December 28, 2012
As we do at this time each year, we take a look back at our many accomplishments in the Office of the Attorney General over the past year. I am proud of all that we have achieved for Kentucky families and grateful for the continued dedication of my staff. I hope you'll take a few moments to read about our efforts in my latest monthly column.
I also want to remind Kentucky homeowners that the deadline to apply for cash payments of up to $2,000 under the National Mortgage Foreclosure Settlement is January 18, 2013. Consumers must have faced foreclosure from 2008 to 2011 and had a loan with or serviced by one of the nation's five largest banks. Details about the settlement eligibility requirements and other benefits can be found at NationalMortgageSettlement.com.
Finally, my staff and I were pleased to deliver a box of hats, gloves and socks to a Frankfort homeless shelter. In lieu of a gift exchange, some of my staff members collected hats and gloves for the Simon House, a shelter that serves homeless single mothers and children. This has become a wonderful holiday tradition for our office and a welcome delivery at the holidays for local families in need.
On behalf of my staff and family, have a safe and joyous New Year!
December 21, 2012
With the rush of the holidays, it is easy to forget how very blessed we are. Like many parents over the past week, Elizabeth and I have hugged our two beautiful daughters a little tighter. Our thoughts and prayers will continue to be with the families of Newtown, Ct. I pray that they find some comfort in the knowledge that the nation stands with them during this time of tragedy.
My thoughts are also with our soldiers who are overseas and unable to be home for the holidays. On behalf of my family and my staff here in the Office of the Attorney General, have a safe and joyous holiday and blessed New Year.
December 14, 2012
I am shocked and saddened by news today of the mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Ct. Among the fallen were children just beginning their lives and adults dedicated to helping children realize a brighter future.
My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those whose lives were cut short and the many who witnessed this unimaginable violence. Like many parents around the country tonight, I will be hugging my children a little tighter.
As a parent and as Attorney General, keeping our kids safe is a top priority. That's why I created my Cybercrimes Unit to go after Internet predators who prey on children and why I travel into schools across the Commonwealth to warn students about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.
My Keep Kentucky Kids Safe partners and I spoke to about 1,000 9th and 10th graders at Henderson County High School earlier this week. I appreciate the warm welcome we received from the students, faculty and community leaders who attended. For more information, please see our press release
Coming up on Monday, I'll announce the winners of our 2012 Keep Kentucky Kids Safe PSA contest. We had some terrific entries this year and I look forward to naming our winners.
Kentucky stands to receive nearly $1 million following a multi-state settlement with Pfizer Inc. to resolve allegations that the drug company unlawfully promoted its drugs Zyvox and Lyrica. The $42.9 million national settlement should send a clear message to Pfizer and other big drug companies that deceiving the public and medical community is not tolerated.
December 7, 2012
New regulations are in effect today to better protect Kentucky consumers who utilize mold removal services. The new law will help ensure that consumers are informed about mold and the standards for mold remediation in the Commonwealth before they hire a mold remediation company. The new standards are a good first step; however, consumers must also fix the water problem that is causing the mold. Without corrective measures, the mold will return.
For more information on the new mold remediation regulations, please visit our Mold Remediation page.
Our next Keep Kentucky Kids Safe prescription drug abuse awareness program is Monday, Dec. 10 at Henderson County High School. Dr. Karen Shay, whose daughter Sarah died of an overdose in 2006 and state drug czar Van Ingram will join me as we warn students about the dangers of taking pills that aren't prescribed to you by your doctor. This is a message my partners and I have taken into schools across the state.
Additionally, the deadline to submit video entries for this year's Keep Kentucky Kids Safe PSA contest is midnight tonight. This is a wonderful opportunity each year for students to have their voices heard on one of the most serious threats facing kids today. Entries are submitted through our Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Page.
We'll announce this year's winner and runner-up on Dec. 14.
November 30, 2012
As Attorney General, it has been an honor and a privilege to work with community leaders across this Commonwealth. I welcomed the opportunity to visit with many of them at the KACO annual conference in Louisville today.
Working together, we have accomplished a great deal for Kentucky families and communities. We have turned challenges into opportunities. We have stood together in times of disaster and unprecedented budget cuts. We have weathered the mortgage foreclosure crisis, going after the banks that created the crisis and securing a record settlement of $58 million for Kentuckians.
Working together, we're gaining ground in our fight to protect families in every corner of the Commonwealth from the scourge of prescription drug abuse. I continue to travel into middle and high schools across the state with courageous parents, like Dr. Karen Shay and Mike Donta, to educate kids about the dangers of abusing prescription pills.
We've stood for consumers against big oil and tripled elder abuse investigations since I took office. We've also saved taxpayers and ratepayers almost a half billion dollars in proposed rate increases and Medicaid fraud collections.
I am proud of all we have accomplished and I am energized as we continue working together to make Kentucky a safer place to live, work and raise a family.
I'll talk more about our accomplishments and the latest news from the Office of the Attorney General on Monday morning with Alan Watts of WKDZ Radio in Cadiz and Myla and Scooter on WBVR Radio and with 84 WHAS' Terry Meiners on Wednesday. I hope you can tune in.
November 21, 2012
Kentucky homeowners are continuing to benefit from the national mortgage foreclosure settlement. The second post-settlement progress report released this week finds that the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers provided $33.29 million in settlement-related relief to 944 Kentucky homeowners between March 1 and September 30. Borrowers received an average of $35,268 in assistance in the form of loan modifications, second lien terminations and refinances, among other forms of mortgage relief.
I am pleased that the banks are continuing to move in the right direction by providing substantial relief to homeowners across the Commonwealth and the nation. Nationally, the report found that more than 300,000 borrowers received some type of consumer relief during the same period totaling $26.11 billion. For more information, please see our press release.
Additionally, I am among 42 attorneys general to sign a letter urging Congress to extend a critical tax exclusion for consumers who’ve had mortgage debt canceled or forgiven because of financial hardship or a decline in housing values. The extension of this tax exclusion is expected to save taxpayers nearly $1.3 billion over two years.
We held our post-election audit drawing this week. Pursuant to KRS 15.243, my office is required to conduct a post-election audit investigation in no fewer than five percent of Kentucky's counties following each primary and general election. In the coming weeks, my investigators will conduct independent inquiries in Grayson, Bracken, Johnson, Lewis, Bath and Bourbon counties. We’ll check election forms, interview county officials and look for any election irregularities. It is important to note that these counties were selected at random and not because election law violations are suspected.
It was a beautiful drive out to Bourbon County on Monday to host one of our Keep Kentucky Kids safe prescription drug abuse awareness programs. The students at Bourbon County High were extremely attentive. I also appreciate the support we received from community leaders, like Sheriff Mathews, Chief Sutton, Judge Executive Foley, Mayor Thornton and County Attorney G. Davis Wilson, among others, who took time out of their busy schedules to attend our program.
I continue to be moved and inspired by courageous parents, like Mike Donta of Ashland, who travel with me as part of Keep Kentucky Kids Safe. It is because of Mike, and the countless other parents like him who have lost children to prescription drug abuse, that we must remain vigilant in our efforts to combat this scourge. For more information on our visit to Bourbon County High, please see our press release.
As we prepare to join with family and friends to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, please remember those who are in need of a helping hand this holiday season. Over the past couple of months, we in the Office of the Attorney General opened our hearts and wallets to donate more than $21,081 to this year’s Kentucky Employee Charitable Campaign, exceeding our goal by more than $4,500. I couldn’t be more proud of our efforts. These donations will truly make a difference in the lives of families in every corner of the Commonwealth.
On behalf of everyone at the Office of the Attorney General and my family, I hope you have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.
November 16, 2012
I am looking forward to joining my Keep Kentucky Kids Safe partners at Bourbon County High School on Monday. Van Ingram, Executive Director of the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, and concerned parent Mike Donta will help me warn students about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs.
Our message is simple. It is never okay to take a pill that is not prescribed to you. Taken in the wrong combination or with other substances, prescription pills can kill you.
This is a message that I have carried to more than 15,000 students across the Commonwealth. I appreciate the continued support of concerned parents, like Mike, and of our state and law enforcement partners.
Please encourage a middle or high school student you know to participate in our annual Keep Kentucky Kids Safe PSA contest. The deadline to submit a 30-second video PSA is Dec. 7. We are giving away some great prizes, including an Apple iPad and $100 Amazon.com gift card. Details are available on our Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention page.
Also Monday, we'll conduct our Post Election Audit drawing. Six counties will be chosen in a random drawing to undergo independent inquiries to identify any potential irregularities that may have occurred during the general election on Tuesday, November 6. These audits supplement the work our investigators and prosecutors do on the ground, each Election Day, to ensure an honest and fair election.
If you want to know more about the work we are doing here in the Office of the Attorney General, check out our latest monthly newsletter.
