My Florida C F O

Dear Fellow Floridians:

Holocaust Remembrance DayApril 16 marks Holocaust Remembrance Day in Florida and across our nation. While the history of the Holocaust represents a dark time in history, this day, also known as Yom HaShoah, pays tribute to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and honors survivors. It gives us a chance to rededicate ourselves to the principles of human dignity and individual freedom in a just society to ensure that such atrocities are never repeated.

While the victims' suffering can never be fully repaid, we must do what is possible to assist these individuals. That is why, in 2011, I partnered with 23 financial institutions in Florida to waive the wire transfer fees from reparation payments that victims receive from the German government. Additionally, in 2013 I supported legislation to allow the Department of Financial Services to expand our scope of assistance to include the recovery of financial claims, assets, and property.

I am proud to say that since January 1, 2011, through the DFS Holocaust Victims Assistance Program, we have recovered more than $5.2 million on behalf of Holocaust survivors for a total of nearly $21 million provided to survivors since the program started. If you are in need of assistance, I encourage you to visit our website or call 1-800-388-4069.

This week we pause for a moment to reflect on the moral responsibilities of individuals, societies and governments in order to remain vigilant against hatred, persecution and tyranny. And most importantly, let us never forget.

Sincerely,

Jeff
Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida

News of Interest

ABC Action News: State agents raid Tampa doctor's office and arrest both staff and patients

Sun-Sentinel: Spring cleaning needed for your finances, too

News4Jax: Local K9 up for Hero Dog Award

Market Watch: Florida added 14,400 private sector jobs in March, according to ADP Regional Employment Report(R)

CBS Miami: Miami Insurance Agent Arrested For Insurance Fraud

Florida Times Union: No longer reported dead, Jacksonville businessman, wife indicted in North Carolina

Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Florida leads in all-cash home purchases

Associated Press: Job openings are now at a 14-year high

Sun-Sentinel: Florida ranks 3rd for AP success

CalculatorFinancial Tip of the Week

Setting goals and buying smart. When planning to make a big purchase, you should first set a budget for it, determine how much you can allocate from your budget toward the item and research the product. Buying a new vehicle is an example of an investment that deserves a great deal of research and financial planning before purchasing.

Budgeting  |  Saving for a Goal  |  Buying a Car

CFO Atwater Honors Recipients of the 2014 Fire Service Awards

Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jeff Atwater recognized the winners of the 2014 Fire Service Awards during a reception hosted Monday evening at the Florida Capitol. Additionally, a resolution signed by the Florida Cabinet was presented to honor the winners’ outstanding accomplishments to the fire service industry. In total, 10 awards were presented to men and women from across the state, along with an award to the training center of the year.

"Not only do these men and women risk their lives each day to protect the health and safety of those around them, they have risen as leaders in their fields and I am eternally grateful for their service," said CFO Atwater. "I look forward to even more great things from them, and I hope their dedication inspires others to reach a little higher."

Fire Service Award winners at Cabinet meetingCFO Atwater presented the following Fire Service Awards:

  • Fire Chief of the Year Award: James White, Winter Park Fire Rescue
  • Volunteer Fire Chief of the Year: David Freda, Hernando Beach Volunteer Fire Department
  • Forestry Firefighter of the Year Award: Travis McGowen, Florida Forest Service Orlando District
  • Fire Marshal of the Year Award: Shawn Hanson, East Naples & Golden Gate Fire Districts
  • Fire Inspector of the Year Award: Thomas Eadie, Florida State Fire Marshal’s Jacksonville Field Office
  • Professional Firefighter of the Year Award: Jason Griggs, Dunedin Fire Rescue
  • Fire Instructor of the Year Award: Charles Frank, Northwest Florida Volunteer Firefighter Weekend Council
  • Fire Investigator of the Year Award: John Jockin, Orlando Fire Department
  • Volunteer Firefighter of the Year Award: Robin Russell, Plantation Fire Department
  • Chad Reed Emergency Manager of the Year: Curt Summerhoff, Miami-Dade Emergency Management
  • Training Center of the Year: St. Petersburg College, Fire & Public Safety Training Center

The Fire Service Awards are coordinated annually by the State Fire Marshal's Office and sponsored by the following fire-service related organizations: the Fire Training Director’s Association, the Florida State Firefighters Association, the Florida Fire Chiefs’ Association, the Florida Fire Marshals and Inspectors Association, the Florida Professional Firefighters Association, the Emergency Preparedness Association and the Florida Forest Service.

