Attorney General Moody's Week In Review

Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures—like statewide stay-at-home orders and prolonged social distancing. Most Floridians are following the rules and doing their part to slow the spread of COVID-19.

I want to encourage Floridians to continue working together to help us stop this pandemic. By doing so, you will not only help protect your neighbors, but also our law enforcement officers and medical professionals on the front lines of this health crisis.

In the past few weeks, far too many heroes in these essential professions have contracted COVID-19—some fatally. My heart goes out to our law enforcement officers and medical professionals risking their health and safety to fight this pandemic.

While most Floridians are social distancing, some are abandoning the advice of health experts—forcing law enforcement into far more face-to-face encounters than necessary.

Sadly, several of these heroes have already succumbed to this highly contagious disease and even more have been exposed and are in quarantine.

Please remember that your actions, no matter how harmless they seem, may have unintended consequences far beyond anything you can imagine.

Listen to our health experts, obey the stay-at-home order and do your part to ease the burden on those who are risking their lives for us every day during one of the worst pandemics in modern times.

Thank you, and stay safe Florida.
Ashley Moody
In The News
Attorney General Ashley Moody continues to encourage social distancing, WWSB Sarasota

Florida AG refunds more than $240K to residents during price gouging crackdown, WFLA Tampa

More Than $200,000 in Refunds Secured as Florida Cracks Down on Coronavirus Price Gouging, NBC South Florida

Florida, Georgia top prosecutors warn of COVID-19 price gouging, WJXT Jacksonville

Florida Consumers Get Price-Gouging Refunds, WJCT Public Media

Attorney General Ashley Moody: Over $240k refunds secured from price gouging, WWSB Sarasota

Florida Attorney General’s Office Has Secured More than $240,000 in Refunds From Price Gouging, Florida Daily

Floridians net more than $200,000 in refunds due to price gouging during pandemic, WINK News

Attorney General’s Office says you are the key to stop price gouging; here’s how to report it, WINK News

Ashley Moody, Law Enforcement Leaders Call on Floridians to Continue to Practice Social Distancing, Florida Daily

VIDEO CONSUMER ALERT: Track Stimulus Payment to Prevent Fraud, EIN Newsdesk

Florida Attorney General takes legal action against marketing company for fake stimulus checks, WCJB Gainesville

Domestic Violence Nonprofit Sees Jump in Calls During Pandemic, NBC South Florida

Remembering crime victims in the midst of a global pandemic | Opinion, Sun Sentinel

Even during the current crisis, there is help for crime victims | Column, Tampa Bay Times

AG Ashley Moody seeking help for homeowners affected by COVID-19 pandemic, WPEC West Palm Beach

Tampa company accused of mailing fake stimulus checks, WTSP Tampa

Online Pensacola post caught price gouging Clorox wipes for $70 per container, WEAR Pensacola

Fake stimulus checks, deceptive advertising trick citizens in need of COVID-19 relief funds, FOX 13 News Tampa

Mass., Florida AGs investigating shuttered online travel site, Boston 25 News

Central Florida attorney accused of prostituting teen girls from his Melbourne home, WKMG Orlando

He’s been a lawyer for 35 years. Cops say he’s also a pimp and racketeer., Miami Herald
Protecting Floridians
VIDEO: More Than $240,000 in Refunds Secured as Attorney General Moody’s Office Continues Price Gouging Crackdown

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to plague Florida, Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office is working hard to fight price gouging and protect consumers. The efforts are producing results for Floridians. The Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division has already secured more than $240,000 in refunds for consumers and continues to look into allegations of price gouging.

Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “Since the emergency declaration, we have been working diligently to review and act on the thousands of price gouging reports flooding into our office. Our first goal is to stop price gouging in real time so Floridians can afford the essential commodities they need to protect their health—and I am proud to say we are meeting this goal with approximately 185 outrageous online posts removed and more than $240,000 in refunds quickly issued.” More.

Central Florida Attorney Arrested for Human Trafficking

Attorney General Ashley Moody announced the arrest of a Central Florida attorney for human trafficking a minor and exchanging legal representation for sex with victims as young as 15-years-old. According to an investigation by the Orlando Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation, John Gillespie, 71, operated a prostitution ring out of his residence in Melbourne. Authorities recently arrested Gillespie after he traveled from Brevard County to Orange County to have sex with a 16-year-old for $100 and planned to recruit the victim to come live at his residence.

Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “This behavior from a well-known and experienced attorney is repulsive. Attorneys swear an oath to maintain respect and to abstain from all offensive personality. These alleged actions insult all attorneys who have a passion to protect the defenseless or oppressed.

“His website states ‘Never been a prosecutor, always on the right side of the innocent’—yet, he has been abusing innocent girls and I look forward to him meeting a real and ethical prosecutor from my Office of Statewide Prosecution in court very soon.” More.

