MarijuanaAccording to ABC News a senior citizen and her son, in Pasco County Florida, explain that the nursing home where she lives is denying her potential pain relief, by refusing to allow her to have the medical marijuana she has a legal prescription to take. This seems to be an issue that is affecting Florida residents who live in long term care facilities throughout the state. Ms. Simpson, who is  attached to a wheelchair and suffers from Parkinson’s Disease, has tried everything she could have possibly tried to assist her with the medical conditions she suffers from, but medical marijuana  had given her faith in a new alternative that would allow to live a little more comfortably.

Medical marijuana legislation in the State of Florida was finally established by the governor on June 16, 2017 after years of Florida residents explaining to the government all its health benefits. In Amendment 2 of the Constitution of the State of Florida, patients with a debilitating medical condition will not be found subjects to criminal or civil liability for consuming medical marijuana.  Debilitating medical conditions mean cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those enumerated, and for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.

Ms. Simpson’s son explains that after medical marijuana became legal in Florida, a doctor prescribed it for his mother and she applied for a compassionate use permit. When she was finally approved, and the medicine was delivered, they gave it to him and told him he had to take it home with him because it would not be permitted inside the nursing home. But according to a healthcare expert from the University of Florida, even though Ms. Simpson had a legitimate medical therapy reason for the use of medical marijuana and a prescription for it, it doesn’t mean they have to allow her to take it if they can provide her with other options for her pain.  This is one of the biggest dilemmas with the statue because it is not completely clear on the regulations of long term health care facilities and the acceptance of medical marijuana therapy.

PillFentanyl, a very addictive and dangerous narcotic, continues to rise in popularity among the United States.  On October 05, 2017, two people were arrested and charged with a 24-page federal indictment, along with seven others, of distributing the imitation opioid fentanyl through the United States, especially through states such as Florida where drug abuse has always been an issue.  According to the Sun Sentinel, Anthony Santos Gomes and Lisa Gomes, told the judge they were trying to hire attorneys to represent them but most likely both will be transferred to North Dakota to face the charges against them in that state.

According to the officials of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service, and the Department of Homeland Security the Gomes are being charged with five different counts in the indictment.  The indictment explains that Anthony Santos Gomes and Lisa Gomes were running a conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute…controlled substances and controlled substance analogues resulting in seriously bodily injury and death. The indictment also explains that they did all this knowingly and intentionally with the purpose of distributing the drug.

The National Institute of Drug Abuse, describes fentanyl as a powerful synthetic opioid that is very similar to morphine, but 50 to 100 times more potent. If prescribed, it is given to patients with severe pain or to manage severe pain after surgery.  The way drug abusers use this new dangerous imitation of fentanyl is swallowing it in solid form, snorting it in powder form, or by burning it and then injecting it or having it absorbed by the mucous membrane. Similar to heroin and morphine, fentanyl works by binding to the body’s opioid receptors, which are found in areas of the brain that control pain and emotion.  Then they drive up dopamine levels in the brain’s reward areas, producing a state of euphoria and relaxation.  On the streets this drug is combined with cocaine or morphine, making it more addicting and requiring higher dosages which usually lead to overdoses and killing those who consume it.

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According to the Florida Sun Sentinel, four Personal Injury attorneys were arrested on September 6 and charged with organized crime, money laundering, and brokering. The attorneys hired other people to appeal to victims of car accidents and then would receive “kick backs” from the doctors who they referred the victims to for medical treatment. The police also arrested six other people who were involved with the attorney’s “kick back” scam as well.  One of the attorneys was from Boca Raton and other three from Fort Lauderdale and they have all been released on bond.  According to investigators, they received $521,070.00 in “kick backs” from May 2015 to December 2016.  Now the attorneys are all waiting to go to trial.

Per Florida Statue 817.505 on Fraudulent Practices and the Florida Patient Brokering Act, it is unlawful for any person, including health care providers or facilities, to offer or pay, benefit, rebate, kickback, receive or give any form of compensation in exchange for referrals, regardless of the form of payment for the service or product. This Statue and Act were passed by the Florida Legislators after discovering that many mental health and substance abuse hospitals were making payments to individuals for the referral of patients identified in Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, homeless shelters, and other similar environments.  The medical facilities would come to an agreement with the patient brokers whose task was to evaluate patients at these facilities and determine if they had insurance. Then the patient broker would refer the patient to one of those medical facilities and in return receive some form of payment.

