Watchdog Report Vol.14 No.17 September 1, 2013 Est.05.05.00 – I go when you cannot

CONTENTS

Argus Report: New FBI Dir. Comey critical to South Florida, the “Graduate School” of fraud, with #1 status in many crimes from Medicare Fraud, to public corruption

Florida: Gov. Scott calls for $500 million tax break, what else will he have in his reelection bag? — LAST WK WDR: In a few weeks all state and county leaders’ financial disclosures will be on line, some are there now, www.ethics.state.fl.us, sea change for transparency of elected official’s finances

Miami-Dade County: It has begun, search for new M-DC IG on front burner, critical post in safe guarding taxpayer money, composure and temperament critical ingredients in pressure cooker job

Miami-Dade Public Schools: Funding to ever 100 charter schools balloons to $322 million, debt payments for district come in at $358.9 million, 8.4 % of general fund

Public Health Trust: Nominating Council picks four possible trustees, but only one will ultimately get the nod, Is Mas conflict a canard?

City of Miami: After multiple missteps, Commissioner Suarez says sayonara to mayoral race, will Mayor Regalado cruise to victory now?

City of Miami Beach: Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club Candidates Debates, 2013 Election City of Miami Beach

City of Homestead: Mayor Bateman charged with two felonies, suspended from office, campaign’s the next day, but arrest not a résumé builder

City of North Miami: North Miami Man Charged in Unemployment Benefits Scheme

City of Sweetwater: Local Police Detective Arrested for Credit Card Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft

>>> Other stories around Florida

Broward County: Residents can review they’re county commissioners financial disclosure forms on line

City of Hallandale Beach: Local Tax Preparer Sentenced for Filing False Tax Returns on Behalf of Himself and His Clients

City of Pembroke Pines: Two Individuals Charged in Fraudulent Invoice Scheme

City of Parkland: Attorneys Charged in Connection with Rothstein Ponzi Scheme

Vero Beach: Local Resident Charged with Importing Illegal Catch from the Bahamas

Palm Beach County: Residents can review they’re top County Officials financial disclosure forms on line at http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/results.cfm

Wellington: Former Wellington Resident Charged in Investment Fraud Scheme

Monroe County: Gov. Scott taps Timothy Koenig and the reappoints Anne O’Bannon and to the Florida Keys Community College District Board of Trustees.

Community Events: Ethics Commission campaign seminar – The Good Government Initiative at the University of Miami invites you to a Community Conversation & Luncheon >> Gaily Forward: The History and Future of LGBT Rights in South Florida — TedX Miami event at Arsht Center

Editorials: The tri-fecta arrests of municipal mayors stuns community, note to elected officials, when it comes to integrity in office, you cannot be a little bit pregnant — Check out the past 2003 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: Child advocate physician on importance of children development to nation

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.)

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>>> 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 To All: 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. Thank You

>>> May you and your family have a great, safe and reflective Labor Day Holiday and we should all reflect on the role the labor movement in America has had in shaping the nation and workforce of today.

ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street

>>> President Obama makes case to strike at Syria, 1,400 dead in chemical attack, but will delay decision and decides to seek Congressional approval

President Barack Obama has told the American people Saturday that the U. S. after Congressional approval. The nation will be striking Syria after over 1,400 people were killed, including 400 children in a chemical attack. The world has been waiting for a U.S. reaction since the president said by using these chemical weapons, a “bright line” would be crossed that America and the world community could not tolerate, but the position is controversial. And Obama has now agreed to wait until he gets Congressional approval for the strike. And for more go to http://news.msn.com/us/obama-us-should-take-military-action-against-syria

>>> White House press release: President Obama’s Decision on Syria

Just now, President Obama laid out the case for a targeted military action against Syrian regime targets as a result of their use of chemical weapons that killed over one thousand people — including hundreds of children. The President also made clear that this would not be an open-ended intervention, and there will be with no American troops on the ground. While the President was clear on the need for action, he announced he would seek Congressional authorization for the use of force. Watch the President’s statement now in his own words:

Stay Connected

>>> New FBI Dir. Comey critical to South Florida, the “Graduate School” of fraud, with #1 status in many crimes from Medicare Fraud, to public corruption

James B. Comey will be taking over at the FBI on Sept. 4 and long serving Director Robert Mueller, III, will be hanging up his shield after taking over the Bureau just days before 9/11 in 2001. Comey has been shadowing Mueller for the past few weeks and his first challenge will be dealing with federal sequester that on Oct. 1 will result in 13 to 14 day furloughs for the 35,000 employees in the Bureau. States www.nytimes.com last week and Comey will learn that South Florida is the “Graduate School” for fraud in all its forms that even had Mueller speaking to the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce on the matter last year and covered by the Watchdog Report at the time. Now, Comey, a former senior Justice Department Assistant U.S. Attorney will be taking the reins, where terrorism is the number one threat the agency will be dealing with along with fraud, public corruption  and international narco trafficking to name a few of the areas the federal agency deals with. http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2013/june/president-nominates-new-fbi-director/james-comey-biography

Comey – Wikipedia photo

What about the U.S. Southern District of Florida?

Here in South Florida, there is a small army of FBI special agents assigned to the U.S. Southern District of Florida and there are two details of agents dealing with Medicare Fraud costing the government billions, and that fraud is just the tip of the wrong doing iceberg. That also includes identity theft, human trafficking, public corruption, drugs, bank robberies and a host of other crimes and every recent local U.S. Attorney over the past 15 years has said regardless of they’re past experiences. They were shocked at the volume of cases that the office had to deal with, and is why Comey’s appointment is so important to South Florida residents in the years to come since we are ground zero in so many of these unlawful activities, that actually has the criminals testing and then exporting these fraudulent schemes from South Florida.

What about the new ATF Director Jones?

B. Todd Jones, a former top federal prosecutor in Minneapolis before he was named the interim director of ATF in 2011 was sworn into office on Thursday with Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Erick Holder at his side in a ceremony at the White House. In addition, while ATF in the past few years has taken a hit with a number of controversies, here in South Florida there presence is a major arrow in the quiver of law enforcement, where guns are cheap and plentiful, and gangs are flourishing.

>>> White House press release: ATF Director Sworn-In: Vice President Joe Biden swore-in B. Todd Jones as Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) on Thursday. The Vice President also announced two new executive actions to reduce gun violence, building on the gun violence reduction plan he and the President presented at the beginning of this year.

