The Bizarre World of Florida

Want to come to Florida? Well, more and more sharks are gathering off the Atlantic coast and no one knows why June 23, 2014

Filed under: Amazing,Interesting,OK Then .....,Scary,Unusual,Weird,WTF? — floridaduh @ 8:26 pm

The number of great white sharks off the U.S. Atlantic Coast appears to have increased since the early 1990s after conservation measures were introduced to halt their decline, a U.S. government scientist said on Saturday.

Scientists for the National Marine Fisheries Service presented the findings in a study published this month in the PLOS ONE online journal.

Tobey Curtis, one of the government scientists who worked on the study, said in an interview his team could only capture trends in shark abundance and the study could not be used to estimate the total number of sharks in the Atlantic’s northwest region, which extends from the U.S. East Coast.

“We don’t know what portion of the total population we’re documenting,” he said.

36059632-10062648But Curtis said the findings suggested an “optimistic outlook” for the recovery of the species, which is an apex predator and one of the largest fish in the oceans.

The study’s authors described their study as based on the largest white shark dataset yet compiled from the region.

The findings were based on data stretching back about 200 years, including population surveys, fishermen’s logs and newspaper clippings recording sightings of the elusive creatures.

Extrapolating from the varied data, the scientists said that for much of the 1970s and 1980s the abundance of sharks in the northwest Atlantic was on average about 70 percent lower than in 1961, the year they chose to use as a benchmark.

They speculated the decline was caused by a growing commercial shark fishing industry, which harvested their fins and jaws for use in food and folk medicine.

chi-increase-sharks-atlantic-coast-20140621The decline was reversed in the 1990s after conservation measures were introduced, including a 1997 federal law banning the hunting of great white sharks.

“Since protections were put in place, the population appears to have started recovering,” Curtis said.

In 2009, the most recent year they studied, the abundance of sharks was 31 percent lower than it was in 1961, Curtis said.

zap-shark-week-25-sharks-from-pop-culture-picsIn a separate paper also published in PLOS ONE this month, researchers found the great white shark population is likely growing in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California.

The group, led by George Burgess, director of the Florida Program for Shark Research, pegged the entire population of white sharks along the California coast at more than 2,000 and likely rising.

The study’s authors challenged the conclusions of a 2011Stanford University study that found alarming low numbers of the predators off the central California coast.

Burgess also was involved in the study of shark abundance in the Atlantic Ocean.


Man gave another man’s car away to pay a debt he owed!

Filed under: Bizzarre,Controversy,Dumb,Fraud,Really Dumb,Robbers,Stupid,Unusual,Weird,WTF? — floridaduh @ 8:22 pm

sfl-flduh-mans-car-debt-20140620-001A 64-year-old man is charged with taking a vehicle and giving it to someone else as payment for work done.

On Sept. 26, 2013, a woman called Crestview Police Department because her vehicle was missing from her son’s former residence, according to the arrest report.

Police found the vehicle, and the man who had it said it had been given to him by 64-year-old Kenneth L. Henninger, the report said. He said the vehicle was payment for some cleaning work he had done for Henninger.

Henninger told police the day before that he had obtained a write of possession for the residence and believed the vehicle was included, according to the report. Police told him at that time that he did not own the vehicle and would have to have it removed via a towing company.

A witness told officers that he had offered the truck as payment after he’d been told that he didn’t own the truck, the report said.

Henninger, of Baker, was arrested on June 10.

He is charged with grand theft of a motor vehicle and dealing in stolen property.


Long arm of the law recovers double amputees’ prosthetic arms and his stolen truck June 21, 2014

Filed under: Bad Luck,Bizzarre,Controversy,Robbers,Sad Story,Unusual,WTF? — floridaduh @ 4:45 pm

ProstheticPolice are searching for thieves who stole more than just a truck from an Ocoee home early Tuesday morning.

Chris Miller said when the thieves made off with his truck they took his prosthetic arms and parts he uses to repair them.
On Thursday, Ocoee police said they recovered the truck and the prosthetic arms in Winter Garden on Ocoee Commerce Parkway.

“I travel with a spare set at all times — the prosthesis — I also keep a bag full of parts and things I need to fix them,” Miller said.

Miller was happy to have his truck and prosthetic arms back, but said about $20,000 in spare parts was still missing.

“The bag of parts was missing. I did find the spare set and there’s a piece broken on those. Easy to fix but I need the bag to fix them,” said Miller.

