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'Call Christina' introduces you to the Florida Attorney General's 'Seniors Vs. Crime' program

Program helps handle civil complaints; volunteers refer cases for prosecution

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – "He could have fixed it, matched it," Hope DeFalco said about the contractor she hired for a kitchen cabinets redo in her Boynton Beach home. "He mismeasured. I asked him, 'What is this? Look at that cabinet.' He had another cabinet here that was too big. He took it away and another cabinet there, he had to take away (and he) never brought it back. That's when I went to Seniors Vs. Crime."

Seniors Vs. Crime was created 17 years ago when the Attorney General's Office was flooded with complaints and wanted to create a mechanism to help.

"How this came about by law, by legislative law, the Attorney General's Office cannot handle individual cases, so we set up Seniors vs. Crime," Al Payne said. "The first official office opened here in Delray, and I happened to be the one that opened the first office and I've been here ever since."

The program can help with civil complaints, an alternative to paying an attorney which can sometimes be more expensive than the cost you are trying to recover.

They work to mediate disputes. In the case of DeFalco, they were able to recover most of her money from the contractor.

In addition, volunteers can refer cases for prosecution.

BEFORE HANDING OVER CASH OR SIGNING A CONTRACT:

Payne said their volunteers of retired attorneys and retired law enforcement officials can also help you background a vendor or review a contract.

"If you get a contractor, he's going to be doing some work for you, and if it's a sizeable amount of money involved, we ask that before you make a decision on that particular contractor, contact Seniors Vs Crime," Payne said. "We can do a background investigation into that particular contractor. I will not make the decision for that individual. I'll give you maybe three other options to choose from as a contractor. The next step would be if you finally decide on a contractor, please read your contract quite carefully. And if there are any questions about that contract, before you sign it, any one of our volunteers or helping hands here would be happy to read the contract. I know there is a lot of lingo in there that might be a legal—we have attorneys here. I have retired attorneys in my present office here that can read contracts. I tell all my volunteers that the first case that you resolve you'll feel 10-feet high. It's a great exhilaration for the individual."

DESPITE THE NAME: DON'T NEED TO BE A SENIOR

"Seniors Vs. Crime is a helping hand for the senior population. However, I've opened my doors to all walks of life. The age doesn't matter," Payne said. "I've had 20 year olds come into my office and we're now accepting all ages. It's not necessarily for the senior population."

Seniors Vs. Crime has five offices in South Florida:

Miami-Dade County:

North Miami Beach

305-948-2955 Note: bi-lingual office

svc@nmbpd.org

16901 NE. 19th Ave.

North Miami Beach 33162  

Monday through Friday 10:00 a.m.- 2:00 p.m.

 

Broward County:

Cooper City

954-441-8339 

seniorsvscrime@sheriff.org

10580 Stirling Rd. 

Cooper City FL 33026 

Monday 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

Thursday 1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m.

 

Coral Springs

954-340-4168 

seniorvscrime@coralsprings.org

10000 N.W. 29th St.

Coral Springs 33065

Wednesday 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

 

Palm Beach County:

Delray Beach

561-865-1571

SRvsCrime@aol.com

15127 Jog Road Kings Point Professional Building, Suite 203 

Delray Beach 33446 

Monday through Friday 9:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

 

West Palm Beach

561-721-7424 

srvscrimewpb@yahoo.com

2102 West Drive ( Century Village Entrance)

West Palm Beach 33417 

Wednesday 1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m.

Friday 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.