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

IMG_1999

Tornado Damages Homes Near Ocala Monday

More than 50 homes were damaged in two separate neighborhoods southwest of Ocala Monday afternoon as severe thunderstorms rolled through.


Cars drive past the filled-in potholes and cracks. Permanent road repairs are not expected until after July 2016. Ronnie Socash / WUFT News

No Immediate Fix for SW 62nd Boulevard Road Conditions

Despite continual repairs to Southwest 62nd Boulevard, commuters will still have to drive along the road’s potholes and “alligator cracks” until it is reconstructed in 2016. Once a project development and environment study is completed, the city of Gainesville can work on a $45.2 million project that will turn Southwest 62nd Boulevard from a two-lane road into a four-lane road.


UF football player JC Jackson was arrested yesterday for his involvement in an armed Robbery on Saturday.  He is currently in the ASO jail on a $150,000 bond.

UF Football Player Arrested After Armed Robbery, Released On $150,000-Bond

University of Florida football player J.C. Jackson has been released on $150,000-bond. Jackson was arrested Monday after turning himself in for his involvement in an armed robbery.


Scott Camil, 68, points to a cartoon depicting himself and other members of the Gainesville Eight at their trial. The original cartoon was given to him by the artist, Bill Day. The Gainesville Eight was the name given to a group of anti-Vietnam war protestors charged with conspiracy to disrupt the 1972 Republican National Convention in Miami.

Vietnam War Veteran Rejects Violence, Embraces Peace

Vietnam War veteran Scott Camil once believed the war to be right and honorable. Now, Camil is the founder of Gainesville Veterans for Peace, an organization that partners with other organizations around the area to promote peace.


David Cleveland sits outside his tent in Dignity Village near Grace Marketplace Tuesday, March 10, 2015. Cleveland's campsite is located on a 10 acre span of land that the city of Gainesville will lease from the state.

City Aquires Land Surrounding GRACE Marketplace

The city is finalizing an agreement to use 10 acres of land currently occupied by Dignity Village homeless encampment which could create a more regulated environment.


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