Miller’s prosthetic arms and spare parts were inside his black 2010 Chevy Silverado when it was taken. He said it all represents about $100,000 worth of needed equipment. Miller said he lost his arms in an electrical accident.

“I have nothing left but the set I’m wearing, so if something breaks I’m in a bind. And these are my lifeline,” said Miller.

According to Ocoee police, the truck was stolen on Bunchberry Way, less than a mile from the State Road 429.

A neighbor’s surveillance system captured much of what was happening around 4:30 a.m.

Police said that a car across the street was stolen and then Miller’s truck is seen speeding by in the surveillance video, as two people are seen running down the street at another camera angle.

Then a van, believed to be the vehicle the thieves arrived in, passes by the surveillance camera.

The thefts took place in a gated community.

“I don’t really care as much about the crime as I do what was in the vehicle,” said Miller.

Before the truck was found, Miller had a message for the thieves: “Drop the (prosthetics and parts) in a bag, throw them on a street,” he said. “Bring them to me. I don’t care.”

Miller said his truck was damaged by the thieves. Now he’d like to have the spare parts returned.

“I’m still hopeful that they’ll drive by and throw the bag on my lawn, so who knows?” he said.

Police said they also located the second car that was stolen from Miller’s neighborhood, but it was too damaged to drive.


Tree dispute led cops to backyard pot plants June 18, 2014

Filed under: Amazing,Bad Luck,Bizzarre,Controversy,Drugs,Dumb,Really Dumb,Unusual,WTF? — floridaduh @ 9:21 pm

sfl-flduh-tree-dispute-pot-20140617-001A dispute between neighbors over a missing tree led police to a backyard marijuana garden.

Port St. Lucie police responded to 251 SW Oakridge Drive on Sunday, meeting with Kevin Rerko, 47, who said he was having an ongoing problem with his neighbors at 261 SW Oakridge Drive. Rerko told police that he believed his neighbors had stolen a tree planted by his daughter, though he had no evidence to prove this. But he said they were growing marijuana in their back yard, visible by looking over a common fence, according to a police report.

Police saw several pot plants in the backyard and knocked on the front door. An officer saw a man, later identified as Bryan William Martin, 50, come to the door and walk to another part of the house without answering the knock. Soon after, Kathleen Martin, 59, came home to the address and they allowed police in to discuss the situation.

According to the report, the Martins at first said someone else had planted the marijuana, but then Kathleen Martin admitted they had planted them and allowed them to grow on their own, and that her husband smokes the plant to help him sleep. Bryan Martin never admitted to knowing anything about the plants.

Police spotted a glass bong and a small amount of marijuana on the patio. That and the four plants were seized as evidence.

The Martins were jailed on charges of marijuana cultivation, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.


Man douses his wife with gasoline, can’t get it to light, turns to a knife threat June 17, 2014

A Sunrise man told police he was only joking when he tried to ignite gasoline that he had “accidentally” spilled on his wife and her bed.

sfl-domestic-violence-arrest-video-20140616Khemraj Samlall, 43, was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill.

In court Monday before Broward Judge John “Jay” Hurley, Samlall’s wife cried and defended him as “a great guy” and good husband and father.

“The court has no doubt that if that lighter would have sparked, you wouldn’t be here right now,” Hurley told her.

Samlall and his wife argued early Sunday morning when he came home drunk after a night out with friends. She had told him he was a bad father for not spending time with their daughter, 9, and son, 14, according to Sunrise Police Officer Justin Bromberg’s report.

Samlall, a maintenance worker, does not have a criminal record. He is accused of pointing two knives at his wife and threatening to kill her.

The son saw his father get a red gas can from the backyard, bring it into the house and throw fuel on his mother, police said.

Samlall denied pouring gasoline on his wife and the bed, and said the fuel spill was accidental. He only wanted to “scare her, so she would stop bothering” him, according to Bromberg’s report.

Samlall told police he took a lighter from a pocket and tried to light the gasoline “as a joke” while winking at the boy, according to the police report.

Bromberg wrote that fumes inside the home were so strong, he became light-headed and had to go outside.

The wife initially said she was in fear of her husband of 16 years but after seeing him in custody, didn’t want to prosecute, Bromberg wrote.

Hurley ordered a $1 million bond for Samlall.


Jailed man had real pot belly

 It was about 3:35 p.m. on Friday when a Volusia County Sheriff’s Office deputy positioned along State Road 415, in Osteen, spotted a car go by and noticed the passenger — a rather large man — wasn’t wearing his seat belt.

sfl-flduh-real-pot-belly-20140616-001When he stopped the vehicle, the deputy immediately noticed that both the driver and passenger were nervous. And he also noticed that the passenger still wasn’t wearing his seat belt. At about 450 pounds, the passenger — Christopher Mitchell, 42 — said he was simply too large to wear the belt.