>>> Press release: Zogby’s Report Card: Abandoned by Britain, public, Obama loses Syria options

Pollster John Zogby reports in our weekly White House report card that President Obama, deserted by the public and Britain on Syria, has lost the kind of presidential power previous presidents had in international affairs. “Do you remember a much simpler time not so long ago when the president of the United States was the ‘leader of the free world’ and the ‘most powerful man in the world’? That president could launch a war (by any other name) by declaring it a ‘police action’ or even fabricate evidence and present it to Congress (Gulf of Tonkin 1964, ‘weapons of mass destruction’ 2003). Please click on the link below to view this week’s grade http://www.zogbyanalytics.com/news/329-zogby-s-report-card-abandoned-by-britain-public-obama-loses-syria-options

FLORIDA

>>> Gov. Scott calls for $500 million tax break, what else will he have in his reelection bag?

Gov. Rick Scott is calling for a $500 million tax cut for state businesses, something he tried to get through the Florida Legislature this spring but failed. And the former healthcare executive is ramping up his 2014 reelection campaign around the state with policies like this that he believes will benefit companies in the Sunshine State. He also threw a bone to Environmentalists when he committed tens of millions for the Everglades, but many environmentalists are howling that this is not the ecological panacea that it is being pitched as. However, Scott is staying on the new script as he barnstorms communities and events around the state, and continues to hammer President Barack Obama’s economic policies, and when it comes to education. The governor last week met with former GOP legislator John Thrasher and former Gov. Jeb Bush to discuss education policy in the state. As he tries to grapple with new federal education standards called Common Core, but has yet to make a statement for or against the matter.

Scott, who has gotten more relaxed at public events, is still an enigma for many voters and he is waiting to see whom Democrats field against him. However, Democrats with a majority of state voters have failed since 1998 to elect a governor, partially because they tend to cripple the party’s champion in the primaries with negative ads, and tend to have lower turnout in these statewide elections over the past decades. And while former Gov. Charlie Crist is hoping he will be anointed the Democrats Party gubernatorial champion in 2014, Crist has yet to decide if he will run, and many of the party faithful wonder about Crist and his forever changing party affiliation, from Republican, too Independent, to now a Democrat.

>>> PAST WDR:  In a few weeks all state and county leaders’ financial disclosures will be on line, some are there now, sea change for transparency of elected officials’ finances

The Florida Commission on Ethics, as a result of new state ethics and transparency legislation passed during the past session legislative session and signed by Gov. Rick Scott is now as of Jul. 1 putting elected leaders financial disclosure forms online from counties and state elected office and is a required yearly ritual for lawmakers. The Watchdog Report for the past 14 years has weekly gotten an endless stream of these required disclosure forms from the ethics commission, but now anyone in the public can go the commission’s webpage and type in a name, and if the document has been posted you can easily review these public Florida Form 6 submissions. I have some 6,000 of the forms now, but with a click, anyone in the public can review the forms that allow one to get an idea what their elected leader’s personal financial life is and are these people worthy to serve in an elected capacity, based on their private business affairs. An area that gets many politicians into trouble, with many of them being subsequently removed from office and going to jail.

And last week when I requested some of the forms for a few elected leaders from Kimberly R. Holmes, the head of the Financial Disclosure Unit, and someone that has been great to the WDR for over a decade providing past electronic documents. She wrote, “I understand you are requesting filing information on disclosure forms for certain lawmakers.  As a part of the ethics legislation passed this year, Florida lawmakers’ Form 6 disclosures will be posted on the Commission’s website.  The forms can be viewed by clicking this link on the homepage of the Commission’s website (www.ethics.state.fl.us): http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/search.cfm?date={ts%20’2013-06-28%2023:47:03′}&CFID=277210&CFTOKEN=70301042

Staff has worked hard to get this system up and running in the short time between the bill becoming law and the first forms being filed.  As forms are received, they will be posted to the website as soon as they’ve been recorded and any information required by law to be maintained as confidential, is redacted from the form.  This process may take a few business days, but eliminates the need for calls or emails to obtain the information and records from staff.

We hope you find the new web feature helpful.  Please let me know if you have any questions,” wrote Holmes. And she also noted the commission has moved its office to 325 John Knox Road, Building E, Suite 200, Tallahassee, FL 32303 www.ethics.state.fl.us And this information now being on line is a real boost to Floridians understanding of their lawmakers and their personal financial lives.

>>> Press release: Gov. Scott announced the reappointment of Joy Korman to the University of North Florida Board of Trustees.

Korman, 68, of Jacksonville, is retired and was a self-employed living leadership consultant from 2002-2011. She has served on the University of North Florida Board of Trustees since 2008. She received her bachelor’s degree from Simmons College and her master’s degree from Southern Connecticut State University. Korman also attended Universite de Bordeaus in Toulouse, France. She is reappointed for a term beginning August 28, 2013, and ending January 6, 2018. >>> The appointment is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

>>> Press release: Gov. Scott announced eight appointments and one reappointment to the Florida Building Commission.

Steven Bassett, 70, of Plantation, is a self-employed mechanical engineering consultant. He succeeds Rafael Palacios and is appointed for a term beginning

August 27, 2013, and ending December 8, 2017.

E. Jay Carlson, 55, of Port Charlotte, is the owner of Carlson and Soforth. He succeeds John Scherer and is appointed for a term beginning August 27, 2013, and ending February 11, 2017.

David Compton, 49, of Lutz, is the vice president and senior structural engineer at Bracken Engineering. He fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning August 27, 2013, and ending January 13, 2017.

Thomas Franz, 55, of Melbourne, is the president of Franz Construction Services LLC. He fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning August 27, 2013, and ending January 21, 2015.

Robert Hamberger, 65, of Pompano Beach, is the chief building official for Broward County Schools. He succeeds Dale Greiner and is appointed for a term beginning August 27, 2013, and ending January 9, 2017.

Brian Langille, 41, of Clearwater, is the operations manager for the City of Clearwater. He fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning August 27, 2013, and ending June 30, 2017.

Darrell Phillips, 60, of Tallahassee, is the construction planning and design manager for the Department of Education. He succeeds Jonathan Hamrick and is appointed for a term beginning August 27, 2013, and ending November 21, 2017.