November 9, 2012
Protecting the integrity of Kentucky's elections is an important function of my Office. I'd like to thank the investigators, attorneys and staff members in my Department of Criminal Investigations who worked tirelessly on Election Day and in the weeks leading up to the election to ensure a fair and honest election for all Kentuckians.
I'd also like to thank the voters who utilized our Election Fraud Hotline to report irregularities. We received 183 calls from nearly 60 counties during Tuesday's election. An additional 46 calls were phoned into the hotline prior to the election. The majority of these calls involved procedural questions; however, we did receive 11 calls alleging vote buying/selling.
Be assured, each one of these complaints will be thoroughly reviewed and any that appear to be criminal in nature will be referred to the appropriate agency for further investigation.
For more results from our Election Fraud Hotline, please see our press release.
I also joined this week with Community Action Kentucky (CAK) to warn consumers applying for help through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) that they may be targeted by scam artists.
Many consumers who apply for home heating assistance are elderly or vulnerable citizens who are at high risk for scams. The LIHEAP Subsidy component began November 5, 2012 and will run through December 14, 2012. If you are solicited by phone or email to participate in LIHEAP, it is a scam. Applications for assistance are only accepted through CAK's 23 Community Action Agencies. They do not solicit by phone or email. See our press release for more information.
Finally, our office will be closed on Monday, Nov. 12 in observance of Veterans Day. Please take time to thank a veteran in your life for their service and sacrifice. These men and women are true heroes in our communities. My thoughts and prayers will also be with those who are serving our country overseas.
November 2, 2012
My thoughts and prayers are with residents along the East Coast who lost loved ones, lost homes and whose lives have been turned upside down by Hurricane Sandy. Times like this often bring out the best and worst in people. If you plan to support disaster relief efforts along the East Coast, please make sure your contribution reaches those in need and not a scam artist.
Donate to recognized charities and avoid responding to unsolicited emails or phone calls seeking donations. You can also utilize online resources through my office or the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to research charities before making a donation.
I hope you'll take a few minutes to read my latest monthly column detailing the progress we are making in combatting prescription drug abuse in Kentucky. Since the implementation of House Bill 1 (HB 1), 10 rogue pain clinics have shut their doors, 35 physicians have been disciplined for prescribing violations and for the first time in a decade prescriptions for highly addictive painkillers, like oxycodone and hydrocodone, are on the decline in the Commonwealth.
I am also continuing to travel the state with concerned parents and state and law enforcement partners as part of my Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program to warn Kentucky kids about the dangers of prescription pill abuse. To date, I've carried this message to more than 15,000 middle and high school students. For more information on our efforts, please visit ag.ky.gov/rxabuse.
I want to remind Kentuckians that my office will be ready to respond to any election irregularities or allegations of voter fraud during Tuesday's presidential election. My investigators will be monitoring polling precincts across the Commonwealth and our Election Fraud Hotline will be staffed while the polls are open from 6 a.m. EST until 7 p.m. EST.
We will not stand for voter intimidation, vote buying or selling or any election violations. If you see irregularities or possible voter fraud, please call my hotline at 1-800-328-VOTE (8683).
October 26, 2012
With voters headed to the polls on Nov. 6, I want Kentuckians to know that my office is working hard to ensure an honest and fair election. Through our Election Fraud Hotline, efforts on the ground on Election Day and our continued participation on the Kentucky Election Integrity Task Force, we work diligently to combat voter fraud and protect the integrity of the election process.
I am proud of our efforts, but we need the public's help too. I encourage citizens to report any election irregularities to our Election Fraud Hotline at 1-800-328-VOTE. The Hotline is available year-round, but is staffed while the polls are open on Election Day.
In other news this week, I announced a $95 million settlement between drug giant Boehringer Ingelheim, Inc. (BIPI) the federal government, Kentucky and other states. The settlement resolves allegations that BIPI paid kickbacks and engaged in off-label marketing campaigns to promote several of its drugs, including Aggrenox, Combivent, Atrovent and Micardis.
Under the settlement, Kentucky will receive nearly $811,000 in recoveries. I hope this sends a message to other drug companies that this type of behavior is not tolerated. Not only is it illegal, it puts the public's health at risk. For more information, see our press release.
A child pornography case investigated by my Cybercrimes Unit resulted in the guilty plea and sentencing of a Madison County man this week. 37-year-old James Rogers was sentenced to nine years in prison after pleading guilty to one count of receipt of child pornography. Investigators found more than 26,000 child pornographic images on computers removed from Rogers Richmond, Ky. Home.
Prosecution of this case was handled by the U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District. I appreciate their hard work in bringing this case to a successful close.
Don't forget that our annual Keep Kentucky Kids Safe PSA contest is underway. If you know a middle or high school student, encourage them to participate in our contest. We're giving away some great prizes, including an Apple iPad and raising awareness about an issue that affects families in every corner of the Commonwealth.
For contest details, visit our Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Page.
October 19, 2012
Since the implementation of landmark legislation this summer to combat prescription drug abuse, 10 pain management clinics have closed their doors and disciplinary action has been taken against 33 physicians for prescribing violations. Five doctors surrendered their licenses rather than have them revoked.
Although there have been some challenges, House Bill 1 is an important weapon as we fight to protect Kentucky families and to protect the future of our great Commonwealth. For more information, please see the press release issued this week.
If you have a middle or high school student, please encourage them to participate in our 2012 Keep Kentucky Kids Safe Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention PSA Contest. Students produce a 30-second video that shows the perils of prescription drug abuse and have a chance to win some great prizes including an Apple iPad donated by the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI) and a $100 Amazon.com gift card from the Kentucky Pharmacists Association. The deadline for submissions is Dec. 7, 2012.
My Cybercrimes Unit is again receiving much deserved recognition. The Unit was nominated for a Governor's Ambassador Award for Teamwork. The award is presented annually to recognize exemplary Commonwealth employee accomplishments.
My Cybercrimes investigators work every day to combat child pornography and make the Internet a safer place for Kentucky kids. I am proud of all they have accomplished and appreciate their continued hard work and dedication.
Kentucky residents who purchased e-books from Hachette Book Group (USA), HarperCollins Publishers L.L.C and Simon & Schuster Inc. between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012 may be eligible for restitution under a $69 million settlement with the publishers. Notices were mailed this week to qualifying consumers. For more information, please see our press release.
As chair of the National Association of Attorneys General's (NAAG) Consumer Protection Committee, I am honored to host the National Consumer Protection Conference in Louisville next week. Our focus is on improving the enforcement of state and federal consumer protection laws and supporting multistate consumer protection enforcement efforts.
Finally, my heart goes out to the family of 13-year-old Lane Goodwin who passed away Wednesday night after a brave battle with cancer. My staff and I were among the hundreds of thousands of people who supported the "Thumbs Up for Lane" Facebook campaign and who were inspired by Lane's courage, his warm smile and fighting spirit. My prayers are with the Goodwin family.
October 12, 2012
Yesterday was a great day for Centre College and for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. It was a pleasure to attend last night’s debate between Vice President Biden and Congressman Ryan. It was a lively exchange on everything from the economy to taxes and foreign policy. Twelve years after hosting its first Vice Presidential Debate, Centre has shown, yet again, that it can host a national-level event with confidence and ease.
I appreciated the opportunity this morning to speak to officials from across the Commonwealth attending the 2012 Kentucky League of Cities Conference and Expo in Lexington. These have been challenging times for local communities. That’s why I have worked closely with local officials to address our modern law enforcement challenges.
I created a digital forensics lab to process evidence from across the state. Often, departments had to wait up to a year for digital evidence to be processed. Eighty percent of crimes today now involve some sort of digital forensics. In some cases, we’ve been able to turn-around this crucial evidence in one week’s time.
Through my Cybercrimes Unit, we’re making the Internet a safer place for Kentucky kids. To date, we’ve launched nearly 300 investigations and seized more than 350,000 child pornographic images and videos. Please see our press release on our most recent arrest.
I’m also proud to say that we’ve saved taxpayers and ratepayers in Kentucky nearly a half billion dollars in proposed rate increases and Medicaid fraud collections. For more information on the work we’re doing here in the Office of the Attorney General, please see our latest Newsletter.
Coming up next week, I’ll announce details about our upcoming 2012 Keep Kentucky Kids Safe prescription drug abuse prevention PSA contest for high school and middle school students.
October 5, 2012
Identity theft remains one of the fastest growing crimes in America. That's why I have partnered with the city of Louisville and Shred-It to offer a free shredding event tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center. By taking advantage of this free shredding service, consumers can ensure that documents containing their personal information such as bank accounts, credit-card information or Social Security numbers, do not fall into the wrong hands.
For more information about this free event and tips on how to protect yourself against identity theft, please see our press release.
October is bullying prevention month and I hope you will take the opportunity to talk to the teens in your life about this growing problem. Each day, more than 160,000 students across the country will miss school to avoid bullying. Approximately 25 a year will take their own lives because of bullying and harassment in school and online.
