Volume 2 Number 29
July 18, 2005

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State Fire Marshal Tom Gallagher is pleased to announce that  Rand Napoli was named State Fire Marshal of the Year - Fire Prevention by the National Association of State Fire Marshals in Reno, Nevada, at their annual conference. 

State Fire Marshal Gallagher appointed Rand director of the division of State Fire Marshal in 2001. “Rand is an exceptional leader who brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the job, " Gallagher said. "Fire prevention is everyone's concern, and Rand helps create and direct our consumer education programs on prevention and safety."

Napoli has 34 years of operational and administrative experience in fire, EMS, hazardous-materials and disaster management, and was chief of operations of the more than 1,000-member Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department.  Napoli was chief of the Bureau of Fire Standards and Training in the division of State Fire Marshal prior to becoming division director.

He is a co-author of the Florida Statewide Fire-Rescue Emergency Response Plan, and is Florida’s emergency coordinating officer for fire, search and rescue at the state Emergency Operations Center. Gov. Jeb Bush has appointed him to the Florida State Emergency Response Commission for Hazardous Materials, and he serves on Florida’s Domestic Security Oversight Board and the Florida Violent Crime and Drug Control Commission. At the national level, he is Chairman of the National Association of State Fire Marshals Catastrophic Fire Prevention Task Force.

“Leadership is not so much about technique and methods as it is about opening the heart.  Leadership is about inspiration – of oneself and of others,” stated Napoli during the presentation of a Leadership Award to Rand Napoli, director of the division of State Fire Marshal, by the Gator Fire Council at its Fifth Annual Firefighters Ball in Gainesville in February. 

Walton County was created in 1824, shortly after Florida became a territory of the United States. The courthouse is in the county seat of DeFuniak Springs.







Jewelry, coins, antiques and collectibles will be among approximately 40,000 items to be auctioned later this month by the state to benefit Florida public schools.  Among the items are a 14-karat gold purse, a 5-karat sapphire ring, and an 1889 CC Morgan silver dollar. 

Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher is urging potential bidders to mark their calendars for July 29 and July 30 to attend the auction at the Wyndham Hotel, 1870 Griffin Road, in Ft. Lauderdale.  The preview will be held July 29 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the auction will begin at 9 a.m. on July 30.  A live simulcast of the auction will also be available at http://www.fisherauction.com

Registration requires a refundable $200 cash deposit and valid driver’s license.  Proceeds from the auction will go to the State School Trust Fund to benefit public schools in Florida.

The items to be auctioned have been turned over to the Department of Financial Services, Bureau of Unclaimed Property, from abandoned safe deposit boxes.  Consumers can check to see if they have unclaimed property with the state by logging on to www.FLtreasurehunt.org or by calling 1-88-VALUABLE.


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Cases result in more than $120,000 in fraudulent insurance claims

Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher announced today that detectives with the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud (DIF), working with the Palm Beach County Multi-Agency Auto Theft Task Force, assisted in the arrests of eight individuals accused of “ditching” their vehicles and claiming them stolen in order to collect more than $120,000 in auto insurance benefits.

The hitch:  they “ditched” the vehicles by selling them to undercover officers.  In the past fiscal year, DIF has arrested 20 south Florida residents for similar offenses.  Auto insurance fraud is estimated to cost the average Florida family as much as $240 a year.

"Floridians will not tolerate footing the bill for this kind of fraud," said Gallagher, who oversees the department.  "We will continue to work aggressively to uncover these schemes and bring these offenders to justice, and we are proud to partner with the Palm Beach County Multi-Agency Auto Theft Task Force."
Ditching, also referred to as an owner give-up, occurs when the owner is unhappy with the vehicle or can no longer keep up with payments and either pays someone to get rid of the car, as these suspects are accused of doing, or gets rid of it by dumping or burning the vehicle.

The Palm Beach County Multi-Agency Auto Theft Task Force was formed in June 1997, and is comprised of the Division of Insurance Fraud, Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, Palm Beach Gardens Police Department, Riviera Beach Police Department, West Palm Beach Police Department, Boca Raton Police Department, Delray Beach Police Department, Lantana Police Department, Atlantis Police Department, Florida Highway Patrol, State Attorney's Office, National Insurance Crime Bureau,  Lo Jack and Progressive Insurance. The Federal Bureau of Investigation also assisted in these recent arrests.

The objectives of the task force are to recover stolen vehicles and prevent further theft through proactive investigations.  Since its inception the task force has made more than 1,400 arrests and recovered more than $34 million worth of vehicles and parts.  DIF investigates fraud in all lines of insurance, including health, life, auto, property and workers' compensation insurance.

The arrests were made over the last few months.  Members of the task force made four additional arrests for odometer fraud.

Those arrests that DIF participated in were:

Eric G. Lopez, 40, 432 Forest Hill Blvd., West Palm Beach – one count of organized scheme to defraud, seven counts of grand theft over $20,000, and three counts of grand theft over $10,000.

Roberto Lazaro Hernandez
, 37, Miami-Dade County – insurance fraud and grand theft.
Adrian Diego Beliveau
, 29, Miami-Dade County – insurance fraud.
Jennifer Munoz
, 30, Miami-Dade County – insurance fraud.
Dennis Mercer
, 40, Palm Beach County – insurance fraud.
Andrew Kirschenbaum, 33, Palm Beach County – insurance fraud.
Jesse McGay, 28, Palm Beach County – insurance fraud.
Oveido Piedra, 21, Broward County – insurance fraud.

Anyone with information about these cases or other possible fraud schemes should call the Department of Financial Services’ fraud hotline at 1-800-378-0445.  A reward of up to $25,000 may be offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction







Detectives with the Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations is conducting an on-going investigation of an intentionally set fire that occurred on July 6, 2005 at 5:53 a.m. that damaged the Islamic Society of Central Florida located at 2200 Harrell Road, Orlando, Florida 32817.   

Significant information has been received providing information on vehicles that were seen in the area at the time the fire occurred.  The Florida Advisory Committee on Arson Prevention (FACAP) is offering a reward of up to $2,500 for information that might further this investigation. If you, or someone you know, have pertinent information concerning this arson fire, please contact one of the following:   

Detective Arnie Amoros – 407-893-3654
Captain John Corbett – 407-893-3654
Florida Advisory Committee on Arson Prevention – 1-877-NO ARSON 


The Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations is the law enforcement branch of the Division of State Fire Marshal.  Anyone with information about any suspicious fire is asked to call 1-877-662-7766 (1-877-NOARSON).  Information also may be mailed to Arson Control, P.O. Box 1654, Winter Park, Florida, 32790.