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CFO Jeff Atwater says his office will pay for teen's funeral; blames DJJ for delay

Jeff Atwater, Florida's chief financial officer, issued a statement Monday regarding a story last week noting that his office was not paying for the funeral of 18-year-old Eric Perez, who died in a West Palm Beach detention center on July 10.

Atwater's office says it is working directly with Perez's family attorney to cover the funeral expenses within 48 hours through the state's Division of Risk Management -- instead of through the Department of Juvenile Justice, which did not have the authority to make the payment.

Here is the statement:

TALLAHASSEE—Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, who oversees the Department of Financial Services, released the following statement today following news reports last Friday regarding the payment of funeral expenses for Eric Perez, who died on July 10, 2011, while in the care of the Department of Juvenile Justice at a state detention facility in West Palm Beach.

“My office is now working directly with the family’s attorney through our Division of Risk Management, and my commitment is to have a check covering funeral expenses for this young man in the hands of the family within 48 hours.

“Regrettably, this tragic delay would not have occurred if the Department of Juvenile Justice had not blatantly ignored guidance from my office.

“In the future, I would hope that DJJ would be more transparent in its dealings with the public and with taxpayer monies.”