Attorney General's Weekly Newsletter
Volume 9, Issue 41 • October 21, 2011

Today, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Commissioner Bailey released their 2011 Semi-Annual Uniform Crime Report showing that Florida's crime rate has continued to decrease, even since their report of a 40-year low crime rate for 2010.

Total violent crime is down by 3.2 percent for the first six months of the year, while total non-violent crime declined 1.8 percent. The report also showed a 3.1 percent decrease in the number of murders, a 4.3 percent decrease in robberies, a 3.4 percent decrease in aggravated assault, a 1.6 percent decrease in burglary, a 1.2 percent decrease in larceny, and a 9.4 percent decrease in motor vehicle thefts.

There was also a grave reminder of the sacrifices that our law enforcement officers make for our safety. The report included information on the number of officers killed from criminal causes. Five officers died during the first half of the year. Two were officers with the Miami-Dade Police Department and three were officers with the St. Petersburg Police Department.

I am grateful to our law enforcement officers who are on the front lines of protecting us. Each day they go to work, they risk their own safety for ours. If you see a law enforcement officer, please take the time to thank him or her for making Florida a better place to work and live.

In the News
WCTV Tallahassee - Florida Attorney General Bondi and Other States Continue Health Care Act Challenge
Palm Beach Post - Florida doctors can now check patients' pill use before prescribing
WTSP St. Petersburg – New system tracks dispensing of powerful prescriptions in Florida

Protecting Floridians
Attorney General Bondi Issues a Statement on the Launch of Florida’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program

Attorney General Pam Bondi issued a statement on the launch of the Electronic Florida Online Reporting of Controlled Substances Evaluation program (E-FORCSE), or Florida’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program this week.

“More than seven Floridians die a day due to prescription drug overdose. The launch of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program will allow doctors and pharmacies to prevent doctor-shopping and over-prescribing of highly addictive pain medication. Today marks another step forward in Florida’s fight against prescription drug abuse.”

Attorney General Pam Bondi and other States Ask the U.S. Supreme Court to Review Court Decision in Significant Timber Harvesting Case

Attorney General Bondi has joined 24 other states in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review a flawed decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that overturns more than 30 years of best management practices for stormwater runoff from silviculture, the growing and harvesting of trees. The amicus brief was filed Monday by Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel. The brief argues that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision invalidates EPA’s Silvicultural Rule and incorrectly claims that timber harvesting constitutes “industrial activity” when it is, in fact, agricultural. For more information on this issue, click here.

Two Pinellas County Women Charged with Defrauding Medicaid

This week, two Pinellas County women were taken into custody for billing Medicaid recipients for services that were not rendered. Kaela Ruth Marie Morgan, 23, and Ashlei Kaye Cook, 31, were arrested this week by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office and the St. Petersburg Police Department after an investigation with the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

Morgan and Cook who were employed by Great Expectations, LLC in Clearwater, have been charged with one count of scheme to defraud, a third-degree felony. If convicted, they each could receive up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. The case will be prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution.

Two Jefferson County Sisters Arrested for Medicaid Fraud

This week, two Jefferson County residents were arrested after allegedly defrauding the State of Florida out of more than $26,000. Sisters, Martha Maxwell and Barbara Watkins, of Monticello, were both arrested on felony warrants by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. The arrest was carried out by the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit with assistance from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

The Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit began investigating Watkins and Maxwell after receiving information from the Florida Department of Children and Families, Adult Protective Services. Watkins, 49, and Maxwell, 55, own and operate the Nellie’s Retired Inn Assisted Living Facility in Monticello.

Maxwell is charged with four counts of Medicaid fraud and one count of organized fraud, all third degree felonies. Watkins is charged with the same counts as Maxwell and two additional counts of Medicaid fraud, one count of public assistance fraud, and one count of communications fraud, all third degree felonies. Watkins is also charged with the first degree misdemeanor of failure to meet background screening requirements. The case will be prosecuted by the State Attorney’s Office for the Second Judicial Circuit of Florida.


National Association of Attorneys General Eastern Region Meetings in New York

This week, Attorney General Bondi attended the National Association of Attorneys General Eastern Region Meetings. The meetings, which took place at Columbia Law School in New York City, addressed human trafficking. Discussions included labor and peonage, sex trafficking, how states are responding, safe harbor laws, and the importance of federal and state partnerships.

Cape Canaveral Cabinet Meeting

The Florida Cabinet meeting took place this Tuesday in Cape Canaveral. Governor Scott and the Cabinet members discussed the future of Kennedy Space Center. They were also presented thank-you cards by Lewis Carroll Elementary School students before the meeting.