FBI probes whistleblower claim of $130 million scam; Plaza Health Network under scrutiny

Plaza Health Network's headquarters at 1800 NE 168th St., North Miami Beach. Witnesses saw FBI agents carting off computers and boxes of patient records there for several days last year.

By Francisco Alvarado
BrowardBulldog.org
Since being founded 64 years ago as a convalescent home for elderly Jewish people and war veterans, Plaza Health Network has nurtured a reputation for providing top-notch services to senior citizens of all denominations. But a little-noticed whistleblower’s lawsuit by an ex-Plaza executive alleges the non-profit company scammed the federal government for $130 million.

An election result you likely missed: anti-corruption referendum wins big in Tallahassee

anticorruption

By Dan Christensen
BrowardBulldog.org
Lost in the hubbub of a heated election season headlined by a down to the wire governor’s race, voters in Tallahassee approved a first-of-its-kind municipal anti-corruption referendum intended to limit the influence of big moneyed special interests in local politics.

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BSO quietly changes court’s probation orders; Broward judge blows the whistle

Broward County Judge Ginger Lerner-Wren, left, and David Scharf, director of community programs for the Broward Sheriff's Office

By Dan Christensen
BrowardBulldog.org
Fort Lauderdale resident Christopher Wayne Thurlow was adjudged guilty last April of misdemeanor battery and violating a restraining order. His sentence: 12 months of reporting probation – that is, to appear personally once a month before a probation officer. But that’s not what happened.

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For the public’s right to know or for profit? A town’s showdown with litigious residents

Martin O'Boyle, left, and Christopher O'Hare

By Dan Moffett
Special to BrowardBulldog.org
A non-profit foundation that bills itself as dedicated to the public’s right to know is a target of angry municipal officials who allege it is actually a money-making tool that uses frivolous public records lawsuits to squeeze payouts from governments in South Florida and across the state.

Full Story »

Curbelo’s campaign blames glitch for missing $50,000 in PAC contributions

U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Miami, left, and Republican challenger Carlos Curbelo Photo: Univision 23

By Frank Alvarado
BrowardBulldog.org
Miami Republican Carlos Curbelo’s congressional campaign was forced to resubmit its most recent quarterly finance report after failing to disclose $50,000 in contributions from 21 political action committees. This story was updated Saturday afternoon to account for numerous errors contained in Curbelo campaign reports.

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The Red Cross’ Secret Disaster

redcrosssandy

By Justin Elliott and Jesse Eisinger;Laura Sullivan
ProPublica and NPR
In 2012, two massive storms pounded the United States, leaving hundreds of thousands of people homeless, hungry or without power for days and weeks. Americans sent hundreds of millions of dollars to the Red Cross, confident their money would ease the suffering. They believed the charity was up to the job. They were wrong.

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Broward PD Finkelstein says bond court judge Hurley must go; Chief judge says no

Broward County Court Judge John "Jay" Hurley Photo: NBC6 Miami

By Dan Christensen
BrowardBulldog.org
John “Jay” Hurley, a Broward County judge who’s gained a measure of online celebrity for his brand of televised justice, will keep his post in bond court despite a call for his removal by Broward Public Defender Howard Finkelstein.

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Broward continues to fail its mentally ill; The sad case of Broward’s ‘Forgotten Soldier’

South Florida State Hospital in Pembroke Pines.

By Owen Mcnamee and Douglas Brawley
Special to BrowardBulldog.org
Twenty years ago eighteen members of a Broward Grand Jury issued a
scathing report that concluded the Broward County mental health system was underfinanced, fragmented and leaderless. They found the system was failing thousands of mentally ill and disabled persons and causing hundreds to wind up in jail or endure forced hospitalizations without needed treatment. Twenty years later, we are still failing this vulnerable population.

Full Story »

Rick Scott and allegations of corporate spying and theft by a company he helped oversee

Rick Scott celebrates his Republican primary victory over Bill McCollum at the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina on Aug. 24, 2010. One month earlier, Envestnet, a company where Scott was an investor and board member, settled civil charges of corporate espionage and theft.

By Dan Christensen
BrowardBulldog.org
Most Floridians know that before Rick Scott was governor he headed a hospital chain that paid $1.7 billion to resolve criminal and civil charges of healthcare fraud. Less known is the story of Scott’s involvement as an investor, director and paid consultant at another firm that settled civil claims of corporate spying and theft a month before Scott’s 2010 victory in the Republican gubernatorial primary propelled him towards the governor’s mansion.

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Bulldog Extra

Editor’s note: The Center for Public Integrity tracked political advertising in races for the U.S. Senatestate-level offices and state ballot measures. Use these three interactive features to see who was calling the shots and where the money was spent. 

A screengrab from the Drug Free Florida Committee against Amendment 2 in Florida, a measure to allow medical marijuana. The measure failed. Drug Free Florida Committee/YouTube

A screengrab from the Drug Free Florida Committee against Amendment 2 in Florida, a measure to allow medical marijuana. The measure failed. Drug Free Florida Committee/YouTube

By Liz Essley Whyte, Center for Public Integrity

Big money was a boon to groups fighting for and against ballot measures across the states on Election Day.

In 21 of the top 25 most expensive state ballot measure races in terms of television ad spending, groups that won the war on the airwaves also won at the ballot box, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of unofficial election results and preliminary data from media tracking service Kantar Media/CMAG.

But surprising upsets also showed that in the wild world of direct democracy, money isn’t everything. Full Story »

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