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Rutledge Files Suit Against Jonathan Funk Photography

Says, ‘Jonathan Funk Photography willfully chose to deceive and violate the trust of many Arkansans’

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge filed a consumer-protection lawsuit today against Jonathan and Paula Funk and their company Jonathan Funk Photography for violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

Arkansans paying for services expect to get what they pay for,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Companies like Jonathan Funk Photography and their owners who act dishonestly will not be tolerated in Arkansas. Jonathan Funk Photography willfully chose to deceive and violate the trust of many Arkansans, and I will continue to prosecute companies that take advantage of Arkansans’ hard-earned money.”

Jonathan Funk Photography advertised its business in many local Arkansas magazines offering photography services and professional portraits of newborns and special events. Consumers paid in full after their photography session and waited patiently for several months, never receiving the portraits Jonathan Funk Photography promised to deliver. As a result, Arkansans lost money and, more importantly, lost the memories they sought to capture.

The Attorney General’s Office discovered at least 13 affected Arkansans impacted by the Funks’ deception. Consumers report they tried to work with Funk to receive their portraits with no success. In most cases, consumers communicated with Funk up to a year attempting to retrieve their purchased portraits. Most consumers have lost more than $1,000, and some paid up to $2,000 for portraits they have not received.

Rutledge is asking the court to impose civil penalties, restitution for the affected consumers, attorneys’ fees, costs, an injunction, and other relief against Jonathan Funk Photography. Violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act carry civil penalties up to $10,000 for each violation.

The lawsuit was filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court.

Arkansans can file consumer complaints with the Attorney General’s Office on ArkansasAG.gov or by calling (800) 482-8982.

Attorney General’s Office Holds Office Hours in All 75 Counties for Fourth Year in a Row

DE QUEEN – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today held office hours in Sevier County which concludes the fourth consecutive year she has hosted mobile offices in all 75 counties.

“My mobile office initiative has expanded over the years, but making the office accessible to Arkansans where they are remains the goal,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “It is important that Arkansans know they do not have to drive to downtown Little Rock to file a consumer complaint face to face, or a safe location to drop off their prescription drugs. Each year, my mobile office initiative has expanded and it will continue to evolve as I see more opportunities to educate and protect Arkansans statewide.”

Since 2015, over 325 statewide mobile offices have provided Office of Attorney General services to over 3,400 Arkansas consumers providing unprecedented levels of access. Rutledge has also personally met with 3,240 Arkansans at Rutledge Roundtables during her term.

Mobile offices provide a location to personally assist consumers in filing consumer complaints and answer questions about the full range of services provided by the Attorney General’s Office. This year, the Cooperative Extension Service was also on hand at each mobile office to offer information on its services.

Attorney General Rutledge created the mobile office initiative in May 2015 so that her office and staff would be accessible to everyone, and after the success of the initiative in 2015, Rutledge expanded to include Prescription Drug Take Back boxes. The officer partners with local law enforcement agencies across the State to handle a secure box and properly dispose of the prescriptions collected. Since the addition of this service, the boxes have allowed authorities to properly dispose of nearly 620 pounds of old or unused medications.

For more information about services provided by the Attorney General’s office, visit ArkansasAG.gov or call (501) 682-2007. Rutledge can also be found on Facebook at facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge and on Twitter at twitter.com/AGRutledge.

Rutledge Announces Two Medicaid Fraud Arrests

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the arrest of a Benton County woman and a Randolph County woman on unrelated Medicaid Fraud charges.

Angela Miller, 36, of Bentonville, is accused of stealing hydrocodone and oxycodone pills while working at a northwest Arkansas facility in December 2017 and January 2018. Following an investigation by the Attorney General’s Office, Miller was arrested. She is charged with one count of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud, a Class D felony.

Cindy Bass, 32, of Pocahontas, is accused of fraudulently billing for unauthorized services and for altering documents in order to bill for services prior to authorization, in an amount totaling $12,132.00. Bass is charged with one count of Medicaid fraud and turned herself in to the Pulaski County Sherriff’s Office.

“As Arkansas has been devastated by the opioid epidemic,” says Attorney General Rutledge. “I will continue prosecuting prescription drug theft as well as fraudulent activities that take away essential services from Arkansans in need.”

The Miller case is being prosecuted by Fourth Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Matt Durrett. The Bass case was referred to the Attorney General’s Office by the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General and the Attorney General’s Office is prosecuting in cooperation with the 6th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley.

Medicaid fraud occurs when providers use the Medicaid program to obtain money to which they are not entitled. To report Medicaid fraud or abuse or neglect in residential care facilities, contact the Attorney General’s Medicaid fraud hotline at (866) 810-0016 or oag@arkansasag.gov.

Annual Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Summit to be Held November 1

Offering livestream at six UAMS facilities

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced that the seventh annual Arkansas Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Summit will be held Nov. 1 at the Hot Springs Convention Center.

This year, Attorney General Rutledge is also livestreaming plenary sessions and the clinical track to six locations across the state to reach more health care providers who may come in contact with prescription drug abusers. The sessions will be livestreamed to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock, UAMS North Central in Batesville, UAMS East Campus in Helena-West Helena, UAMS West Campus in Fort Smith, UAMS Northwest Campus in Fayetteville and UAMS Campus in Magnolia.