By recognizing the signs and taking action, we can put a stop to bullying. We have some important tips for students, parents and educators in a press release we recently sent out in partnership with the Kentucky Center for School Safety and the Kentucky Suicide Prevention Group.
From protecting consumers from identity theft to combatting Medicaid fraud, prescription drug abuse and making the Internet a safer place for Kentucky teens, I am proud of our many accomplishments in the Office of the Attorney General.
In honor of Kentucky Public Employee Recognition Week, I'd like to thank my staff for all they do each and every day on behalf of Kentucky families. Their commitment to public service and our great Commonwealth has remained steadfast despite budget cuts and strained resources.
I have the hardest working staff in Frankfort and I am truly grateful for all they do to make Kentucky a safer place to live, work and raise a family.
September 28, 2012
A report released yesterday by Public Citizen, a non-profit watchdog group, finds that Kentucky leads the nation in pharmaceutical fraud cases. Combatting Medicaid fraud continues to be one of my top priorities and it's gratifying to know that our hard work is recognized nationally.
I am pleased to say that Medicaid fraud recoveries increased 600 percent after I took office in 2008. Since then, my Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control has recovered or been awarded more than $265 million for the state and federal Medicaid programs. During these tough economic times, it is gratifying to know that we have been able to recover this money on behalf of Kentucky taxpayers and a vital state program. Be assured, our commitment has not wavered. We will continue to go after drug companies that defraud the Medicaid Program. I hope you'll take a few moments to read about our efforts.
My Keep Kentucky Kids Safe partners and I received a warm welcome from students and faculty at Dixie Heights High School in Crestview Hills on Monday. We spoke to more than 700 students about the dangers of prescription drug abuse. My message is one I have carried to thousands of students across the Commonwealth. If you abuse prescription pills, one of two things will happen-you're going to jail or the grave. Prescription drug abuse is a life or death issue. Please take a few moments to talk to a teen in your life about the dangers of taking pills that are not prescribed to them by a doctor.
For more information on my visit to Dixie Heights, please see our press release (link here), as well as coverage of the program in the Kentucky Enquirer.
I am also encouraging Kentuckians who have unneeded prescription medications in their homes, to take part in the DEA's National Take Back Day tomorrow. My Prestonsburg office will serve as one of dozens of collection sites around the Commonwealth. To find a drop-off site near you, visit the DEA's site.
I also made some exciting announcements today about several leadership roles I have assumed with the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) and the Democratic Attorneys General Association (DAGA). Please make sure to see today's press release.
September 21, 2012
Thousands of Kentucky homeowners who lost their homes to foreclosure received notices this week that they are eligible for payments totaling $10.7 million under the terms of the national mortgage settlement.
To be eligible, homeowners must have had loans serviced by Ally/GMAC, Bank of America, Citi Bank, JP Morgan Chase or Wells Fargo and lost their homes through foreclosure between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2011.
Borrowers will receive up to $2,000 per eligible household. These notices will be followed by a letter on Office of the Attorney General letterhead instructing borrowers how to apply for monetary benefits under this settlement.
Kentucky received a total of $58 million as a result of this historic settlement. This money is providing much needed relief and a second chance to homeowners caught-up in the mortgage foreclosure crisis.
If you believe you are eligible for relief under this settlement, watch for these important communications in the mail. Additional information is available in our press release.
I'm looking forward to joining my Keep Kentucky Kids Safe partners at Dixie Heights High School in Kenton County on Monday. We'll talk to students about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and the importance of monitoring and securing prescription medications in the home.
If you have unused prescriptions in your medicine cabinet, make sure to safely dispose of them at a permanent drop box or at the DEA's National Take Back Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sept. 29. My Prestonsburg office will serve as a collection site. To find a drop-off site near you, visit our Prescription Drug Abuse page.
Next week marks the launch of an exciting new multi-year campaign to end prescription drug abuse among teens. The Medicine Abuse Project is a national effort to prevent half a million teens from abusing prescription medications within five years.
I am pleased to be a partner in this effort and look forward to working with The Partnership at Drugfree.org to ensure that we don't lose another generation to this scourge. For more information on The Medicine Abuse Project and my Keep Kentucky Kids Safe awareness program, visit ag.ky.gov/rxabuse
September 14, 2012
I appreciated the warm welcome from students, faculty and community leaders in Marshall County on Wednesday as we launched our fall Keep Kentucky Kids Safe prescription drug abuse prevention programs at Benton Middle School. To date, we've alerted nearly 15,000 students in two dozen Kentucky counties to the dangers of abusing prescription pills. For more information on this week's program, please see our press release. You can also see photos from the event on our Flickr page. Our next program is on Sept. 24th at Dixie Heights High School in Kenton County.
Prescription drug addiction is a problem that is beginning in home medicine cabinets across the Commonwealth. Please monitor and secure all prescription medications in your home and safely dispose of unneeded pills. I hope you'll take part in the DEA's National Take Back Day on Saturday, Sept. 29th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. My Prestonsburg office will be among the hundreds of collection sites across Kentucky. To find a drop-off site near you, please visit the DOJ's site.
Also this week, I was pleased to launch a redesign of our website that will make it easier for Kentuckians to access the many resources available through the Office of the Attorney General. Important information about prescription drug abuse, cybersafety or protecting yourself against identity theft or scams can now be accessed on mobile devices and smart phones.
As part of the redesign, we also streamlined our consumer complaint process to allow consumers to file complaints online through their home computers or through a mobile device. I hope you'll take advantage of these new tools and make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.
September 7, 2012
Making the Internet a safer place for Kentucky kids has been a top priority of mine as Attorney General. That's why I joined with the Kentucky Center for School Safety and the Kentucky Suicide Prevention Group to urge students, parents and educators to help us fight bullying and harassment at school and online.
With an estimated 85 percent of 13 to 17-year-olds utilizing social media accounts, cyberbullying has become one of the most prevalent types of bullying. Each day, 160,000 students across the country will miss school for fear of being bullied. Approximately 25 teenagers each year in the U.S. will resort to suicide because they can no longer endure the harassment and bullying.
These are good kids with bright futures-kids like 17-year-old Rachel Neblett of Mount Washington who took her own life after enduring online threats and harassment. Bullying, in whatever form, has become a matter of life or death.
Please take a few moments to see the alert we issued this week about the importance of recognizing the signs of bullying and taking action to stop the abuse.
You can also find important information about Cyberbullying in my latest monthly column.
Finally, none of us will soon forget where we were the morning of September 11, 2001. Although 11 years have gone by the memories and images are still fresh and heartbreaking. I hope you will join me in remembering those whose lives were cut short that tragic day, as well as our soldiers fighting overseas who sacrifice so much in the name of freedom.
August 31, 2012
Hundreds of Kentucky homeowners have received direct relief as a result of the national mortgage foreclosure settlement. An interim progress report released this week shows that the nation's five largest banks have provided $14.1 million for loan modifications, refinancing and other settlement-related relief to 477 Kentucky homeowners. The average borrower received $29,000 in relief, according to the report.
It is rewarding to know that this historic settlement is lifting some of the burden off of homeowners. Many have shared their stories with me and told me how this program has helped them.
I want to stress that this isn't over; more relief is on the way. We are also continuing to investigate mortgage and securities issues, including potential litigation regarding MERS involvement in wrongful foreclosures. For more information on the interim progress report, please see our press release.
If you have questions or want more information about the settlement, visit our mortgage settlement page.
I was pleased to announce yesterday Kentucky's participation in a $69 million settlement with three of the nation's largest book publishers over alleged e-book price fixing. This settlement paves the way for restitution for consumers harmed by this scheme. Under the agreement, Kentucky will receive approximately $700,000 to compensate eligible consumers who purchased e-books from April 1, 2010 through May 21, 2012.
Consumers who have made purchases from Hachette Book Group (USA), HarperCollins Publishers and Simon & Schuster, Inc. will be notified by the publishing company if they are entitled to restitution. For more information, please see our press release.
Finally, I'd like to thank the members of the YMCA Youth Association for stopping by my office earlier this week. Nick Betts of Calloway County High School, Jared Thompson of Glasgow High School and Jason Jewell of Louisville's Central High School are serving as the attorneys general for the YMCA Youth Association. It was a pleasure to meet these fine young men and I hope their interest in public service will continue to grow.
August 24, 2012
It was my privilege to present the 2012 Outstanding Commonwealth and County Attorney Awards yesterday at the Kentucky Prosecutor's Conference in Lexington. This year's top Commonwealth's Attorneys are Lynn Pryor, representing Christian County, and Matthew Leveridge serving Russell and Wayne counties. This year's Outstanding County Attorneys are Bill Hagenbuch of Allen County and Madison County Attorney Marc Robbins. For more information, please see our press release.
I also had the honor of presenting a Distinguished Service Citation yesterday to an individual whose quick action helped save the life of Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Andy Sims earlier this summer. Sims suffered "sudden cardiac death" while presenting cases for indictment to the Jessamine County Grand Jury. David Thomas, a Nicholasville defense attorney who was outside of the courthouse when Andy collapsed, ran into the grand jury room and performed CPR.
