Attorney General Bondi's Weekly Briefing
One year ago this week, tragedy struck our state in the form of a cowardly act of hatred and violence. Tragically, 49 innocent people were killed in the Pulse night club attack in Orlando and 58 more were injured—the worst terrorist attack on the United States since 9/11.
On this tragic anniversary, we honor the memory of those lost and the bravery of the citizens and first responders who ran toward the danger to help save lives. As we were assisting victims of the Pulse night club shooting, I was inspired by the outpouring of support from the people of Orlando and around the world for the victims, their families and our entire LGBTQ community.
For weeks following the attack, my victim advocates worked tirelessly to serve victims and their families. Since the attack, my Division of Victim Services has distributed almost half a million dollars to pay medical bills, funeral expenses, counseling and other victim-related services. My office has paid nearly $300,000 towards funeral and burial expenses alone.
Earlier this year, we received an $8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to further assist Pulse victims. The funding will go directly to victim service costs in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. The remainder of the funds will ensure victims, witnesses and first responders are still receiving essential services such as mental health counseling.
Attorney General Bondi’s MFCU Wins Top Award for Fighting Waste, Fraud and Abuse
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General awarded Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit its top award for fighting fraud. The HHS OIG selected Attorney General Bondi’s MFCU from 50 units nationwide for success fighting fraud and recovering hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. The MFCU received the Award of Excellence in Fighting Fraud, Waste, and Abuse at the 2017 Honor Awards Ceremony in Washington D.C.
“Since taking office my Medicaid Fraud Control Unit has recovered nearly $700 million in stolen Medicaid funds for Florida taxpayers, and I am honored that our office is being recognized nationally for the investigative and prosecutorial work we do daily to protect taxpayer money and ensure justice is served,” said Attorney General Bondi. More.
Governor Scott Signs Legislation to Combat Opioid Abuse
Governor Rick Scott signed HB 477 which combats synthetic opioid drug abuse by enhancing penalties for the abuse of fentanyl and its derivatives. In May, Governor Scott signed Executive Order 17-146 directing a Public Health Emergency in Florida which allowed the state to immediately draw down more than $27 million in federal grant funding from the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Opioid State Targeted Response Grant.
Attorney General Pam Bondi said, “This legislation was my top priority this session—because it gives law enforcement and prosecutors the tools we need to combat the trafficking of fentanyl and save lives. I want to thank Governor Rick Scott, Representative Jim Boyd, Senator Greg Steube and each member of the Florida legislature that supported this life-saving legislation.”
Florida's Crime Rate Hits 46-Year Low
Florida’s crime rate is now at a 46-year low. In 2016, there were 18,146 fewer crimes than in 2015, which is a 2.8 percent decrease. The crime rate has dropped 4.4 percent since 2015. This year, Governor Scott invested more than $4.9 billion in public safety in the Fighting for Florida’s Future budget. This investment includes a pay increase to support Florida’s sworn law enforcement officers, a comprehensive pay plan for correctional officers that will make Florida’s prisons safer, re-entry program funding that will reduce recidivism and increased funding for prevention programs targeting at-risk youth.
Attorney General Pam Bondi said, “The continued decline in Florida’s crime rate is a testament to the effective police work performed daily by our brave law enforcement officers and the great work of state prosecutors securing strong sentences for criminals. It is because of these officers and prosecutors that Florida remains a safe place to raise a family, start a business or take a vacation—and I cannot thank them enough for the risks they take to protect our state.” More.
Gov. Scott Signs State Employee and Law Enforcement Pay Raise BillGovernor Rick Scott signed SB 7022 which provides pay raises for Florida’s sworn state law enforcement officers, correctional officers and state employees. Governor Scott recommended state law enforcement pay raises in his Fighting for Florida’s Future budget earlier this year.
Attorney General Pam Bondi said, “The attack on members of Congress this morning and the one year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting are just a few reminders of how vital our brave law enforcement officers are to our safety. While we can never thank them enough, I am grateful to the Governor and our state lawmakers for this legislation increasing their pay and the pay of state attorneys and judges who work diligently to protect our state from violent criminals.”
Attorney General Bondi Recognizes World Elder Abuse Awareness Day
In recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day Attorney General Pam Bondi is highlighting her Medicaid Fraud Control Unit’s Patient Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation team. The PANE team investigates abuse and neglect of elderly and disabled patients in facilities receiving payments under the Medicaid program. Attorney General Bondi is dedicated to protecting older citizens and proud of the PANE team’s investigative work to stop the abuse of vulnerable Floridians and keep those in nursing homes and other essential facilities safe.
On Wednesday, Attorney General Pam Bondi joined Governor Rick Scott and fellow Cabinet members, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, for a meeting of the Florida Governor and Cabinet in Tallahassee.
Attorney General Bondi thanking her Chief of Staff Kent Perez for his 26 years of service to the State. Kent will be joining the State Board of Administration as Deputy Executive Director later this month.
Attorney General Bondi, Governor Scott, Commissioner Putnam and CFO Atwater posing with Kent, his family, friends and OAG staff.
Attorney General Bondi introducing Krissy, at the Florida Cabinet meeting. For more information on rescue animals in the Tallahassee area, visit TalGov.com/Animals.
Attorney General Bondi thanks her Assistant Attorney General Jordan Pratt for adopting Krissy and welcoming her into the Pratt family.
Attorney General Bondi joining Governor Scott for the signing of HB 447, legislation that will help bolster state efforts to combat the opioid crisis.
Attorney General Bondi thanking Florida law enforcement for protecting Floridians and visitors at a bill signing for SB 7022 and awards ceremony. The legislation provides pay raises for law enforcement, correctional officers and state employees.
Attorney General Bondi speaking to law enforcement officers from across the state at the 6th annual Rural County Summit in Havana. The focus of this year’s summit was on prevention, intervention, response and recovery in regards to terrorism.
Attorney General Bondi with Gadsden County Sheriff Morris Young, Gadsden County Commissioner Brenda Holt –District 4 and State Attorney for the Second Judicial Circuit Jack Campbell.
Attorney General Bondi attending the Tampa Bay Army Birthday Ball celebrating the 242nd Birthday of the United States Army. Attorney General Bondi visiting with General Raymond A. Thomas, Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command, and General Mark Milley, U.S. Army Chief of Staff. US Army photo by Sgt. Jamill Ford.
General Joseph Votel, Commander, U.S. Central Command, General Milley and General Thomas at the Tampa Bay Army Birthday Ball on Saturday.
US Army photo by Sgt. Jamill Ford
General Milley speaking with a 95-year-old World War II veteran and Purple Heart recipient Mel Cunningham at the Ball.
US Army photo by Sgt. Jamill Ford
On behalf of Attorney General Bondi’s Office, Medicaid Fraud Control Unit Director James Varnado excepting the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s Award of Excellence in Fighting Waste, Fraud and Abuse at the 2017 Honor Awards Ceremony in Washington D.C.
Representatives of Attorney General Bondi’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit attended a summit for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day to be on hand to help raise awareness about elder abuse. The MFCU answered questions and distributed information about MFCU’s role and how to protect against fraud abuse and neglect of the elderly.