WUFT News

Florida Civil Rights Association Seeks Federal Investigation After Nursing Home Raids

By on February 10th, 2014

Updated, Wednesday at 3:08 p.m.: James Pogue of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, in an email response to WUFT, said search warrants were obtained in these cases. He gave no further comment.

Original story, Monday at 10:37 p.m.:

The Florida Civil Rights Association is seeking a federal investigation into agencies they say discriminated against two Marion County women.

Mary Alexander and her daughter Tara Collins-Johnson were charged with operating unlicensed assisted living facilities in Ocala and Summerfield. According to a press release issued on Wednesday by FCRA, however, evidence obtained in their cases was a result of “a series of warrantless raids for Unlicensed Assisted Living Facilities (ALF) conducted under the pretext (police ruse) of administrative licensing inspections.”

According to the press release, the FCRA is asking the United States Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to investigate the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, the Florida Department of Children and Families, the Marion County Planning and Zoning Board, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, the state attorney general’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the State Attorney’s Office.

Alexander said she has done nothing wrong, but since her arrest on June 20, she has continued to experience “severe harassment from these agencies.”

Thomas Philip Hanson, the assistant state attorney prosecuting Alexander, did not return a call for comment on the issues raised against the State Attorney’s Office.

Alexander was also charged with and arrested for organized fraud on Dec. 10 after she was found in possession of 10 Electronic Benefit Transfer cards. She said she had signed permission for their use from the cardholders to help them manage food benefits, but residents said their cards had been taken without their permission, according to The Gainesville Sun.

Alexander pleaded not guilty to the charges, according to the court record, and the case is still open.

The root of the problem, she said, is racial discrimination in Marion County.

“In Marion County, they don’t want blacks to fight back. That is just against the law in Marion County,” Alexander said. “You do not fight back. If I tell you to shut up, you just say, ‘Yes, sir.’”

She described Marion County and its officials as still having “Confederate ways,” maintaining the discrimination of the 1940s and 1950s. Because of this environment, she said, African American business owners are not welcome.

Kyan Ware, the legal affairs chairman for FCRA, agreed with Alexander.

Ware said permit applications from minority business owners in Marion County take “forever and a day” to be processed if they are processed at all. Some are given what he called ludicrous reasons for why permits could not be processed and told to comply with unnecessary mandates. Minorities, he said, are effectively being stonewalled and intimidated from doing business in the area.

The misconduct in Alexander’s case, he explained, reminded FCRA officials of a similar situation in Orlando in which barbershops were searched. In both cases, warrants were not issued nor presented prior to the search of the businesses in question.

Kyan Ware, legal affairs chairman and spokesman for the Florida Civil Rights Association, was interviewed by Fox News 35 in Orlando. Ware told WUFT FCRA saw similarities between Mary Alexander's case and another situation in Orlando in which the civil rights organization believed barbershops were illegally searched.

Florida Civil Rights Association

Kyan Ware, legal affairs chairman and spokesman for the Florida Civil Rights Association, was interviewed by Fox News 35 in Orlando. Ware told WUFT FCRA saw similarities between Mary Alexander's case and another situation in Orlando in which the civil rights organization believed barbershops were illegally searched.

“We’re not defending anything that was found as a result of these searches,” Ware said. “For instance, the government claimed that they found these deplorable conditions and problems. We’re not defending that. We’re saying if you want to punish that, you’ve got to do it right.”

Illegal searches of this nature are not only disturbing to FCRA because they violate the U.S. Constitution, he said, but also because they appear to reflect widespread corruption or ignorance on the part of state officials.

Ware said members of the institutions in question are expected to know the law. So, he asked, why would they allow these illegal activities? The answer could lie in “incompetence or recklessness,” he said.

Shelisha Coleman, Agency for Health Care Administration’s press secretary, said in an email AHCA was unaware of any complaints filed with the Department of Justice or any other third parties. Coleman provided the final order given by AHCA concerning Alexander, which determined she had been operating unlicensed ALFs.

The agencies listed on the group’s press release have not yet responded to WUFT News with requests for comment.

The people of Marion County, Ware said, are not doing anything stop what the FCRA sees as injustice.

According to Ware, the white voting majority does not see a need to step in because white neighborhoods and business owners are not being targeted. However, he said he does not think that will last much longer if action is taken against them.

“As long as it’s not touching them, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “But when it is you, don’t complain. You’ve been forewarned.”


This entry was posted in Local and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
 

More Stories in Local

Bo Diddley One

Tallahassee Homeless Ordinance Creates Conversation In Gainesville

A potential ordinance in Tallahassee, which would strictly limit the presence of homeless people in public places, was discussed Friday. Some Gainesville officials are advocating for a more collaborative way to address the issue.


The band members of Guts, from left to right: Kara Smith, bass and vocals; Samantha Jones, guitar, bass, drums and vocals; Kentucky Costellow, drums; and Rebecca Butler, keys and tenor ukulele. Guts plays for campers in the Gainesville Girls Rock Camp on Friday after lunch. The camp, which is in its third year, focuses on using music to empower young girls. Christine Preston / WUFT News

Rock Camp Empowers Young Girls In Gainesville

The Gainesville Girls Rock Camp uses music to empower young girls and teens. Girls gain self-confidence throughout the program and learn to encourage each another.


Signs indicating unsafe levels of bacteria in Hogtown Creek were posted in June, according to Linda Demetropoulos, nature manager of the city of Gainesville Parks Department. Visitors can find these signs around various areas of local parks.

Hogtown Creek Bacteria Levels Unsafe For Human Use

The Alachua County Environmental Protection Department has found unsafe levels of bacteria in Hogtown Creek waters.


I-75 at MM385 is backed up due to manhunt. Photo via @GACSmarttraffic.

I-75 Shut Down After Trooper Involved In Shooting

Update 7/27/2015 at 7:15 p.m.: The suspect has been identified as Earl Jackson, according to a news release from the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office.


Kristen Hadeed, founder of Student Maid, and Rich Blaser, co-founder of Infinite Energy, explain how Josh impacted the start-up community in Gainesville. They were part of a group of young entrepreneurs in Gainesville who met monthly to discuss their work.

Memorial Held for Gainesville Entrepreneur

A memorial for Josh Greenberg, the co-founder of music streaming service Grooveshark, was held Friday evening at the Phillips Center. He was found dead in his home July 19.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Underwriting Payments