Because of David's actions, Andy was able to make it to Lexington for treatment. We are all pleased that Andy is doing well and back in the courtroom.
It was great seeing folks at the Kentucky Farm Bureau's annual Country Ham Breakfast this week. The bidding for the Grand Champion Ham is always exciting to watch and is a wonderful state fair tradition.
Stop by the state fair this weekend and visit our booth in the law enforcement section. We have give-away items and important information about our efforts to fight prescription drug abuse and to protect Kentucky kids online. This is also your last chance to register to win an iPod Touch donated by the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI), one of our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe partners.
August 17, 2012
Nearly a dozen local and out-of-state pain clinic owners and doctors are facing federal indictments for illegally distributing prescription drugs to Kentuckians. Five indictments have been unsealed charging 22 defendants, including five pain clinic owners and six doctors with offenses related to prescription drugs, money laundering and health care fraud. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky is prosecuting the cases following investigations by my Drug Branch investigators, Kentucky State Police, the FBI, DEA, Kentucky Board of Pharmacy and other agencies.
Among those charged are Tammy Cantrell and Shelby Lackey, co-owners of the Caremore pain clinic in Johnson County, who allegedly conspired with a doctor to distribute Hydrocodone to Johnson County residents, pocketing nearly $2 million in drug proceeds.
Another indictment alleges that a Texas doctor prescribed more than 125,000 Oxycodone pills to residents in Pike County, allowing some patients to obtain prescriptions by fax.
For more information, please see the press release issued earlier today by the U.S. Attorney's Office.
I appreciated the opportunity to talk about our efforts to combat prescription drug abuse at the Governor's Local Issues Conference in Louisville yesterday. This is an issue that affects communities in every corner of the Commonwealth. Be assured, I will continue to work with local officials, concerned citizens, and our state and federal law enforcement partners to crack down on pill mills and unscrupulous physicians who are fueling this epidemic so we don't lose another generation to this scourge.
If you are interested in learning more about our prescription drug diversion and public awareness efforts, stop by our booth at the state fair. We're located in the law enforcement section of the South Wing. You can also register to win an iPod Touch generously donated by the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI), one of our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe partners.
Like many across Kentucky, Elizabeth and I are still shocked and saddened by the sudden death earlier this week of Mike Haydon. Mike was a true professional and dedicated public servant. Please join us in keeping Mike's wife, Lisa, and their children in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.
August 10, 2012
My staff and I are looking forward to meeting with folks at the Kentucky State Fair beginning Aug. 16. As in years past, our booth is in the law enforcement section of the South Wing. We'll share information with the public about the work we're doing at the Attorney General's Office to keep Kentucky kids safe online and to combat the epidemic of prescription drug abuse in the Commonwealth. We'll have numerous give-away items and you can register to win an iPod Touch. I hope you can stop by.
Senior citizens can also get helpful information at our booth on Senior Day at the state fair on Aug. 21. This is one of more than a half dozen events my office is co-hosting in the coming months to educate senior citizens about scams that target the elderly, fraud and financial exploitation. For more information on our upcoming senior days and senior crime colleges, please see our press release.
Also next week, I'll talk about the latest news from my office with Scooter and Myla at WBVR Radio in Bowling Green, Lee Bramlett at WQXE Radio in Elizabethtown and Lisa Clark at WAIN Radio in Columbia.
August 3, 2012
Our participation earlier this year in the National Mortgage Foreclosure Settlement continues to make a difference for families and communities across Kentucky affected by the mortgage foreclosure crisis. Kentucky received a total of $58 million as a result of the historic settlement.
Earlier this week, I was pleased to announce how the remaining $19.2 million in settlement money will help create affordable housing, provide relief and legal aid to homeowners facing foreclosure and revitalize communities left to deal with vacant and abandoned homes. Please see my monthly column for more specific information on the allocation of the mortgage foreclosure settlement funds in Kentucky.
I'm looking forward to visiting with folks in Western Kentucky this weekend. I'm attending several events tonight and will attend tomorrow's Graves County Democratic Breakfast and Labor Appreciation Lunch before returning home to help my parents celebrate their 47th wedding anniversary.
Elizabeth and I are so happy we can be with my parents on this special day. Their love and respect for one another have touched our lives in so many ways.
July 27, 2012
The recent implementation of House Bill 1 is already making a difference in our battle against prescription drug abuse in Kentucky. Since the provisions of this landmark legislation went into effect on July 20, four pain management clinics have notified the state that they are closing their doors.
Since passage of HB 1 in April, more than 9,000 medical providers have signed up to use the Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting system (KASPER). KASPER checks work. Ninety percent of physicians polled said the use of KASPER changed their prescribing habits.
As I said during Tuesday's press conference with the Governor and members of Kentucky's medical licensure boards, HB 1 will save the lives of our friends, our neighbors and our family members.
But legislation alone cannot stop this epidemic. We need the public's help. Yesterday, I joined with the parents of overdose victims, Kentucky's drug czar Van Ingram and representatives from the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI) to announce the expansion of our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program to raise awareness about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.
In the coming weeks, communities across Kentucky will see billboards urging the public to secure, monitor and safely dispose of unneeded prescription medications in the home. Easy access to prescription pills in the home has caused overdose deaths to skyrocket in Kentucky. In fact, more people are dying from overdoses than traffic accidents.
This important new public awareness initiative would not be possible without the continued support of NADDI, a valued partner in our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program, and Lamar Outdoor Advertising. To find out if one of our billboards is coming to your town, please see our press release.
From fighting prescription drug abuse to tracking down Internet predators, my staff and I work every day to make Kentucky a safer place to live, work and raise a family. We are also assisting our friends and neighbors across the state through our annual Kentucky Employee Charitable Campaign (KECC).
Yesterday, my staff and I kicked-off the 2012 KECC campaign to raise money for families in need of a helping hand. We exceeded our goal last year and raised $16,291 for KECC. I know we can do even better this year.
I encourage you to visit the KECC website to see how state employees are working together to improve lives in every corner of the Commonwealth.
July 20, 2012
Two issues that I've been keenly focused on as Attorney General, abuses in the for-profit college industry and the epidemic of prescription drug abuse, continue to gain local and national attention. A recent report on NBC News focuses on the soaring debt incurred by some for-profit college students. Far too many students at proprietary schools are left with no degree, no job and no way to repay their student loans.
I also invite you to take a look at the changes on www.GiBill.com following the multi-state settlement we reached with QuinStreet, Inc. last month. Because of our efforts, GIBill.com is no longer preying on our nation's veterans and misleading them about eligible "GI Bill Schools." Now under the control of the Department of Veterans Affairs, this website is an invaluable resource for servicemembers and veterans looking to better their lives by utilizing their GI Bill benefits.
A report on Louisville's WDRB TV is yet another reminder of the devastating toll that prescription drug abuse is having on Kentucky families. I hope you'll take a few minutes to watch this video and share the link with your friends and family.
Be assured, I am doing all that I can to combat this scourge in the Commonwealth. Next week, I look forward to participating in an announcement regarding the new regulations that are in place as of today following passage of House Bill 1.
I'll also announce a new facet of my Keep Kentucky Kids Safe initiative to warn the public about the dangers of prescription pill abuse. For more information on prescription drug abuse in Kentucky, visit our Rx Abuse page.
Finally, my thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families following last night's tragic shooting in Colorado. Like many, I'll be holding my family a little closer tonight as the entire nation mourns the tragic events in Aurora.
July 13, 2012
A new scam involving the payment of utility bills is beginning to target consumers in Kentucky. As part of this scheme, fraudsters claim that President Obama has approved funding through the Federal Reserve Bank to pay for one month of utility bills. I issued a consumer protection alert yesterday to let Kentuckians know that this is a scam designed to gain access to your personal and financial information and steal your identity.
Utility officials in the Bowling Green area are already receiving calls from concerned customers about this scam which has claimed victims in California, Texas, Tennessee and Illinois. We are not aware of any victims in Kentucky.
If you have been contacted by someone offering to pay your utility bills through a new government program, please contact my Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-888-432-9257. Remember, never give your Social Security number or other personal information to someone you do not know. For more information on this scam and how to protect yourself against identity theft, please see our press release.
My Cybercrimes Unit recently marked another milestone. It was four years ago in June that I streamlined operations in my office to create a unit devoted to fighting crimes that occur online. To date, we have won more than 100 child pornography convictions, seized more than 320,000 child pornographic images and videos and processed more than 5,700 removable devices and hard drives to retrieve crucial digital evidence involved in 80 percent of today's crimes.
I am so proud of our many accomplishments and of my investigators who work every day to make the Internet a safer place for Kentucky kids. More information is available in our press release.
July 6, 2012
I was pleased to announce this week Kentucky's participation in the largest healthcare fraud settlement in history. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has agreed to pay $3 billion to 45 states, the District of Columbia and the federal government to resolve allegations involving the deceptive marketing and pricing of some of the drugs GSK manufactures.
