Volume 6, No. 10 - October 2017

News You Can Use


- Updating you on what's going on

CFO Patronis Honors Fallen Firefighters During Annual Ceremony in Ocala

CFO and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis honored Florida firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty during the annual Fallen Firefighter Memorial Ceremony at the Florida State Fire College in Ocala. CFO Patronis was joined by family members of the fallen and fire service personnel from across Florida to memorialize Joseph T. DeMarinis with the Clermont Fire Department and James F. Dorminy with the Reedy Creek Fire Department. Seven historical line of duty deaths were also recognized as part of the ceremony. Fire Fighter Memorial

CFO Patronis said, “Firefighters are deserving of our unending gratitude for laying their lives on the line each time they report to work. Today, we honored those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to others and lost their lives far too soon. By adding their names to Florida’s Fallen Firefighter Memorial, they will forever be remembered as the heroes that they are.”

Joseph T. DeMarinis tragically passed away on July 14, 2016, following a cardiac event that happened after a shift. Firefighter DeMarinis joined the Clermont Fire Department in August 2014. DeMarinis was also a veteran of the United States Marine Corps who served two tours in Iraq. He is survived by his parents, and his wife Brandi, and their five children, ages 1 to 17.

James F. Dorminy, a 23-year veteran of the fire service, tragically passed away on May 18, 2017. Following his May 9 shift, Lieutenant Dorminy went to the gym where he was later found in the pool in need of urgent medical attention. Days later, he was removed from life support and passed away. He is survived by his wife Lesly and their four children.

In addition to Firefighter DeMarinis and Lieutenant Dorminy, the following individuals were also added to Florida’s Fallen Firefighter Memorial, representing historical line of duty deaths:

James Russell with the Miami Fire Department who passed away on January 11, 1925, Sidney Houpt with the Miami Fire Department who passed away on March 7, 1926, Robert Knight with the Fort Lauderdale Fire Department who passed away on December 27, 1940, Sam Frazer with the Miami Fire Department who passed away on February 15, 1953, Norman Hasting with the Fort Lauderdale Fire Department who passed away on November 28, 1961, Joel D. Wooldridge with the Miami Fire Department who passed away on December 4, 1974 and Vern Gransden with the Miami Fire Department who passed away on October 29, 1977.

In total, 193 names are represented on Florida’s Fallen Firefighter Memorial.

Click here to read the press release>>

 

Miami Insurance Agent Charged with Creating Fake Insurance Policies to Steal $276,000 in Insurance Premiums

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis announced the arrest of Jose Manuel Caballero-Morlesin (Caballero), an insurance agent and owner of Axis Underwriters, Inc., a Miami-based insurance agency. An extensive investigation led by the Department of Financial Services, Bureau of Insurance Fraud unraveled a complex scam in which Caballero enlisted a finance company to pay annual premiums tied to fake insurance applications. In total, Caballero submitted 38 fake applications and stole $276,000 in premium payments. Caballero confessed to investigators and now faces up to 157 years in prison, if convicted.

Many residential and commercial insurance policyholders are required to pay annual premiums up front. Insurance agencies partner with finance companies to front the cost of the annual premium, allowing the policyholders to make monthly installments to the finance company if they cannot afford to pay the full premium amount at one time.

 


During a six-month timeframe in mid-2016, Caballero submitted 38 applications for financing using made up consumer information. The unsuspecting finance company approved the applications and issued annual premium payments to Caballero’s insurance agency, Axis Underwriters, Inc. In time, the finance company grew suspicious when no policyholders came forward to pay their monthly installments.

The finance company reported their suspicions to the Department’s Division of Insurance Agent and Agency Services, which referred the case to fraud investigators as a suspected scam. The Department plans to seek the immediate suspension of Caballero’s insurance license once formal charges are filed.
Caballero turned himself in to authorities October 9, 2017, and has been charged with one count of organized scheme to defraud and 38 counts of forgery, uttering forged instruments, grand theft and the misappropriation of insurance funds.


This case is being prosecuted by the Office of Katherine Fernandez Rundle of the Miami State Attorney’s Office.