The Florida Sun Sentinel explains that patients were brokered to the health facilities, those facilities would begin to bill the auto insurance companies for claims that were covered by PIP benefits, which also resulted in fraud for the insurance companies.  It gets worse… One of the attorneys is also being accused of embezzling his client’s settlement funds, meaning that he was also taking half of his client’s settlement checks.  The attorney would give his clients their settlement checks, pay the high medical bills, and in return he received cash payments in half the amount of the amount written on the original settlement checks.

GovermentEarlier this week, twelve Floridians who defrauded the federal government of $20 million are being charged with food stamp fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to make the wire fraud. The defendants were between the ages of 30-65 years and have been running this conspiracy since April 2012.  According to the Justice Department this has been the largest food stamp fraud crackdown in history.

Per Florida Statue 414.39, fraud is committed when any person is knowingly purchasing with food assistance benefits a product with the intent of obtaining cash or consideration other than eligible food by reselling the product, and subsequently intentionally reselling the product purchased with food assistance benefits in exchange for cash or consideration other than eligible food; or is intentionally purchasing products originally purchased with food assistance benefits in exchange for cash or consideration other than eligible food. This is exactly what the defendants did for almost eight years and in different counties of South Florida.

In a short period of time, these defendants committed an astounding amount of fraud and investigators are still surprised at how they did it.  The defendants involved in this matter owned, operated, or worked at retailers who accepted Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits as payments or they worked at unauthorized stores, but supposedly used point-of-sale terminals of authorized retailers to carry out the fraudulent transactions.  The way the fraud was committed was that the store owners and employees accepted payments for illegal cash transactions involving no purchases of food.

PrisonAlong with the evolution of law, came wrongful convictions.  Wrongful convictions have been displayed in movies, books, music, and in all forms of mass communication but people seem to not care about it until it involves someone they care for, especially in capital cases.  The problem with this is that all of those cases where the defendants have been wrongfully convicted are either ignored or forgotten.   Many because they can not afford private attorneys and others because of underpaid public defenders who do not spend thorough time on each case they are assigned to. So this brings us to two important questions; What are the main causes of wrongful convictions? What are the best ways to prevent wrongful convictions?

There are many reasons as to why wrongful convictions continue to occur, even in capital cases, but two of the most influential factors according to Death Penalty Information Center are: official misconduct and perjury.  Official misconduct is the illegal acts of public officers which violate their duties to follow the law and protect the public. Perjury is false accusations that are voluntarily told in a court room after taking an oath and swearing honesty. The most recent data from the National Registry of Exonerations illustrates that both official misconduct and perjury make up for 68.3% of the total contribution of wrongful convictions and that the rest is composed of mistaken witnesses, false or erroneous forensic evidence, fabricated confessions, and weak prosecution and defense.

Also, in two other reports conducted by the National Registry of Exonerations: Exonerations in 2016 and Race and Wrongful Convictions in the United States it is explained that a person’s race is one of the greatest links to wrongful convictions because 87% of black death-row exonerees had been victims of official misconduct in comparison to the 67% of white death-row exonerees. Therefore, the increase of hate crimes is happening both inside and outside of prison walls because the government is not taking it as seriously as they should.

American FlagHate crimes in Florida continue to increase every year and in significant amounts after the 2016 Presidential Election.  This is something of great concerns because Florida has always been the destination of choice for many immigrants and their families due to its cultural diversity. According to the Office of the Attorney General of the State of Florida, a hate crime is an act committed or attempted by one person or group against another, or that person’s property, in a way that constitutes an expression of hatred toward the victim based on her or her personal characteristics.  They explain that it is a crime when the perpetrator intentionally selects the victim based on one of the following characteristics: race, color, religion, ethnicity, ancestry, national origin, sexual orientation, homeless status, advanced age, or mental/physical disability.

