Florida International University. Abondano fills a vacancy and has been appointed from the list of nominees submitted by the Florida Bar for a term beginning April 16, 2013, and ending July 1, 2015.

COMMUNITY EVENTS

>>> The STU Center for Ethics invites you to attend a conference on: ETHICAL ISSUES IN NON-PROFIT AGENCIES” Friday, April 26th from 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. to be held at Convocation Hall on the St. Thomas University campus, 16401 NW 37th Avenue, Miami Gardens, FL.  Conference activities include a keynote speaker and three featured panels on the following topics: Ethical Aspects of Fundraising and Donor Relations, Avoiding Board Member and Staff Conflicts of Interest, Equitable Distribution of Resources:  Overhead vs. Programming – We are fortunate to have attracted some distinguished panelists and speakers for this event.  Invited speakers include: Angel Aloma, Executive Director, Food for the Poor, Joe Centorino, Executive Director, MDC Commission on Ethics, Daniella Levine, President/CEO, Catalyst Miami, Professor Ronald Nyhan, Florida Atlantic University, Marina Pavlov-Marchner, President/CEO, FANO,  Javier Soto, President/CEO, Miami Foundation

The registration fee of $50 covers breakfast and lunch and four hours of stimulating and thought-provoking discussions.  Due to limited seating, those wishing to attend should register no later than Monday, April 22nd.  For registration information, please contact the Center for Ethics at (305) 628-6581 or by e-mail: rmeyers@stu.edu.

>>> Miami Selected as “Inaugurating City” for National Immigration Forum’s Bethlehem Project Press Conference with Business Partners on Citizenship Promotion Initiative Miami – On Tuesday, April 23 at 11 a.m., the National Immigration Forum will host a press  conference at the Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus to launch “The Bethlehem Project”.

This unprecedented business partnership with the collaboration of local immigrant service organizations like the International Rescue Committee seeks to assist eligible immigrant employees with the citizenship process so they become more valuable workers and full participants in the workplace, community and economy. The press conference will feature founding business partners, The InterContinental Miami, The Betsy Hotel-South Beach, and new partner Miami Dade College, who will share their inspiring words on how the business community is increasingly leading the effort to integrate its immigrant workforce.  Employees receiving assistance for their citizenship application will also share their stories on why they are pursuing the dream of citizenship and how the Bethlehem Project is helping ensure that dream becomes a reality.

WHAT: Press conference launching “The Bethlehem Project”, an innovative corporate-community partnership to provide citizenship assistance for eligible immigrant employees at the workplace. WHO: Eduardo Padrón, President, Miami Dade College, Manny Diaz, attorney, Former Mayor of Miami, Nilmarie Almodóvar, Human Resources Director, The Betsy Hotel,  Leonie Timothee, Human Resources and Talent Development Manager, InterContinential Miami, Raquel Araujo-Escobar, immigrant employee, InterContinental Miami, Ali Noorani, Executive Director, National Immigration Forum, Additional bilingual (Spanish) immigrant employees undergoing citizenship process will be available for interviews. WHEN: April 23, 2013, 11 a.m. EST WHERE: Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus, Batten Room, Building 2, Room 2106  4th Street and NE 2nd Avenue, Miami, FL – About the National Immigration Forum: “Founded in 1982, the National Immigration Forum advocates for the value of immigrants and immigration to our nation. In service to this mission, the Forum promotes responsible federal immigration policies, addressing today’s economic and national security needs while honoring the ideals of our Founding Fathers, who created America as a land of opportunity.”All media should register by contacting Katherine Vargas, kvargas@immigrationforum.org

>>> The Downtown Bay Forum www.downtownbayforum.org — INVITES YOU TO OUR LUNCHEONMEETING ON WEDNESDAY – APRIL 24, 2013 11:30AM-1:30 PM – WHY SHOULD TAXPAYERS FUND DOLPHIN STADIUM RENOVATION? SPEAKERS NORMAN BRAMAN – MIAMI DOLPHINS – H.T. SMITH MODERATOR -MICHAEL PUTNEY – Channel 10 WOLFSON AUDITORIUM @TEMPLE ISRAEL 137 NE 19thStreet MIAMI Free Self Parking Available Call ANNETTE EISENBERG (305)757-3633   Fax (305)754-2015 **RESERVATIONS REQUIRED ** Membership Application &/or Luncheon Reservation (please print clearly)

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Phone No: _____________E-mail ___________________ Fax No. ______________$35 Membership ­­­___ $23 Lunch, member w/reservation __ $58 Membership & Lunch __$27 Non-Member or Member without reservation if space is available ___255 Table of 10 DOWNTOWNBAY FORUM P.O. Box 530916 Miami Shores, FL 33153-0916

EDITORIAL

>>> If elected leaders want to be a community Great One, temperament and humbleness is a key ingredient, ego must be kept in check

I went to a Celebration of Life for a very gentle, kind soft spoken but solid as steel woman Saturday by the name of Mary Ellen Miller, a twice-former chair of the Miami-Dade Republican Party. Moreover, the reverend mentioned you know what many people are really like when they gain such power, and what they do with it and how they treat people and that transformation for many other politicians is so true. The Watchdog Report over the past 17-years has seen a lot of politicians up close and personal from their first election to becoming long serving incumbents and to say some elected officials are self-absorbed or full of themselves is an understatement. You may be a small municipal commissioner, for one of the 34 cities in Miami-Dade or maybe one of the 31 in Broward County but their pompous attitude sometimes is mind boggling given they are not the president of the United States or even the governor of a state but as you work down the political food chain. These lesser-elected officials seem to blossom when it comes to the expansion of their ego and it is a sad sight.

