The Bizarre World of Florida

Texas mom sent 8-year-old on beer run in Key West April 14, 2014

sfl-flduh-mom-beer-run-key-wset-20140413-001 A mother of two from Sugar Land is in a Florida jail cell after a family vacation that reportedly spun out of control.

Suzanne Simon was arrested Thursday in Key West, FL, on suspicion of felony child neglect.

Police say the 38-year-old environmental engineer smelled of booze and slurred her words when she was taken into custody.

According to a police report, Simon kicked a 12-year-old boy out of the car on popular Duval Street without any shoes. She allegedly did so because the boy was reading the GPS incorrectly.

The report also states that Simon sent an 8-year-old girl out of the car in search of more beer.

Police haven’t officially identified Simon as the mother of the children. However, those who know Simon confirm that the kids belong to her.

“I’m nervous. Where are the kids? I want to know where the kids are. Did she just leave them on the street and take off,” questioned Simon’s friend Mary Lou. “She never mistreated the kids. Never.”

Mary Lou says the father of both kids died in a motorcycle accident years ago.

She didn’t know Simon had gone on vacation but claims Simon called her a couple of weeks ago and said she was lonely.

“What was she doing over there? The kids were in school,” said Mary Lou. “If you find the kids, bring them to me. I’ll take care of them. Those kids are real sweet.”

The little girl reportedly told police that she found a beer on the sidewalk and brought it to Simon. The investigating officer alleges that Simon smacked the girl on her forehead at one point, leaving a red mark.

“I can’t believe Suzanne would do something like that. That’s not Suzanne,” added Mary Lou.

Police say the 12-year-old boy was picked up by two strangers and brought back to his hotel.

News of Simon’s alleged actions after a day of drinking made headlines in the Citizen Newspaper in the Keys.

The newspaper says Simon told an officer that “he should put the boy in juvenile detention as a runaway.”

“Knowing that she kicked him out of the car in the middle of Key West, Florida, I think that’s insane,” said Courtney Maris, who knows Simon.

Courtney Maris’ ex husband went on to marry Simon. That marriage, too, ended in divorce.

Maris says she has had a tumultuous relationship with Simon along the way.

“She was saying terrible things to me about what a terrible mother I was because I hadn’t seen my son. I’m here taking care of my children,” explained Maris.

KHOU 11’s attempts to reach Simon’s family were unsuccessful.

Simon is currently locked up at the Stock Island jail on $5,000 bond. Authorities have not said where the children are.


Over sheriffs’ objections, Florida House approves bill to allow concealed weapons during emergencies April 12, 2014

Evacuations caused by hurricanes, toxic spills and riots could be grounds for people to conceal guns in public without a permit, according to a bill backed by the National Rifle Association that passed the Florida House 80-36 on Friday.

b4s_guns041214_12937447_8col“The bells of liberty are surely ringing throughout Florida today,” said Rep. Heather Fitz­enhagen, R-Fort Myers, the bill sponsor. “We are making sure that no Floridian in lawful possession of a firearm must leave it behind while evacuating in an officially declared state of emergency.”

HB 209 passed with six Democrats voting for it, including Rep. Amanda Murphy of New Port Richey and Rep. Carl Zimmermann of Palm Harbor, despite objections from his sheriff.

“The bill is crazy, it’s absurd,” said Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.

Gualtieri and the Florida Sheriffs Association lobbied against the bill, calling it too vague. There is no way to know for how long, or in how large a geographic area, a gun owner might qualify to conceal a weapon after an evacuation order.

Also, the bill applies to those who are “in lawful possession” of guns. That’s not the same as a gun owner, and could apply to adult children or spouses of gun owners with clean criminal records who are found carrying guns.

A companion bill, SB 296, is sponsored by Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, and awaits a hearing in the Appropriations Committee before a floor vote.

Sen. Charlie Dean, R-Inverness, had supported the bill but now opposes it because of its vagueness.

“At what point do we have control over knowing when someone is no longer evacuating?” asked Dean, a former sheriff of Citrus County. “In most of my experience, officers are there to help you in an emergency. I’m not really sure what advantage you have by sticking a gun in your belt.”

Rep. Victor Torres, D-Orlando, said it makes the job of law enforcement too risky during emergencies.