The groups with the highest numbers of hate crimes both in Florida and the United States are: anti-immigrant, anti-black, anti-Muslim, anit-LGBT, anti-woman, and anti-Semitism groups.The people associated with these hate crimes call themselves “white nationalist” have no care or respect for other people besides those who fit their description of what an “American” should be.  According to the FSRN, the FBI reported that the country had a 67% increase in hate crimes last year and in Florida the increase of hate crimes was at 500% therefore, providing data that illustrates why this issue is so concerning.  They believe those number are much higher already and we are only half way through this year.

Hate crimes can be both verbal and physical because these crimes do not only involve people but the attacks can also be against churches and temples, schools, different public centers, jobs, different forms of transportation, on the internet, and even in people’s homes.   In the state of Florida, the top five types of hate crimes are: (5) larceny or theft, (4) murder, (3) simple assault, (2) intimidation, (1) destruction/ damage/ vandalism of property. According to the reports from 2015 by the Office of the Attorney General of the State of Florida, the cities with the highest numbers of hate crimes were Miami-Dade, Volusia, and Orange County.

The Securities Act of 1933 is referred to as the “truth in securities” law.   The act has two intended and effected results: It prohibits deceit, misrepresentations, and other fraud in the sale of securities.  It does that by requiring that all investors in the capital and equity markets receive significant information concerning the securities being offered for sale to the public.  It also does that by requiring the filing of a great deal of important information and facts in writing with the Security and Exchange Commission.

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The act starts by requiring registration, which enables investors to make informed judgments about whether to purchase the securities issued by a corporation, or not to buy. The information required by the Securities and Exchange Commission requires that it be accurate but not guaranteed. If you suffer a loss in the purchase of securities, you have the right to recover your loss if you can prove that there was inaccurate or incomplete disclosures of important information. It starts by requiring that all securities sold in United States be registered. The registration requires a description of the company’s properties and businesses, a description of the security type being offered for sale, information about the management of the company, and certified financial statements by independent accountants.

Companies with more than $10 million in assets, whose securities are owned by more than 500 people, must file annual reports. Usually, the report includes an opening letter from the Chief Executive Officer, financial data, results of operations, market segment information, new product plans, subsidiary activities, and research and development activities on future programs.  These reports are then available to the public through the Security and Exchange Commission’s database.

Increasingly the U.S. Attorney’s office has been actively pursuing men and women who were placed on Federal probation but have either stopped checking in or have violated their probation with a new arrest.   Federal probation is a sentence, just as is Florida state probation.  Violations of probation are most frequently one of the following:

  • Failing to report a change of address or get approval to move from the probation officer
  • Failing to follow the terms of current probation

On January 10th, 2017, it was announced that Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law, was appointed as Senior Advisor to the future President.  News reports  of “conflict of interest” by Donald Trump, Jared Kushner and the Trump family have  morphed  into allegations of insider trading, a crime punishable by prison and significant financial penalties.

New York Senator and Senate Minority Leader, Charles Schumer, brought up the issue of insider trading and cabinet nominees at a news conference last week, and…POLITICO reports that Congressman Elijah Cummings is looking at corruption hearings on the Trump business and its ties into the government.

There is talk of a pending Congressional criminal hearing on violations of Stock Act of 2012 and insider trading charges in contemplation against Donald Trump and his family members.  The Stock Act of 2012 was enacted to restrict insider trading by members of Congress and their staff and can extend to the President.  The inquiry examines the extent to which Donald Trump, Mr. Kushner and Trump family members have exploited access to government policy in making real estate ventures.

Impeachment is governed by Article II Section Four of the U.S. Constitution, which  states that the President shall be removed from office on impeachment for and conviction of treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.  Treasons is levying war against the United States, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.  Bribery is defined in federal statutes, not in the constitution.  High crimes and misdemeanors likewise is defined by looking at old British case law, there is no definition in our constitution.  And yes, a sitting president can be impeached for things done before being sworn in.

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Source: Wikimedia.org

Impeachment applies to the President, Vice President, and can, and has, been used to remove senators, congressman, federal judges and other “civil officers.” Remember Vice President Spiro Agnew? He avoided a near impeachment, and resigned instead in 1973.  Agnew was later indicted for things done when he was governor.  An impeachment is an indictment.