Sunday, September 24, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Sunday, September 24, 2023 | Back issues
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Pawn Shops Reject Privatized Government

TAMPA (CN) - A pawn shop claims Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee demands, unconstitutionally, that it electronically upload all its daily transactions through a private company. The Florida Pawnbroking Act requires such uploads; the pawn shop challenges the private intermediary.

JC Enterprises International dba Pawn King and United Pawnbrokers' Group does not challenge the Florida Pawnbroking Act in its complaint in Hillsborough County Court. It says that Sheriff Gee cannot unload the government function onto a private, third party.

The Pawnbroking Act requires pawnbrokers to inform "the appropriate law enforcement official" of its transactions within 24 hours of the transaction. The Act requires that "the appropriate law enforcement agency" supply pawnshops with "a computer and all necessary equipment for the purpose of electronically transferring pawn transactions," unless the pawnshop has a computer already, in which case the law enforcement agency "supplied the appropriate software".

Violations are punishable as a crime, a felony or misdemeanor, with a maximum fine of $5 million.

Sheriff Gee sent the plaintiffs a letter on Nov. 9 saying his office "has contracted with Business Watch International (BWI) to be their automated pawn and secondhand metals reporting service provider."

But Pawn King says the Pawnbroking Act was precisely written, and "does not include uploading daily transactions to a third-party private provider." Doing so would violate the confidentiality guarantees of the Pawnbroking Act, according to the complaint. It also violates the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, "which prohibits the release of customers' nonpublic personal information to third parties."

Pawn King says that Sheriff Gee's letter, and the demand in it, "is a gross abuse of discretion in that it usurps the legislative jurisdiction and exceeds the authority of the Sheriff's office."

It wants the requirement that pawnshops upload information through a third party enjoined.

Pawn King is represented by John Middleton of Melrose, Fla.

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