The Bizarre World of Florida

Woman arrested for running an unlicensed botox clinic out of her garage April 18, 2014

garage18n-3-webAlejandra Tobon, 43, pumped Botox, filler and vitamin injections and offered plasma therapy and Carboxytherapy, a method of removing stretch marks after pregnancy, police said in a news release.

Cops cuffed Tobon on Wednesday after a patient came to police in December to report a bad reaction to the illegal Botox therapy.

The woman allegedly outfitted the garage, along a leafy street of residential rowhouses, to look like a medical office, police said.

Instead, Tobon was committing the crimes of unlicensed practice of health care profession and practicing medicine without a license, both third-degree felonies.

Online records show Tobon has been licensed in the state of Florida since 2003 as a massage therapist and since 2009 as an electrologist.

Cops believe there may be other victims.

Neighbors would see Tobon sporting medical scrubs and told WFOR-TV that women would frequently come and go from the tidy home.

“I’m in shock, you know, because sometimes you see the neighbors walking around, saying ‘Hi’ in the morning. But that’s it. So I’m in shock,” Dulce Lopez told the CBS affiliate.


Man describes “pounding sensation” he felt after being bitten by a poisonous snake, admits to being quite rattled April 17, 2014

Filed under: Bad Luck,Interesting,Scary,Weird,WTF? — floridaduh @ 7:02 pm

fl-survives-water-moccasi-1-jpg-20140416An avid outdoorsman, Ryan Toogood fishes for sharks in the Atlantic, hikes alligator habitat in the Everglades and even owns a pair of snake-proof boots.

But he was wearing flip-flops when he stopped to stretch his legs on a drive across Alligator Alley, and that was all the opening a poisonous water moccasin needed to bite the side of his right big toe.

“‘Wow!’ I remembered thinking,” the 29-year-old Boynton Beach man said Wednesday. “‘This hurts like hell, but that’s a cool-looking snake.’”

Toogood said that despite pain that felt “like someone driving a nail through my toe and pounding on my foot at the same time,” he stayed calm enough to pull his smartphone from his pocket and snap a picture of the reptile.

The snake, with mouth open, was hissing at him, Toogood said.

Toogood’s agonizing adventure began about 6:45 p.m. Saturday at a rest area of Big Cypress National Preserve as he and his girlftriend, Kate Walsh, were returning to their home from a fishing trip to Naples.

Hobbling back to his car just 20 feet away, Toogood slipped behind the wheel and told Walsh, “A snake just bit me on the big toe,” he said.

At that point, he said he did not know what kind of snake it was.

Toogood said he thought he could complete the drive home.  But as soon as he put his foot on the pedal, a surge of pain made him realize he needed help, Toogood said.

Walsh dialed 911, Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue arrived within minutes. They looked at Toogood’s foot, forwarded the picture of the snake to the Miami-Dade Venom Response Unit, and called for a fire-rescue helicopter.

“That’s what made me the most anxious,” said Toogood, who also is an insulin-dependent diabetic. “They don’t airlift you unless it’s serious.”

Checking his monitor, Toogood said he could see his blood-sugar levels spiking.

An ambulance took him down Interstate 75 to a helicopter. It was the first chopper ride of his life, and soon he was in the emergency room at the Cleveland Clinic in Weston.

Waiting at the hospital with the Venom Response Unit paramedics was someone Toogood recognized from television: Capt. Jeffrey Fobb, who has appeared on Animal Planet’s “Swamp Wars.”

“I was star-struck right off the bat,” Toogood said. “He was a calming presence who helped take my mind off things.”

Toogood was treated with several doses of antivenin during his hospital stay.

The Venom Response Unit responds to about 20 to 30 poisonous snakebite calls each year, Fobb said.

Fobb praised Toogood as an excellent patient, “aware of his health issues, aware of his pain level, calm enough to tell us what’s going on.”

After two nights in the hospital Toogood returned home Monday. The swelling in his foot is down, as is the pain, but walking still hurts, said Toogood, a New Jersey native who studied law at the University of Miami. Both he and Walsh are attorneys with a West Palm Beach firm.

He said heexpects to be back in the office next week.

“The whole thing has been surreal,” he said of the past four days. “I would characterize this as an unfortunate accident. I was wearing flip-flops in the Everglades, and even though the snake bit me on a patch of grass that had just been mowed, it is his territory.”

Many have asked Toogood if he killed the snake, which Fobb said was likely a juvenile.

“No, I didn’t kill the snake,” Toogood said. “I hope it lives a long and healthy life and gets a lot bigger. I sort of like the idea that there is a snake out there that got me good.”


Now we have drug thieves attacking old people on their way out from seeing the pharmacists

1397678899000-PH-pharmacy-attackOn February 28 in Tampa, a man walks out of a pharmacy and is jolted with a taser for his drugs.

On March 15 in Tampa, a pharmacist is attacked and beaten for his drugs.

On April 8 in Palm Harbor, a woman leaving a pharmacy is knocked to the ground for her drugs.

People were shocked when we showed them the surveillance video.

“Oh, my Gosh!” said one.

“In broad daylight. That’s pretty crazy,” said another.