Indictment Charges Florida Man with Passport Fraud

Defendant’s Wife Also Faces Federal Charges for Lying to Federal Authorities

This information is from the U.S. Attorney's Office and is about a joint investigation that the Florida Division of Insurance fraud worked on.

ASHEVILLE, N.C. - Jose Salvador Lantigua, 62, of Jacksonville, Florida, has been charged with passport fraud and aggravated identity theft, announced Jill Westmoreland Rose, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. His wife, Daphne Sylvia Simpson, 57, of Shapphire, N.C., has also been charged with one count of making false statements to a federal agent in connection with the case.

Scott Moretti, Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Field Office, U.S. Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service; B.W. Collier, Acting Director of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (NC SBI); Steven M. Watkins, Director of the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles License and Theft Bureau (NC DMV L&T); Sheriff Chip Hall of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office; and Chief Phil Harris, of the Brevard Police Department join Acting U.S. Attorney Rose in making the announcement.

According to allegations contained in the federal indictment, on or about November 18, 2014, Lantigua lied on his application for a U.S. passport, falsely representing that his name was "Ernest Allen Wills." According to court records, to support his passport application, Lantigua allegedly provided a birth certificate in the name "Ernest Allen Wills," and, as proof of identity, Lantigua allegedly used a fraudulently-obtained North Carolina license issued in the victim’s name but bearing Lantigua’s photo. Court records show that Lantigua is the subject of an ongoing investigation in Florida, for allegedly faking his own death to fraudulently obtain life insurance money. The indictment charges Lantigua with one count of knowingly making a false statement on a passport and one count of aggravated identity theft. Law enforcement arrested Lantigua in Brevard, N.C., on March 21, 2015, and he remains in federal custody.

Division of Insurance Fraud badgeLantigua’s wife, Daphne Simpson, has also been charged with one count of making a false statement to law enforcement. According to allegations contained in the indictment, Simpson lied when she told a special agent that the man who was with her at the time was "Ernest Wills" who was her "friend," when Simpson knew that the man was actually her husband, Lantigua. Simpson was arrested in Florida on March 21, 2015, by the Florida Division of Insurance Fraud and currently remains in state custody. Simpson is facing insurance fraud and related state charges for filing fraudulent insurance claims and receiving a $500,000 payout from one of Lantigua’s life insurance policies. The federal court in Asheville will schedule Simpson’s initial appearance on the federal charges in the coming days.

If convicted of the offenses, Lantigua faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the passport fraud charge. The aggravated identity theft charge carries a minimum mandatory sentence of two years to be served consecutively with any other sentence imposed. Simpson faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the false statement charge.

The charges contained in the indictment are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. The investigation is being handled by the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, assisted by NC-SBI, NC DMV L&T, Jackson Co. Sheriff’s Office and Brevard PD. Assistant U.S. Attorney Don Gast, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Asheville, is prosecuting the case.

Florida Economic Briefs

U.S. venture capital raised $7.0 billion
U.S. venture capital firms raised $7.0 billion from 61 funds during the first quarter of 2015, a 21 percent increase in funds from the fourth quarter of 2014 ($5.8 billion), and a 30 percent decrease from the first quarter of 2014 ($10 billion).
Source: National Venture Capital Association

New home purchase applications increase in March
Mortgage applications for new home purchases increased by 17 percent in March. Conventional loans composed 66 percent of applications, followed by Federal Housing Administration loans (20.2 percent), and Veterans Affairs loans (12.5 percent). Additionally, the average loan size of new homes increased from $311,379 in February to $314,394 in March.
Source: Mortgage Bankers Association

Florida’s Job-Growth Outpaces the Nation's

Florida's Job-Growth Outpaces the Nation'sThe spring edition of Florida’s Bottom Line highlights middle-market companies, a vital segment of Florida’s economy, and illustrates many of the factors that have contributed to their success. While they often fly under the radar, they are a driving force in our state, employing one-in-every-five Floridians and representing nearly a quarter of total business revenues in Florida last year. In the following in-depth article, job-growth in Florida shows marked improvement:

Florida's Economy - Spring has Sprung

Following the recession, both Florida and the nation began to see job-growth for the first time in August 2010. Since that time, Florida’s job-growth rate has been consistently accelerating. After keeping roughly the same pace with U.S. job-growth between 2010 and early 2012, Florida’s job-growth rate began to exceed the national average and it has continued to do so without pause. The resulting gap that has been widening for close to three years is evidence that Florida’s job market has pulled far ahead of the national recovery.

Read more on page 4 of Florida's Bottom Line.