Volume 4, Number 23, June 8, 2007
Over the years, it has become increasingly evident that climate change is not only a reality – but also a real threat to our economy and way of life. As the state’s Chief Financial Officer, I am concerned about any issue that may affect the future of Florida’s economy. That is why Commissioner of Agriculture Charles Bronson and I have partnered to co-host a series of “Conversations on Climate Change.”
The second conversation, Climate Change: Renewable Energy Solutions, will begin Tuesday, June 12, 2007 at 11 a.m., after the Florida Cabinet meeting. This workshop will feature presentations on: America’s Energy Future, Florida’s Farm to Fuel Initiative, Carbon Credits, Solar Solutions and more.
I invite you to visit our Climate Change Web site at www.FloridaClimateChange.com to learn more about these workshops and the presentations. Online, you can also read about the science of climate change, see what other states are doing and visit links to important resources.These workshops are designed to give elected officials, business leaders and Floridians the opportunity to understand the challenges and potential economic opportunities of climate change in our state. We hope to develop new ways to safeguard our state’s fiscal health and diversify our economy by catalyzing emerging industries.
We invite you to follow along with us as we engage in these conversations.
TASK FORCE ON CITIZENS PROPERTY INSURANCE CLAIMS HANDLING AND RESOLUTION TO MEET IN PENSACOLA WEDNESDAY
In an ongoing effort to improve
Citizens’ policyholder and applicant services, Florida Chief Financial
Officer Alex Sink is convening the third meeting of the
legislatively-created Task Force on Citizens Property Insurance Claims
Handling and Resolution. The meeting will be Wednesday, June 13, 2007, from
2 p.m. – 8 p.m. with a break from 4-6 p.m. at the Pensacola Junior College
CFO SINK BANS INSURANCE AGENT FOR EXPLOITING ELDERLY JEWISH FLORIDA CONSUMERS
Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink has revoked the license of a south Florida agent and permanently banned him from the insurance business in Florida for using his insurance license to exploit elderly Jewish Floridians.
Leighton David Applefeld, 66, owned and operated Focus Financial Services, Inc. in Delray Beach. In February, the Department of Financial Services filed an 18-count administrative complaint against Applefeld alleging, among other things, that he preyed on elderly Jewish consumers, through religious affinity, to engender their trust and sell them inappropriate insurance products that paid high commissions. In lieu of fighting the administrative charges against him, Applefeld agreed to the revocation of his insurance license, and further agreed to be permanently banned from the insurance business in Florida.
“It is morally reprehensible to use religion to prey upon Floridians who are merely looking for a safe place to keep their finances,” said CFO Sink who heads the department. “I will use every measure under the law to protect our citizens from financial harm.”
Applefeld conducted seminars at local restaurants, Jewish centers, and various other locations throughout Broward and Palm Beach and misrepresented the annuity products he sold. In many cases, Applefeld was able to convince clients to surrender or withdraw from their in-force annuities or investments to fund new deferred annuity contracts, resulting in thousands of dollars of unnecessary surrender charges and additional penalties that he didn’t explain to his elderly clients. In most cases, Applefeld’s clients didn’t realize the financial harm they suffered until it was too late.
In one instance, Applefeld convinced an elderly Jewish couple to give him checks totaling $180,000 to invest. Applefeld instructed the couple to make the checks payable to his Delray Beach business name rather than an insurance company, but he never invested the funds on behalf of his clients once the money was deposited into his business account.
CFO Sink urges Florida seniors to take the following precautions to avoid becoming victims of financial scams:
To check on the status of an agent’s license or to file a complaint against an agent, call 1-800-342-2762 or log on to www.MyFloridaCFO.com.
ANNOUNCES ARRESTS IN IDENTITY THEFT SCAM
STATE FIRE MARSHAL AND CFO SINK APPOINTS NEW FIRE CHIEF TO THE BUREAU OF FIRE AND ARSON INVESTIGATIONS
Florida Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Alex Sink announced the appointment of Dan Spillman as Chief of the Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations. As Bureau Chief, Spillman will oversee 105 sworn fire and arson investigators within the Division of State Fire Marshal.
“I am so pleased to announce Dan Spillman will join the Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations,” said CFO Sink. “I know his vast experience investigating arson will serve the Bureau and the people of Florida well.”
Chief Spillman has been actively involved in all facets of Florida’s fire and emergency services for over 32 years. Most recently, Chief Spillman was the Public Safety Director for Taylor County. Prior to that, he was with the City of Tallahassee Fire Department for over 22 years where he retired as Deputy Chief. He has over 20 years experience in fire scene investigations and holds a bachelor’s degree in Fire Science and Safety as well as an associate’s degree in Fire and Arson Investigation. In addition to Chief Spillman’s law enforcement experience in arson, he has served as a Reserve Deputy for the Leon County Sheriff’s Office and as a member of the FDLE-North Special Operations Team.
The Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations is the law enforcement branch of the Division of State Fire Marshal that assists other state and local fire and law enforcement agencies in investigating possible criminal activities as it relates to fire. This Bureau conducts approximately 4,200 investigations each year involving fires, explosions, fireworks and other fire and arson-related incidents.
In addition to conducting investigations, the Bureau takes a proactive approach toward the suppression of arson in the state. These efforts are coordinated through sponsoring numerous seminars which provide state-of-the-art investigative training techniques to people from various agencies and municipalities.
STATE FIRE MARSHAL ACCELERANT K9 TO RETIRE
The Florida State Fire Marshal’s Office will be retiring its Southern Region Accelerant K9 “Buddy” on Tuesday, June 5, at 9:30 a.m. at the Plantation Fire Department located at 550 NW 65 Ave. in Plantation. The retirement ceremony will took place during the Broward County Fire Inspector’s Association Meeting, and the region’s new accelerant K9 will be introduced and will demonstrate how an accelerant K9 works and how effective they can be at determining the cause of fires.
Buddy has served the state as a law enforcement officer since April of 2001. He has assisted in the investigation of many fires and his findings at fire scenes have led to numerous arrests over the past six years. Buddy and his handler Detective Greg Gilkey have put in countless hours of training together and have participated in numerous public and fire safety expositions.
In addition, the State Fire Marshal’s Office will be introducing the new Southern Region Accelerant K9 “Ember.” Detective Gilkey and Ember have just completed training in Maine and are already working fires throughout south Florida. The State Fire Marshal’s Office has six accelerant K9s, all Labrador Retrievers, and the dogs and training are provided by State Farm Insurance.
The accelerant K9 teams are part of the Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations, a law enforcement branch of the Division of State Fire Marshal that assists other state and local fire and law enforcement agencies in the investigation of fires of suspicious origin. To report suspected arson, call 1-877-662-7766 (1-877-NOARSON).
CITIZENS PROPERTY INSURANCE POLICYHOLDER PUBLIC FORUM
Citizens Property Insurance Corporation executives invited its policyholders
to speak with them at a Public Forum held in Fort Lauderdale on May 15th,
2007. Around 100 people accepted the offer to attend, including
policyholders, insurance agents, news organizations and several elected
Several key Citizens executives spoke about various topics, such as EVP
Susanne Murphy, the former South Carolina Insurance regulator.
Underwriting SVP Paul Palumbo informed about rate rollbacks resulting in
refunds to about 100,000 policyholders, and further premium credits
available for reinforcement of homes against storms. CONTINUED
Chairman Douglas then
solicited comments, questions and suggestions from the audience and
legislators. In total, around 50 questions were asked by 35
people. The questions ranged from why other companies cancelled
long standing homeowner policies, how many claims remain from Hurricane
Wilma, to how much premium discounts are available for condos and mobile
homes that have mitigated their hurricane risks by fortifying these
Chairman Douglas accepted one suggestion as having value for future consideration; to have vendors in place such as pre-need contracts with designated hotels to provide for Additional Living Expense housing at reasonable rates for Citizens policyholders if necessary. The Florida Department of Financial Services was also on site at the event, providing attendees with free consumer guides to homeowner insurance. The Department also provided information about how to sign up for the My Safe Florida Home program offering free home inspections to determine a home’s strength against windstorms, with possible matching grants to fortify the structure. The results of this Policyholder Forum will be presented to the Task Force on Citizens Property Insurance Claims Handling and Resolution, which is scheduled to hold two public hearings in Ft. Lauderdale at Nova University on June 19th. The Task Force will then make significant recommendations to Citizens management and Legislature based on the information being gathered at different locations statewide.
If you were not able to attend any of these meetings in person, you may submit your suggestions for improved customer service online at the following website: http://www.citizensforabettercitizens.com. All suggestions received will be forwarded to Citizens staff for review and consideration.
STATE FIRE MARSHAL ARSON DETECTIVES ASSIST IN ARSON, MURDER ARREST
Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, who also serves as State Fire Marshal, announced the arrest this week of a Jacksonville man on charges that he killed his wife by setting fire to their home.
Kenneth Rader, 57, is charged with arson and murder following a fire at a home, located at 10201 W. Beaver St. #133, on Monday around 3:18 p.m. Firefighters discovered a body, later identified as Rader’s wife, Nataline Rader, 55, and detectives with the Division of State Fire Marshal’s Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations (BFAI) were asked to assist with the investigation.
The BFAI was joined in the investigation by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, the Jacksonville Fire Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. The suspect, Rader, was located in Columbus, Ohio, and members of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Homicide Unit flew to Ohio and interviewed Rader, and he subsequently confessed. Rader is facing extradition back to Florida.
The Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations is the law enforcement branch of the Division of State Fire Marshal that assists other state and local law enforcement agencies in the investigation of fires of suspicious origin. Anyone with information about this case or any suspicious fire is asked to call 1-877-662-7766 (1-877-NOARSON).
Consumer Services Helpline (800) 342-2762
Consumer eViews www.MyFloridaCFO.com/PressOffice/Newsletter/