FLORIDA CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER
Volume 5, Number 36,
September 5, 2008
Florida’s Financial Action Team (FACT), the brainchild of
Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, met this week to hear the much anticipated
reports from more than a dozen housing, employment and community development
was created by CFO Sink as a public-private partnership to
help the State identify and benefit from funding and
programs available from the federal Housing and Economic Recovery
Act of 2008.
Know as HERA, the federal program provides funding and
programs that can help states, like Florida, whose families
and communities are reeling from the foreclosure crisis.
RealtyTrac's July 2008 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report stated
that Florida had the second highest number of foreclosures
in the nation, posting 45,884 foreclosures in July 2008—a 14
percent increase from the previous month. Florida's
foreclosure rate was the third-highest in the country, with
one foreclosure for every 186 households.
“We had a very productive first working meeting and I am
extremely encouraged by the work of the members of Florida’s
Financial Action Team,” said CFO Sink. “Florida’s FACT is an
example of public – private partnerships at their best. It
is already clear from the work of our FACT stakeholders that
by working together, we can help Florida families and
communities suffering from the foreclosure crisis.”
CFO SINK’S “FINANCIAL ACTION TEAM”
Sink called upon the broad coalition last month to review federal foreclosure assistance legislation
Chief Financial Officer Sink chaired the first workshop of her
Financial Action Team on Thursday, September 4 and took reports from
more than a dozen participants on the recently passed federal Housing
and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. During the half day workshop,
representatives of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, the banking and
credit union industry, mortgage brokers and lenders, realtors, financial
planners, cities and counties, affordable housing groups and legal
services organizations discussed the key provisions of the new law that
will provide housing relief to Floridians.
The FACT Team discussed ways for Florida to take advantage of the
billions of dollars in federal aid to persons with distressed mortgages,
veterans, local governments and non-profit affordable housing groups.
Some of the provisions, such as a tax credit for new homebuyers, are in
effect now, and other provisions will go into effect later this year and
The new law provides relief to veterans who are facing foreclosure by
extending the foreclosure process, freezing mortgage rates, and
providing assistance to veterans who are displaced from a rental
property because of a foreclosure. The law also provides assistance to
disabled veterans who need to modify their homes in order to remain in
The law sets aside nearly $4 billion for local governments to use to
renovate and maintain foreclosed-upon properties so that they can be
made ready for new residents, and creates a $7,500 credit on federal
income tax for persons who are recent homebuyers. It also provides for a
guarantee of up to $300 billion in refinanced loans for homeowners who
are having difficulty making their mortgage payments.
CFO Sink plans for the FACT Team to meet again this month to prepare a
comprehensive outreach and education program to get the word out to all
Floridians who might benefit from the new law, and is looking forward to
working with Admiral LeRoy Collins of the Department of Veterans Affairs
to ensure that veterans are provided with the relief and benefits that
they have earned. CFO Sink's goal is to help Florida’s housing economy - the
key driver of our state’s economic condition
– move in the right direction to
protect the American Dream for all Floridians.
SAVING ENERGY, SAVING MONEY
Energy tips for Florida families - these actions
represent ways to behave kindly toward Mother Earth,
AND save money as well as
CFO Alex Sink's science advisor Meg Lowman, Ph.D.,
on the faculty at New College of Florida. Dr. Lowman has
written numerous award-winning books and is an
expert on the rain forests of the world.
Install a TED (The Energy Detective) or similar gadget in your home to monitor your
real-time energy use. It is surprising how much energy a clothes
dryer requires, and how your energy bills will be greatly
reduced when you start to observe the specific kilowatts of
energy that different appliances require.
The device is a simple, yet extremely accurate, home energy
monitor that allows you to see electricity usage in
real-time. You can purchase a monitor for as little as
$140 and with the federal 2004 Energy Bill, you may be
eligible to receive a tax
credit for the purchase, which makes the monitor cost
TED will accurately tell you what your bill is going to be
long before the electric bill arrives. Meanwhile, you will
learn more about conserving energy, saving money, and
helping save the environment. Once installed you can turn
individual appliances on and off to determine exactly how
much energy each appliance uses and reduce use accordingly.
