Two Florida A&M officials have been indicted by the federal government for conspiring to embezzle Housing and Urban Development Department money. U.S. Attorney Pamela Marsh said Wednesday that Eugene Telfair and Robert Nixon were indicted on charges of conspiracy, theft from an organization receiving federal funds, and embezzlement. Telfair, president of the FAMU Federal Credit Union, and Nixon, the director of FAMU's Institute on Urban Policy and Commerce, allegedly conspired to steal about $134,250 between 2005 and 2008. The indictment said Telfair and Nixon wrote one another checks and created fraudulent personal services contracts. Telfair is also alleged to have created false tax documents.
* * *
Homeless feeding ban is upheld
An appellate court is siding with Orlando in its fight against activists who give food to the homeless in a public park. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday the law is reasonable and constitutional. The case stemmed from an ordinance requiring permits to feed 25 or more and restricting the number allowed in a given park. Orlando commissioners argued that serving transients created safety and sanitary problems. The groups Orlando Food Not Bombs and First Vagabonds Church of God claimed the rules violated their ability to spread the message that having food is a basic right, and breaking bread is part of worship.
* * *
Attorney general wants fraud tool
State officials asked federal officials Wednesday for a waiver to give the Attorney General's Office access to computerized records at the Agency for Health Care Administration to check for fraudulent billing practices. The state's fraud control units are now prohibited from reviewing medical claims data held by Medicaid agencies like AHCA. The waiver would allow the attorney general's fraud control unit to hunt for suspicious claims for reimbursement in the multibillion-dollar Medicaid program. AHCA Secretary Tom Arnold said he has about 100 employees now checking hospital, doctor and dental billings, as well as claims submitted by other medical providers.
* * *
Ruling sought on court funding
The Florida Supreme Court is being asked to decide if the state must stop diverting money from civil court filing fees away from the judicial system and into its general fund. The 1st District Court of Appeal said Wednesday the matter requires immediate resolution by the Supreme Court. A Leon County Circuit ruled last month that it is unconstitutional to divert the fees from the cash-starved court system.