“You are introducing concealed firearms in an environment that is already teeming with tension,” said Torres, a former New York City transit cop. “If this bill passes, I hope that tragedy is not a byproduct of our decision here today, and if it is, I hope we are ready to accept responsibility.”

But gun-rights advocates like Rep. Jimmie Smith, R-Inverness, said concerns were overblown.

“Every single time we’ve made changes to protect the Second Amendment rights of people, we hear about this wild, wild West,” Smith said. “It’s going to be more dangerous. Shootings everywhere. And yet, we have one of the lowest rates of crime we’ve ever been at.”

Another NRA-backed bill, HB 523, was approved by a wider margin, 94-22, minutes later. It authorizes county tax collectors to accept applications for licenses to carry concealed weapons and firearms in an effort to make the permits more accessible.

“This bill is to ensure that Floridians do not have to wait six months to drive multiple hours to have their concealed weapons permit, at the time perhaps a natural disaster occurs,” said its sponsor, Rep. Jamie Grant, R-Tampa.


Police get involved after dispute over too many pets gets physical April 11, 2014

sfl-flduh-neighbor-fight-furkids-20140410-001Some folks really show their claws when it comes to their fur kids.

Fur-real feud: A woman, identified as Christina M. Putman, 27, is accused of attacking her neighbor after the neighbor told authorities Putman was keeping eight dogs and several cats, reports TCPalm.com in Stuart.

After officials verified Putnam had more fur kids than the legal limit of five, Putman allegedly jumped her next-door neighbor’s fence and grabbed the woman’s hair, dragging her into the backyard from the porch, Port St. Lucie cops said.


Standing in line waiting to vote? Well, to bad; you can’t use the bathroom until you’re finished April 10, 2014

Filed under: Beautiful,Controversy,Disgusting,Disrespectful,Dumb,Sick,Stupid,WTF? — floridaduh @ 7:29 pm

fl-new-election-precincts-20131026-001Broward and Palm Beach County voters can rest easy. Elections supervisors in the two counties say they won’t implement the restroom ban imposed by Miami-Dade County.

In the state’s most populous county, voters who need to go while waiting to vote aren’t allowed to do so.


The media office at the Miami-Dade County Elections Department didn’t respond to a request for information about the rule. But it’s detailed by county officials in email exchanges with a disability rights lawyer.


“It’s absolutely stunning,” said Marc  Dubin director of advocacy for the Center for Independent Living of South Florida, which serves people with disabilities in Miami-Dade County. He’s a former senior trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, where he was responsible for ADA enforcement.


“It is a current policy of the Department of Elections. It’s in effect right now,” Dubin said.


It is not a policy in the state’s second- and third-most populous counties, said Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes and Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher. “Anybody who’s at that site is able to come in and use the bathroom,” Bucher said.




Woman tweeted “2drunk2care” before driving the wrong way on a highway at 100mph and causing a double fatality accident

Filed under: Alcohol,Controversy,Dangerous Nut,Drunk,DUI,Scary,Stupid,WTF? — floridaduh @ 7:21 pm

KAYLA2Five months after a wrong-way wreck on the Sawgrass Expressway which claimed two lives, the driver who allegedly caused the crash, Kayla Mendoza, made her first appearance before a judge, according to CBS Miami.

Mendoza, 21, was taken into custody Monday by the Florida Highway Patrol and charged with two counts of vehicular homicide, as well as manslaughter and driving without a license for the early morning crash that claimed the lives of Marisa Catronio and Kaitlyn Ferrante on Nov. 17, 2013.

Mendoza appeared in a wheelchair before Circuit Judge John “Jay” Hurley. Her attorney told the judge Mendoza may have been the victim of involuntary intoxication. However, Hurley sited the suspect’s Twitter post before the crash which stated she was “2 drunk 2 care.”

According to her boyfriend, Javier Reyes, the tweet was aimed at him. In a search warrant, investigators said witnesses told them Mendoza, who did not have a driver’s license, was drinking at the Tijuana Taxi Co. in Coral Springs prior to the crash.

Hurley told the family members of the women who died he could not hold Mendoza without bond because of the charges, and then set bond at $600,000. CBS Miami reported that if she makes bond, Mendoza would be placed under house arrest.

The Florida Highway Patrol said Mendoza was driving the wrong-way on the highway when she slammed into Catronio’s car. Catronio, 21, was killed and Ferrante, who was driving the car, was seriously injured and later died.

