SunRail will be closed Monday, January 16 in observance of the federal holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Train service will resume Tuesday, January 17 with 36 regularly scheduled train trips per day. For more information about SunRail, including fares, schedule and station locations, please visit www.sunrail.com. Please be careful around trains, railroad crossings, and while at station platforms. Be smart. Be safe.
Soup Du Jour
Attorney General Pam Bondi is joining the federal government in a multistate settlement with Shire Pharmaceuticals LLC and other subsidiaries of Shire plc. Shire plc is a multinational pharmaceutical company headquartered in Ireland, with United States operations headquartered in Lexington, Mass. The agreement in principle settles allegations that Shire and the company it acquired in 2011, Advanced BioHealing, employed kickbacks and other unlawful methods to improperly promote a medical device called Dermagraft. Dermagraft is a bioengineered human skin substitute approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers.
The agreement resolves allegations that from 2007 to 2014, Dermagraft salespersons unlawfully induced clinics and physicians to use Dermagraft with payment of remuneration. These payments included lavish dinners, drinks, entertainment and travel; medical equipment and supplies; unwarranted payments for purported speaking engagements and bogus case studies; and cash, credits and rebates. According to the federal government, the U.S. settlement with Shire represents the largest False Claims Act recovery by the U.S. in a kickback case involving a medical device.
The federal Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits the payment of remuneration to induce the use of medical devices covered by Medicare, Medicaid and other federally-funded health care programs. Under the False Claims Act, claims filed in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute are considered false or fraudulent. Additionally, the settlement resolves allegations that Shire and ABH unlawfully marketed Dermagraft for uses not approved by the FDA, made false statements to inflate the price of Dermagraft and caused improper coding, verification or certification of Dermagraft claims and related services.
As part of the settlement, Shire will pay the federal government $350 million. More than $14 million of this payment is going to the Medicaid program to resolve allegations that Shire’s improper promotion and marketing of Dermagraft caused false claims to be submitted to government health care programs. The states will receive more than $6 million for their share of the Medicaid program.
The settlement also resolves allegations asserted in six qui tam actions brought by whistleblowers in, or transferred to, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida. Two of the qui tam actions named various states and included allegations that Shire submitted or caused to be submitted false claims to the Medicaid program under the federal False Claims Act and various state false claims statutes.
A National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units Team participated in the investigation and conducted the settlement negotiations with Shire on behalf of the states. The team included representatives of Florida, Illinois, Ohio and New York Medicaid Fraud Control Units. The states coordinated their investigation in conjunction with the Department of Justice’s Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch and the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices for the Middle District of Florida, the District of Columbia and the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Governor Rick Scott announced today the appointment of Gregory Hansen to the Board of County Commissioners of Flagler County. Hansen is appointed to fill a vacancy created by the death of Frank Meeker, for a term beginning January 13, 2017.
Governor Scott said, “Commissioner Frank Meeker was an incredible asset to the Palm Coast Community, and will be dearly missed by all. I am confident that Greg Hansen will work hard on behalf of the residents of Flagler County.”
Hansen, 70, of Palm Coast, is a retired Captain in the United States Navy and previously served as the head appropriations committee liaison for the Office of the Navy Comptroller, and a commanding officer on the USS McClusky and the USS Antietam. He received his bachelor’s degree from the United States Naval Academy and his masters from the United States Naval Postgraduate School. He is appointed to the seat previously held by the late Frank Meeker, for a term beginning January 13, 2017, and ending on November 20, 2018.
Following is a comment from U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) on the news today that a grand jury has indicted three former Takata executives for concealing deadly defects in the company’s air bag inflators:
“Companies have a responsibility to ensure that the products they make are safe for consumers. These indictments send a strong message that if company executives knowingly put deadly products on the market, they will be held accountable for their actions.”
Nelson, the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee, unveiled a report last February that found widespread manipulation of air bag inflator test data by Takata employees, with some occurring after the recalls began.
Following is an Associated Press article on the indictments:
3 Takata workers indicted, accused of hiding air bag defects
By TOM KRISHER, DEE-ANN DURBIN and ED WHITE
Last Modified: 12:08 PM, Fri Jan 13, 2017
A federal grand jury in Detroit has indicted three former employees of Takata Corp., charging them with concealing deadly defects in the Japanese company’s automotive air bag inflators.
The indictments on six counts of conspiracy and wire fraud were returned Dec. 7 and unsealed Friday, just hours ahead of a Justice Department news conference to announce a corporate penalty against the Japanese company.