“They knocked her down!” said two elderly ladies.

“Oh, my God,” said one man.

When people watch the video, it makes their jaws drop, but no one is really surprised. Across the nation, and here in Tampa Bay, pharmacies and their customers have become targets, and detectives say Oxycodone and narcotic addicts will do anything to get a fix.

In the Palm Harbor attack, the suspect can be seen pacing back and forth in front of Trust Pharmacy on Highway 19. A woman walks out and the suspect immediately knocks her to the ground and takes her bag of prescription drugs. Passersby try and subdue the suspect, but he escapes.

But the suspect’s face is clearly captured on camera and detectives want to know who he is, reminding people to watch their backs.


Officials kill five random bears after last week’s bear attack. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED April 15, 2014

Filed under: Bad Luck,Bizzarre,OK Then .....,Scary,Unusual,WTF? — floridaduh @ 8:03 pm

After a bear mauled a woman in the driveway of her suburban Florida home, dragging her four feet before she escaped, wildlife officials said Monday that they had killed five of the animals, who had become dangerously accustomed to humans.

It was unclear whether the bear that attacked Terri Frana, 45, on Saturday was one of those killed. DNA and other tests will be done on the five animals — one shot and four euthanized — in an attempt to determine that, officials said. .


Frana, 45, said the bear had her head in its mouth and dragged her about 4 feet toward a wooded area.

“She opened her jaw and clamped down onto my head, and I could just hear her teeth marks,” Frana told WFTV-TV.

She managed to escape from the bear’s jaw, and then ran inside the house, where she collapsed.

She was treated at a hospital and released.

All five bears were “highly habituated,” Florida Fish and Wildlife officer Greg Workman said during a news conference Monday. “They had no fear of humans, making them dangerous bears,” he said. “We’re erring on the side of public safety.”

Lake Mary is an upscale community about halfway between Orlando and Daytona Beach. Workman called that the entire area in and around Lake Mary “prime bear country.”

“We’re going to be out here until we feel that the area is safe from these bears,” he said.

In December, a woman was attacked by bears while walking her dogs in Longwood, about five miles from Lake Mary. She suffered facial injuries and was hospitalized.

Frana was afraid the bears were going after her two young children Saturday evening, said her husband, Frank Frana.

Her 10-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son had just left the house Saturday night when she saw five bears scurry toward the garage. She walked down the driveway to look for her children.

“One of the bears stood up, knocked her down, and started to maul her,” Frank Frana said. “She has 30 staples in her head, 10 stitches in her head, lacerations, and claw marks on her back.”

Neighbors said that they are worried for their safety and that they’ve recently spotted several bears in the area.

Experts say this is the time of the year when bears leave their winter dens.


Man watching alligator bitten by snake off Alligator Alley April 14, 2014

Filed under: Bad Luck,Bizzarre,Scary,Unusual,WTF? — floridaduh @ 12:44 pm

A Boynton Beach man who stepped out of his car off I-75, also known as Alligator Alley, to get a glimpse of an alligator ended up getting bitten by a poisonous snake.

The 29-year-old man survived after being bitten on the foot by a pit viper about 7:10 p.m. Saturday. He and his girlfriend had stopped to check out an alligator at Mile Marker 49 on I-75 eastbound, said Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue spokesman Mike Jachles. The girlfriend was not injured. The area where he was bitten was coincidentally near Snake Road.

The man, who was not identified was airlifted to the Cleveland Clinic in Weston, where he was met by officials with the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue’s Venom Response Bureau.

The pit viper’s venom, according to Miami-Dade’s venom staff, causes severe pain, swelling and bleeding.



Woman hospitalized after meeting five bears in her garage

Filed under: Bizzarre,Interesting,OK Then .....,Scary,Unusual,Weird,WTF? — floridaduh @ 12:40 pm

os-bear-in-downtown-orlando-20130608A Seminole County woman was hospitalized Saturday night after being attacked by a 200-pound bear inside her garage, deputies say.

The woman, whose name has not been released, told investigators that she was walking from her home to her garage just before 8 p.m. when she encountered five bears rummaging through the garbage bin she kept inside, Seminole County Sheriff’s Lt. Pete Brenenscuhl said.

The attack happened at a home on Brackenhurst Place in a subdivision near the intersection of Markham Road and Markham Woods Road near Lake Mary.

Brenenscuhl said the woman told investigators that when the bears saw her, they pounced. The bears dragged her out of the garage but somehow, the woman was able to escape and run into her home to call for help.

The woman had injuries to her head and scratches on her face but was alert and able to speak when paramedics arrived.

Initial reports said the woman had been attacked by five bears, but officials do not believe that’s the case.

“As far as we know there was only one aggressive bear,” Florida Fish and Wildlife Officer Lenny Salberg said during a press conference Sunday afternoon.

Salberg said the woman, whose name has not been released, is back home from the hospital. She apparently suffered claw marks to the head.

Officials believe the bear responsible for the attack weighs about 200 lbs.

Sunday morning, bears were spotted inside the subdivision and crossing a nearby street.

Bob Myers has been bicycling on a trail that runs past the subdivision for the past several years, without ever seeing a bear. But he expects encounters like Saturday’s to become more common.