For there are very few beloved leaders these days and hard ball and Machiavellian tactics seem to be the political order of the day rather than earning the publics respect and love through their deeds and having a ego is great, but their must be some mechanism keeping this in check. Rather than a flock of camp followers that seem to live on the elected ones every word and are at their beck and call. Moreover, this attitude eventually bleeds into how officials perform their elected jobs, and can be seen by them taking all the perks that might come with the office. Asking for special favors in the public or private sector or just getting things done sooner for themselves by their public workers but it has a corrosive effect across the whole spectrum of governance and public service. And if these people want to go down in the history books as Great Ones, not only in their on minds but in the public’s as well. They should keep some of these restrained personal traits in mind.

LETTERS

>>> Reader appalled at Senate vote on background checks on gun buyers

The vote on background checks in the US Senate confirms what conscientious citizens have known for a long time. There is a minority in the US or Florida Senate or their companion Houses that have the moral courage to vote as the welfare of their constituents or their professed religious beliefs would dictate. We elect candidates to become leaders and all too many become followers, followers of their own political ambitions, or the financial benefits of serving  and the lucrative influence they can exert beyond that service..

Who would dare write “Profiles in Courage” today faced with the cowardice of so-called leaders who fail to support the welfare and wishes of 90% the American people?

Don MacCullough

Miami, FL

>>> LIFETIME FOUNDING MEMBERS & INITIAL SPONSORS IN 2000

ANGEL ESPINOSA – (Deceased) owner COCONUT GROVE DRY CLEANER’S

HUGH CULVERHOUSE, Jr

FLORIDA POWER & LIGHT www.fpl.com .

THE MIAMI HERALD     www.miamiherald.com (2000-2008)

ARTHUR HERTZ

WILLIAM HUGGETT, Seamen Attorney (Deceased)

ALFRED NOVAK

LINDA E. RICKER (Deceased)

JOHN S. and JAMES L. KNIGHT FOUNDATION  www.knightfoundation.org

THE HONORABLE STANLEY G. TATE

>>> Watchdog Report supporters – $2,000 a year

BADIA SPICES    www.badiaspices.com

RONALD HALL

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY www.miamidade.gov

UNITED WAY OF MIAMI-DADE COUNTY www.unitedwaymiamidade.org

>>> Watchdog Report supporters – $1,000 a year

AKERMAN SENTERFITT   www.akerman.com

BERKOWITZ POLLACK BRANT Advisors and Accountants www.bpbcpa.com

RON BOOK

LINDA MURPHY: Gave a new laptop in Oct. 2001 to keep me going.

WILLIAM PALMER www.shutts.com

SHUBIN & BASS     www.shubinbass.com

WILLIAMSOM AUTOMOTIVE GROUP http://williamsonautomotivegroup.com/

>>> Public, Educational & Social institutions – subscribers at $1,000 or less

CAMILLUS HOUSE, INC.   www.camillushouse.org

CITY OF MIAMI www.miamigov.com.

CITY OF CORAL GABLES www.coralgables.com

CITY OF MIAMI BEACH www.miamibeachfl.gov

COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP FOR HOMELESS www.cph.org

THE STATE OF FLORIDA www.myflorida.gov

GREATOR MIAMI CHAMBER OF COMMERCE www.miamichamber.com

GREATER MIAMI CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU www.miamiandbeaches.com

HEALTH FOUNDATION OF SOUTH FLORIDA  www.hfsf.org

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY COMMISSION   www.miamidade.gov

MIAMI-DADE COMMISSION OFFICE OF THE CHAIR www.miamidade.gov

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY ETHICS & PUBLIC TRUST COMMISSION www.miamidade.gov/ethics

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY INSPECTOR GENERAL www.miamidade.gov/ig

MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOLS BOARD www.dadeschools.net

MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOLS www.dadeschools.net

PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST & JACKSON HEALTH SYSTEM www.jhsmiami.org

THE BEACON COUNCIL   www.beaconcouncil.com

THE CHILDREN’S TRUST www.thechildrenstrust.org

THE MIAMI-DADE COUNTY LEAGUE OF CITIES www.mdclc.org

THE MIAMI FOUNDATION  www.miamifoundation.org

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA    http://www.firstgov.gov/

UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI             www.miami.edu

The Watchdog Report covers a few of the meetings attended weekly. It remains my belief that an informed public will make better decisions. Therefore, I go to meetings, make the presence of an informed citizen known, and bring the information to you.   The Watchdog Report is in the 13th year of publication and it has been an honor to be able to send this information to you. It is sent to readers in Miami-Dade, Florida, the U.S. and the world. The Watchdog Report is sent to thousands free and while readers have been prodded to subscribe the results have been mixed. Over 600 reports and Extra’s have been sent since May 5, 2000 and over one million words have been written on our community’s governments and events.  The report is an original work based on information gathered at public meetings, interviews and from documents in the public domain.