The state and federal governments alleged that GSK illegally marketed certain drugs for uses that were not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), offered Kickbacks to doctors and submitted incorrect pricing data for some of its drugs. Under the settlement, Kentucky will receive $28.2 million in recoveries for the state and federal Medicaid program.
Drug companies that engage in this type of illegal behavior are putting profits ahead of public health and placing a heavy burden on taxpayers. This historic settlement should send a clear message to drug companies that this type of misconduct will not be tolerated.
With this settlement, my Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control has recovered or been awarded more than $260 million for the state and federal Medicaid programs. For more information, please see our press release.
I hope you'll take a few moments to read my latest monthly column detailing our recent victory against unscrupulous marketers tied to the for-profit college industry who are preying on veterans. And you can catch up on all of the latest news from my office by reading our monthly newsletter, Kentucky General News.
June 29, 2012
On Wednesday, June 27, my office filed a settlement in Franklin Circuit Court on behalf of 20 states against QuinStreet, Inc., the owners and operators of the website GIBill.com. As part of this consumer protection settlement, QuinStreet will turn over GIBill.com to the Department of Veterans Affairs and will pay the states $2.5 million to settle allegations of deceptive marketing and advertising.
GIBill.com is a website that has been masquerading as an official website for veterans. In reality, it has served as a lead generator for the for-profit college industry, preying on our veterans who are eligible for educational benefits as a result of their service to our country.
QuinStreet's actions were unconscionable and deceptive. Many of my colleagues and I felt they violated our Consumer Protection laws. In announcing the settlement this week, I was honored to be joined by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, Veterans Affairs Deputy Secretary Scott Gould, Holly Petraeus with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Senators Dick Durbin, Tom Harkin, Richard Blumenthal and Kay Hagan.
This is an issue of public trust for our consumers and for our veterans. Be assured, we will be monitoring the terms of this settlement and if QuinStreet doesn't comply, there will be consequences. For more information on this settlement, please see our press release.
Finally, as our nation prepares to mark the 4th of July holiday next week, I hope you'll remember all those who serve today and our veterans who have fought for our great nation.
June 22, 2012
My office enjoyed visiting with another representative of the American Legion Auxiliary’s Boys and Girls State Program this week. The Boys State Attorney General Troy Boxrucker from Fort Knox High School stopped by my office yesterday. I’d like to thank Troy and all of the Boys and Girls participants for their interest in public service. These young folks are Kentucky’s future leaders.
In other news, a Henderson Circuit Court judge this week sentenced a former Corydon, Ky. Sewer Clerk to 10 years in prison for theft of city funds. The case against Melissa Clark was the result of an investigation by my Department of Criminal Investigations (DCI). The judge also ordered Clark to pay $75,000 in restitution. I appreciate the assistance we received in this case from the office of Henderson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Bill Markwell. For more information, please see our press release.
We also announced the indictment of a former state social worker on charges she falsified records in an abuse case. Details are included in our press release.
It was nice speaking with WQXE Radio’s Lee Bramlett earlier this week. I appreciated the chance to update his listeners in Elizabethtown and Hardin County on the latest news from my office and the work we do every day to make communities like E-town safer.
June 15, 2012
A sting operation conducted by my Cybercrimes Unit last year has put another child predator behind bars. Retired Florida teacher Dale Chisena was sentenced yesterday in U.S. District Court to 30 years in prison for traveling to Kentucky to have sexual reslations with two juveniles. Chisena previously admitted that he engaged in numerous online chats with a person he believed to be the mother of two juvenile daughters. In reality, he was chatting with one of my cybercrimes investigators. I appreciate the assistance we received in this case from the U.S. Attorney's Office, FBI and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Working together with our local, state and federal partners, we are making the Internet a safer place for Kentucky kids. For more details, please see our press release.
With school out and kids at home this summer, I am encouraging parents to talk to their kids about staying safe while online. Please see our press release for important tips on keeping your kids Cybersafe this summer.
Kentucky farmers will be pleased to hear that three of the four defendants in the Eastern Livestock check kiting scheme were sentenced this week in Metcalfe Circuit Court. We've already distributed $300,000 in restitution to farmers swindled by Eastern and are preparing to distribute another $300,000 to farmers.
We collected another $7 million for the Kentucky Medicaid program this week following our settlement with Johnson & Johnson. This is one of 47 Average Wholesale Price (AWP) lawsuits this office filed against pharmaceutical companies. Since 2008, I'm proud to say that my Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control has recovered or been awarded more than $230 million for the state and federal Medicaid program and for Kentucky taxpayers.
My staff and I enjoyed meeting with this year's Girls State Attorney General, Nakia Ridgeway, yesterday. Nakia, a senior at Lexington's Tates Creek High School, stopped by to learn more about the various functions of the Attorney General's Office. We wish Nakia all of the best in her future endeavors and applaud the American Legion Auxillary's Girls and Boys State Program for the work it does to inspire public service and shape our future leaders.
June 8, 2012
Last year, one in five traffic fatalities in Kentucky involved alcohol. This week, my office helped train prosecutors from across Kentucky and Tennessee in the effective prosecution of vehicular homicide cases, many of which involve alcohol. I'd like to thank my Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor Bob Stokes who presented the training in coordination with his counterparts in Tennessee. This type of hands-on training with law enforcement and crash reconstructionists gives prosecutors the tools they need to prosecute vehicular homicide cases to the fullest extent.
News this week that 58 percent of high school seniors said they had texted or emailed while driving during the previous month is troubling. The recent government survey also found that 43 percent of high school juniors also admitted to engaging in this risky behavior.
If you are the parent of a teen driver, please talk to them about the dangers of distracted driving. Remind them that they are risking their lives and the lives of others when they text and drive.
The hard work of my Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control resulted in the recovery of another $2.29 million for the Kentucky's Medicaid program this week. Our settlement with Sanofi-Aventis U.S. is one of 17 settlements reached between my office and pharmaceutical companies over inflated average wholesale prices (AWPs).
Since 2008, we have recovered or been awarded nearly $235 million for the state and federal Medicaid programs. We are working every day to protect Kentucky consumers and taxpayers.
June 1, 2012
The overaggressive recruiting tactics used by some for-profit colleges to attract service men and women has been a great concern of mine since I began investigating the for-profit college industry in 2010. Some of these schools are preying on soldiers and using deceptive means to gain access to their GI Bill benefits.
Currently, proprietary schools can derive 90 percent of their funding from public sources (Title IV funds) and then the remaining 10 percent from government veterans' programs, rather than obtaining at least 10% of their revenue from private sources as the law originally intended. In essence, this allows for-profit schools to obtain 100 percent of their funding from the federal government and taxpayers.
On May 29, I lead a group of 22 attorneys of my colleagues from other states in asking Congress to require that the GI Bill and Veteran's Assistance educational benefits be subject to the 90/10 rule. This would prohibit for-profit colleges from deriving more than 90 percent of their revenue from federal funding sources.
It is time we close this loophole. Our soldiers who have risked their lives in the service of their country and their families should not have to defend themselves against these types of deceptive and unscrupulous business practices. For more information, please see our press release.
As required by law, we randomly selected six counties to undergo Post-Election audits during a public drawing yesterday. The counties selected to undergo Post-Election audits in the coming weeks are Morgan, Meade, Marion, Rowan, Mason and Clinton. These investigations supplement the work my investigators do at polling precincts across the Commonwealth on Election Day and through our Election Fraud Hotline.
Coming up on June 4, I look forward to talking with Alan Watts of WKDX Radio in Cadiz and Scooter and Myla from WBVR Radio in Bowling Green. I'll be talking to my good friend Terry Meiners of 84 WHAS Radio in Louisville on June 6.
May 25, 2012
Once again, our Election Fraud Hotline proved to be a useful tool on Election Day. We received a total of 31 calls generating 32 complaints/inquiries. I'd like to thank the voters who took time to report voting irregularities within their precincts. My investigators will thoroughly review each complaint and refer any that appear to be criminal in nature to the appropriate enforcement agency. Please see our press release for more information.
In addition to the hotline, we will hold a Post-Election Audit next week. My office is required by law to conduct a post-election audit investigation in no fewer than five percent of Kentucky's counties within 20 days of each primary and general election. We'll randomly select six counties to undergo election audits at a public drawing next Thursday at the Capitol.
I appreciate the efforts of my DCI investigators and Office of Special Prosecutions in bringing a very troubling case involving a former state social worker to a close this week. Margaret 'Gerri' Murphy pled guilty in Anderson Circuit Court to charges that she falsified child abuse and neglect reports. She faces sentencing on July 24. (More information)
While many of us will spend the Memorial Day weekend with friends and family, others will mark the holiday without a loved one. Please keep in your thoughts and prayers this Memorial Day the families of those who died in the devastating March tornadoes. I also hope you'll take a moment to remember and honor the military men and women who have lost their lives in the service of our nation and those who are overseas fighting every day for our freedom.