“She changed the lives of our family forever,” said Gary Catronio, Marisa’s father. “You took my baby girl. You took my wife’s best friend. You made bad decisions that night. The right decision was to have a friend drive you home.”

Investigators said Mendoza had a blood alcohol level nearly twice the legal limit after the accident, as well as marijuana in her blood. At least ten drivers called 911 in the early morning hours of that day to report seeing a wrong-way driver traveling recklessly at speeds of up to 100 miles per hour.

Christine Ferrante, Kaitlyn’s mother, said she hopes Mendoza never gets another chance to enjoy her freedom.

“I don’t want her to ever feel the sunshine ever,” Ferrante said. “I want her to stay locked away forever.”

“We need to see her in that courtroom — not wearing what we’re wearing, wearing that jumpsuit and knowing that she destroyed a life and now she destroyed her own,” said Kaitlyn’s sister, Ashely Ferrante. “She made her bed and she has to lie in this now.”

The Catronio and Ferrante families are suing Tijuana Taxi alleging that “Throughout the evening of November 16, 2013 and the early morning hours of November 17, 2013, Tijuana Taxi Co., willfully sold or furnished alcoholic beverages to Mendoza, a minor not of the lawful drinking age.”


Man denied littering, said ‘it was weed’

sfl-flduh-littering-weed-20140409-001A man found himself “in the presence of law enforcement” and dropped a bag of marijuana and cocaine, according to information in an arrest report.

An Okaloosa County Sheriff’s deputy stopped 32-year-old Richard Lynn Roebuck of Fort Walton Beach for littering when he saw him drop a plastic bag beside the road. Roebuck initially denied dropping the plastic bag, then said, “It was weed.”

Roebuck was detained. Deputies found a plastic bag containing marijuana, and 2 feet away they found a cigarette wrapper containing white powder. They also found a plastic bag filled with white powder.

When deputies searched Roebuck he found another plastic bag containing white powder.

The white powder tested positive for cocaine.

Roebuck was charged with possession of cocaine and possession of marijuana.


Uncorked: Pantless woman stole vino from grocer

sfl-flduh-pantless-vino-thief-20140409-001A woman wearing only a shirt and slippers took two boxes of wine from a grocery store Tuesday and left without paying for the beverages.

Store officials at Publix at 5400 SW College Road, Ocala, told Ocala Police Department Officer Charles Hunt that the woman, who had on a black shirt and slippers, but no underwear or other garment, entered the store at about 1:40 p.m. They said she walked to the wine aisle and picked up two boxes of wine and walked past the cashier line and started out the door, according to the OPD report.

A store manager tried to stop the woman, who “became hysterical” and ran away with the wine, which was valued at $41.68, the report notes.

Officials described the woman as black, of medium build and standing about 5 feet 4 inches tall, with a tattoo on her neck.

Anyone with information about the woman or her whereabouts can call OPD at 369-7000, Crime Stoppers at 368-STOP, or visit www.ocalacrimestoppers.com. Tips can be sent via the MyPD App or by texting 274637 using keyword 368STOP.


Drug dealing doesn’t get much dopier than taking selfles of yourself with the stash April 9, 2014

Nicholas Waine, 27, was part of a criminal trio busted by police operating in Sale, Trafford.


When police raided one of their homes, Waine and his partners Jack Yarwood, 28, and Wayne Keron, 49, were found sitting around a large tub filled with cocaine.

Detective Sergeant Patrick Goodrich, of Greater Manchester Police, said: “We quite literally caught the three men red-handed, and their fingerprints were all over the drugs and cutting paraphernalia.”


JAILED: Jack Yarwood, left, and Wayne Keron were also caught by police [MERCURY]

“We quite literally caught the three men red-handed”

Detective Sergeant Patrick Goodrich

A mobile phone was seized, and on it police found multiple pictures Waine had taken of himself.

In some of them he is grinning, surrounded by cannabis plants and handfuls of product.

All three men pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs at Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester.

Waine and Yarwood were sentenced to four years and eight months behind bars; Keron was sentenced to two years.

DS Goodrich added: “Now that these men are off the streets, we have not only made a huge dent into the supply of drugs in this area but also sent a powerful message that no one is above the law.”


