Volume 2 Number 24
June 13, 2005

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Our law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency response personnel are prepared to face a lot of risks when they respond to a call. But they are faced with a new risk that is hidden and insidious – and found in homes, backyard sheds, motel rooms and even vehicles.  

I am talking about clandestine methamphetamine labs. 

Both the process and the people involved in the manufacture of this highly addictive, illegal drug are dangerous and a threat to our communities. Methamphetamine, or meth, is manufactured using common household products, particularly over-the-counter cold medicines because they contain a key ingredient of the drug, ephedrine. 

The State Fire Marshal’s Office has responded to 29 fires or explosions at labs or involving meth lab operators.  I want to help keep our law enforcement and first responders throughout Florida safe. And I want to help stop the threat meth poses to our neighborhoods and our children.

To help fight the war on drugs, we are providing free training for first responders beginning this month at the Florida State Fire College, in a program that will cover numerous subjects from types of meth labs to how to investigate one. 

Lab operators, usually high on their own product, are prone to make mistakes. Mistakes are deadly -- to those on the frontline and the people they serve.

It's time to start a new fight against a drug that is tearing lives and families apart.


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CFO Gallagher declares meth labs a domestic terror threat.







FDLE Commissioner Guy Tunnell discusses clandestine meth labs and the dangers they present.



Declaring meth labs a domestic terrorist threat to Florida’s first responders and citizens, Florida’s Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Tom Gallagher announced initiatives to protect Florida’s law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency response personnel from the dangers they face when making arrests or investigating fires and explosions at illegal methamphetamine labs.CFO Gallagher declares meth labs a domestic terror threat.
“The criminals who make meth are the equivalent to the makers of any terrorist bomb anywhere in the world.  These labs are a threat to the lives of first responders as they try to keep us safe and win the war on drugs,” Gallagher said.   “Methamphetamine addiction is a high-level threat to our communities, tearing apart families and destroying lives.”

Gallagher is joining forces with Commissioner Guy Tunnell, director of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, to promote specialized training on meth labs to fight back against a disturbing and rapidly rising trend.  A recent survey by the Drug Enforcement Administration found that the number of meth labs found in Florida jumped from 28 in 2001 to 332 in 2004.

 "These clandestine laboratories are a threat to the environment, a hazard to our communities, and a danger to the officers who seize them,” said FDLE Commissioner Tunnell.  “This integrated training effort is another important step in Florida's fight against meth.”    

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Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher announced 28 arrests in a three-day statewide sweep of suspects arrested for violations of workers’ compensation laws.  The sweep is the latest move in a campaign to root out those who cheat the workers compensation system, thus making it more expensive for honest employers to obtain coverage.  The investigations and the arrests were carried out by detectives from the Division of Insurance Fraud, Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Fraud, in the Department of Financial Services, which Gallagher oversees.   

“Florida employers have seen their workers’ compensation premiums drop for two years in a row and much of the credit for this relief goes to the Division of Insurance Fraud and the Division of Workers’ Compensation,” Gallagher said.  “Employers and employees who cheat the system are stealing from those who play by the rules and putting them at a competitive disadvantage.  We will continue our aggressive efforts to stamp out fraud and help save employers money.”    CONTINUED


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Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher announced that the operators behind one of the most extensive and costliest insurance fraud schemes in Florida have agreed to accept prison terms and make restitution for their roles in the operation of an unlicensed health insurance plan that left more than 7,200 Floridians with millions of dollars in unpaid medical claims.

Carmelo Zanfei and William Paul Crouse, who operated Indiana-based TRG Marketing, LLC, pleaded guilty this week to felony charges in the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court.  Zanfei pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit racketeering, and Crouse pleaded guilty to racketeering.  Both men also pleaded guilty to four counts of unlawful transaction of insurance.  As part of their plea agreements, Zanfei will be sentenced to two years in prison and Crouse will be sentenced to four years in prison.  Both defendants will also be sentenced to 20 years of supervised probation and restitution is expected to be at least $2.8 million.  They faced up to 60 years in prison if convicted.  The Office of Statewide Prosecution prosecuted the charges.

"This is a major victory in our ongoing fight against unlicensed insurance operators who prey on Floridians," said Gallagher, who oversees the Department of Financial Services and the Division of Insurance Fraud, which conducted the investigation that led to the charges.  “Through education and prosecution we have hope of ending this scourge.”  

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Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher urged residents along the Gulf Coast to get ready for a possible strike by Tropical Storm Arlene last weekend. Gallagher mobilized consumer specialists with the Department of Financial Services to assist any residents impacted by the storm. 

“Thousands of Floridians are still waiting for repairs to be made from the 2004 hurricanes and I’m deeply concerned that this tropical storm will inflict further damage,” said Gallagher, who oversees the department.  “Floridians in the Panhandle have shown incredible resilience and strength since Ivan devastated their communities.  Our department stands ready to assist them in any way we can.” 

Gallagher also advised that residents can contact the department’s toll-free storm line at 1-800-22-STORM with insurance questions or for assistance with filing claims should a storm hit.    CONTINUED


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The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation has announced a public hearing regarding a proposed rate increase filed by Cincinnati Indemnity Company and Cincinnati Insurance Company. The rate filing is for Cincinnati’s Homeowners Insurance Programs.

Cincinnati’s filing requests an average statewide rate increase of 36.7%. The average rate change varies by county from 0% in Hardee, Lafayette and Okeechobee counties to 40.4% in St. Johns County. A list of average county rate changes is included with this notice.

The Florida Administrative Code (Rule 69O-166.051, F.A.C.) requires a public hearing to be held when a rate filing exceeds 25%. Cincinnati’s rate filing meets this criteria.