The charges were filed against Shinichi Tanaka, Hideo Nakajima and Tsuneo Chikaraishi. All three were long-time executives at Takata until 2015, and all three worked both in Japan and the U.S. Takata’s U.S. operations are headquartered in the Detroit suburb of Auburn Hills, Michigan.
The trio deceived car makers who purchased the inflators “through false and fraudulent reports and other information that concealed the true condition of the inflators,” according to the indictment. It alleges that the men knew back in 2000 that the inflators were not performing to specifications and had ruptured during testing.
Each was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and five counts of wire fraud for transfers of funds that occurred between 2012 and 2015.
Takata air bag inflators can explode with too much force, spewing metal shrapnel into drivers and passengers. At least 16 people have been killed worldwide and more than 180 injured. The faulty inflators have touched off the largest automotive recall in U.S. history involving 42 million vehicles and 69 million inflators.
“Defendants commonly referred to the removal or alteration of unfavorable test data that was to be provided to Takata customers as ‘XX-ing’ the data,” the indictment says. In February 2005, Tanaka told the others in an email that “they had ‘no choice’ but to provide manipulated data intended for distribution” to a particular automaker, the indictment stated.
In June 2005, Nakajima said in an email that “they had no choice but to manipulate test data, and that they needed to ‘cross the bridge together.'”
Multiple news outlets have reported that Takata will pay around a $1 billion penalty. The FBI has been investigating allegations that the company deceived federal regulators and tried to cover up the air bag problems.
Florida Water Infrastructure will be Top Priority
on Transportation & Infrastructure Committee
12-Year Army Veteran Served Alongside IDF in Israel
U.S. Congressman Brian Mast (FL-18) today was named to the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee.
As the newly sworn-in Representative for Florida’s 18th Congressional District, Rep. Mast’s top priority was securing a position on the Transportation and Infrastructure committee. In this role, Rep. Mast will be best positioned to make progress on a number of important infrastructure projects in the 18th Congressional District, including pressing water infrastructure concerns that must be resolved with the United States Army Corps of Engineers to protect the region from environmental disaster.
“Serving on the Transportation and Infrastructure committee puts me in the best possible position to tackle the pressing water issues in our community,” Rep. Mast said. “Fighting for clean, safe water for future generations is a non-negotiable priority. I’m committed to tackling these issues head on to ensure that the projects affecting the Indian River Lagoon and our beaches are prioritized moving forward.”
Rep. Mast was also named to the Foreign Affairs Committee. A 12-year Army veteran, Rep. Mast fought on the front lines of the war against terror and has the physical scars that serve as a daily reminder of the enemy we face and their desire to destroy our way of life.
“My time in the military will allow me to better serve our country by bringing the perspective of a soldier to the critical foreign affairs debates in Congress,” Rep. Mast said. “In the last 8 years, America’s retreat from an international leadership role has left a vacuum of power that is now being filled by our enemies, including ISIS. I look forward to reversing this troubling trend by working with our allies, including Israel, to spread the American ideals of freedom and democracy abroad.”
Rep. Mast served as a bomb technician under the Joint Special Operations Command. Following his military service, Rep. Mast worked with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the National Nuclear Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security, as well as volunteering to serve alongside the Israeli Defense Forces.
“Congressman Mast – a former special operator in the Army – displayed incredible bravery in service to our country,” Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (CA-39) said. “His personal experience will be vital to our efforts to defeat ISIS and other terrorist organizations.”
ABOUT THE TRANSPORTATION & INFRASTRUCTURE COMMITTEE
The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has jurisdiction over all modes of transportation: aviation, maritime and waterborne transportation, highways, bridges, mass transit, and railroads. The Committee also has jurisdiction over other aspects of our national infrastructure, such as clean water and waste water management, the transport of resources by pipeline, flood damage reduction, the management of federally owned real estate and public buildings, the development of economically depressed rural and urban areas, disaster preparedness and response, and hazardous materials transportation. The Committee’s broad oversight portfolio includes many federal agencies, including the Department of Transportation, the U.S. Coast Guard, Amtrak, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the General Services Administration, the Army Corps of Engineers, and others.
ABOUT THE FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE
The House Committee on Foreign Affairs considers legislation that impacts the diplomatic community, which includes the Department of State, the Agency for International Development (USAID), the Peace Corps, the United Nations, and the enforcement of the Arms Export Control Act.
The Florida Lottery today announced that a FANTASY 5® top prize-winning ticket worth $113,780.07 remains unclaimed. The 180-day deadline to claim the top prize is Monday, January 30, 2017, at midnight ET.