Due to growing suspicions, a Sheriff’s Office drug-detecting K-9 was brought to the scene. The dog quickly alerted deputies to the presence of drugs. The resulting investigation turned up cocaine, 23 grams of marijuana hidden under Mitchell’s stomach fat, a .380-caliber semi-automatic handgun and more than $7,000 in cash stuffed into a tube sock. The deputies also noticed something else: The vehicle’s trunk and interior were sprinkled with carper freshener and scented dryer sheets, a common tactic used to conceal the odor of drugs when they’re being transported.

The driver, Keithian Roberts, 38, of Sanford, and Mitchell, of Deltona, were both arrested.

Roberts was charged with possession of cocaine, and Mitchell was charged with possession of marijuana and also was cited for not wearing his seat belt, according to a Volusia County Sheriff’s Office release.

The arrests were part of a crime-suppression operation conducted by the Sheriff’s Office targeting crime and traffic enforcement in the Deltona area.

The operation began around 10 a.m. Friday, June 13, and lasted for about 10 hours, with deputies in both marked and unmarked vehicles.

Dubbed Operation Summer Shield, the operation was designed to combat property crimes, illegal drugs and dangerous driving offenses, such as speeding, DUI, running traffic lights and stop signs and reckless driving. The prime objective of the operations is to abate, discourage and displace crime through aggressive enforcement.

Friday’s operation led to 23 arrests and the issuance of 83 traffic citations and 14 criminal citations. Deputies also conducted 148 traffic stops.

Of the 23 arrests, five were for felony offenses, 16 were for misdemeanor charges and two were the result of open warrants. The charges against Mitchell and Roberts were among the most serious. Some of the other charges included illegal possession of prescription drugs, driving with a suspended license, possession of drug paraphernalia and interference with child custody.

Deputies said similar operations will take place throughout the summer.


Some folks like to make grand entrances, others prefer grand exits

Internal affairs detectives will investigate the actions of a rookie Jacksonville police officer and jail personnel after a domestic-violence suspect bolted from the Duval County jail’s sally port early Monday, only to be captured seven hours later.

sfl-flduh-rainbowcolored-entryway-20140616-001Police said felon Tri’shawnna R. Mitchell, 32, was arrested about 8:20 p.m. Sunday on a domestic-violence charge after brawling with her 24-year-old girlfriend in the 800 block of McDuff Avenue. At some point, Mitchell convinced Officer J.C. Marlow to adjust her handcuffs, which officers often do if a suspect complains of being in pain, said Chief of Patrol Pat Ivey.

Ivey said Marlow had been with Mitchell inside the jail’s sally port about 12:15 a.m. and took his laptop from his car to do the arrest and booking report. Ivey said prisoners are routinely removed from patrol cars while officers do such work and are taken just inside the jail building to await processing by jail officials.

Ivey said several minutes passed before Mitchell was noticed missing. It’s unclear whether she was in the custody of the officer or jail personnel when she fled, which will be part of an internal investigation now under way.

“The entire thing will be looked at,” Ivey said.

A bulletin issued by police said Mitchell escaped wearing a rainbow-colored dress and was shoeless. She was arrested about 7:30 a.m. at her home in the 5600 block of Benedict Road after police received a tip about her whereabouts.

Ivey said he was unsure if Mitchell was found in the rainbow-colored dress.

Mitchell, charged with domestic violence and escape, has a criminal history that includes arrests for possession of a firearm by a felon, battery and auto theft.

Ivey said Marlow, who has been on the force for 11 months, remains on duty and has not been placed on leave. Ivey said there have been other cases of people escaping from the sally port, but he didn’t provide more details.

“I am thankful she was taken into custody in a rather short period of time,” Ivey said.


A lawyer told a federal judge that people are torturing her through a microchip illegally placed in her head June 16, 2014

Filed under: Amazing,Bizzarre,Funny,Interesting,Scary,Silly,Stupid,Unusual,Weird,WTF? — floridaduh @ 11:23 pm

The personal challenges of civil attorney Janice L. Jennings intruded upon two of her clients’ lawsuits last month after she alleged that opposing counsel John W. Campbell had used special technology to make her miss a court date.

“You’re saying something is implanted in your brain?” U.S. District Judge Richard A. Lazzara asked at a May 16 Tampa hearing, flabbergasted.

