----- Original Message -----
From: "AGNews" <AGNews@oag.state.fl.us>
Sent: Friday, June 23, 2006 11:29 AM
Subject: Attorney General's News Briefs
> This week's edition of the Attorney General's newsletter News Briefs is
> now available for subscribers.
> Please click the web address below to view the current issue.
> June 23, 2006 - Volume 4, Issue 25:
> Please do not hit Reply to send a message to Attorney General
> Crist or the Attorney General's Office. This email address cannot
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> The text version of the e-Newsletter is below.
> Message from Attorney General Charlie Crist
> One of the most important issues this office pursues is that of
> Medicaid fraud. The taxpayer-funded Medicaid program was created to
> ensure health care for those who are less fortunate, not to enrich
> those who fraudulently use the process for financial gain.
> Yet the numbers show that Florida’s $16-billion - and growing -
> Medicaid program is a constant target for unscrupulous doctors,
> pharmacists and others who see it as an easy path to ill-gotten gains.
> Simply put, they allow their own greed to come before the health care
> needs of others.
> This week, I announced a new initiative to crack down on an
> often-overlooked aspect of Medicaid fraud. Our Medicaid Fraud Control
> Unit, or MFCU, launched a program that focuses on fraud related to
> durable medical equipment - items that can be used repeatedly, such as
> back braces or wheelchairs.
> Investigators got the new initiative off to a roaring start with the
> arrests of four South Florida men for their roles in separate scams
> involving durable medical equipment. Combined, the four men cheated
> Medicaid out of more than $800,000.
> Over the past several years, it has become increasingly evident that
> some Medicaid fraud thieves were zeroing in on durable medical
> equipment. In July 2004, for example, our office reached a $1.38
> million settlement with a medical equipment company that submitted
> bogus bills for such things as nebulizer supplies. Last November, our
> investigators arrested the president of a medical equipment company
> that collected more than $500,000 for durable medical equipment that
> patients never received or even requested.
> The time had come to make a concentrated effort to crack down on
> Medicaid fraud involving durable medical equipment, so we organized
> this initiative. By dedicating investigators and other resources to
> the task, the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit expects to make some real
> inroads against this insidious practice.
> Since January 2003, investigations and prosecutions by our Medicaid
> Fraud Control Unit have resulted in 244 criminal convictions for
> defrauding Florida’s Medicaid program and the recovery of $165.4
> million for the state’s taxpayers. Last year alone, the Unit secured
> more than $76 million through settlements and referred 43 cases for
> Through this special operation, we hope to make Medicaid thieves think
> twice before submitting fraudulent bills for durable medical
> equipment. This, in turn, can have beneficial effects in other areas
> of Medicaid fraud, such as prescription drugs or dental care.
> Medicaid fraud costs law-abiding taxpayers huge amounts of money each
> year. Shutting down Medicaid thieves is the job of our Medicaid Fraud
> Control Unit, and I am encouraged that this new initiative has already
> produced such positive results.
> * * *
> All Floridians can take pride in the achievement of the Miami Heat,
> bringing our state its first National Basketball Association
> championship. The Heat’s stunning come-from-behind sweep to victory,
> after losing the first two games to the Dallas Mavericks, demonstrated
> the team’s heart and desire, ultimately rewarding fans throughout
> South Florida and the entire state.
> The Heat’s success was the final jewel in Florida’s crown as the State
> of Champions. In little more than three years, our state has claimed
> the championship of all four major professional sports - the Tampa Bay
> Bucs’ Super Bowl victory in early 2003, the Florida Marlins’ World
> Series victory later that year, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Stanley Cup
> championship in 2004 and now the Heat’s title. In addition, several
> Florida colleges and universities have won NCAA championships in
> various sports in recent years.
> I join all Floridians in congratulating the Miami Heat and their fans
> on a hard-earned, well-deserved championship.