May 18, 2012
Investigators from my office will be patrolling precincts and polling places across the Commonwealth during Tuesday's Primary Election. We've been working closely with the Secretary of State's Office and other fellow members of the Kentucky Election Integrity Task Force to prevent vote fraud. I'm hopeful citizens will help us in this effort by reporting any irregularities or possible election law violations to our Election Fraud Hotline at 800-328-VOTE (8683). The hotline is open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. (EST) on Election Day and available year-round.
Kentucky farmers swindled by Eastern Livestock have received their first restitution checks. Staffers from my office distributed about $300,000 to more than 170 farmers who were victims of Eastern Livestock's check kiting scheme. This has been a tremendous hardship for our farmers and I am very pleased that we're able to recover nearly all of the money lost as a result of this scheme.
If you purchased Skechers Shape-ups, Tone-ups or the Resistance Runner, you may be eligible for a partial refund. We announced a $45 million settlement this week with Skechers over allegations of deceptive advertising involving the company's rocker-bottom shoe products. Refunds will vary from $20 to 80 per pair of shoes. To see if you are eligible, visit www.ftc.gov/skechers or call 1-866-325-4186.
Thanks to the hard work of my Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control, we have recovered another $6 million on behalf of the Kentucky Medicaid program following a settlement with Merck & Co., Inc. This is the latest in a number of settlements of our AWP lawsuits. For more information, please see our press release.
Since 2008, we've recovered or been awarded more than $230 million for the state and federal Medicaid programs!
May 11, 2012
Kentucky farmers who were victims of Eastern Livestock’s check kiting scheme will receive the first installment of restitution checks beginning tomorrow. Members of my staff will be in Cave City from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. distributing checks totaling $300,000. Each recipient will receive a payment pro-rated according to his losses.
Securing restitution for Kentucky’s farmers, many of whom have struggled financially in the wake of Eastern Livestock’s collapse, has been a top priority of mine. I’m pleased that we were able to recover nearly $900,000 in our settlement with Eastern Livestock. For more information, please see our press release.
I was pleased to announce that my Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control recovered another $1.75 million on behalf of the Kentucky Medicaid program. Please see today’s press release on the settlement with Forest Pharmaceuticals. Since 2008, we’ve recovered or been awarded more than $230 million for the state and federal Medicaid programs.
My office has been working closely with Secretary of State Grimes and her staff to prevent vote fraud in the May 22 Primary Election. Investigators from my office will be patrolling precincts and polling places on Election Day looking for any voting irregularities.
We also need the public’s help. If you witness any possible election law violations, please call my Election Fraud Hotline at 800-328-VOTE.
Working together, we can ensure a fair and honest election for all Kentuckians.
May 4, 2012
As Attorney General, it has been my pleasure to work with the Century Council and other positive partners over the years to remind teens about the dangers of underage drinking. I recently taped a Public Service Announcement and shared a blog post about this important issue. I hope you'll take a moment to read it and talk to your teens about saying no to underage drinking.
If you have young drivers at home, please make sure to also talk to them about the dangers of texting and driving. A national survey released by the Ad Council finds that 60 percent of young adult drivers (16-24) said they have texted while driving. If you text and drive, you are risking your life, the lives of others and you are breaking the law. For more information, please see our press release.
I enjoyed spending some time on the backside at Churchill Downs this week. I talked to local media covering Derby 138, visited with radio stations from across Kentucky as part of the ATT Morning Line program at the Derby Museum and attended the Signature HealthCare prayer breakfast.
I've also firmed up my Oaks and Derby picks. I like On Fire Baby in the Oaks and I'll have Another in the Derby. Whether you watch the Kentucky Derby with friends and family at home or spend the day at historic Churchill Downs, I hope you have a safe and enjoyable weekend.
April 27, 2012
My Keep Kentucky Kids Safe partners and I received a warm welcome in Calloway and McCracken counties yesterday as we warned students about the dangers of prescription drug abuse. Our message seemed to strike a chord with the students, faculty, community leaders and law enforcement who attended our programs at Calloway Middle in Murray and Paducah's Lone Oak Middle School.
I would also like to thank Dr. Karen Shay for her continued strength and courage as she shares her story of how prescription pill abuse has devastated her family and robbed her of her beautiful daughter, Sarah. Karen is one of several parents who travel across the Commonwealth with me with the hope that no other family will have to endure the heartache of losing a child to this scourge. For Karen's story, or more information on my efforts to combat prescription drug abuse, please visit my Prescription Drug Abuse page.
I was honored to join Gov. Beshear, Speaker Stumbo, House and Senate leaders and members of law enforcement for the signing this week of House Bill 1. This legislation is a significant step forward as we work to combat the epidemic of prescription drug abuse in Kentucky. (Press release)
More than 200 victim service providers, advocates, social workers and prosecutors attended our annual Victims' Assistance conference this week in Louisville. I was grateful to have the opportunity to personally thank these folks for the work they do each and every day to ensure healing and justice for victims of crime.
April 20, 2012
It was my privilege to join law enforcement from across Kentucky earlier this week at a rally in support of passage of HB 1 to strengthen the fight against prescription drug abuse. Kentucky loses three people every day to prescription drug overdoses. I am hopeful that Kentucky lawmakers meeting during this final day of the Special Session will hear the pleas of families and communities across the Commonwealth and pass sweeping prescription drug legislation today.
I look forward to taking my Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program to McCracken and Calloway counties next week. I'll be joined by our law enforcement partners and Dr. Karen Shay, whose daughter Sarah who is among the more than 1,000 Kentuckians who die each year from prescription drug overdoses. I appreciate all that Karen is doing to help ensure that we don't lose another generation to prescription pill abuse.
The good work of our new Cooperative Disability Investigations (CDI) Unit has resulted in the arrests of four people following a disability fraud investigation in Laurel County. CDI was created through a joint partnership with my office, the Social Security Administration and Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
The defendants are accused of forging and cashing a Supplemental Security Income check issued to a deceased family member. For more information, please see our press release.
April 13, 2012
With Gov. Beshear's call for a Special Session to begin on Monday, Kentucky lawmakers have another chance to pass comprehensive prescription drug legislation. I am disappointed that this didn't happen during the regular session and concerned about the influence lobbyists for the medical community had on HB 4. Please see the statement I issued earlier today.
Federal prosecutors were able to obtain three guilty pleas this week in a conspiracy to buy votes during the May 2010 primary election in Breathitt County. Seven people have now either pled guilty or been convicted in vote buying conspiracies during that primary election in Breathitt County. I appreciate the hard work of my investigators who helped bring these charges forward and the assistance we received from our state and federal counterparts as we work to ensure honest and fair elections for all Kentuckians. Read more...
As many Kentuckians enjoy the final days of spring break this week, I hope you will remember that the pictures and messages you post on social networking sites like Facebook or MySpace can affect both your safety and your future. Students preparing for college should also know that more than 80 percent of college admissions officers use Facebook to recruit students. Read more...
April 6, 2012
Today, I joined with Gov. Beshear and a bi-partisan group of legislators to urge members of the General Assembly to take action on critical prescription drug abuse legislation. Lawmakers have one day left to act on House Bill 4. As I've told lawmakers on Capitol Hill and in Frankfort, we must act now to address one of the greatest threats to our state.
We're losing more than 1,000 Kentuckians each year to prescription drug overdoses. In fact, Kentucky has the nation's sixth-highest rate of prescription drug overdose deaths, at nearly 18 deaths per 100,000.
Passage of HB 4 is an important step in our effort to combat this scourge and I'm hopeful everyone, including the medical community, can get on board to ensure that we don't lose another generation of Kentuckians to prescription drug abuse. For more information on this important legislation, please see our press release.
I was pleased to announce that my Office of Special Prosecutions this week obtained a guilty verdict in a prescription pill trafficking scheme. A Christian County jury convicted 27-year-old Peter Nibert of Pasco County, Fla. on charges of trafficking in Oxycodone. Meanwhile, Nibert's Hopkinsville, Ky. co-defendants, Cary Alder and Scotty Highsmith, were sentenced for their role in the scheme. Alder received a 10-year prison sentence, while Highsmith, a persistent felony offender, was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Nibert mailed more than 3,000 Oxycodone pills to Kentucky to be sold locally over the course of the conspiracy. Because of the hard work of everyone involved in this case, we have put a stop to this trafficking scheme and those responsible. For more information, please see our press release.
There was moving sight at the Capitol this week. More than 5,000 pinwheels were placed in the front lawn as part of the kick-off of National Child Abuse Awareness Month. The pinwheels represent the 5,035 child sexual abuse victims who were served last year by Kentucky's 15 regional Children's Advocacy Centers (CACs).
My office will continue to work hand-in-hand with Kentucky's CACs to provide hope, healing and justice to victims of this horrendous crime and to prevent future abuse.
