Attorney General's Weekly Newsletter
Volume 9, Issue 367 • Nov. 17, 2017
Attorney General Bondi's Weekly Briefing


This week, I joined 43 other attorneys general to send a letter to congressional leaders urging the repeal of a law that limits our federal government’s response to the national opioid crisis. This crisis is affecting families across our country and we need every tool available to combat this epidemic and save lives. Since 2000, more than 300,000 Americans have lost their lives to drug overdoses involving opioids. We must make sure the DEA is able to stop the oversupply of dangerous prescription opioids—that is why Congress needs to repeal the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016.

The repeal of this Act will restore the DEA’s ability to hold drug manufacturers and distributors who willfully contributed to the nation’s oversupply of opioids more accountable. The Act effectively strips the DEA’s ability to issue an immediate suspension order against a drug manufacturer or distributor whose unlawful conduct may pose an immediate danger to public health or safety.

This opioid crisis is a major public health and safety issue, and it is very important to me that we fight this deadly epidemic together. This requires an all hands-on-deck approach, not just efforts by the DEA. Florida is one of the states leading a widespread multistate investigation into major manufacturers and distributors of opioids. It is also an honor to serve on the President’s Opioid and Drug Abuse Commission, where just a few weeks ago we outlined a comprehensive response to tackle this opioid epidemic.

As a career prosecutor and Florida’s Attorney General, I have fought drug abuse for more than two decades and I am urging everyone to come together now to fight this epidemic that is claiming lives every single day.

In the News
Pam Bondi, state attorneys general call for more legal accountability in opioid crisis, Florida Politics
Floridians scammed in Western Union wire transfer get compensation deadline, WTXL

Claim your money from Western Union scam settlement, WJXT News4Jax

4 indicted in multistate health care fraud case, WFTV

Owner of local therapy center accused of racketeering, Medicaid fraud, WCTV


Protecting Floridians
Western Union Settlement Fund Deadline for Eligible Consumer Claims is Feb. 12, 2018

Attorney General Pam Bondi announced that Floridians deceived into sending payments to scammers using Western Union's wire transfer service may now apply for compensation from a $586 million national settlement fund. This fund is related to a multistate settlement reached by Attorney General Pam Bondi, 49 other states and the District of Columbia with Western Union in January this year.

Consumers who fell victim to a fraud-induced transfer using Western Union between Jan. 1, 2004 and Jan. 19, 2017, may be eligible to receive compensation. More than 500,000 potential victims nationwide have been identified.
More.

Four Charged in Multistate Healthcare Fraud Conspiracy

Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia and other federal and state partners announced the indictment of four individuals for healthcare fraud. The defendants face multiple counts of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and aggravated identify theft related to fraudulent claims filed with Florida, Georgia and Louisiana Medicaid programs. The four defendants owned or worked with companies that purportedly provided mental health counseling and treatment to children and adults.

“This multimillon dollar Medicaid scheme spanned several states and involved the stolen identities of medical professionals and children—but through coordinated investigative efforts with our federal partners and Medicaid Fraud Control Units in Georgia and Tennessee this scheme was thwarted and arrests have been made,” said Attorney General Bondi. “Medicaid fraud essentially steals from our taxpayers and we will not tolerate anyone manipulating the program to get rich.”
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PlayBig Owner Arrested for Racketeering and Medicaid Provider Fraud

Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the Leon Country Sheriff’s Office arrested Rachel Scharlepp, owner of PlayBig Therapy & Recreation Zone LLC, for racketeering and Medicaid provider fraud. Scharlepp, 34, allegedly hired and utilized unqualified employees to provide targeted case management to children, including children not qualified to receive such services.

According to the MFCU investigation, Scharlepp falsely certified seven targeted case managers who lacked the required one year of full-time experience working with children with serious emotional disturbances.
More.



Events
Attorney General Pam Bondi discussing efforts to combat human trafficking and help victims heal at a news conference highlighting Bridging Freedom’s progress in their construction of a safe house. Bridging Freedom is an organization dedicated to helping victims of sex trafficking heal. Attorney General Bondi thanks the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office for hosting the event and their continued partnership in the fight to end human trafficking.






Attorney General Bondi and Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco presenting Detective Roger Cockerill with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his dedication and commitment to law enforcement professionalism for nearly 50 years. Attorney General Bondi thanks Detective Cockerill for his service to Floridians.






Attorney General Bondi congratulates Bradenton Chief of Police Melanie Bevan for her appointment to the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking this week and looks forward to working with Chief Bevan. Attorney General Bondi chairs the 15-member council that builds on existing state and local partnerships working to make Florida a zero-tolerance state for human trafficking. For more information about Chief Bevan and her recent appointment to the council, click here.