“We’re encroaching on the bears, he said. “There’s more construction, so it’s going to happen.”

Three traps have been set up inside the Carisbrooke subdivision as officials continue to investigate.


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.


Woman tweeted “2drunk2care” before driving the wrong way on a highway at 100mph and causing a double fatality accident April 10, 2014

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.”


Atheist who attacked Jesus-double roomie wants godless lawyer April 9, 2014

Gustav Potthoff demanded a godless attorney.

sfl-flduh-atheist-jesusdouble-roomie-20140408-001After all, the Pine Hills-area man denies the existence of God and — as he told a judge Thursday after allegedly attacking his roommate with a butter knife because he thought the man was Jesus — he deserves a like-minded legal representative.

But Potthoff is also penniless. So the judge told him he better pony up if he wanted his own atheist attorney. Otherwise, he gets a public defender.

“It’s just my human rights and everything else,” Potthoff, 51, said against the advice of a public defender. “I’m allowed to be with someone of my own kind.”

Potthoff’s roommate, Raymond Hernandez, said he was watching television in the living room of their home on North Hiawassee Road when Potthoff threw a glass. It missed and shattered against a wall. Then came the butter-knife attack, Hernandez told deputies.

Potthoff denied tossing the glass.

The judge told Potthoff — after the suspect also rejected the idea of an agnostic attorney — that the request would likely be impossible to fill unless the indigent man paid for his own attorney.

“It’s a sacrilegious thing,” he told the judge before he went back to jail.


Vampires, nudists, snakes: Nobody does wacky like Florida April 7, 2014


By: Scott Maxwell

Last week, news broke that a congressional candidate in Gainesville had a secret pastime: impersonating vampires. And superheroes.

Some people would call this nutty.

In Florida, we just call it Tuesday.

Seriously, that’s not even our highest-profile vampire story. Remember the “vampire killings” from Lake County?

Some of our stories are heartbreakingly tragic. But so many are also mind-numbingly strange.

In Florida, we do weird the way Kansas does wheat.

Here, giant pet snakes escape. And breed. And then invade our national parks.

We have fish that eat people, alligators that eat people and people who eat people.

Two years ago, when news of the “cannibal attack” broke, the nation let out a collective gasp … until learning it was Miami. Then it all made sense.

We have killer amoebas, hanging chads and diaper-wearing astronauts. (All of which would make awesome rock-band names, by the way.)

We have a town named Christmas … where it never snows. We have the world’s smallest post office and a couple trying to build America’s largest house.

I used to think Florida attracted wacky people. Now I think it creates them.

Take my grandfather, for example.

Early in his life, he was a NASA engineer in Virginia — and as strait-laced and buttoned-down as they came. His passions were photography and crossword puzzles.

Then he moved to Florida. After Grandma died, we worried that our sober and contemplative grandfather would become listless and uninspired.

He became neither of those things. Instead, he became a nudist. (Lending more credence to the notion that it’s never the people you want to see naked at a nudist resort.)

At first, we were all: What the heck, Granddad?

But you know what? He found new life and inspiration. He’d travel down Interstate4 from Ormond Beach to Cypress Cove, where he’d pay strict adherence to the two main rules: Never take pictures, and always place a towel on the bar stool before you sit down.

Florida liberated him. And he spent the remaining, widowed years of his life happy. So you go, Granddad.

By the way, nudity is another one of our weird themes.

•”Nude man found dead on killer whale’s back”

•”Florida Lotto winner seeks to open a nude dude ranch”

•”Blind woman sues nudist colony over heavy dog”

Florida newspapers carry such headlines the way other papers carry horoscopes.

Some of that is understandable. It’s hot down here.

And I don’t mean happy, sand-at-your-toes, wind-in-your-hair hot. I mean sweaty-thighs-stuck-to-your-car-seats, armpit-stains-like-dinner-plates hot. It’s enough to make anyone nutty. And naked.

But it cuts both ways. When it’s hot, it makes us crazy. When it’s pleasant, we attract other states’ crazies. I mean, if it’s January and you’re already planning to run a scam, con or heist, would you rather do it in Buffalo or Boynton Beach?

This state is also lousy with newspapers and TV stations, meaning we have more ink-stained wretches and blow-dried broadcasters than your average state to tell all the weird stories.

Finally, there’s our melting-pot effect.

You simply can’t throw so many different cultures together and not expect some fireworks.

But you know what? That is also part of what makes this state so splendidly unique.

We have character and texture — a bouillabaisse of native and newcomer, sinner and saint, scholar and simpleton.

It’s a fusion that produces a weeklong bacchanalia in Key West and pioneering medical research at the Burnham Institute.

It’s the reason Orlando can turn out just as many people for a Veterans Day parade as it does for Come Out With Pride.

And it explains how a mild-mannered rocket engineer can feel inspired to start a new life by ditching his pocket protector — along with everything else he’s wearing.

And, yes, it’s also how we end up with some of the wackiest politicians in America — including a vampire-impersonating, superhero-mimicking, punk-rock lawyer running for Congress.

Just what we need … another lawyer in Congress.



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