VIDEO: Resources are Still Available for Victims of Domestic Violence

In recognition of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, Attorney General Ashley Moody is reminding victims of domestic violence that help is still available—even with Florida under a stay-at-home order. Abuse counselors are offering more communication options for victims of domestic violence and shelters are implementing policies to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic. Attorney General Moody is urging anyone isolated with an abuser to contact law enforcement and seek help to escape abuse.

Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “There are reports that domestic violence calls to some law enforcement agencies are up but calls for safe shelter and counseling are down in some locations. Victims do not have to stay isolated with their abusers. Domestic violence shelters remain open around the state. Help is available and the professionals devoted to assisting victims of domestic violence are taking steps to protect victims from COVID-19 while also helping them escape abusive situations.” More.

Attorney General Moody Urges Floridians Struggling in Isolation to Seek Counseling Not Drugs

Attorney General Ashley Moody is urging Floridians struggling with addiction, loneliness or depression while social distancing to seek help, not drugs. Reports are emerging of an increase in drug overdose calls to first responders in some parts of the state and country during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “Many Floridians are fighting two crises—the global COVID-19 pandemic and the national opioid crisis. But just because we are under a statewide stay-at-home order does not mean those struggling with substance abuse disorder must suffer alone. Help is still available, even if some resources are not as conventional as before the pandemic. Virtual counseling and telemedicine are just a few of the newer expanded services permitted under executive orders recently issued to help Floridians stop the spread of COVID-19. Additional resources are available on our website” More.

Attorney General Moody Takes Legal Action against Marketing Company for Fake COVID-19 Stimulus Checks in Car Promotions

Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Consumer Protection Division filed a legal complaint and motion for temporary injunction against an advertising company, operating in Tampa, for mailing used car promotions disguised as COVID-19 stimulus checks. Traffic Jam Events, LLC and its owner David J. Jeansonne, II allegedly sent the deceptive mailers to more than 35,000 Florida consumers to attract them to an automotive tent sale taking place between March 27 through April 5 in Bushnell, Fla. The mailer also included a simulated check of more than $3,000 appearing to represent funds available from a government stimulus program.

In response to consumer complaints related to the COVID-19 mail piece, the Consumer Protection Division opened an investigation against Traffic Jam Events and Jeansonne, as well as the auto dealer that supplied the automobiles for the tent sale, MK Automotive, Inc. d/b/a New Wave, and its owner, Michael Kastrenakes. The owner of the dealership is cooperating with the investigation and has entered an assurance of voluntary compliance with the Attorney General’s Office.

Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “This type of deceptive marketing is completely unacceptable and is even more outrageous during these challenging times. These marketing ploys prey on people’s desperate anticipation of stimulus assistance and falsely suggest that there is government stimulus funding for auto purchases. These misleading practices will not be tolerated, and if anyone tries to take advantage of this crisis and the legitimate financial assistance available for those in need, my office will hold you accountable.” More.

Attorney General Moody Recognizes Crime Victim Advocates During National Crime Victims’ Rights Week

Attorney General Ashley Moody announced the recipients of the Attorney General’s Distinguished Victim Services Award in recognition of the honored law enforcement officers’ and victim advocates’ efforts in assisting crime victims. The annual ceremony commemorating National Crime Victims’ Rights Week was canceled this year to help stop the spread of COVID-19, but awards will be mailed to this year’s winners.

Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “These hardworking and compassionate individuals from across our state have protected and guided victims of crimes through the process, treating each survivor with dignity and respect while helping them cope. They have been there to comfort family members who have lost loved ones to murder, and help seniors recover after becoming a victim of a scam. Florida is a stronger, safer place because of their efforts, and I am honored to be able to recognize these outstanding Floridians for their service and recognize that their work continues even as the state fights to stop the spread of COVID-19. Floridians need to know that help is still available to victims of crime.” More.

Attorney General Moody Seeks Help for Homeowners Affected by COVID-19

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Attorney General Ashley Moody and a bipartisan coalition of 34 attorneys general sent letters to the Federal Housing Finance Administration and the Department of Housing and Urban Development recommending certain actions be taken to help homeowners. In the letters, the coalition applauds recent federal efforts to suspend evictions and foreclosures and expresses appreciation for the additional forbearance and foreclosure relief provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. The coronavirus-relief legislation, signed by President Donald J. Trump on March 27, provides protections for homeowners whose loans are backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac or other federal entities.

Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “We appreciate the federal actions thus far, but more must be done to help homeowners who have lost their jobs due to this health crisis. COVID-19 will present unprecedented challenges to homeowners and the mortgage servicing industry. The recommendations from our bipartisan coalition will help millions of American homeowners avoid delinquency while still limiting any potential adverse effect on the mortgage servicing industry.” More.