LETTER POLICY

I welcome letters via e-mail, fax, or snail mail. Letters may be edited for length or clarity and must refer to material published in the Watchdog Report.  Please see address and contact information. Please send any additions and corrections by e-mail, fax or snail mail. All corrections will be published in the next Watchdog Report. If you or your organization would like to publish the contents of this newsletter, please contact me. Please send your request to watchdogreport1@earthlink.net

Daniel A. Ricker

Publisher & Editor

Watchdog Report www.watchdogreport.net

Est. 05.05.00

Copyright © of original material, 2013, Daniel A. Ricker

>>> The Watchdog Report are now available to television stations web pages, and all the newspapers and other media in South Florida if the publishers have an interest to run part or all of the stories. Further, in 2000, I used to have some paper’s running the report in the Spanish press, that option is available again, and publishers should contact me.  The news content will not be free, but you can pick and chose the stories of interest, edit them if necessary but you must still keep the general story intact.  If you are a news outlet and would like to learn more about, the Watchdog Report and this offer contact me at watchdogreport1@earthlink.net for further information.  >>> Here is what past newspapers have written about the Watchdog Report publisher including a survey and regional study done by the U. North Carolina at Chapel Hill on the media in the southeast United States.

>>> The Miami Herald and Orlando Sentinel & Sun-Sentinel articles on the Watchdog Report publisher over the years. >>> Published on September 9, 1999, Page 1EA, Miami Herald, The (FL) CITIZEN ADVOCATE’ KEEPS TABS ON POLITICIANS >>> Published on January 3, 2000, Page 1B, Miami Herald, The (FL) MIAMI-DADE WATCHDOG WILL BE MISSED >>> >>> To read the full section large two page front page story, but without the photos and smart box graphics, go to: `I Go When You Cannot’ – Sun Sentinel 20 Jan 2003 … Sometimes Dan Ricker lives in the dark so others may live in the light. … to his weekly Watchdog Report have finally mailed their checks. … http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2003-01-20/news/0301190341_1_ricker-school-board-president-miami-s-first-cuban-american >>>Watchdog Report publisher named ‘Best Citizen’ 2003 by the Miami New Times  –The publisher would like to thank the weekly alternative paper Miami New Times for bestowing their 2003 Best of Miami, ‘Best Citizen’ award to me and I am honored.  Thank you. To read the full story go to http://www.miaminewtimes.com/issues/2003-05-15/citylife2.html/1/index.html

From the spring of 2003:  U. North Carolina, Chapel Hill:  Southeast U.S. Media Report lists Watchdog Report publisher as leading Florida commentator >>> Selected excerpts from the report on Florida’s media sources

Those who do read the newspaper in Florida have a bevy of options for state government and political coverage. The dominant newspapers in the state are Knight-Ridder’s The Miami Herald (Acquired by The McClatchy Company in 2006) and the Poynter Institute’s St. Petersburg Times. Both papers endorsed Gore in 2000 but split on the 2002 gubernatorial race, with the Herald endorsing Republican incumbent Jeb Bush and the Times backing Democratic challenger Bill McBride. Daniel Ricker of The Miami Herald also writes an influential column as well as an email newsletter called the Watchdog Report that goes out to more than 100,000 subscribers. FEBRUARY 2004 – Florida: Columnists in Abundance –ERIC GAUTSCHI, graduate student, School of Journalism & Mass Communication, UNC-Chapel Hill – D) LEADING COMMENTATORS – Resource Commentator Organization Type Web site –Steve Bousquet St. Petersburg Times Column www.sptimes.com/columns/bousquet.shtml -“First Friday” WPBT TV (Miami) TV Show www.channel2.org/firstfriday/issues.html –Lucy Morgan St. Petersburg Times Column www.sptimes.com/columns/morgan.shtml –Daniel Ricker Miami Herald/Watchdog Report Newsletter >>> Readers who would like to read the complete University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill Southeast United States Media Report go to view the complete report or download all the data used in this study. >>> Watchdog Report Editor’s note to the NCU/CH study: The subscriber number referenced is incorrect and applies to readership.

General subscriber’s names will not be published in the Report. To subscribe to the Watchdog Report please use the form below as a subscription invoice.

********************************************************************

Watchdog Report Supporters Invoice-Form

NOTE: Invoice is for Yearly supporter/sponsorship Rates: Thank you.

Supporting Sponsors $5,000

Sustaining Sponsors $2,000

Corporate Sponsors $1,000 (All levels above will be listed in the report with web-site link if desired)

Large Business Supporters $500

Small Business Supporters $250

Individual Supporter $150

Student Supporter $ 75

Any amount $

Name & Address

Please make checks payable to: Daniel A. Ricker

Send to: 3109 Grand Avenue, #125

Miami, FL 33133 To contact the Publisher please e-mail watchdogreport1@earthlink.net


 
 
 

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