Studies show that
savings can range from 10-20%. Imagine knowing
how much it
costs the moment you turn on a light bulb. Conscientious
consumers can reap real savings by installing an energy monitor.
DFS’ ENFORCEMENT ACADEMY
GRADUATES 12 IN INAUGURAL CLASS
Twelve law enforcement officers graduated today from the
inaugural class of the Department of Financial Services’
Joint Enforcement Academy.
Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink called for the creation of
the academy as a way to harness the skills and experience
that new enforcement officers brought from the variety of
agencies where they previously worked. The inaugural class
included former homicide detectives, arson detectives,
financial fraud investigators, patrol officers, sheriff’s
deputies, troopers and D.O.T. officers. These officers are
now employed in one of the department’s
two sworn law enforcement agencies – the Bureau of Fire and
Arson Investigations (BFAI) and the Division of Insurance
Fraud (DIF). Future classes will include enforcement
officers from other divisions and bureaus.
The graduates completed eight weeks of training in a variety
of issues ranging from mortgage fraud to crime intelligence
analysis. Deputy Chief Financial Officer Brian London, who
handed out the diplomas to the graduating class, said, “The
talent of the men and women serving in our enforcement
agencies is too great not to use to our full capacity.”
CFO SINK UNCOVERS
FRAUDULENT CHECK-CASHING SCHEME; DELIVERS $325,000 IN
Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink
announced that an investigation by the Department of
Financial Services’ (DFS) Division of Insurance Fraud, has
led to more than 110 criminal charges against Christiano
Leonardo Gloria, the operator of one of the largest
check-cashing operations in Broward County, for allegedly
conspiring in a major money-laundering and workers’
compensation fraud scheme. Attorney General Bill McCollum’s
Office of Statewide Prosecution will be prosecuting the
DFS investigators arrested Gloria on Friday on racketeering
charges stemming from his alleged support of a workers’
compensation premium fraud in the construction industry
through Vionaldo Express, Inc., a money transmitter business
that he operated. So far, the investigation has led to
$325,000 in restitution.
“Unfortunately, there are check cashing operations that are
helping companies avoid providing workers’ compensation
coverage for their employees,” said CFO Sink, who oversees
DFS and the state’s Division of Workers’ Compensation. “Our
top priority is protecting Florida’s citizens, and we will
hold employers and those who help them accountable if they
violate the laws that protect injured workers.”
Gloria is being held in the Broward County Jail without
bond. The charges will be prosecuted by the Office of
DFS Lead Investigator Detective Geoffrey Branch found that
individuals set up shell construction companies and lied on
insurance applications, primarily to Florida Citrus Business
and Industries Fund (FCBI), to obtain workers’ compensation
certificates of insurance. One of those shell companies, WM
South Florida Construction, defrauded the FCBI in excess of
$500,000 in premiums over a four-year period, and failed to
remit taxes on a payroll of approximately $27 million. The
payroll money was laundered through money transmitters in
South Florida, including Vionaldo Express, from September
2002 through March 2007.
Gloria allegedly completed fraudulent currency transaction
reports at Vionaldo Express, and submitted them to the IRS,
stating that the person receiving cash from the shell
companies’ checks was Dero William Viera in Brazil. Gloria
held aside a percentage for cashing the checks, and also set
aside a percentage of seven to 10 percent of each check as
‘rent’ to be distributed to Viera and other co-defendants.
The scheme allegedly provided contractors with certificates
of insurance reflecting that dozens of subcontractors and
hundreds of employees, oftentimes undocumented workers, were
covered by workers’ compensation insurance when in reality
none of these subcontractors or employees were affiliated
with the shell companies. Investigators determined they were
simply utilizing the shell company’s paperwork for a fee.
The following co-defendants have been convicted:
- Marcelo F. Delima (Pompano Beach) WM South Florida
Construction, Inc. – Ordered to pay $189,972.88 and has paid
$25,000 to date.
- Geovani M. Oliveira (Coconut Creek) WM South Florida
Construction, Inc. – Expected to be ordered to pay
$166,272.63 upon sentencing.
