Florida lawmakers usually catch considerable grief when they want to limit the release of public information.
But one effort by the Legislature to withhold public information – if only temporarily – is gaining support, including near-unanimous backing from lawmakers and from what the Mafia once called a “guest of the government.”
Under a bill that awaits Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signature, the identities of Florida lottery winners whose take-home haul is $250,000 or more would not be disclosed for 90 days after they claim their prize. The bill passed 114-1 in the Florida house, and 37-1 in the Senate.
It also was endorsed by Dorice “Dee Dee” Moore, who is serving a life sentence at the Lowell Correctional Institution in Ocala. Moore, of Tampa, was convicted of first-degree murder in 2012.
Prosecutors maintain she killed Abraham Lee Shakespeare in 2009 as part of a plot to steal $30 million the Lakeland native won in the Florida lottery.
Last week, Moore gave an interview to Fresh Take Florida, a news service of the University of Florida’s journalism school.
As Fresh Take recapped it, Moore met Shakespeare, who then was living in Plant City, and posed as a writer interested in publishing a book about him. Somehow, Shakespeare trusted her to help manage his money. Moore maintained that Shakespeare only had about $1 million left of his winnings. He had spent much of the pot paying off mortgages of family and friends and just giving money to people who had asked him for help.
According to prosecutors, Moore helped herself to the $1 million, buying a Hummer, Corvette, a truck, and a vacation. At some point, Shakespeare was murdered, shot twice in the chest, and was later found under a concrete slab in the back yard of a house Moore had purchased.
By that time, all of the $30 million was gone. Moore, convicted in 2009, maintains that she did not kill Shakespeare.
Moore told Fresh Take last week that naming lottery winners “puts a target on them.”
Moore argued that three months was not long enough, and she said the state should not disclose whether winners take a lump-sum payment or the years-long payout.
“I don’t feel that’s enough time,” she told Fresh Take, adding that at least six months was more appropriate.
“You’ve got to understand, this person has to change their whole life around,” she added. “Ninety days is nothing; you see how quick time flies.”