Fake nuns raising money for fake charities? In Florida? It’s more likely than you think

Filed under: Controversy,Interesting,Unusual,WTF? — floridaduh @ 7:08 pm

53445792f1ec1_preview-300Business owners on St. Armands Circle say they’ve had enough with a woman dressed as a nun soliciting donations for people in Haiti.

At Tuesday morning’s Business Improvement District meeting, the association voiced their concerns in hopes of getting answers about who this mystery woman is.

The St. Armands BID says that for months the nun has been standing out on the sidewalks of St. Armands circle, multiple times a week, asking for money to feed children and families in Haiti.

“A lot of the things that this nun has been able to do, our businesses would get fined for,” says Diana Corrigan, executive director of the St. Armands Circle Association.

She says a primary problem is that according the circle’s code, merchants cannot have signage outside of their business. But the nun is holding hand-made signs and setting up a sandwich board.

5344578fce58e_preview-300Corrigan also fears more people may start soliciting on the circle. “Part of the problem is that it’s setting a precedent that we’re very concerned could multiply.”

Businesses ABC 7 spoke with say they even question her legitimacy and do not know what parish or organization she belongs to. “Her signage doesn’t…it’s handwritten, it doesn’t indicate any affiliation. So it gives pause for concern and question,” says Michael Ballantyne of Café L’Europe.

The board voiced that same concern to law enforcement. “We should look at the validity of this to make sure that this is an official entity, and that it’s going to a worthy cause.”

ABC 7 reached out to the Diocese of Venice, who says they have heard of the woman’s solicitation for donations in various locations around Sarasota, and says she is not a part of the diocese.

More recently, merchants say the woman’s presence on the circle is starting to affect them and patrons more directly. “You want to be hospitable and charitable, but she’s coming on a regular basis asking for ice and water. Again, what do those cost? However, during business it’s not appropriate,” says Ballantyne.

Merchants say the woman is now asking patrons to purchase food and drinks for her, and using their restrooms.

According to the Sarasota Police Department, the woman is not breaking any codes or laws and they cannot open an investigation since they have not received any criminal complaints regarding the woman.


Three words sure to send any hipster’s blood pressure to dangerous levels: Craft Beer Tariff

Filed under: Alcohol,Bizzarre,Controversy,Dumb,OK Then .....,Stupid,Unusual,WTF? — floridaduh @ 7:06 pm

Sen. Jack Latvala blasted a beer-growler bill Tuesday as a “tariff” imposed by Tallahassee and a mob-like shakedown of microbrewers by requiring them to pay distributors to sell their own bottled beer in their stores.

The bill, SB 1714 sponsored by Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, has been heavily influenced by beer distributors and retailers to crack down on Florida’s exploding craft breweries which want to expand and sell their own craft brews on premises and also in bottles or jugs known as growlers.

And Tuesday, the most controversial provisions got a hearing in the Senate Community Affairs Committee.

While the bill would legalize the 64-ounce growlers popular in most of the rest of the country, it would also impose new mandates on brewers to force them to operate through the states’ complicated “three-tier” regulation system on booze that separates manufacturers, distributors and retailers.

Latvala, a Clearwater Republican with several microbreweries in his district, peppered Stargel with questions about changes made at the bill’s last stop which require brewers to pay distributors for the right to sell their own bottled beer — and doesn’t even require the distributors to transport the beer off the site.

“Those bottles brewed in a facility would have to be sold to a distributor bought back from a distributor and sold at a markup in their own store,” Latvala railed.

“All you would have to do is pay them a markup for the privilege of selling your beer in your own place,” he went on. “They have to buy their own product back and it never leaves the floor of their facility.”

He then offered an amendment to require the distributors at least transport the beer back to their storage facilities, which current law requires.

“If they’re going to have to pay this tariff, if they’re going to have to pay this sort of protection to Venny, they at least should have to pick up the goods,” Latvala said.

Stargel argued the change was meant to help craft brewers, even though a lobbyist for the Florida Brewers Guild support Latvala’s amendment.

The amendment failed, and the bill passed. But then, Latvala made a “motion to re-consider” requiring the bill be voted on again at the next meeting (which would have killed the bill since the committee isn’t meeting again). Then, Senate Rules Chairman John Thrasher one-upped him with a higher-order rule requiring the bill to be voted on again. It still passed. This time, Latvala voted no.



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