“In the area of my left ear,” Jennings responded.

“And Mr. Campbell has been using that device to somehow subject you to torture?”

“I believe so, your honor.”

He called her accusation “bizarre” and then a second federal judge called it “peculiar.” The Florida Bar opened an inquiry, and a nonprofit group that helps lawyers cope with mental illness reached out to Jennings, 55.

The claim, however tragic, was not new. For at least 13 years, people in powerful positions in Florida have been exposed to the unusual perceptions of a woman whose Bar credentials give her special access inside heavily secured courthouses.

A month after the Bar learned of Jennings’ latest incident, its consumer website lists her as a “member in good standing,” eligible to practice in federal and state courts, and she continues to represent two women with job discrimination cases against the Polk County Commission.

“She is afforded a certain amount of due process before we can affect her ability to practice,” said Arne Vanstrum, associate director of lawyer regulation.

The Bar is the public’s safety net. It vets complaints about lawyers, who next face discipline from the Florida Supreme Court. Complaints that don’t lead to discipline are purged after a year. Jennings was reprimanded twice in the mid 1990s on matters relating to the way she handled cases and billed clients.

It’s unclear whether the Bar got involved in 2001 when she lost her staff attorney job in Florida’s Office of Attorney General. Court records indicate she was fired because she refused a mental health examination and a mandatory referral to the employee assistance program.

The office was headed by Bob Butterworth, a former sheriff and judge who years later became secretary of the Department of Children and Families. He says he doesn’t remember Jennings.

“It’s a shame,” he said Friday when told of her conduct. “You really have to be concerned about the people she’s representing.”

Jennings did not respond to several messages the Tampa Bay Times left on her cellphone, office phone and email over the past few weeks, nor to a message left with her mother.

Alisa Cotton, the Polk County human resources employee whose case brought Jennings to court last month, would not comment when contacted.

The second Polk client, Annie Allison, signed an affidavit acknowledging she had read court papers that raised questions about Jennings’ competency. The affidavit, filed last week, was required by U.S. District Judge Mary S. Scriven before the case could proceed.

“Ms. Jennings is my lawyer,” it stated. “I want her to continue to represent me in this case.”

• • •

Jennings typically sues public entities such as school districts and local governments, meaning the public pays the fees of the lawyers who fight the claims.

Allison’s case against the Polk County Commission has been in federal court for two years.

Campbell, a private Tampa attorney, represents Polk County.

His firm’s bill so far in the Allison case: at least $165,000.

In February, he advised Jennings that he would not allow the delays in the Cotton case that occurred in the Allison case.

In court filings, he has described Jennings’ legal writing as “incomprehensible.” He tells of frequent failed attempts to schedule case management conferences. He writes that he has difficulty reaching her.

Recently, he sought the judge’s help in getting Jennings to make and keep appointments to take sworn testimony, known as depositions. That led to the scheduling of the May 16 hearing.

But just before the hearing, Jennings filed a court paper in the Cotton case. She called Campbell a “bully,” “denigrating” and “disrespectful.”

Her rambling, nine-page paper contains more references to microchips than to Cotton.

“While I am the object of this type of electronic torture and all that comes with it, made possible by illegally implanted microchips, because I stood up for the federally protected civil rights against a former employer who is a former sheriff, I have not, until encountering Campbell, had this level of harm meted out against me for advocating my client’s civil rights claims,” she wrote.

She asked that Campbell cease and desist using microchips.

She also predicted, “I believe the light will shine brightly on John W. Campbell.”

Her words concerned Campbell enough that he relocated a May 14 deposition from a court reporter’s office to the secured Polk County Courthouse.

“Why didn’t you just have it at the original site?” Judge Lazzara asked two days later.

“Metal detector,” Campbell answered in front of Jennings.

“I’m sorry?” the judge asked.

“The metal detector she must pass through to enter the courthouse,” Campbell said.

• • •

Authorities have been investigating curious claims from Jennings since her days at the Office of Attorney General.

Butterworth’s office hired her in 1995 and fired her in 2001. She graduated from the Florida State University law school in 1984.

Four years into the state job, she sued Butterworth for not considering her to be personnel director. (That still doesn’t help him remember her. He guesses he has been sued 1,400 times.) Jennings, who is African-American, claimed discrimination.

The court file includes a January 2001 letter she wrote to U.S. District Judge William Stafford in Tallahassee, alleging that someone was remotely starting and stopping her car.

In February 2001, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement looked into her reports that someone was entering her home at night and injecting her with hypodermic needles.

