Attorney General Pam Bondi today announced that claim forms have been mailed to more than 17,000 Florida consumers who were allegedly billed for unauthorized charges on their telephone bills by DADATA, Inc., a Pinellas County-based company, and its client companies. In December, Attorney General Bondi announced a settlement with DADATA, Inc. and others resolving allegations that they charged customers' telephone bills for voicemail, e-fax, and other services without the customers’ consent.
Governor Rick Scott today announced that according to preliminary estimates* released today by VISIT FLORIDA – the state’s official tourism marketing corporation – 94.7 million visitors came to Florida in 2013, an increase of 3.5 percent over 2012. This represents a record year for visitation to Florida, exceeding the previous high of 91.5 million in 2012. The number of direct travel-related jobs in 2013 was also a record high, with 1,088,200 Floridians employed in the tourism industry – up 2.9 percent from 2012.
United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that William Benjamin Mejias (41, Orlando) today pleaded guilty to impersonating a Drug Enforcement Administration agent and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Mejias faces a maximum penalty of 13 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.
Acting United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that Marcus Dwayne Robertson (age 45) was found guilty yesterday of conspiring to defraud the Internal Revenue Service. This is Robertson’s second conviction in this District. On August 23, 2011, he was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and charged with being a previously convicted felon in possession of a firearm. Robertson pleaded guilty to that crime on January 5, 2012.
Acting United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announced that a federal jury today found Dewarren Antoine Lewis, aka “Fella,” (28, Orlando), guilty of two counts of bank robbery with assault and two counts of using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. Lewis faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in federal prison on the bank robbery convictions, followed by a mandatory minimum consecutive penalty of 32 years in federal prison on the firearms convictions. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 4, 2013.
Governor Rick Scott awarded 14 Florida companies and business leaders with the Governor’s Business Ambassador Award during his business development mission to the Paris Air Show. Governor Scott presented the 14 awards during the Grand Opening of the Florida Pavilion. The Governor’s Business Ambassador Awards are presented to companies for their commitment to expanding business opportunities in Florida to create more jobs and opportunities for Florida families.
With hurricane season beginning on June 1, Attorney General Pam Bondi urges consumers to prepare for hurricane season and to be wary of companies that claim their window films protect against hurricane-force wind. The Attorney General’s Office is currently investigating companies across the state that have been advertising window films as a way to protect a house from hurricane-force winds and has entered eight settlement agreements, to date, to resolve these alleged practices. The Florida Building Commission has not approved window film as a form of hurricane protection; therefore, it cannot be advertised as offering hurricane protection.
Governor Rick Scott signed the following bills into law yesterday:
HB 21 The bill requires the Department of Education to create a uniform, statewide photo identification badge signifying that a noninstructional contractor meets certain background screening and other requirements.
CS/SB 56 The bill updates the protocols of the Department of Health and medical examiners when reporting and classifying the cause of death of an infant under one year of age who suddenly dies when in apparent good health....
The FBI has seen an increase in cyber criminals who use online photo-sharing programs to perpetrate scams and harm victims’ computers. These criminals advertise vehicles online but will not provide pictures in the advertisement. They will send photos on request. Sometimes the photo is a single file sent as an e-mail attachment, and sometimes the victim receives a link to an online photo gallery.
The bill signed today prohibits a person from manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols or other characters into a wireless communications device. This includes text messaging, emailing and instant messaging through smart phones.
Attorney General Pam Bondi and other attorneys general have called on Urban Outfitters to end its “Prescription Line” of glasses, drink holders, coasters and other items intended to look similar to prescription drug labels and pads.
Governor Rick Scott today announced Florida’s statewide unemployment rate for April 2013 was 7.2 percent, the lowest rate since September 2008. Down 0.3 percentage points from March’s rate of 7.5 percent, Florida’s unemployment rate continues to fall below the national average of 7.5 percent for April. Over the month, Florida added 16,700 private sectors jobs throughout the state.
Attorney General Pam Bondi announced a $7 million multistate settlement with Google over its collection of data from unsecured wireless networks nationwide while taking photographs for its Street View service between 2008 and March 2010. Attorney General Bondi’s Office served on the executive committee that negotiated the agreement, which requires Google to destroy the data it gathered during that time period.
Today, Governor Rick Scott participated in the 16th “Let’s Get to Work Day” at Joker Merchant Stadium and announced that he will work to provide $5 million annually to be used only for spring training facilities. During the workday, the Governor participated in daily operations for the Detroit Tigers Baseball team, including working at the concession stands, managing equipment and working with the grounds crew.
Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater announced the launch of Financial Frontlines, a new website to provide information and resources to help Florida’s 58,000 military servicemembers fight back against financial fraud and debt. Financial Frontlines is being released in collaboration with Military Saves Week, which began Monday and continues through Saturday.
With just three laps to go and drivers making their final moves for the win, Kyle Larson’s car was launched into the protective fence as cars crashed around him and Tony Stewart avoided the carnage to take the checkered flag.
Today the Task Force on Citizen Safety and Protection, delivered their final report to the Office of the Florida Senate President, Office of the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives and the Executive Office of the Governor.
Governor Rick Scott announced that he would support a limited, three-year expansion of the state’s Medicaid program under the president’s healthcare law while the federal government is paying 100 percent of the cost in order to protect both the uninsured in Florida and state taxpayers.
United States Attorney Robert E. O’Neill announced the unsealing of an indictment charging Gurudeo “Buddy” Persaud (47, Orlando) with one count of mail fraud and four counts of wire fraud. If convicted, Persaud faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison on each count.
A federal jury found Abubakir Khidirov (26; New Orleans, Louisiana) guilty of marriage fraud yesterday. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 14, 2013. Last week a separate federal jury found Rustamon Bahiriddinov (26; Charleston, South Carolina) and Rachel Ruiz (36; Orlando) guilty of marriage fraud. Their sentencing hearing is scheduled for February 28, 2013. They each face a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison.