Dear Fellow Floridian:
As the ball dropped and Americans rang in the New Year with much joy
and anticipation, at the 11th hour the President and Congress passed
inadequate legislation to soften the impact of going over the fiscal
cliff. While the politicians in Washington subsequently took a day off
to celebrate what they viewed as a legislative victory, this was
certainly not a win for the American people, who returned to work with a
higher payroll tax.
Although lower income tax rates were preserved for many Americans, ultimately
the President and Congress failed to enact real tax and spending reform that is
desperately needed to get our nation back on track for the long term. Here’s one
example: the state sales tax deduction. Americans who pay state income taxes
have a permanent deduction, but the deduction for all states that do not have an
income tax must be renewed every few years, impacting approximately 20 percent
of Florida taxpayers. This deduction was renewed at the last minute as a part of
the fiscal cliff negotiations, but despite bipartisan support, the sales tax
deduction is still only temporary.
We cannot continue this kind of haphazard governance that makes every tax
season a crisis and contributes to an environment of uncertainty weighing down
on an already fragile economy.
It is my mission to do everything possible to make this deduction permanent,
and I hope you will join me in this effort so that Floridians get the tax relief
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida
Seventeen Arrests in Accident Clinic Sting
CFO Atwater announced the arrest of Valerie Marshal, 24, a licensed massage
therapist and owner of Indian Rehabilitation Center, Inc. (IRCI), and 16 others
for insurance fraud for alleged involvement in a fraudulent accident clinic
ring in Jacksonville.
“These large-scale accident clinics are at the root of the PIP fraud problem
in Florida,” CFO Atwater said. “We must stay one step ahead of the ring leaders
who are orchestrating these schemes. We will continue to take out these PIP
fraud rings so that Florida drivers are protected and safe on the roads.”
An investigation by the Florida Department of Financial Services’ Division of
Insurance Fraud alleges that in September 2011, Marshal opened IRCI and
conspired with several individuals to stage auto accidents and submit fraudulent
therapy reports for patients who never received treatment from her clinic. These
reports were used to file fraudulent Personal Injury Protection (PIP) claims
with several insurance companies.
Also arrested in the sting were various clinic employees, recruiters, and
staged accident participants; Yokayra Ramos, Roscoe Sawyer, Jr., Edgard
Fernandez-Romans, David Arteaga Torres, Kenneth Carrerro, Jonathan Robinson,
Calvin Grier, Tara Buck, Niko Semedo, Tawaub Zahir, Samantha Daniels, Kathy
Adams, Yilan Espinosa, Connor Certo and Lester Lopez.
At least 19 claims were reported to the National Insurance Crime Bureau
from 11 insurance carriers. IRCI had approximately 80 patients during this time
and over $228,000 was paid out to IRCI from the insurance providers. Additional
arrests are expected.
Marshal, as well as the 16 other individuals arrested in connection with the
fraud ring, were booked into the Duval County Jail. If convicted, she faces up
to 30 years in prison. The Office of Duval State Attorney Angela Cory will be
prosecuting the charges in this case.
Anyone with information of suspected insurance fraud is asked to call
1-800-378-0445. Citizens who provide tips can remain anonymous. The Department
of Financial Services to date has awarded almost $275,000 to more than 40
citizens as part of its Anti-Fraud Reward Program. The program rewards
individuals up to $25,000 for information that directly leads to an arrest and
conviction in an insurance fraud scheme.