Frederick Shilling, Jr., 63, of Boca Raton, is the CEO and master plumber of Pipeline Plumbing Services of Broward Inc. He succeeds Randall Vann and is appointed for a term beginning August 27, 2013, and ending January 31, 2015.

Hamid Bahadori, 56, of Lake Mary, is the principal engineer at Hughes Associates Inc. He is reappointed for a term beginning August 27, 2013, and ending February 7, 2017. >>> The appointments are subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

>>> And if you ever thought about adopting a child, check out the great kids on the Children’s Trust’s Heart Gallery page http://www.miamiheartgallery.org/#start looking for a home and great new parents.

>>> 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, Jr., Chair The Children’s Movement.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY

>>> It has begun, search for new M-DC IG on front burner, critical post in safe guarding taxpayer money, person’s composure and temperament critical ingredients in pressure cooker job

The high profile group assigned to select and recommend a replacement for former Miami-Dade County Inspector General Christopher Mazzella, after 14 years in the pressure cooker office when he stepped down in April. The Selection Committee met Friday afternoon in the county’s Human Resources Department. And Miami-Dade County State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle was elected chair and a variety of issues were discussed including asking some people in and out of the IG office what were the thornier issues the office has faced since its creation in 1998. And one of the people being asked to brief their experiences with the IG office will include Jackson Health System President and CEO Carlos Migoya with the committee asking what he thought of the IG, and any legal issues the two entities might have faced in the past.

Further, this IG selection is doubly important since the county’s IG has also had a contract since 2007 with the Miami-Dade Public Schools to provide oversight of the nation’s fourth largest public schools district in the nation. In addition, while a post like this could become political, Mazzella came at a time when public scandals were rampant in the mid 1990s. He was given the opportunity to establish a reputation of integrity, and fairness and he had a good personal temperament. As the former FBI special agent navigated the treacherous political waters of Miami-Dade’s largest public institutions.

And while the public has embraced the office, critics and others that were investigated by the IG office have referred to Mazzella as “the devil” and with other choice words. Especially if they have a county contract that requires a percentage of them to help pay into the office that also gets funding from contracts from MIA and the Port of Miami for the IG’s some $5.3 million budget and has 38 employees. However, they’re has always been political pressure put on the IG to investigate someone or some organization, and it takes a deft eye to determine if it is a valid example of waste, fraud, abuse or corruption versus a political vendetta. And that is one of the aspects the Watchdog Report has kept an eye on. Since Mazzella and I both came on to the political scene at the same time back then, and in many cases we passed on generally public information that we both knew about over those years, though he would always note his office was the “Official Watchdog.” >>> For more on the meeting go to http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/08/30/3595961/committee-to-review-applications.html

>>> Here is the IG’s new Annual Report for the year: http://www.miamidadeig.org/annualreports/2012AnnualReport.pdf

http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/08/30/3595961/committee-to-review-applications.html

>>> Commissioner Bovo looks to regional government, accounting for every dollar and net worth in 2012 climbs to $158,000, up from $18,485

Estephan “Steve” Bovo, Jr., is in the spotlight this week and the former state legislator catapulted onto the commission District 13 seat, after former Commissioner Natacha Seijas was recalled from office back in March of 2011. And he is up for reelection in 2014. Bovo a father of five, with the youngest being three, has focused on regional issues he believes the county should be involved in and he has brought a breadth of fresh air into the chambers when it comes to his ego. He drives a modest Jeep Wrangler, uses Metro Rail many times to get to the Stephen P. Clark Center and has eschewed some of the perks that come with the office. He is insisting in knowing where the money is going “and how it is being spent,” and he along with Commissioner Juan Zapata consistently echo that question. However, Bovo indirectly was drawn into the absentee ballot controversy last fall and he denies knowing about the illegal activity but he was caught up in the political firestorm.

What do we know about his finances?

Bovo through Dec. 2012 had a net worth of $158,933, which is up from his last disclosure that listed a net worth of $18,485, and for the current year, he lists $95,000 in household goods and to read his complete for form go to http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/Forms/2012/36894-Form6.pdf

Bovo & bio  http://www.miamidade.gov/district13/biography.asp

>>> PA Lopez-Cantera in the spotlight, fighting Homestead Fraud, fighting for office independence, net worth climbs to $4 million in 2012

Carlos Lopez-Cantera, the Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser is in the spotlight this week and he was a former GOP Majority Leader in the Florida House from 2010 to 2012 before winning the office in August 2012. When he got 51 percent of the vote over incumbent PA Pedro Garcia, Jr., for the countywide office. Lopez-Cantera is a real estate developer and investor and is married with two children. And he has been a strong champion for the reopening of the Coconut Grove Playhouse closed in 2006 amid financial debt and he is suing the county in court to challenge the independence of the office. Since it is a Home Rule Charter Office, and not a stand alone Florida Constitutional Office like most of the other property appraiser offices around the state. Moreover, since taking office in November, he has aggressively fought Homestead Exemption fraud, has formed alliances in this endeavor with the county public schools district and almost a dozen municipalities over the past few months, and he is also emphasizing customer service in the office.

What do we know about his finances?

Lopez-Cantera through Dec. 2012 had a net worth of $4 million, up from $2.3 million the year before and he lists $35,000 in household goods. The property appraiser told the Watchdog Report last week that he had consolidated some past investments and that was why his net worth increased. And to read the full financial disclosure form go to http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/Forms/2012/88753-Form6.pdf

Lopez-Cantera and bio:    http://www.miamidade.gov/pa/about_us.asp

>>> And to review all the Miami-Dade County Commissioners financial disclosure forms for the year go to http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/results.cfm?org_id=214439&suborg_id=233972&Mode=By_SubOrg

>>> GMCVB press release: PortMiami Passengers

In the months of January – June 2013, passengers through the PortMiami saw an increase of +10.2% compared to the same time last year. Sustained growth is due in part to the arrival of new, larger vessels and the variety of cruise options offered by PortMiami.

January – June 2013 January – June 2012 % Change
2,228,313 2,021,308 +10.2%

MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOLS

>>> Funding to ever 100 charter schools balloons to $322 million & Debt payments for district come in at $358.9 million, 8.4 % of general fund

When it comes to the over 100 charter schools in the Miami-Dade Public Schools District, in the coming 2013-2014 schools budget the funding will be $322 million, which is a 15 percent increase in state funding that passes through the nation’s fourth largest District for these types of schools. The schools get funding based on student enrollment, they’re generally not-for-profit organizations but the facilities are generally on privately owned buildings. And many schools use for profit private management companies as well. However, the District under Superintendent Alberto Carvalho since 2008, has opened a host of new programs to compete with these charter schools, of which some of the charters are exceptional. However, there are other charter schools that are less effective, just seem to enhance a private property owners interest, and some of these schools have even gone financially bust.