The winning FANTASY 5 numbers for the August 3, 2016, drawing were:
07 – 16 – 25 – 33 – 36
The winning free Quick Pick ticket was sold at Prime Time Food Store, located at 9339 Norfolk Boulevard in Jacksonville. Players who may have purchased a FANTASY 5 ticket at this retail location are encouraged to check their tickets for the August 3 drawing.
While any Florida Lottery retailer can validate the winning ticket, the FANTASY 5 top prize must be claimed at a Florida Lottery district office or at Florida Lottery Headquarters in Tallahassee. Players can obtain additional information by calling the Lottery’s Customer Service Department at (850) 487-7787 or visiting the Florida Lottery’s website at www.flalottery.com.
FANTASY 5 is a pari-mutuel game in which players win the top prize by matching 5-of-5 winning numbers drawn in any order. Additionally, players win cash prizes or a free Quick Pick ticket by matching two, three or four of the numbers drawn in the official drawing for the date played. If there is no top prize winner, the money in the top prize pool rolls down and is shared among players who match 4-of-5 or 3-of-5 winning numbers.
Since the game’s inception, more than 697 million FANTASY 5 winners have won more than $3.9 billion in prizes. Of these, more than 51,000 players have won top prizes totaling more than $2.3 billion.
Jim Toedtman, a veteran journalist and director of Flagler College’s Forum on Government and Public Policy lecture series, will receive a distinguished Columbia Journalism School Alumni Award in April.
According to the Columbia Journalism School, the alumni awards are presented annually for a distinguished journalism career in any medium, an outstanding single journalistic accomplishment, a notable contribution to journalism education or an achievement in related fields. The awards, which represent recognition of excellence by professional peers, are highly prized by the Journalism School’s alumni, who include many of the most respected members of the profession.
“This is a terrific award from a great institution,” Toedtman said. “It is really a tribute to the many very talented people I’ve worked with and for in a long career from my early days as a newspaper reporter and editor, then as a magazine editor and most recently in and outside the classroom at Flagler.”
Toedtman is recognized for his distinguished career as a reporter and editor. Before taking the editorship of AARP Bulletin, he was editor of The Baltimore News American, executive editor of the Boston Herald and managing editor of Newsday. He has covered local government, Congress and the White House and has reported from three continents. At Newsday, he was a member of the reporting team that won the 1970 Pulitzer Prize, and he helped direct Newsday reporters who won Pulitzers in 1993 and 2002. He was named editor of the AARP Bulletin in 2005, and in this role he was consistently recognized for excellence in covering a range of public policy and consumer issues. In addition to graduating from Columbia University, he attained his bachelor’s degree from the College of Wooster and studied at the University of Queensland, Australia, as a Rotary Foundation Fellow. In 2012, he accepted the directorship of Flagler’s Forum on Government and Public Policy. For more than 30 years, the lecture series has invited nationally-recognized journalists and commentators to St. Augustine to discuss issues of importance in regional, state and federal government.
“Jim’s distinguished professional career speaks for itself,” said Flagler College President Dr. William T. Abare, Jr. “He is the consummate professional, and he has contributed in numerous ways to the betterment of our college. I am pleased to know that he is to be recognized by his alma mater for his many accomplishments.”
Toedtman, along with Columbia Journalism School’s alumni Matt Bai, Erika Dilday and Robin McDowell, will be formally recognized during the school’s Alumni Weekend on April 29.
US 17 at I-75: Maintenance contract project: Motorists should expect intermittent northbound lane closures during nighttime/overnight hours from 7 p.m. Thursday, January 19 through 6 a.m. Friday, January 20 while crews pave the roadway, weather permitting. Motorists should use caution as crews work in the roadway.
Governor Scott announced today that Cott Corporation, one of the world’s largest beverage producers and distributors, will be expanding their headquarters in Hillsborough County. The expansion will create 60 new jobs and invest $800,000 in the local community.
Governor Scott said, “I am proud to announce Cott Corporation is expanding their headquarters in Hillsborough County and creating 60 new jobs for Tampa families. Florida businesses have added more than 1.25 million private-sector jobs in the last six years and we will keep working every day to make our state the number one place to grow a business. I look forward to welcoming more job creators like Cott Corporation to Florida.”
Jerry Fowden, CEO, Cott Corporation said, “Cott has undergone a significant and positive transformation in recent years including acquisitions such as DS Services, Aquaterra, Eden Springs and most recently, S&D Coffee and Tea. As we grow, we continue to strive to be an employer of choice in the Florida and Tampa market. Tampa has been a very good location for our global headquarters, offering a workforce whose skills align with our business needs. That makes this region increasingly attractive to us.”