> Charlie Crist
> OTHER NEWS
> CONCERNS OVER TELECOM MERGER - In a letter to the state Public Service
> Commission this week, Attorney General Crist sought to ensure that the
> imminent merger of BellSouth and AT&T does not harm competition for
> basic, affordable telephone service. Crist urged the PSC to recommend
> a cautious approach by the Federal Communications Commission, which is
> ultimately responsible for approving the merger. In his letter, the
> Attorney General outlined his concerns that the merger could be to the
> detriment of consumers who look for simple, affordable calling plans.
> Crist noted that the proposed merger would bring together the largest
> local exchange company in Florida and the nation’s largest provider of
> local voice, long distance and broadband DSL services.
> GUILTY PLEA BY ECSTACY DRUG TRAFFICKER - A Volusia County man who was
> prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution
> pled guilty for his role in an Ecstasy trafficking ring. The Daytona
> Beach resident faces up to 30 years in prison for his role in the drug
> ring, which manufactured and distributed Ecstacy throughout three
> Florida counties. More than 850 pills of the drug worth approximately
> $17,000 were seized when the defendant was arrested. He will be
> sentenced at a later date.
> SEX OFFENDER SENTENCED - In a case prosecuted by attorneys with the
> Attorney General’s Child Predator CyberCrime Unit, a Marion County man
> was sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to
> possessing and promoting child pornography online. In addition to the
> prison term, he was sentenced to 10 years of sex offender probation
> and must register with the state as a sex offender. The man was
> arrested in February after talking online with a person he believed
> was a like-minded pedophile, but who in fact was an undercover
> investigator with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. During the course
> of their conversations, he transmitted numerous images of child
> pornography to the investigator.
> ID THEFT RINGLEADER SENTENCED - A Hillsborough County woman was
> sentenced to 10 years in prison after she pled guilty to charges
> stemming from her role as the leader of an identity theft ring that
> operated throughout the state, stealing personal checks and driver’s
> licenses. The group cashed the stolen checks at various banks,
> stealing more than $184,000 from at least 36 victims. The woman, who
> was arrested in November, was prosecuted by the Attorney General’s
> Office of Statewide Prosecution.
> PUPPY VENDOR SUED - The Attorney General’s Office sued a Broward
> County pet store for allegedly defrauding its customers about the dogs
> they were purchasing. The store specializes in the sale of "teacup"
> dogs, unusually small dogs that are sold for prices as high as $2,000.
> According to customers, the puppies’ pedigrees were often
> misrepresented and the dogs ended up overgrown and often ill. An
> investigation by the Attorney General’s Economic Crimes Division
> determined that the store owner purchased many of the dogs from
> online auctions without proper registration or pedigrees.
> CHILD PORNOGRAPHER ARRESTED - Attorney General Crist announced that a
> Volusia County man was arrested on multiple charges of possession of
> child pornography and promoting the sexual performance of a child. The
> man placed pornographic images on the Internet, where they were
> discovered by a Child Predator CyberCrime Unit investigator who was
> able to trace them back to the man arrested. A search warrant was then
> executed at his Port Orange home, and computers and assorted discs
> containing digital images of child pornography were seized.
> NEWS RELEASES
> Volusia Man Arrested for Possession of Child Porn
> Crist Sues Broward Puppy Vendor for Fraud
> Crist Reveals Intensive Medicaid Fraud Investigation
> Marion County Sex Offender Sentenced to 5 Years
> Volusia County Man Pleads Guilty to Running Drug Lab
> Crist Urges Consumer Protections in BellSouth/AT&T Merger
> Hillsborough Woman Gets 10 Years for $184,000 ID Theft
> NEWS CLIPS OF INTEREST
> State starts Medicaid fraud investigation
> Man charged with child porn
> Central Fla. Man Accused Of Posting Child Porn
> Crist voices concerns in BellSouth-AT&T merger
> Attorney general sues puppy store, alleging sales of unhealthy dogs
> Lawsuit Alleges Pet Store Sold Puppies Of False Pedigree
> Attorney General sues Pembroke Pines pet shop
> for 'deceptive' sales of dogs
> Chevron signs tobacco agreement
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