What about the District’s Capital debt?

The reason the issue of charter schools in Miami-Dade is of importance is that the district from around 2003- to 2008 went on a massive new school construction program, which was funded by district bonds. Moreover, these debt payments next year come in at the tune of $358.9 million, which represents 8.4 percent of the district’s total $3.4 billion budget, state board documents. And with the rise of student enrollment into charter schools in the future, further erosion in state funding will be coming the district’s way, yet the massive debt payments will continue to loom well into the future.

Carvalho

>>> New Miami-Dade County School Board Inspector General Annual Report http://www.miamidadeig.org/MDCPS2013/SBAnnualReportFY12.13.pdf

>>> New August school district IG investigative report http://www.miamidadeig.org/MDCPS2013/SB1112-1016CertificationCheating.pdf

PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST

>>> Nominating Council picks four possible trustees, but only one will ultimately get the nod, is Mas conflict a canard?

The Watchdog Report since 1998 has been covering the PHT Nominating Council meetings where new trustees are selected to recommend to the board of county commissioners to sit on the now seven-member board that has oversight over the Jackson Health System. The Council met Friday afternoon and the group is made up of Miami-Dade County Commissioner Audrey M. Edmonson, Miami-Dade state Rep. Jeannette Nunez, R-Miami, Mario Artecona (who was absent); Andy Madtes, AFL-CIO President; Darryl K. Sharpton; Joe Arriola; Marcus J. Lapciuc; state Rep. Michael Bileca, R-Miami; Mojdeh L. Khaghan and Sharpton as chair of the PHT board ran the meeting. The nine candidates that applied were Nestor Caballero, Dr. Calixto Garcia, Jose R. Mas, Ricky Patel, Robin Reiter-Faragalli, Allen Markelson, Agatha S. Carballo, Daniel Kavanaugh and Beverly Pruitt. The Council voted on the choices and Mas led in balloting, and Garcia, Reiter-Faragalli, and Kavanaugh rounded out the field of candidates that will be interviewed and go through an extensive background check.

What about the possible conflict with Mas?

While the county attorney’s office says, Mas may have a potential conflict of interest because his brother sits on the board of Miami Children’s Hospital. The Watchdog reconfirmed in the county’s ethics code that “immediate family” does not apply to a brother. A conflict only exists it applies to a “spouse, domestic partner, parents, stepparents, children and step children,” states the Miami-Dade Ethics Commission Ordinance. http://www.miamidade.gov/advocacy/Library/code-ethics-conflict.pdf (And I don’t remember the county commission changing or expanding that definition since 2010)

However, JHS does have a wider definition when it comes to the procurement process and trustees sitting on the Purchasing Committee. In that case, there are about 18 prohibited relationships including a fiancé but that is the only case where there is a definition variance between the county’s ethics code that the Watchdog Report is aware of. Thus, it would appear Mas will be the recommended person the Council submits to the County Commission Sept. 13 along with two alternative names that will be decided after they are interviewed. For more on the meeting go to http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/08/30/3596704/miami-dades-public-health-trust.html

CITY OF MIAMI

>>> After multiple missteps, Commissioner Suarez says sayonara to mayoral race, will Mayor Regalado cruise to victory now?

Commissioner Francis Suarez, the young scion of the politically influential Suarez family that includes former Miami Mayor and now county commissioner Xavier Suarez has dropped out of the race for mayor in November after numerous campaign missteps and controversy. The attorney, 35, raised well over $1 million in campaign and PAC funding for the effort and he has until Oct. 21 to decide how to end the campaign, and one way is to not qualify with the city Clerk’s Office at that time. Further, he will have to determine if the campaign contributions will be returned to the donor, or he will give the money to a not for profit, that is sometimes popular with a candidate. However, he still has lots of work to do since he has extensive campaign signs throughout the city and he needs to pick these up for they only remind voters of his failed attempt to oust incumbent Mayor Tomas Regalado, considered now the front runner in the race.

Suarez, in his campaign argued it was our time for new leadership, ran an aggressive negative campaign over the past month, that in some mailers resembled political pandering to elderly Cuban Americans, but his campaign stumbles kept clouding the race. Mistakes that at first he did not take responsibility for, but at the end finally admitted to the media that the actions of the campaign were under his watch and his sole responsibility. http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/08/26/3587239/sources-suarez-to-abandon-miami.html

What about some of the fundraisers?

Suarez got campaign support from a broad swath of political leaders including Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, PHT President and CEO Carlos Migoya, and Miami Commissioners Willy Gort, Marc Sarnoff, and Michelle Spence-Jones but that past support is now for naught. In addition, this is the second candidate Gimenez supported but the candidate was not elected and has some municipal elected officials grumbling that the county mayor should not get involved in these local elections such as Miami or in Coral Gables where Gimenez supported former Commissioner Ralph Cabrera, Jr., in March who lost to incumbent Mayor Jim Cason.

Since the county election’s department is under Gimenez’s purview and the concern that some how he could interfere with an election results and the voting process running properly, that Gimenez’s says would only be the case. However, it does show the mayor needs to keep these factors and concerns in mind. For he is also alienating many municipal officials with these actions and whose support he will need again in 2016 when he is up for reelection.


Suarez

Regalado

Gimenez

>>> Press release: Former Office Manager for Health Care Solutions Network Sentenced for $63 Million Medicare Fraud

A former office manager at the defunct health care provider Health Care Solutions Network Inc. (HCSN) was sentenced today in Miami to serve 68 months in prison for her role in a fraud scheme that resulted in more than $63 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare and Florida Medicaid. U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida; Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Steinbach of the FBI’s Miami Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Christopher B. Dennis of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Office of Investigations Miami office made the announcement.

