Attorney General's Weekly Newsletter
Volume 9, Issue 325 • Jan. 27, 2017
Attorney General Bondi's Weekly Briefing


Department of Children and Families’ Statewide Human Trafficking Prevention Director Kim Grabert,
Attorney General Pam Bondi, Governor Rick Scott, Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Christy Daly,
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam


The fight to end human trafficking in Florida requires an all-hands on deck approach, and this week, I recognized a few Floridians working to stop traffickers and help victims heal. These award recipients have dedicated their careers to making Florida a zero-tolerance state for human trafficking and I am honored to recognize their efforts:

The recipients received their awards at a meeting of the Governor and State Cabinet in Tallahassee, where I also presented a resolution recognizing January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month. While the end of January is approaching, I ask all Floridians to take an active role, year-round, in the fight to end this form of modern-day slavery. Victims of human trafficking are often captives, who have been drugged, kept away from their families and beaten—spreading awareness about this horrific crime could help save a life.

Finally, this week, Miami Dade College illuminated its Freedom Tower blue in recognition of those enslaved by traffickers. Raising awareness about the prevalence of human trafficking is a crucial component to combating this illegal multi-billion dollar industry and I want to thank Miami-Dade College for helping spread awareness. Floridians can help by educating themselves about how to identify a trafficking victim and where to report suspected cases. To take an active role in the fight to end human trafficking, visit YouCanStopHT.com.

In the News
Officials warn of possible storm damage cleanup scams, Bradenton Herald

Man arrested for grand theft auto, police say, News-Press

State preparing to battle opioid crisis, Palm Beach Post

Payday Lender Settles for $28 Million with Bondi, Bradenton Times

Florida reaches settlement with operators of alleged online lending scheme, Legal News Line

Attorney General Bondi Presents Resolution Recognizing Human Trafficking Awareness Month, Capital Soup

Pro bono spotlight: Boeckman, Grife honored by Florida Bar for volunteer efforts, Daily Record

Protecting Floridians
Attorney General Bondi and FTC Jointly Settle Lawsuit Against Debt Relief Companies

Attorney General Pam Bondi and the Federal Trade Commission announced a settlement with several related debt relief and credit repair services companies and their principal. The settlement resolves allegations that Chastity Valdes and her companies, Consumer Assistance LLC, Consumer Assistance Project Corp. and Palermo Global LLC, engaged in unlawful debt relief operations targeting student loan holders. Among other things, the settlement bans the defendants from operating in the debt relief and credit repair industries.
More.

Attorney General Bondi Warns of Repair Scams Following Recent Storms




In the aftermath of the deadly thunderstorms that impacted the Southeast, Attorney General Pam Bondi is urging Floridians to be wary of storm-related scams and is offering tips to safeguard against potential scammers.

“While there is not an official declared state of emergency in Florida due to the recent severe weather, affected consumers may still be targeted by scammers,” said Attorney General Bondi. “In many parts of our state, trees are uprooted, homes and businesses are damaged and contractors and tree removal services are in demand, making conditions ideal for scams.”
More.

Lee County Man Arrested Again Following MFCU Investigation

Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office announced the second arrest of Ryan Todd Powers, 40, for grand theft of a motor vehicle.

Last month, following a MFCU investigation, authorities arrested the Lee County man on two counts exploitation involving an elderly person. According to the investigation, Powers unlawfully obtained funds from an elderly relative suffering from physical limitations. In order to manage his relative’s affairs, Powers obtained a durable power of attorney on behalf of the victim. Using the power of attorney, Powers allegedly misappropriated the victim’s funds and property.
More.



Events
On Tuesday, 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 Governor and the Florida Cabinet in Tallahassee.

At the Cabinet meeting, Attorney General Bondi awarded Floridians dedicated to making Florida a zero-tolerance state for human trafficking and helping victims recover.

Attorney General Bondi awarding Florida Department of Law Enforcement Special Agent Jeffrey Vash with 2016 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year.


Attorney General Bondi awarding Dr. Brook Bello, founder and CEO of More Too Life, with 2016 Survivor Advocate of the Year.





Attorney General Bondi awarding the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, represented by CEO Clara Reynolds with 2016 Community Advocate of the Year.



Attorney General Bondi assisting Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Christy Daly present Jesus Sosa with DJJ’s 2016 Human Trafficking Employee of the Year.


Attorney General Bondi presenting Nicole Ferranti with the Department of Children and Families’ 2016 Human Trafficking Employee of the Year.


Attorney General Bondi introducing Millie, at the Florida Cabinet meeting. For more information on Millie and other rescue animals in the Tallahassee area, visit TalGov.com/Animals.


Attorney General Bondi visiting with United States Army Specialist Hugo Gonzalez and his family in Tallahassee. For Specialist Gonzalez’s service, he has received the Army Achievement Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Combat Action Badge, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, National Defense Service Medal and the Purple Heart. Specialist Gonzalez lives in Port St. Lucie with his family in a home gifted by Building Homes for Heroes. For more information about Specialist Gonzalez, click here.


Attorney General Bondi, at the State Capitol, discussing the national opioid abuse crisis.



Attorney General Bondi received a surprise visit this week from a very small guest. Elijah Whitney Ray is 10 weeks old and weighs less than 13 pounds. Eli is the son of Media Relations Director Whitney Ray and Elizabeth Ray.