Volume 1 Number 12
March 22, 2004



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As we age, questions and concerns about our health are bound to arise.  But for many Floridians, the prospect of getting checked for prostate or breast cancer, two of the leading cancers in men and women, can be frightening.  The possibility of receiving bad news often leads individuals to delay being tested for this potentially deadly disease.  However, studies continue to show that early detection can mean the difference between treatment and surgery, and sometimes between life and death.  An estimated 30,000 American men lose their lives to prostate cancer each year, one death every twenty minutes.  An additional 10,000 women, for a total of nearly 40,000, fall victim to breast cancer annually. 

But personal stories often make a greater impact on us than statistics.  Recently I was told of a friend who was required to undergo a physical exam to qualify for the purchase of life insurance.  This individual had a history of prostate cancer in his family and had PSA tests done on a regular basis.  PSA, a protein produced in the prostate, has proven to be an extremely useful marker for early detection of prostate cancer and in checking for disease progression and the effects of treatment.   Following the exam, the man and his wife sought a second opinion.  This time cancer was found, fortunately at an early stage with an excellent chance of recovery after treatment.

Early detection of breast cancer can also result in far more successful treatments. A mammogram can detect breast cancer at its earliest stage, when it is most treatable, up to two years before it is large enough to be felt by a medical professional. More widespread use of mammography has been a major contributor to recent improvements in the breast cancer survival rate.

There are many myths and half-truths about cancer, but what is grounded in fact is that cancer deaths continue to rise.  So take a proactive role in preserving good health.  With a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and regular exercise, along with sun protection, quitting smoking, and most importantly getting regular medical checkups, you can help to eliminate the risks of cancer.





Florida Public Schools Annual
Report FY 2002-2003


The State Fire Marshal’s Office last week released the Florida Public Schools Annual Report FY 2002-2003.  This is the first-ever annual report on the status of fire safety programs in Florida’s public schools.

Responsibility for gathering this information was transferred in 2002 from the Department of Education to the State Fire Marshal.  Under the new law, set out in Chapter 1013 of Florida Statutes, each school district and the local fire marshal in each jurisdiction are required inspect each school during each school year, with the local fire marshal having authority to set and enforce deadlines for correction of violations.  The school district is responsible for reporting the results of the dual inspections to the State Fire Marshal’s Office by June 30 of each year. 

Ben Barron, Fire Protection Specialist for the Division's Bureau of Fire Prevention, discovers a gasoline-powered tractor inside a classroom.   CONTINUED


Federal Trade Commission



CFO asks lawmakers to require proper disposal of consumer records

Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher unveiled a proposal to require financial institutions, brokerages, insurance companies and agencies to use greater care when they dispose of consumer records containing personal, financial and medical information.

In the past year, the Department of Financial Services has received several reports of sensitive information being disposed of along with everyday office trash in public dumpsters.  Access to these kinds of documents creates the potential for identity theft, an increasingly widespread form of financial fraud.  A survey by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that more than 27 million Americans became ID theft victims in the last five years, resulting in more than $5 billion in out-of-pocket expenses. The same survey determined that ID theft cost the financial services industry nearly $50 billion.

“If scam artists gain access to personal and financial information, they can wreak havoc with a consumer’s finances,” Gallagher said.  “That’s why I’m urging state lawmakers to take steps to protect Florida consumers from the nation’s fastest growing crime.” CONTINUED


To report insurance fraud,
call 1-800-378-0445.



Brian Lee Schechtman



Florida Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher and Attorney General Charlie Crist today announced the arrests of five south Florida residents on charges that they systematically defrauded hundreds of senior citizens in an organized scheme that netted more than $2 million in fraudulent insurance sales commissions. 

Brian Lee Shechtman, 37, of Hollywood; Dean Allen Shechtman, 36, of Aventura; Brad Howard Shechtman, 33, of Miramar; Camille Martinez Shechtman, 30, of Miramar; and Rosemary O’Rourke Welstead, 61, of Ft. Lauderdale, are charged with racketeering and multiple counts of insurance fraud, money laundering and grand theft.  Brad and Camille Shechtman were booked into the Marion County Jail.  The three others were booked into the Broward County Jail.

Insurance fraud investigators with the Department of Financial Services, which Gallagher oversees, said licensed insurance agents were recruited to gain the trust of victims between the ages 70 and 94.  Promising to save them money on their health insurance, the agents instead “slid” them life insurance applications. The sale of whole life insurance policies can net larger commissions.

“These people preyed on senior citizens who needed help in making ends meet,” Gallagher said.  “It is unconscionable that these individuals devised such an intricate scheme to take advantage of more than a thousand of our most vulnerable citizens.”