Lisset Palmero, 45, of Miami, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga in the Southern District of Florida.  In addition to her prison term, Palmero was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $17.4 million. During the course of the conspiracy, Palmero was employed as a receptionist and office manager at HCSN, a mental health facility that purported to provide Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) services.  A PHP is a form of intensive treatment for severe mental illness. HCSN of Florida (HCSN-FL) operated community mental health centers at two locations.  According to court documents, Palmero was aware that HCSN-FL paid illegal kickbacks to owners and operators of Miami-Dade County Assisted Living Facilities (ALF) in exchange for patient referral information to be used to submit false and fraudulent claims to Medicare and Medicaid.  Palmero also knew that many of the ALF referral patients were ineligible for PHP services because they suffered from mental retardation, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Court documents reveal that Palmero was aware that HCSN-FL personnel were fabricating patient medical records. Many of these medical records were created weeks or months after the patients were admitted to HCSN-FL for purported PHP treatment.  Palmero was also aware that medical records were fabricated for “ghost patients” who were never admitted to the HCSN-FL PHP.  During her employment at HCSN-FL, Palmero actively concealed the fabrication of medical records by preparing, and causing others to prepare, documentation that was later utilized to support false and fraudulent billing to government-sponsored health care benefit programs, including Medicare and Florida Medicaid. According to court documents, from 2004 through 2011, HCSN billed Medicare and the Florida Medicaid program approximately $63 million for purported HCSN-FL mental health services.

This case is being investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. This case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Allan J. Medina and former Special Trial Attorney William J. Parente. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged more than 1,500 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $5 billion.  In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, is 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.

CITY OF MIAMI BEACH

>>> Press release: Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club Candidates Debates, 2013 Election City of Miami Beach Meeting Time: 8:30 AM Meeting Place: David’s One, corner of Collins Ave. and 11th Street > For more go to http://mbtmbc.com/

Date/Group                 Candidates

Sept. 3 Group 1 Mohammed Islam, Sherry Kaplan Roberts, Micky Steinberg, Elsa Urquiza

Sept. 17 Group 2: Dave Crystal, Jorge R. Exposito, Michael C. Grieco

Sept. 24 Group 3: Matti Herrera Bower, Joshua C. Dunkelman, Joy Malakoff

Oct. 1 Mayor: Michael Gongora, Raphael Herman, David P. Hundley, Philip Levine

CITY OF HOMESTEAD

>>> Mayor Bateman charged with two felonies, suspended by Gov. Scott, campaign’s for office the next day, but arrest not a resume builder

With the arrest of Homestead Mayor Steve Bateman on Wednesday on two felony counts by Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle for abusing his public office. A host of local Homestead leaders are saying they saw this coming and while Bateman was later in the week campaigning for his reelection race as mayor. This arrest is not a résumé builder for the man first elected in 2009, when he beat then Mayor Lynda Bell in a contentious race, that now has the Bateman facing Bell’s husband Mark for the top city post along with other mayoral candidates. http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/08/31/3598301/fred-grimm-colleagues-happy-bateman.html The Watchdog Report has monitored this situation with Bateman the last year and even asked a prominent defense attorney in July if the now suspended mayor had contacted him, and he declined to answer at the time. Bateman thought of himself as a big fish in Homestead, now celebrating its 100th Anniversary as a municipality, but he seems to have forgotten that in today’s world. Sweetheart deals like the one with CHI are wrong, especially since the organization paid him, some $125.00 an hour to promote and facilitate their issues in Homestead, and Bateman never registered or disclosed these payments. In addition, while critics say CHI should have known they were trying to curry favor for some proposed projects by hiring the mayor. The organization was not caught up with investigation except as a witness to what was going on.

What are people saying about Bateman now that he was arrested?

Elected leaders seem to forget that when they are arrested or out of office, people in government and the community are much more willing to talk about the past years when they were in office. Moreover, in Bateman’s case people in Homestead government and other elected leaders are speaking like songbirds and to read their comments on the suspended mayor go to http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/08/31/3598725/mayors-arrest-upends-a-bizarre.html

CITY OF NORTH MIAMI

>>> North Miami Man Charged in Unemployment Benefits Scheme

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and  Richard Walker, Special Agent in Charge, United States Department of Labor, Office of  Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, and Jesse Panuccio, Executive Director, State of Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, announce the return of a 21-count indictment charging Guy Robert Nalien, 26, of North Miami, Florida, with wire fraud, mail fraud and aggravated identity theft in unemployment benefits scheme.

According to the indictment, Nalien utilized the personal identification of others to falsely represent to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Unemployment Compensation Program that such individuals were unemployed and eligible to obtain Florida unemployment compensation benefits. The indictment further alleges that Nalien received the fraudulently obtained benefits for his own personal use.

If convicted, Nalien faces a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for each count of mail fraud and wire fraud, followed by three years of supervised release, a fine of up to $250,000 and restitution, and a consecutive two years in prison for each count of aggravated identity theft. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the United States Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations and the State of Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas P. Lanigan. >>> An indictment is only an accusation, and defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  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 SWEETWATER

>>> Sweetwater Police Detective Arrested for Credit Card Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft

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, announce the arrest of William Garcia, a detective with the Sweetwater Police Department, for alleged use of a counterfeit access device and aggravated identity theft. The complaint charges Garcia with a single count of use of a counterfeit access device, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1029(a)(1), and a single count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A(a)(1). If convicted, Garcia faces a possible maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment as to the counterfeit access device violation, and a two year mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment as to the aggravated identity theft violation. According to the facts alleged in the complaint, Garcia participated in a counterfeit credit card scheme in late 2010 through 2011. Garcia’s criminal activities included providing his own credit card for use in manufacturing fraudulent credit cards, hiding evidence when he learned a co-conspirator had been arrested, and ultimately possessing and using counterfeit cards that Garcia claimed had been seized during the course of his duties.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI led Miami Area Corruption Task Force. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony LaCosta. A complaint is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and 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.

CITY OF DORAL

>>> Gov. Scott names Kathryn L. Whitson, Dr. JoAnn Trybulski, and Elmira Gainey to the Board of Nursing.

Whitson, 50, of Ocala, is a nursing instructor at the Rasmussen College School of Nursing. Previously, she was a nursing supervisor with Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare. Whitson served on the Board of Directors, Florida Center for Nursing from 2001 to 2008 and is a member of the Florida Nurses Association. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degree in nursing from Florida State University. Whitson fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning August 29, 2013, and ending October 31, 2015.