A record 1,025 have already taken advantage of early bird registration. Registration is open, but seating is limited for the event, a free training and educational opportunity for law enforcement officers, medical professionals, pharmacists and educators. Members of the general public may also attend and will have the opportunity to hear from experts regarding prescription drug abuse prevention and treatments.

“I am proud to offer these educational opportunities for Arkansans who combat addiction every day,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This annual event brings together over 1,000 Arkansans from every corner of the State to learn and work together.”

The all-day summit will include breakout sessions on timely topics, including e-prescribing and opioids in the workplace. After lunch, additional breakout sessions will discuss local and statewide efforts to fight the epidemic, along with a survivor’s panel.

Rutledge will host a luncheon, which will include a presentation from State Drug Director Kirk Lane.

Afternoon plenary sessions will highlight over-the-counter medications. The final session will feature a panel of parents who have lost children to the epidemic or who have children now battling addiction.

In addition to the Attorney General’s Office, the Summit is being sponsored by the Arkansas Board of Pharmacy, Arkansas Division of Adult Aging and Behavioral Health Services, Arkansas State Nursing Board, Arkansas State Police, Gulf Coast High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas, Office of the State Drug Director, Rotary Clubs of Arkansas, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and the University of Arkansas Criminal Justice Institute.

A complete agenda can be found at ArkansasAG.gov.

Rutledge Calls on FCC to Stop Illegal Robocalls and Spoofing

Says, ‘the FCC needs to urge telephone service providers to protect consumers from illegal robocalls’

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today joined a bipartisan coalition of 37 states calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to allow telephone services providers to block more illegal robocalls being made to consumers.

“Arkansans have long suffered the abusive and pesky robocalls by scammers, and the FCC needs to urge telephone service providers to protect consumers from illegal robocalls,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I hear from Arkansans regularly asking to eliminate these unwanted and unlawful calls. Ending these types of calls will save Arkansans from being scammed out of thousands of dollars and undue stress from burdensome daily calls from con artists.”

The formal comment to the FCC explains that scammers have found ways to evade an order allowing providers to block certain calls entered last year by the FCC. Despite efforts by federal and state regulators and the telecommunication industry, robocalls continue to be a major irritant to consumers in Arkansas and across the United States. In 2017, the Federal Trade Commission received 4.5 million illegal robocall complaints – two and a half times more than in 2014.

Last year, the FCC granted phone service providers authority to block certain illegal spoofed robocalls. But now the states seek added authority for the providers to work together to detect and block more illegal spoofed robocalls, including “neighbor spoofing.”

“Spoofing” allows scammers to disguise their identities, making it difficult for law enforcement to bring them to justice. “Neighborhood spoofing” is a technique that allows calls, no matter where they originate, to appear on a consumer’s caller ID as being made from a phone number that has the same local area code as the consumer. The manipulation of caller ID information increases the likelihood that the consumer will answer the call.

“Virtually anyone can send millions of illegal robocalls and frustrate law enforcement with just a computer, inexpensive software and an internet connection,” the attorneys general wrote in the formal comment filed with the FCC.

The added authority sought by the attorneys general will allow service providers to use new and existing technology to detect and block illegal spoofed calls – even those coming from what are otherwise legitimate phone numbers. Service providers will be ready to launch this new authentication method in 2019.

To date, the FCC has not issued a notice of proposed rulemaking concerning additional provider-initiated call blocking. The attorneys general anticipate that further requests for comments will take place on this subject.

Attorney General Rutledge was joined on the comment by the attorneys general of Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and the Hawaii Office of Consumer Protection.

Rutledge Applauds Decision Affirming Voter ID

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released the below statement following today’s Arkansas Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutionality of Act 633, which establishes procedures for verifying voter registration.

“Successfully defending our Voter ID law is a huge win for everyday Arkansans and our election process,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Today’s decision protects the integrity of every voter’s ballot and ensures that your vote cannot be stolen by someone pretending to be you at the polls.”

October
29
Monday

FOIA webcast

Arkansas Freedom of Information Act
10 a.m. to noon

The webcast, which is free and open to the public, will include FOIA Made Simple presentations by the Attorney General’s office detailing responsibilities and rights covered under the act related to public meetings and documents.

Two hours of Continuing Legal Education and law enforcement CLEST credit are expected to be approved.

Register

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November
1
Thursday

Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Summit

Story on opioids in The HillArkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge will host the seventh annual Arkansas Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Summit from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Hot Springs Convention Center.

The daylong event is a free training and educational opportunity for law enforcement officers, medical professionals, pharmacists, educators and treatment professionals. The morning portion will include breakout sessions with four tracks: Clinical, Criminal Justice, Education/Prevention and Counseling/Recovery.

KAIT story on opioidsAlong with the Attorney General’s office, the Summit is hosted by the Arkansas Department of Human Services, Arkansas State Board of Pharmacy, FBI, MidSOUTH Center for Prevention and Training, Office of the State Drug Director, University of Arkansas Criminal Justice Institute, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Plenary sessions and the clinical track will also be livestreamed to six locations to reach more health care providers who may come in contact with prescription drug abusers. The sessions will be livestreamed to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock, UAMS North Central in Batesville, UAMS East Campus in Helena-West Helena, UAMS West Campus in Fort Smith, UAMS Northwest Campus in Fayetteville and UAMS Campus in Magnolia.

Register today.

For questions, contact Rachel Ellis at 501-682-3645 or rachel.ellis@arkansasag.gov.

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