TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) — A Senate committee has approved a bill that would toughen penalties for identity theft and send money to three counties in South Florida for beefed-up law enforcement.

SB 1472, filed by Sen. Joseph Abruzzo, D-Royal Palm Beach, would create a second-degree felony for fraudulently using personal identification information of certain groups of people, including people 60 years old or older, disabled adults and veterans.

Another part of the bill would impose $151 surcharges on people who are found guilty or plead no contest in identity-theft cases. Of that amount, $75 would go to law-enforcement agencies in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties to investigate identity theft. Another $75 would go to state attorneys in the three counties to prosecute the cases. The remaining $1 would go to clerks of court. Rep. Frank Artiles, a Miami Republican who presented the bill to the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, said it focuses on the three counties because they are the “epicenter” of identity theft in Florida.

But Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, questioned why money collected because of crimes in Duval County should be sent to South Florida.

The Criminal Justice Committee approved the bill, but Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, assured Gibson that her concerns would be addressed when the bill goes to the Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee, which Bradley chairs.

“Sen. Gibson, we’re going to fix that,” Bradley said.

Artiles said he is still working on the bill. “I would like nothing more right now than to expand this throughout the state of Florida,” Artiles said.

“The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.”


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