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Crime Council Holds Inaugural Meeting in Orange Park

The inaugural meeting of the FRDA’s 18th Judicial Circuit Economic Crime Council was held Nov. 6 in Orange Park, Fla. Rent-to-Own companies represented on the Crime Council include Buddy’s Home Furnishings, Rent A Center, Rentway, Rent Rite, Z-Best Rental Purchase, Zoom Rent To Own and Rent King. Mike Mortis of Z-Best was elected chairman of the group.

This pilot program will unite the rental purchase industry in the tri-county area of Duval, Clay and Nassau counties addressing the issues of theft, organized fraud schemes and government accountability. Members will focus on educating law enforcement officials and the state attorneys and overseeing their effectiveness in prosecution. Additionally, an exchange of intelligence regarding charge off accounts, skip/stolen accounts, schemes to defraud and criminal charges filed is expected to be the impetus of an “early warning” system to help reduce losses of the member companies

FRDA President Terry Beville opened the meeting by stating that all rental purchase dealers can successfully compete while still cooperating in the exchange of information and lobbying together for the statutory rights we currently have accorded to us within the laws of our state. Buddy’s Home Furnishings Legal Affairs Director Rick Heritage, whose initiative was instrumental in the formation of the Crime Council, spoke on the successes he witnessed from similar crime councils he was involved in and/or helped start while working in the retail sales industry in Florida several years back. Heritage said one of the ultimate goals is getting law enforcement, the state’s attorney offices and the courts to partner with the Council with a proactive push to move from an adversarial position to one of better understanding about our business and our desire to be treated fairly within the laws as they now stand.

The Council’s next meeting is Dec. 9. Beginning in 2004, monthly breakfast meetings will be held every third Tuesday.

The success of this pilot program will determine whether or not the FRDA will implement similar programs throughout the state.