March 30, 2012
Seeking restitution for Kentucky cattlemen caught up in Eastern Livestock’s checking kiting scheme has been a top priority for my office since our investigation began in late 2010. This week, I was pleased to announce the guilty pleas of four former Eastern Livestock executives and the court-ordered payment of more than $850,000 in restitution to Kentucky farmers who sold livestock to the Metcalfe County buying station.
I appreciate the many farmers who worked with my office throughout our investigation. Our farmers are an invaluable resource for the Commonwealth of Kentucky and I hope our efforts will bring relief to the many families who have struggled financially as a result of these fraudulent business practices.
I am also grateful for the assistance we received from the FBI and numerous other state and federal agencies as we worked to bring this case to a close. The distribution of the first two restitution payments to approximately 170 victims will begin prior to the defendants’ sentencing in June. For more information, please see our press release.
Lawmakers this week passed legislation that will improve oversight of proprietary colleges operating in Kentucky. For too long, the schools have been monitored by the Board of Proprietary Education (BPE), which was primarily made up of representatives of for-profit colleges.
House Bill 308 does away with the BPE and establishes the Kentucky Commission on Proprietary Education, which will be made up of a diverse membership and the schools will no longer control their own oversight board. The legislation also includes additional operating guidelines and consumer protections. This is a step in the right direction for students and consumers in Kentucky.”
March is always an exciting time in the Commonwealth, but this is a particularly special time as two Kentucky teams are in the national spotlight. Elizabeth and I look forward to cheering on both the Cards and the Cats in the NCAA Final Four this weekend. Regardless of the outcome, Kentucky will have a team vying for the national championship!
March 23, 2012
For the second time this month, I had the privilege of testifying on Capitol Hill about an issue that directly affects Kentucky families. I appeared on Tuesday before the U.S. Senate subcommittee to discuss my investigation of the for-profit college industry and student loan debt.
As Kentucky's Attorney General, I am extremely concerned that students with private student loans do not have the same consumer protections as students with federal or federally backed loans. In the wake of failure, many students, who are already on the financial edge, are trapped in a cycle of dodging bill collectors, wage garnishment and no meaningful path to financial recovery.
I'm pleased that my office has been able to obtain relief of more than $4.5 million in loans for 2,200 students of now-defunct Decker College. As you may recall, we also reached agreement with Student Loan Xpress for $3.6 million in loan reductions for students of the now-defunct American Justice School of Law in Paducah.
Decker College closed its doors in 2005, yet my office still receives calls every week from students struggling to pay their school loans. This is a tragedy.
I appreciate the invitation from Sen. Durbin to testify before his subcommittee and I appreciate his attention to this issue. I hope you'll take a few moments to watch the webcast of this important hearing.
I'm taking my Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program to Union County High School on Monday to warn students about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.
I'd like to personally thank police, prosecutors and community leaders in Union County for the support they have shown for our efforts to combat this scourge.
March 16, 2012
Consumers across Kentucky are serving as our eyes and ears on the ground to report disaster fraud and possible price gouging in the wake of the March 2 tornadoes. I believe our quick action to warn businesses that price gouging is not tolerated in Kentucky has paid off. We've received about 20 complaints, but so far have found no evidence of price gouging.
Last weekend, staff members from my Office of Consumer Protection volunteered their time to distribute disaster fraud brochures and assist storm victims in Laurel, Lawrence, Kenton, Morgan, Magoffin, Johnson and Menifee counties. I truly appreciate their commitment to protecting consumers, particularly at a time when so many of our friends and neighbors are suffering.
If you suspect price gouging or a disaster-related fraud, please call my Disaster Fraud Hotline at 1-855-450-5645 or email your complaints to email@example.com.
As a father of two daughters, I was proud to stand in support this week of House Bill 498 to fill a dangerous gap in domestic violence protections. The bill seeks to extend the protective order statute to domestic violence victims who are in a dating relationship. I want to thank Marcia Roth and the Mary Byron Project for taking the lead and working with our General Assembly to pass this important legislation.
Finally, I'd like to congratulate the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers for a terrific season and effort in the NCAA tournament and wish the Cards, Cats and Racers the best of luck in the next round of the tournament. If you're interested, here is my bracket.
March 9, 2012
First and foremost, my thoughts and prayers remain with the victims of last week's deadly tornadoes. The stories of heroism, neighbors helping neighbors and the scores of volunteers who have mobilized to assist families in need are an inspiration.
We often see the very best and worst in people during times like this. Earlier this week, I put businesses on notice that my office stands ready to investigate and prosecute, where necessary, anyone who seeks excessive profits during this time of emergency.
I have asked consumers to continue serving as our eyes and ears across the Commonwealth to report individuals or businesses that may be gouging consumers. Complaints related to price gouging or fly-by-night contractors can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or to my Disaster Fraud Hotline at 855-450-5645.
My Office of Consumer Protection is also working with counties interested in implementing our Disaster Fraud Task Force and Contractor Registration Program to deter storm chasers and unscrupulous contractors who prey on storm victims. For more information, please see our press release.
Kentucky House members yesterday approved sweeping legislation to combat the scourge of prescription drug abuse. I applaud the House for recognizing the importance of enacting legislation that will give law enforcement increased access to KASPER data and keep entrepreneurs out of the pill mill business.
I worked closely with Speaker Stumbo and Gov. Beshear in crafting House Bill 4 and I am confident this important legislation will continue to receive bipartisan support in Frankfort. If you support our efforts, let your state Senator know that prescription drug abuse is killing our people and the time to act is now.
March 2, 2012
Three people in Kentucky and 100 people in the United States will die today of prescription drug overdoses. Yesterday, I testified before a Congressional subcommittee about our efforts to fight prescription drug abuse in the Commonwealth. I was joined by my friend and colleague, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. We have worked closely to stem the prescription pill pipeline between Florida and Kentucky.
This is an American tragedy that is taking a toll on our families, businesses and communities. The key to tackling this issue is for each state to implement prescription drug monitoring programs. Yesterday, I urged legislators to provide federal grants that would bring all states online with monitoring and provide funding to enable communication between the monitoring databases.
Education remains a key component in our fight against illicit prescription drugs. Earlier this week, I spoke to nearly 1,000 middle and high school students in Hardin and Washington counties about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs. I appreciated the warm welcome from school officials and community leaders.
I also want to thank my friend, Mike Donta, who traveled with me to share the story of his son Michael and his battle with prescription pill addiction. Mike is one of several courageous parents who have joined my Keep Kentucky Kids Safe effort. With their help, we will continue warning Kentucky kids about the devastating consequences of prescription drug abuse. I want to ensure that we don't lose another generation to this scourge.
Here are some more alarming statistics. Demand for emergency food assistance in Kentucky has increased 84 percent since 2006. And one in every four Kentucky children lives in poverty. This morning, I joined with Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller and Dare to Care Food Bank in Louisville to kick-off the fourth annual March Against Hunger food drive.
We are calling on the legal communities in Kentucky and Indiana to donate goods and help raise money for Kentucky and Indiana food banks. During these difficult times, it is vital that we do all that we can to help re-stock the shelves of regional food banks that are lifelines for Kentuckiana families in need. I am confident Kentucky attorneys will embrace this challenge.
Finally, victims of this week's severe weather need to be aware of scam artists and fly-by-night contractors. Please report any incidents of possible fraud or shoddy construction work to my Office of Consumer Protection at 1-888-432-9257. For more information and tips for protecting yourself against storm chasers, please see our press release.
February 24, 2012
I was pleased to announce yesterday that the former administrator of Golden Years Rest Home in Letcher County has been ordered to pay $340,000 in restitution after pleading guilty to theft and exploitation charges. Golden Years fell into disrepair and its residents suffered while James Tackett lived a lavish lifestyle, buying expensive vehicles and property with money that was supposed to be used for the care of residents at the facility.
My investigators and prosecutors have worked tirelessly to bring this case to a successful close. I appreciate all they do for Kentucky and for its elderly and vulnerable citizens. For more information, please see our press release.
March is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and it is my honor to participate in a kick-off event next Thursday, March 1 here at the Capitol. My staff and I work every day to assist victims of sexual assault and other violent crimes and to raise awareness and to ensure their voices are heard. In observance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, please consider purchasing a newly designed "I Care About Kids" license plate, sponsored by the Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Prevention (CSAEP) Board. Proceeds from the license plates go to the Child Victims Trust Fund to assist in funding child sexual abuse prevention programs in Kentucky.
I also look forward to taking my Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program to schools in Hardin and Washington counties on Tuesday. We'll be talking to middle and high school students about the dangers of prescription drug abuse. I'll be joined by Van Ingram, Executive Director of the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy and Mike Donta, one of the courageous parents who travels with us to share his story of how prescription pill abuse has devastated his family. For more information on my Keep Kentucky Kids Safe initiative, please visit my Prescription Drug Abuse page.
