Volume 3 Number 40
October 2, 2006

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We are well on our way to meeting our goal of providing free hurricane safety inspections to 12,000 homes by the end of November. 

A dozen committed and caring non-profit organizations have now joined us in that effort with the goal of ensuring that thousands of low-income homeowners will receive the assistance they need to harden their homes against storms.

 It is rewarding to work with so many organizations committed to protecting Florida families and homes.  By working together, we will make a difference not only in the lives of these homeowners but for all of us by lessening the potential effect of a hurricane. 

 We cannot stop hurricanes but we can prepare for them, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.


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At a home today in South Miami, Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher announced that 610 low-income homeowners like Ms. Regina Hamilton will soon be safer from hurricanes thanks to a new partnership between the Florida Hurricane Relief Fund, Habitat for Humanity in Miami and the My Safe Florida Home program. Through the partnership, Ms. Hamilton will receive a free home inspection and assistance to install shutters on her home to help strengthen it against catastrophic losses from a storm.

“Partnering with faith- and community-based groups to help fortify low-income homes in Florida is mission critical to protecting families and reducing property losses,” said Gallagher, who oversees the My Safe Florida Home program. “Through these partnerships, we will be able to leverage resources and help thousands of Floridians before the end of this hurricane season.”

Through the Volunteer Florida Foundation, which administers the Florida Hurricane Relief Fund, four non-profit organizations in Miami-Dade and Broward counties are teaming up with the My Safe Florida Home program to fortify low-income homes. The non-profits in Miami-Dade County include the Habitat for Humanity and the Miami Beach Community Development Corporation. In Broward County, the Volunteer Action Center and the Liberia Economic and Social Development Corporation will be serving eligible  homeowners. A homeowner can earn no more than 80 percent of the Annual Median Income (AMI) to qualify for this assistance. AMI varies by county.



Tom Gallagher, Florida’s chief financial officer, warned Floridians to be on the lookout for a bogus letter telling them they’ve won a contest and urging them to send a check to collect the prize. Florida is among several states whose residents have been targeted by this scheme in recent weeks.

The letter is on forged MAG Mutual Insurance Company stationery and implies the recipient has won $250,000 in a contest. The letter includes a worthless check for about $2,900 to cover “administrative payment and clearance fees” and asks the recipient to deposit the check and then write one of their own for the costs of receiving the non-existent prize.

“We are working with company representatives and other state’s law enforcement agencies to track down the perpetrators of this scam,” said Gallagher, who oversees the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud, which was initially alerted to the scam in recent days. “We will not tolerate anyone trying to steal our citizens’ hard-earned money.” 




Man arrested on multiple felonies after allegedly pouring gasoline on a woman and a dog

The State Fire Marshal’s Office, Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations, recently assisted the Orange County Sheriff’s Office with the investigation of a reported domestic violence incident that led to the arrest of a man suspected of dousing a woman and a dog with gasoline. He then allegedly attempted to start a fire using a lighter.

William Sheridan, 43, allegedly forced his way into the home of a former girlfriend at 69 Seminole Trail, picked up a gas can and doused the inside of the residence, splashing the liquid on the furniture, walls and the floor and a vehicle outside.  Sheridan also threw the liquid on the woman’s roommate and a Cocker Spaniel named Rusty.

A lighter Sheridan allegedly tried to use to light a fire reportedly failed to work. As the struggle escalated, one of the victims picked up the phone to call 911, but Sheridan reportedly snatched the phone.  No injuries were reported, but the dog’s collar and his coat were soaked with the liquid.

Authorities said they arrested Sheridan not far from the home and booked him into the Orange County Jail without bond.  He is charged with attempted murder, arson to an occupied residence, domestic violence, aggravated assault and battery, felony animal cruelty, and hindering a 911 call for help.




Don B. Saxon, Commissioner of Florida’s Office of Financial Regulation, has been honored by the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) with its prestigious Blue Sky Award during the association’s 89th Annual Conference in San Diego on September 18.

NASAA’s Blue Sky Award is the association’s highest honor and recognizes career achievement as well as distinguished contributions to securities regulation. This marks the second time Commissioner Saxon has been honored by the association of state securities regulators. He first received the Blue Sky Award in 1996.

The award is named after state securities laws, which are commonly referred to as “blue sky” laws. The first modern state blue sky law was adopted in 1911 in Kansas. The Kansas law served as the nationwide model for state securities regulation.


Pensacola Prepares! featured free hurricane home improvement workshops

Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher released an agenda for “Fortify Florida: Pensacola Prepares!” that offered homeowners several opportunities to learn ways to hurricane-harden their homes and find out if they are eligible for reduced insurance rates.

The event was free to the public and featured more than 50 exhibitors and eight workshops to help homeowners learn about construction measures that make homes safer against hurricanes, and for which they may be eligible for insurance premium discounts.   

“We wanted Panhandle residents to arrive with questions and leave with answers about how their homes can be safer against hurricanes, and they did,” said Gallagher, who oversees the Florida Department of Financial Services. “These expos bring together the experts and resources Floridians need to take charge of their hurricane home safety.” CONTINUED