Click here to read press release>>

CFO Patronis Urges FEMA to Reconsider Vendor Transition During Heart of Hurricane Season

 

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis sent a letter to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator William “Brock” Long urging FEMA to reconsider an upcoming vendor transition that could delay the processing of federal flood claims in Florida. CFO Patronis asked FEMA officials to release a transition plan that ensures no pending claims face delays or to consider delaying the transition until the end of the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season.

 FEMA logo

CFO Patronis said, “…I am concerned that an upcoming vendor transition within a critical federal program may present a roadblock to Florida’s current progress. It is my understanding that the National Federal Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) will soon transition to a new policy management vendor, a move that is set to impact more than 600,000 policyholders. Many of these 600,000 policyholders reside in Florida, and I fear that Floridians may be forced to bear costly consequences caused by this change. With an estimated 18,000 damage claims resulting from Hurricanes Irma, Maria and Harvey currently pending, scheduled changes to claims processing and payment procedures stand to create delays and potentially derail Florida families from getting back to normal life during these high-stress times.”

To read the CFO’s full letter, click here.

DFS Law Enforcement Personnel Lands in Puerto Rico

Deplaning

Major Karl Morgan with the Department of Financial Services’ Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations flew to San Juan, Puerto Rico alongside personnel from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida Highway Patrol and Florida Department of Law Enforcement to assist with hurricane recovery efforts following Hurricane Maria.

Major Morgan joins an eight-member multi-agency incident management team that will coordinate the activities of law enforcement personnel. Last week, CFO Patronis pledged to assist Puerto Rico in its recovery efforts, and additional resources remain on standby.

Puerto Rico Flight

Read more>>

CFO Jimmy Patronis Recognizes Two Fraud Investigators for Outstanding Service

_DFS6611 (Lieutenant Clasen – 3rd from left, Detective Utecht – 3rd from right)

 

During a meeting of the Florida Cabinet earlier this month, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis honored two fraud investigators from the Department of Financial Services as recent recipients of the United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Florida’s Outstanding Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award.  Lieutenant Clasen was honored for his work on a high-profile personal injury protection (PIP) case that led to a successful 14-year mail fraud conviction in federal court. Detective Utecht’s expertise and dedication led to the successful conviction of South Florida sober home operator Kenneth Chatman in a high-profile fraud case.

CFO Patronis said, “PIP fraud has driven up the cost of car insurance in our state, and it’s a crime that our Department had dedicated significant resources to fighting in Florida. We’re making great strides, and Lt. Clasen’s dedication to this case reiterates our collective commitment to breaking down these fraud rings at the highest levels. His award and recognition are well-deserved for a job well done.”

 “Sober homes claim to be a place of refuge for recently recovering addicts, but for many of them, nothing could be further from the truth. Many of these facilities do nothing more than siphon a patient’s insurance benefits until there’s nothing more to take, only to return these vulnerable people to the streets from which they came. I am proud of Detective Utecht’s unending dedication to stopping these activities in our state.”, said CFO Patronis.

The Department of Financial Services is the state of Florida’s lead investigative agency for insurance and workers’ compensation fraud, fire and arson investigations and the theft or misuse of state funds. To report suspected fraud, call the Department’s toll-free Fraud Tip Hotline at 1-800-378-0445.

Read more about Lieutenant Clasen here>>

Read more about Detective Utecht here>>

 

CFO Patronis Deploys Insurance Experts to the Florida Keys

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis recently announced the Department of Financial Services is sending insurance specialists to the Florida Keys to assist with the handling of Hurricane Irma claims.

CFO Patronis said, “The Keys are back open for business, but recovery efforts will continue in the weeks ahead and many residents are still in need of help with the filing of insurance claims on their damaged homes. I’ve seen the damage in the Keys firsthand, and I want homeowners to have the best possible advice at their fingertips when making important insurance decisions regarding repairs. We’re proud to be a resource as our fellow Floridians recover and rebuild from this historic storm.”

All Floridians and business owners can gain one-on-one insurance expertise by calling the Department’s toll-free Insurance Consumer Helpline at 1-877-MY-FL-CFO. The Department has also launched a Hurricane Season Insurance Resources website available by visiting www.myfloridacfo.com.

 

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