- Marcio E. Silva (Boca Raton) WM South Florida
Construction, Inc., ALD Construction, CRF Construction –
Ordered to pay $107,607.37 and has paid $25,000 to date.
- Sergio Dondisch (Surfside) Hialeah First, LLC DBA Liquid
Cash – Ordered to pay $275,000 and has paid in full.
Delima, Oliveira and Silva were convicted of Racketeering,
Conspiracy to Commit Racketeering, Worker’s Compensation
Fraud, Grand Theft, and Money Laundering. Gloria, who has
not been convicted, is facing those same charges as well as
Filing False Currency Transaction Reports. Dondisch was
convicted of Filing False Currency Transaction Reports.
Dero William Viera remains a fugitive and is criminally
liable for workers’ compensations premiums owed to FCBI, as
well as thousands of dollars in fraudulent claims paid by
FCBI. Additionally, the state will seek to have the fugitive
forfeit in excess of $500,000, which is the minimal profit
obtained from the criminal enterprise.
DFS was assisted during the course of the investigation in
execution of search and arrest warrants by Broward and Palm
Beach Counties’ Sheriffs Office’s, Miami-Dade Police
Department, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and
the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and
DFS investigates various forms of fraud in insurance,
including health, life, auto, property and workers'
compensation insurance. Depending on the estimated loss
amount, the department will pay up to $25,000 for
information directly leading to an arrest and conviction.
Anyone with information about this or any other suspected
insurance fraud is asked to call the department’s Fraud
Fighters Hotline at 1-800-378-0445 or log on to
Are you the chief
financial officer of your family? Are you always
looking out for the best deals, wise investments and
smart moves for your family's financial security?
As your family's fiscal
watch dog, keep an eye on
this column for money-smart ideas from the Chief
Financial Officer of Florida,
YOU MAY HAVE EXTRA MONEY SITTING AROUND THE HOUSE
As the summer days come to an end, consider getting rid
of your old stuff -- those items that you seldom use but are
unwilling to throw away. Here are several creative ways to
make some cash by selling or donating your old clothes,
electronics, furniture, collectibles and any other items of
- Why not have a yard sale? Drag those unwanted
treasures to the front yard so someone else can cherish
them. As an added bonus, you can make a few bucks! Share
the fun by teaming up with neighbors and friends to have
a joint sale.
- Create an account with an online auction site to
sell your unwanted items. Set a minimum price and take
the chance that you might get more at auction. You do
the work to photograph, describe, list online and follow
up on each auction item. Packing and shipping, paid by
the purchaser, are worth the effort for a good sale
price. In some communities, local entrepreneurs will
sell your items online for you for a fee. All you need
do is drop the items off, the seller will do the rest.
- Consider consignment. Local shops take lightly used
items for resale, with a percentage of the sale price
going to each party. Some shops will eventually donate
your goods if they don't sell.
- Another option is donation to a good cause.
Non-profit organizations recycle goods and provide an
itemized receipt for possible tax deductions.
PREPARE FOR THAT STORM IN THE FORECAST
With the 2008 storm season far from being over, CFO Sink is
especially interested in making sure that you, your family,
home, and business are all prepared for the remainder of the
season. The next storm may be more serious. Record rainfall
and resulting flooding from Fay has served as a lesson to
many Floridians without flood insurance. Remember,
homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage – contact
the National Flood Insurance Program for more information on
how to obtain flood insurance coverage. Visit
As the storm season progresses, State Fire Marshal Sink
would also like to warn residents of the dangers of using a
generator indoors or in any enclosed area such as a garage,
carport or sunroom. Thousands of residents have lost power
due to Tropical Storm Fay, and fire safety is a potential
issue as residents use candles and lanterns in their homes.
For more information on preparedness tips, emergency contact
information, or for guidance in filing insurance claims, the
Homeowners’ Financial Toolkit is
available online. Our consumer helpline is
also open to provide tropical storm or hurricane assistance
at 1-800-22-STORM, or 1-800-227-8676. For a problem with a
claim, you may file a request for assistance online or look
up licensing information on insurance agents and adjusters
Consumer Services Helpline