Trybulski, 62, of Doral, is the chief nursing officer for the University of Miami Hospital. Previously, she was an associate dean at the University of Miami School of Nursing. Trybulski has served the nursing profession for over 30 years with 16 years of experience as a nurse educator. She received her bachelor’s degree from Fordham University, her master’s degree in nursing from Simmons College, and her Ph.D. in nursing from Boston College. Trybulski fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning August 29, 2013, and ending October 31, 2016.

Gainey, 73, of Stuart, is a realtor with Coldwell Banker. She served the Martin County Education System as a teacher, guidance counselor, and school administrator from 1962 to 1994. Gainey was a Martin County Commissioner from 1994 to 2002 and has served on the Florida Board of Dentistry. She received her bachelor’s degree from Bethune Cookman University and her master’s degree from Florida Atlantic University. Gainey fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning August 29, 2013, and ending October 31, 2015. >>> The appointments are subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate

>>> OTHER STORIES AROUND FLORIDA

BROWARD COUNTY

>>> Residents can review they’re county commissioners financial disclosure forms on line

Residents of Broward County can now review they’re county commissioners financial disclosure forms on line and to see the inner financial workings of these elected officials go to  http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/results.cfm

HALLANDALE BEACH

>>> Local Tax Preparer Sentenced for Filing False Tax Returns on Behalf of Himself and His Clients

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Michael J. DePalma, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI), announce that defendant Efrain Felipe, 41, of Hallandale Beach, was sentenced today before U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola Jr.  Defendant Felipe was sentenced to 18 months of imprisonment, to be followed by one year of supervised release.  In addition, Felipe was ordered to pay restitution to the Internal Revenue Service in the amount of $17,989.  Felipe previously pled guilty to a two-count Information, charging him with making and subscribing a false tax return on behalf of a client, and aiding and abetting, in violation of Title 26, United States Code, Sections 7206(1) and 7206(2).

According to court documents and statements made in court, Felipe operated a tax preparation business in Broward County, and prepared tax returns on behalf of his customers, falsely claiming that some customers were entitled to a First Time Home Buyers Credit (FTHBC) of $7,500 for properties they did not own or for properties that were purchased years earlier.  Felipe also falsely claimed the FTHBC on his own personal tax return. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI.  This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Norman O. Hemming, III. 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 PEMBROK PINES

>>> Two Individuals Charged in Fraudulent Invoice Scheme

Press release: Wifredo A Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Michael J. De Palma, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), announce that defendant Francis Maikisch, 49, of Pembroke Pines, and Angel Moran, 46, of Miami, were charged in a 23-count indictment with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349, wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343, and money laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1957. The indictment also seeks the forfeiture of up to $1,999,414.14, the amount of currency involved in the wire fraud and money laundering offenses.

According to the indictment, Maikisch worked for TracFone Wireless, Inc., as a freight supervisor from June 2008 through November 2012. And, between November 16, 2010 and August 28, 2012, Maikisch intentionally caused TracFone to pay, by wire transfer, Moran’s freight company for false and fraudulent invoices submitted by Moran for fictitious shipments. As further alleged in the indictment, TracFone paid Moran’s freight company $1,999,414.14 for the false and fraudulent invoices.

If convicted, the defendants face a possible statutory maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison as to each count of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and 10 years as to each count of money laundering. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Elijah A. Levitt. An indictment 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.

CITY OF PARKLAND

>>> Attorneys Charged in Connection with Rothstein Ponzi Scheme

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael J. De Palma, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announce the arrest of Douglas L. Bates, 54, of Parkland, and Christina M. Kitterman, 38, of Deerfield Beach.  Arraignment for Bates is scheduled for September 4, 2013, and arraignment for Kitterman is scheduled for September 6, 2013, both before U.S. Magistrate Judge James M. Hopkins. According to two indictments unsealed in court earlier today, Bates was charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349, and wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343 (three counts).  Kitterman was charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349.  Each of the aforesaid counts is punishable up to twenty years’ imprisonment and a fine of $250,000.00.

U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer said, “As I have previously stated, the breadth, scope and sheer complexity of Rothstein’s $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme is mind-boggling. The success of such a large-scale scheme depended on the complicity of Rothstein’s colleagues and associates, like Douglas Bates and Christina Kitterman. Bates and Kitterman, both attorneys, are the fifteenth and sixteenth individuals to face criminal charges in connection with this complex financial fraud.” Acting SAC Michael J. De Palma stated, “Complex financial schemes such as the one orchestrated by Scott Rothstein do not occur in a vacuum. It is sad when you see two attorneys violate the public’s trust by using their law licenses to perpetrate a massive fraud.  Together with our law enforcement partners, IRS-CI is committed to aggressively investigating and bringing to justice those who knowingly assist in perpetrating investment scams.”

“The FBI tirelessly pursues those who defraud investors,” said Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, FBI, Miami.  “As attorneys, Bates and Kitterman took an oath to act with fairness and integrity but chose to violate that oath to assist Rothstein with perpetrating his massive fraud scheme.” The acts set forth in the charging documents were all in furtherance of a “Ponzi” scheme involving the sale of purported confidential settlement agreements in sexual harassment and/or whistle blower cases which were purportedly handled by attorneys at the former Ft. Lauderdale law firm of Rothstein, Rosenfeldt and Adler, P.A. (RRA). The indictment against Douglas Bates charges that, while he was a partner in the Law Offices of Koppel and Bates, located in Plantation, Florida, he assisted Scott W. Rothstein in defrauding certain clients of RRA by creating a fraudulent and fictitious settlement letter purporting to resolve certain civil litigation to the benefit of RRA’s clients when, in fact, Bates did not represent the alleged party and no such litigation had ever been instituted.  Additionally, the indictment charges that Bates drafted false and fraudulent opinion letters claiming to represent an investment group which had a business plan to invest in the confidential settlements which formed the basis for the Ponzi scheme when, in fact, he did not, and claiming that he represented a plaintiff who had entered into one of the confidential settlement agreements when, in fact, he did not.  The indictment further alleges that Bates assisted Rothstein by arranging to have representatives of an investment group falsely informed that numerous legal cases were referred by Koppel & Bates to RRA when, in fact, they were not.

