Attorney General Bondi's Weekly Briefing
We are entering the most active part of hurricane season and this week serves as a reminder of how important it is to be prepared. Tropical Storm Emily formed overnight Sunday and Floridians on the Gulf Coast woke up to heavy winds and rain Monday morning. Governor Rick Scott declared a State of Emergency in multiple counties and I activated Florida’s Price Gouging Hotline to protect Floridians buying storm supplies.
It was less than a year ago that Hurricane Hermine struck Florida’s panhandle. The Category 1 storm left thousands of Floridians without power, and was the first hurricane to make landfall in Florida in more than a decade. A month later, Hurricane Matthew, a Category 5 storm, traveled up Florida’s Atlantic Coast. A million Floridians and visitors were ordered to evacuate to safer areas—more than a million residents lost power.
With the potential for more storms in the coming months, I cannot not emphasize enough how vital it is to prepared now. The sudden development of TS Emily further demonstrates the importance of being ready. If you or someone you know is not prepared, please review our Hurricane Preparedness Guide.
This guide contains tips on how to be ready for the impact of a major storm and offers a sample supply checklist in case of evacuation, flooding or power outage. It also warns of common scams that can arise in the aftermath of a hurricane. Preparing now is the best action you can take to protect you and your family.
Multimillion Settlement with Biopharmaceutical Company
Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office announced that Florida joined 28 other states and the federal government to settle allegations that Celgene Corporation, a biopharmaceutical company, engaged in a variety of marketing schemes to promote the off-label use of two drugs, Thalomid® and Revlimid®. The company also allegedly promoted the drugs by paying kickbacks to providers in order to induce the providers to prescribe the drugs.
As part of the settlement, Celgene will pay the states and the federal government $280 million, of which more than $20 million will go to state Medicaid programs. Florida will receive more than $1.4 million as part of the settlement. More.
Dentist Arrested for Defrauding Medicaid Out of More Than $16,000
Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and North Miami Police Department arrested a dentist for defrauding the Medicaid program out of more than $16,000. According to the investigation, Fadi Yousef Qablawi, 39, fraudulently collected payments from numerous Medicaid recipients for dentures, then billed the Medicaid program for the full amount. More.
Ninja Robbers Sentenced to Prison
Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecution secured the sentencing of three Immokalee men, also known as the ninja robbers, in connection to a home invasion robbery. The Honorable Robert Egan, Circuit Judge for the Ninth Judicial Circuit sentenced Henry Contreras, 51, and Andres Perez, 47, to 30 years in prison, and Jonathan Contreras, 30, to 25 years in prison. In May, a jury found the three defendants guilty of all charges, including home invasion robbery, kidnapping, carjacking with a firearm and armed burglary of a conveyance.
Attorney General Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecution prosecuted this case. More.
Information for Consumers Affected by Closing of Alfred Angelo Bridal Stores
The Florida Attorney General’s Office released information to assist consumers affected by the recent closing of national retailer Alfred Angelo’s bridal stores. On July 14, 2017, the company filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy and closed its Delray Beach headquarters and 61 stores across the country. The sudden closing left consumers with more questions than answers regarding items purchased. More.
Attorney General Bondi Activates Price Gouging Hotline
Attorney General Pam Bondi activated Florida’s price gouging hotline for consumers in multiple Florida counties. The opening of the hotline comes as Governor Rick Scott declares a state of emergency in 31 counties in preparation for Tropical Storm Emily. Florida’s price gouging law only applies within the area of the declared state of emergency.
State law prohibits extreme increases in the price of essential commodities, such as food, water, hotels, ice, gasoline, lumber and equipment, needed as a direct result of an officially declared emergency. Anyone who suspects price gouging during this declared state of emergency should report it to the Attorney General’s Office by calling 1-866-9-NO-SCAM. More.
This week Attorney General Pam Bondi and a bipartisan group of attorneys general from across the country participated in the Conference of Western Attorneys General Meeting in California.
Attorney General Bondi delivering remarks at the CWAG Meeting on Fighting Opioid Abuse and her ongoing efforts in Florida.
Attorney General Bondi also participated in the first meeting of African Ministers of Justice and Attorneys General hosted by CWAG’s Africa Alliance Partnership. The discussion with Attorneys General and prosecutors from Africa included ongoing efforts to combat human trafficking, money laundering and cyber fraud.
Joe Oshie Abang, Attorney General of Cross River State, Nigeria, discussing the Child Rights Act and its role in fighting human trafficking.
Attorney General Bondi visiting with representatives from Alibaba following the Perspectives on Combating Human Trafficking panel at the CWAG Africa Alliance Partnership Meeting. Alibaba is using its ‘Reunion’ platform to help combat human trafficking by collaborating with various private and public stakeholders to track down kidnapping and human trafficking victims and reunite the victims with their families.