With over 12,000 employees, Cott maintains operations in 20 countries worldwide. Cott also develops and manufactures beverage concentrates, which it exports to approximately 50 countries around the world.
Brad Goist, President, North America, Cott Beverages said, “We had an opportunity to evaluate aspects of our North America support structure recently and have decided to relocate positions from other domestic and international locations and further invest those jobs in Tampa. We believe this is a good investment for our business unit and we look forward to continuing to grow with Tampa in the years to come.”
This project was made possible through strong partnerships between Enterprise Florida, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Hillsborough County and the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation.
Chris Hart IV, President and CEO, Enterprise Florida, Inc. said, “Cott beverages is following other businesses and is continuing to expand in Florida. They recognize that Florida is the best place to do business and 60 new jobs are being created for Florida families. The business-friendly climate and the talent pool in Florida lead the nation and continue to attract businesses like Cott Beverages.”
Cissy Proctor, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, said, “Cott Corporation is a thriving Florida business that has harnessed the Tampa area’s talented workforce and the state’s superior distribution networks. I am proud of the company’s growth and commitment to job creation and expansion in Florida. Cott’s newly announced high-wage jobs will provide great opportunities to local job seekers.”
Stacy White, Chairman, Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners said, “Hillsborough County’s exceptional pool of diversely skilled talent and friendly business climate helped make Cott Corporation’s decision to add jobs here much easier. We thank Cott for providing more excellent career opportunities for local families and applaud their decision to bring jobs that had been located in other states and overseas to Tampa. We look forward to supporting them as they grow.”
Cott Corporation joins a growing list of companies that have recently made the decision to locate or expand their headquarters in Hillsborough County, including Bertram Yachts, BlueGrace Logistics, North American Roofing Services, Inc., and Velocity Resource Group.
Ken Atwater, Ph.D., Chairman of Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation and President of Hillsborough Community College said, “We are pleased to see Cott Corporation continue to thrive in Hillsborough County. The competition for the quality jobs they provide is intense, and Cott had several other options to consider. We appreciate Cott’s decision to increase their investment in our community, and know it will pay great dividends for them.”
Individuals interested in open job opportunities may refer to the Cott Corporation web site at http://www.cott.com/careers.
About Cott Corporation
With the acquisitions of DS Services of America, Inc. and Eden Springs, Cott has combined leading providers in the direct-to-consumer beverage services industry with its traditional business, one of the world’s largest producers of beverages on behalf of retailers, brand owners and distributors. Cott now has the largest volume-based national presence in the North American and European home and office delivery industry for botled water and one of the five largest national market share positions in the U.S. and Europe office coffee services and filtration services industries. Cott reaches over 2.3 million customers through routes located across North America, Europe, Israel and Russia supported by national sales and distribution facilities, and fleet. Cott’s broad portfolio allows it to offer, on a direct-to consumer basis, a variety of bottled water, coffee, brewed tea, water dispensers, coffee and tea brewers and filtration equipment. Cott believes it has the broadest distribution network in the direct-to-consumer beverage services industry in North America and Europe, which enables it to efficiently service residences and small and medium size businesses, as well as national corporations, universities and government agencies.
Enterprise Florida, Inc. (EFI) is a partnership between Florida’s businesses and government leaders and is the principal economic development organization for Florida. EFI facilitates job growth through recruitment and retention, international trade and exporting, promotion of sporting events, and capital funding programs to assist small and minority businesses. EFI launched “Florida – The Future is Here” to promote the state as the nation’s premier business destination.
Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation is the lead designated economic development agency for Hillsborough County and the cities of Tampa, Plant City, and Temple Terrace. Established in 2009 as a partnership between the public sector and private corporate investors, the EDC works to develop and sustain a thriving local economy through the attraction, retention and expansion of high wage jobs and capital investment within targeted industry sectors.
Hillsborough County, Florida is the commercial and industrial heart of Tampa Bay. The fourth largest county in the state of Florida, Hillsborough is home to nearly 1.3 million residents, with thousands more arriving each year. Its strength is drawn from being one of the most advanced economies and having one of the most educated workforces in the state. Hillsborough County and its three municipalities –Tampa, Plant City, and Temple Terrace – offer a competitive business environment and an abundance of regional assets including Port Tampa Bay, Tampa International Airport, and MacDill Air Force Base. County government is focused on creating economic prosperity for residents and businesses throughout the area. To learn more, visit HCFLGov.net.
US 41 from Wiggins Pass Road to Anchor Rode Drive: Maintenance contract project: Crews will be sweeping the roadway from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, January 17 through Thursday, January 19, weather permitting. Motorists should use caution as crews work in the roadway.