Attorney General Bondi's Weekly Briefing

This week, I had the privilege of joining Governor Rick Scott and CFO Jimmy Patronis for the signing of SB 376 to help first responders receive Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder treatment. PTSD occurs when someone experiences a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. PTSD activates a fight-or-flight response in the body meant to protect a person from harm creating a range of emotions, such as extreme stress, depression and fear.

Our state has recently faced devastating tragedies, such as the attack at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando and the more recent massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. No amount of training can prepare the mind for the horrific scenes witnessed by first responding firefighters, law-enforcement, and paramedics in the wake of these unthinkable attacks. Florida’s first responders selflessly run into harm’s way to protect our communities without thinking about the emotional impact of their service.

Hours following these heartbreaking attacks, I had the privilege of meeting the brave Floridians who answered the call to serve. These men and women witnessed bloodshed similar to warzones and although they did not endure physical injuries, the emotional scars may last a lifetime.

I want to thank all our first responders who dedicate their lives to helping others. This bill recognizes the detrimental effect PTSD has on first responders and their families, and I commend my good friend Jimmy Patronis for making this one of his top legislative priorities, and Governor Rick Scott for signing this important legislation.

In closing, I want to wish a very happy Easter weekend and Passover to all those celebrating, may you all enjoy God’s blessings.

Pam Bondi
Protecting Floridians
Drug Dealer Found Guilty of Trafficking Thousands of Dollars’ Worth of Heroin

Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecution, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office announced the conviction of Hasan Nguyen, 25, for trafficking thousands of dollars’ worth of deadly heroin.

“We are in the midst of a national opioid crisis claiming lives in Florida, and we will not tolerate anyone trafficking heroin or any other deadly opioids in our state,” said Attorney General Bondi. “I want to thank the DEA for their great investigative work and my statewide prosecutors Mary Sammon and David Gillespie for the strong prison sentence they secured in this case.”

Florida Man Sentenced to 12 Years for Exploiting Blind Elderly Victim of More Than $20,000

Attorney General Pam Bondi announced that the Honorable Judge Gary Bergosh, Escambia Circuit Court, sentenced John Louis Wages, 46, to 12 years in state prison. Wages is responsible for one count of exploitation and one count of fraudulent use of personal identification information of a person 60 years of age or older.

The Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit in Pensacola investigated this case. The elderly victim, deemed legally blind and suffering from hearing loss, moved into Wages’ home for assistance with daily activities and finances. The MFCU investigation uncovered Wages misappropriated more than $20,000 worth of funds from a joint account that Wages opened with the victim. In addition, Wages used the victim’s Target Credit Card without authorization to make online purchases of approximately $1,000.

Assistant Attorney General Christi Hankins, cross sworn as a Special Prosecutor with William “Bill” Eddins Office of the State Attorney for the First Judicial Circuit, prosecuted the case.

Two Healthcare Operators Sentenced to Prison and Ordered to Pay More Than $1.3 Million in Restitution

Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and United States Attorney’s Office announced the sentencing of two medical care providers. Shawn Tharpe, 30, and Ruben McLain, 46, both of Winston Salem, NC, have been sentenced to federal prison for participation in a conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud.

The court sentenced Tharpe to two years’ imprisonment and McLain has been sentenced to four years and nine months in federal prison for illegally billing federal healthcare programs. The convicted must also pay approximately $211,000 and $1.1 million in restitution to the victims. More.

Four Arrested in Connection to 150 Stolen Guns, One Still Wanted

Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecution, the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement announced the arrest of four men relating to more than 150 stolen firearms. The guns were stolen from stores in and around the Central Florida area. Authorities arrested, Richard Jernigan, 30, Robert Tilmon, 31, Raymond Williams, 28, and Jermeil Williams, 28, in connection to the burglaries. These men were allegedly involved in numerous armed burglaries of firearms and other valuable items for several years. Authorities are still searching for Kentric Collier, 28, in connection to the case.

“The ATF and the FDLE did a tremendous job in stopping a dangerous gun burglary ring targeting firearms dealers. The charges against these individuals are alarming—stealing guns to sell on our streets. My Office of Statewide Prosecution will aggressively prosecute this case to ensure justice is done,” said Attorney General Bondi. More.

Attorney General Pam Bondi alongside Governor Rick Scott and CFO Jimmy Patronis with Florida’s heroes, members of the first responder community, Rick Villa, Captain of Tampa Fire Rescue and his wife, Megan Villa at a bill signing ceremony to help first responders get PTSD treatment.

Attorney General Bondi delivering the keynote address at the Department of Homeland Security's Women’s History Month event.

Attorney General Bondi meeting with Special Agent in Charge, Jim Spero, Steven Pecinovsky, Chief of Staff for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and other members of the department.