The agency found no evidence, and the next month, Jennings lost her $59,159-a-year state job.

She still had a lawsuit pending against Butterworth. And she was her own lawyer. This put Butterworth defense attorney Laura Beth Faragasso in the odd position of questioning a courtroom adversary’s competency.

Faragasso wrote that Jennings “may not currently be able to distinguish fiction from reality.”

That was 13 years ago.

Weighing whether to order a mental health exam, Judge Stafford asked Jennings’ opinion. “Now, what responsibility,” he asked, “would the court have to a client where the court suspects that the counsel is not competent to provide representation?”

“The first thing that comes to my mind,” Jennings said, “is appointment of counsel.”

But this was a private lawsuit, the judge said. Was she suggesting he appoint a lawyer for her?

Jennings said she thought the question was hypothetical.

“It was,” Stafford said. “Let’s go back and keep it hypothetical.”

He didn’t order an exam.

In time, he dismissed her lawsuit against Butterworth.

After all was decided, in 2003, Jennings wrote a letter to U.S. District Judge Maurice Paul in Gainesville, asking for a federal investigation of the microchip.

“I am put in an altered state of consciousness or go to sleep against my will and am injected with God knows what,” she wrote. “I am raped and other bad things are done to me.”

Magistrate Judge William C. Sherrill Jr. responded for Judge Paul, saying it wasn’t in the purview of the court to order law enforcement investigations.

He took time to explain the separation of powers.

He told the clerk to return any future letters sent by Jennings.


Some men have Father’s Day cookouts at the beach; other men apparently just prefer a meth cookout at the beach

sfl-meth-cookout-beach-20140615-001Pinellas deputies say a St. Pete man’s day at the beach included cooking up some methamphetamine.

The Sheriff’s Office says deputies noticed a dark colored Chevy Silverado parked along the tree line of Gandy Beach on Saturday night. Investigators made contact with the suspect, 24-year-old Charles J. Tapp, and discovered several needles inside the truck. During their investigation, deputies saw items that indicated the truck was possibly being used to manufacture meth.

Narcotics detectives were called in, and Tapp was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and unlawful possession of the chemicals pseudoephedrine and hydrochloric gas.

Deputies say that during their interview with Tapp, he admitted he was cooking meth at the beach. He was taken to Pinellas County Jail without further incident.


Squatters deflated after vacating party mansion

Filed under: Bizzarre,Controversy,Disgusting,Florida Nut,Fraud,Really Dumb,Unusual,WTF? — floridaduh @ 11:12 pm
A luxury mansion for sale in Cape Coral was turned into a party house thanks to an ad on Craigslist.

The ad posted by a 26-year-old man calls for women to visit the home near the Cape Coral Yacht Club and be prepared to party.

sfl-flduh-squatters-deflated-mansion-20140615-001The riverfront Mansion has been on the market for three months.  It’s listed for nearly $1.5 million.  The owners moved out months ago. But when they showed up to check the mail on Friday, they found young people living inside.

“I said, ‘excuse me, what’s going on here.’  She said, ‘oh, I’m here partying with Kyle.  I said, ‘Well, Kyle doesn’t live here,” said Michael Przstanwik, the true homeowner.

It turns out ‘Kyle’ had been living there and stealing from the home for at least two days, according to Cape Coral Police.

Przstanwik said the men and women inside had set up beds and even brought clothes that suggest they had planned on staying in the home.  He says those inside had been drinking.

“It is a beautiful home and I could see where, you know, somebody would want to be in it,” said realtor Seth Hallums.

It’s a first for the realtor.  Hallums had just shown the luxury property less than a week ago.

“I’ve had break-ins and stuff like that happen in some area. But as far as a squatter moving into a house, I have not had this happen,” said Hallums.

Neighbors described the men as hoodlums and say the men had been inside the house for days.

Przstanwik told police that the squatters’ cars were parked in the driveway and he let the air out of their tires so that they could not get away.

Police quickly arrived and surrounded the home taking two men into custody.  They arrested 26-year-old Kyle Moss for burglary and theft charges; while 24-year-old Vincent Denillo was arrested on drug charges.

Attorney Jerry Von Gruben says even if they had moved themselves in, they can’t claim squatters rights, according to Florida Law.

“First of all, the person doing that must d so in a way continuously for seven years,” said Von Gruben.

Police confirmed that one of the men posted an ad on Craigslist inviting people to visit the home he had just rented to party.

The realtor and homeowner say the damages isn’t too bad; it’s just more of a mess.  They are confident the mansion will sell.



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