The indictment against Christina Kitterman charges that, during the course of the Ponzi scheme, and while she was employed as an attorney at RRA, Kitterman falsely posed as the head of the Ft. Lauderdale office of the Florida Bar Association during a meeting with certain investors and falsely claimed that certain of the RRA bank accounts had been frozen in connection with a pending Bar investigation of Rothstein.  According to the indictment, this was done in order to explain to the investors the reason why certain payments due to them had not been made. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI and the FBI.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lawrence D. LaVecchio, Paul F. Schwartz, Jeffrey N. Kaplan and Evelyn B. Sheehan. An Indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and 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.

VERO BEACH

>>> Vero Beach Resident Charged with Importing Illegal Catch from the Bahamas

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Otha Easley, Acting Special Agent in Charge, NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement, Southeast Division, and Major Camille Soverel, Regional Commander, South A Region, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), announce the filing of an information against Toby Lamm, 46, of Vero Beach. The information charges that Lamm imported and attempted to import into the United States fish and wildlife possessed and transported in violation of the laws of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas and the State of Florida, in violation of the Lacey Act, Title 16, United States Code, Sections 3371(a)(2)(A) and 3373(d)(1)(A). The information also seeks the forfeiture of the illegal catch: approximately, 338 queen conch, 11 spiny lobster tails, 31 stone crab claws, and 140 pounds of Snapper and Grouper fillets.

According to the information, on or about June 23, 2013, in St. Lucie County, Lamm attempted to import queen conch (Strombus gigus), spiny lobster (Panulirus argus), stone crab (Menippe mercenaria) claws and demersal (fin fish) namely: Snapper (Lutjanus) and Grouper (Serranidae), in violation of the possession limits for each of the species as set forth in the laws and regulations of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, specifically, the Fisheries Resources (Jurisdiction & Conservation) Regulations, Part X, Sections 47(1)(a), (b) and 48(1)(f) and the laws and regulations of the State of Florida, specifically 68B-16.003(1), 68B-24.003(4), and 68B-13.005(2). The case has been assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Jose E. Martinez.  If convicted, Lamm faces a possible sentence of up to one year in prison, the forfeiture of the illegal catch, and a fine of up to $10,000.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts NOAA Office of Law Enforcement, FWC, and Customs and Border Protection.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Norman O. Hemming, III and Antonia Barnes. An information is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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

>>> Residents can review they’re top County Officials financial disclosure forms on line at http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/results.cfm

WELLINGTON

>>> Former Wellington Resident Charged in Investment Fraud Scheme

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Drew J. Breakspear, Commissioner, Florida’s Office of Financial Regulation, announce the unsealing of an indictment charging George Louis Theodule, 52, former resident of Wellington, FL, with multiple counts of wire fraud, securities fraud and money laundering.  Theodule was arrested on August 23, 2013 and had his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dave Brannon later that morning.

According to the indictment, Theodule engaged in an investment fraud or “Ponzi” scheme, wherein he induced individuals to invest money with his companies, Creative Capital Consortium and A Creative Capital Concepts, based upon the representation that he would be able to double their money in 90 days, primarily by trading in stock options.  Theodule, the indictment alleges, targeted the Haitian community in South Florida and elsewhere, forming “investment clubs” which attracted thousands of investors between late 2007 and late 2008.  In reality only a small portion of investors’ money was placed into trading accounts – which invariably were depleted without showing any gains whatsoever.  Rather, substantial funds were used to repay earlier investors, creating the appearance of investment success, and other funds were used by the defendant for his personal benefit.  The scheme unraveled in early 2009 when the Securities and Exchange Commission obtained a restraining order and later an injunction to stop the alleged unlawful practices.  Investors ultimately lost tens of millions of dollars.

U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, “Ponzi schemes, affinity fraud schemes, and high-yield investment fraud scams such as this pose a serious threat to people.  For years, George Louis Theodule lured members of the Haitian community to invest money with promises of high-yield returns.  In reality, only a small amount of the money was invested, while a substantial portion was used to repay earlier investors, creating the appearance of investment success.  Even worse, George Theodule was using their hard earned money for his own personal benefit.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office stands committed to bring to justice those who seek to undermine faith in our investment markets.”

“This is a stark reminder that promises of large returns with little risk should immediately send up red flags and make investors run the other way,” said Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Miami.  “Securities markets must be regulated and transparent so investors can continue to trust and have faith in the system.  Proactive investigations allow the FBI to prevent losses to victims by identifying those involved and holding them accountable for their unscrupulous actions.”

“This case provides an egregious example of someone exploiting the trust of members of their own community.  It demonstrates the Florida Office of Financial Regulation’s (OFR) commitment to work cooperatively in partnership with other state and federal agencies, such as the United States Attorney’s Office to identify and prosecute those who seek to violate that trust and act illegally for their own financial gain,” said OFR Commissioner Drew J. Breakspear. “The OFR is committed to protecting the citizens of Florida while providing smart, efficient and effective regulation of the financial services industry.”

If convicted, Theodule faces a possible statutory maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison as to each count of wire fraud, and 10 years as to each count of securities fraud and money laundering. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and the Florida Office of Financial Regulation.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Roger H. Stefin and Carolyn Bell.  An indictment 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.

MONROE COUNTY

>>> Press release: Gov. Scott names Timothy Koenig and the reappoints Anne O’Bannon and to the Florida Keys Community College District Board of Trustees.

Koenig, 53, of Key West, is an attorney with Feldman, Koenig & Highsmith. Koenig has served as a magistrate on the 16th Judicial Circuit since 2009. He received his bachelor’s and law degrees from Florida State University. He succeeds Antoinette Martin and is appointed for a term beginning August 28, 2013, and ending May 31, 2017.

O’Bannon, 67, of Key Colony Beach, is a semi retired self-employed media consultant. O’Bannon has served on the District Board of Trustees of the Florida Keys Community College since 2009. She has served on the City of Key Colony Beach Code Board since 2008. She is reappointed for a term beginning August 28, 2013, and ending May 31, 2017. >>> The appointments are subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

>>> And to read all the other Monroe County constitutional officers’ financial disclosure forms go to http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/results.cfm

COMMUNITY EVENTS

>>> Campaign Skills Seminar set for South Miami-Dade

With several municipal elections scheduled this fall and even more set for next year, now is the time for candidates and those considering running for office to learn the rules and regulations of electioneering by attending the next Campaign Skills Seminar sponsored by the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust.   In addition to politicians, campaign managers, treasurers, volunteers and anyone interested in learning what it takes to run a clean campaign, are encouraged to attend.