February 17, 2012
Investigators from my Prescription Drug Diversion Task Force assisted the DEA in executing a search warrant on Wednesday at a Lexington pain clinic. The search is part of our ongoing investigation into overprescribing physicians in Kentucky. As you may recall, our search last month of a Johnson County pain clinic resulted in approximately 20 arrests on outstanding warrants and the revocation of the clinic’s business license by the city of Paintsville. For more information on my efforts to combat prescription drug abuse, please visit my awareness and prevention page.
My Office of Special Prosecutions this week obtained its fifth and final conviction in an immigration and identity theft probe that began in 2009. I appreciate the hard work of my prosecutors and investigators who saw this case through to a successful close. For more information, please see our press release.
I met with members of Leadership Winchester yesterday during their visit to the Capitol. I welcomed the opportunity to talk to them about the work we’re doing here at the Attorney General’s office, including my priority issues, such as fighting prescription drug abuse, going after Internet predators and protecting Kentucky taxpayers and ratepayers.
February 10, 2012
It was my privilege to speak to Kentucky’s County and Commonwealth’s Attorneys at their respective meetings in Lexington this morning. Despite unprecedented budget cuts and furloughs, prosecutors have worked tirelessly to keep our justice system moving forward. I appreciate all they do to make our communities safer and will continue to fight to protect funding for our prosecutorial community.
Yesterday, Kentucky and 48 other states took the first step in holding banks accountable for the mortgage foreclosure crisis that has affected communities across our Commonwealth and the nation. This is a crisis that nearly brought our country to its knees.
I was pleased to sign onto the historic $25 billion settlement with five of the nation’s largest banks to provide relief to consumers who were foreclosed upon, principal write-downs and refinancing for homeowners who are underwater on their homes and payments to states for ongoing consumer protection programs.
Kentucky’s portion of the settlement is $58.8 million. It is also important to note that this settlement preserves the rights of states to pursue criminal and civil actions against the banks. I would not have signed on without that provision. In fact, I’ve already subpoenaed the Mortgage Electronic Registration System (MERS), which I believe may have circumvented state law.
The five banks named in the settlement are responsible for 5,400 foreclosures in Kentucky over the past four years. This is a good deal that will bring some relief to Kentucky homeowners who have struggled during this crisis.
Again, this is just a first step in holding banks accountable for the mortgage foreclosure crisis. I will utilize the resources in this settlement to assist consumers and continue investigating big banks, their involvement in MERS and their bundling of mortgage-backed securities that have cost institutional investors billions of dollars.
For more information, please see our press release or visit www.NationalMortgageSettlement.com.
February 3, 2012
Yesterday, House Speaker Greg Stumbo filed sweeping legislation to combat the scourge of prescription drug abuse across Kentucky. I have worked closely with the Speaker and Gov. Beshear to craft this legislation that will hold accountable doctors who overprescribe, take the operation of pain clinics out of the hands of entrepreneurs and give law enforcement increased access to KASPER data. I believe the legislation we are proposing will save lives in every corner of the Commonwealth.
There isn't a family or community in Kentucky that hasn't been affected by prescription pill abuse, and I am confident this legislation will pass in a bipartisan fashion. I look forward to announcing more details about this important legislation next week.
I was touched yesterday by the warm welcome I received from students, teachers and community leaders at North Oldham and Henry County high schools as my Keep Kentucky Kids Safe partners and I talked about the devastating consequences of prescription pill abuse. I was joined by Dr. Karen Shay, whose daughter, Sarah, died of a prescription drug overdose in 2006, and Dan Orman, Assistant Superintendent for Student Services in Oldham County Schools.
Raising awareness and educating our kids and parents about the dangers of abusing prescription pills is an integral part of my multi-pronged plan to fight this epidemic. For more information about our school programs and prevention efforts, please visit our Prescription Drug Abuse page.
I had the privilege on Wednesday of taking part in a drug summit hosted by Kentucky's two U.S. Attorneys, Kerry B. Harvey and David J. Hale, to talk about our efforts to crack down on pain clinics and the pill pipeline between Kentucky and Florida.
Also this week, I talked about the vital services my office provides to counties across the state at the Kentucky County Judge Executive Association's meeting in Lexington and provided members of the House Budget Review Subcommittee an overview of the important work my office does every day on behalf of Kentucky families, despite unprecedented budget cuts which have put my office at funding levels not seen since before 1997.
January 27, 2012
Working with the DEA and local and state law enforcement, we executed a search warrant on Wednesday at the Care More Pain Management Clinic in Paintsville, Ky. This is the second time in a year that my office has searched this clinic as part of our ongoing investigation into overprescribing physicians. Our efforts last year resulted in the federal indictment and guilty plea of Dr. Richard Albert, who allegedly prescribed more than 100,000 pills a month. For more information, please see our press release
In addition to our investigative efforts, I'm continuing to warn Kentucky kids about the dangers of prescription pill abuse. Next week, I'll visit with students at North Oldham High School and Henry County High as part of my Keep Kentucky Kids Safe prescription drug abuse prevention program. Please make sure to monitor and secure prescription medications in your home and safely dispose of unneeded pills. Visit my prescription drug abuse awareness page for a link to the prescription drug drop-off locations around Kentucky.
As you may have heard, more than 24 million Zappos.com customers are at risk for having their identities stolen or personal financial accounts compromised as a result of a data security breach. I am among nine attorneys general seeking more information about the breach, the adequacy of the Zappos' security practices and their notification of consumers. For more information, please see our press release.
Finally, in recognition of Data Privacy Day tomorrow, please make sure to follow these simple steps to protect your personal information online:
- Configure your wireless router to encrypt data.
- Know your privacy settings.
- Don't assume that public "hot spots" are secure.
- Always think before you post and never post vacation information.
More information is available at www.onguardonline.gov.
January 20, 2012
I have often said the fight against prescription drug abuse is an all-hands-on-deck issue. It was my privilege yesterday to join Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi at the Different Faces of Substance Abuse Conference in Lexington. Attorney General Bondi is not just a colleague; she is a friend and an important ally in our fight against illegal pill mills and the pill pipeline between Florida and Kentucky.
Attorney General Bondi has put aside politics and personal agendas to help protect her beloved home state from the scourge of prescription pill abuse and to stem the flow of illegal pills into states like Kentucky. We've both created prescription drug task forces to crack down on prescription pill diversion and overprescribing physicians. Last year, we joined forces to ensure successful implementation of a prescription drug monitoring program in Florida. Be assured, Attorney General Bondi and I will continue to work together to see that prescription monitoring programs are in place in all 50 states.(Press release)
I had an opportunity this week to highlight my second term priorities at a meeting of the Frankfort Rotary Club. Of course, combating prescription pill abuse in Kentucky remains a top priority. I have been working with Gov. Beshear and Speaker Stumbo on new initiatives to fight this epidemic, including comprehensive prescription drug legislation. I hope to have more information on our legislative efforts soon.
My other priority issues include going after the banks that created the mortgage foreclosure crisis and continuing our investigation into the questionable business practices of some for-profit schools.
January 13, 2012
I joined with my fellow Attorneys General this week in urging Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). In the 17 years since the law was put in place, the number of domestic violence cases has dropped by 50 percent. VAWA is an invaluable tool for those of us who work every day to investigate, prosecute and prevent domestic violence deaths. I hope you'll take a moment to read the letter we sent to Congress about the importance of VAWA.
Next week, I look forward to visiting with members of the Frankfort Rotary Club. I'll be talking to them about the latest news from my office and my priorities as I begin my second term as Attorney General.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and I will be the featured speakers at the Faces of Substance of Abuse conference in Lexington on Thursday, Jan. 19. Attorney General Bondi has been an important ally as we combat the scourge of prescription pill addiction in Kentucky and as we work to shut down the pill pipeline between our two states.
State offices will be closed on Monday, January 16 in observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. We should all take time on Monday to reflect on Dr. King's legacy. His message of hope, healing and peace is as important today as it was decades ago.
January 6, 2012
It was a tremendous honor on Monday to be sworn in for a second term as Kentucky's 49th Attorney General. I ran for this job because I love Kentucky and saw an opportunity where I could make a difference. I believe my record over the past four years shows my steadfast commitment to standing up for Kentucky families.
I want to make the Commonwealth a better place for all of our families. That's why over the next four years, I'll continue to combat the scourge of prescription pill addiction and protect our kids from Internet predators.
I'll go after banks that created the mortgage foreclosure crisis and work every day to protect the interests of Kentucky taxpayers and ratepayers. We've already saved Kentuckians more than $1 billion in proposed rate increases and Medicaid fraud collections.
Also this week, I attended Governor Beshear's State of the Commonwealth address. I appreciate all that the Governor is doing for Kentucky during these challenging times and I look forward to working with him to win passage of sweeping prescription pill legislation.
Finally, I alerted consumers today to a new "Tech Support" telemarketing scam spreading across Kentucky. Remember, always be leery of unsolicited calls and never provide personal information to someone you do not know.