The two-hour seminar takes place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 4, 2013, in the William F. “Bill” Dickinson Community Center, 1601 N. Krome Avenue in Homestead.  Speakers — including representatives from the Ethics Commission and the Elections Department — will provide essential information on election law and procedures, fundraising and record keeping.  The event is free and open to the public.  Attorneys can earn Continuing Legal Education credits from the Florida Bar. >>> Campaign Skills Seminar, Wednesday, September 4, 2013, 6:30 p.m., William F. “Bill” Dickinson Community Center, 1601 N. Krome Avenue, Homestead, FL  33030

>>> The Good Government Initiative at the University of Miami Invites you to a Community Conversation & Luncheon >> Gaily Forward: The History and Future of LGBT Rights in South Florida Wednesday, September 18, 2013, Hurricane 100 Room at  UM Bank United Center 1245 Dauer Drive, Coral Gables, FL 33146

11:30 a.m. registration, 12 p.m. lunch 12:30 p.m. Conversation >>> Join Ruth Shack, President Emeritus, Miami Foundation; Jorge Mursuli, Organizer of the 1998 Human Rights Campaign; Rick Siclari, Executive Director, Care Resource; Jared Payne, President, SpectrUM; Elizabeth Schwartz, Esq., Attorney, Sobe Law; Tony Lima, Executive Director, SAVE Dade; as they discuss the history of LGBT issues: from the passage of the 1977 anti-discrimination ordinance to the health issues related to the gay community, DOMA, transgender legislation and campus life for LGBT students. Moderated by Katy Sorenson, President and CEO of the Good Government Initiative. Ticket Prices: $35 Individual Ticket, $30 GGI Member* $50 GGI Contributor (Individual Ticket + $15 donation) $500 Table of 10 (Sponsor Table) $20 Concerned Citizen $15 Student (with student ID) *made a donation of at least $100 this year Register Now! To pay by check please send to: 1320 South Dixie Highway, Suite 911,  Coral Gables, FL 33146, no later than Wednesday, Sept 4th.

>>> TEDxMiami Thursday, October 24 @ 7pm, Knight Concert Hall — For four years, TEDxMiami has been a hub of diverse creativity, innovative ideas, and progressive thought leadership that has been a cornerstone of Miami’s creative, intellectual, and entrepreneurial audiences. The main event in the fall will feature live speakers giving unique, locally relevant talks. TED is an international nonprofit organization and its mission is to share ideas worth spreading. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. Follow #TEDxMiami2013 for event updates and keep up with TedxMiami throughout the year on Facebook and Twitter. Member Pre-Sale: NOW! Public On Sale: Tuesday, July 30 CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS Or call 305-949-6722 today!

EDITORIAL

>>> The tri-fecta arrests of municipal mayors stuns community, note to elected officials, when it comes to integrity in office, you cannot be a little bit pregnant

The tri-fecta of mayoral arrests the last few weeks has shocked Miami-Dade County residents, but for many people the events are not surprising. However, all three mayors say they are innocent of the federal charges in the Miami Lakes and Sweetwater mayor’s case and the state charges with the mayor of Homestead. However, South Florida has always been a hot bed for public corruption and in the 1990s; it seemed arresting elected officials was a bumper crop activity and these discraced officials fell by the wayside. But since then there has been a persistent drum beat of arrests, that has had the FBI beefing up the agency’s public corruption special agent detail, the Miami-Dade State Attorney adding more investigators, and there is also the County’s Inspector General, and Ethics Commission assets entering the fray in this fight for transparent, efficient and clean government, but wayward officials continue to be picked off by law enforcement authorities.

Back in the 1990s, all this corruption and “washing of each others hands,” (a popular phrase back then) is one of the reasons I started the Watchdog Report back in May 2000 and while the community has had some victories when it comes to honest government. Many elected leaders still think the wink and nod style of government is the way to govern and as these arrests show. There is still much to be done and it is important for honest citizens and elected officials to step up and call out some of these transgressions. For if these people do not, they are complicate and become part of the problem and why corruption seems to be getting Miracle Gro since it seems to be flourishing and that is the tragedy for we are also a rich and poor community. And it is usually the less fortunate residents that suffer the most from this Culture of Corruption, that former Gov. Charlie Crist called the state of Florida after a state grand jury report during his term.

Moreover, elected leaders should finally get the memo that if you do the crime, you have a very high chance of doing the time. If you are convicted, and voters need to repudiate this type of under handed behavior, and to demand ethical and honest leaders if this smorgasbord of bad behavior and enrichment is not going to continue. In the future we will see how these cases pan out in the future and if the three men are convicted, but the fact these arrests occurred at all is more than a symptom, but shows almost a systemic infection to this underlying problem, and when it comes to public corruption. It is time our leaders realize that you cannot be a little bit pregnant in this regard, and once the line is crossed. It seems to be a course that cannot be changed by an elected leader, and that potential lack of a moral and ethical compass with these three men is the tragedy of the past month and to the voters that put their sacred trust in these leaders.

LETTERS

>>> Child advocate physician on importance of children development to nation

Use the following link  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/01/opinion/sunday/catching-up-with-france-on-day-care.html?ref=opinion&_r=0 ) to read a well-written article about child care —

In France — from today’s New York Times.

I doubt that there are many Americans who understand the importance of childcare to families, businesses and society overall. If more did understand, we would see far greater political demand aimed at all levels of government to assure high quality in all childcare venues. As it is, there is general acknowledgement that most care in this country is mediocre AT BEST.

Also, read the following article (http://www.defense.gov/specials/childcare/choose.html ) which discusses childcare from the standpoint of a parent in the military service. Her comments include a brief reference to the importance of the quality care given in the military to keeping military families comfortable. As I was told several years ago, the reason that the Department of Defense got involved with assuring quality childcare had to do with a large number of military personnel refusing to re-enlist. When asked why, they pointed to their children (These are not the members of the services in 1930; many are married and have children.) There were both expense and quality issues involved. Because of this, a high-ranking officer was put in charge of developing a system. What has developed is recognized as a high quality system of early care and education, which has been maintained over the years.

One should certainly expect no less for members of our Armed Forces. Yet, doesn’t it bother anyone that the children of all families should deserve no less. This is after all about the children and their abilities to succeed in school and as adults for the benefit of all of us, for society in general..

Wil Blechman, M.D.

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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.

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>>> 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.

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