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The Bizarre World of Florida

Not realizing he’s gone underground, cemetery repeatedly calls dead man March 26, 2015

Shortly before dying of lung cancer in 2010, Bruce Abare requested that he be cremated and interred at Fountainhead Memorial Park, a cemetery the 51-year-old drove past every day while working as a postal carrier.

Grave_of_Edward_Sang_(1805-1890)_in_Newington_cemetery,_Edinburgh“I like the openness back here. And the quietness back here,” said Abare’s longtime partner David Musgrove, who frequently visits the cemetery to look at Abare’s name etched on a nearby memorial wall. “It’s calm here. Sad, but calm.”

Two years ago, Musgrove was at the home the couple once shared when the phone rang. The Caller ID indicated it was someone from the cemetery.

“I answered the phone and they say, ‘Can I speak to Bruce Abare?’ And at first it was just jarring,” said Musgrove. “The very place he’s at is calling to ask for him? I thought it was some kind of joke.”

After explaining to the telemarketer that Abare was no longer alive and had been laid to rest at their cemetery, Musgrove assumed his partner’s name would be removed from the company’s sales call list. But six months later, someone else from the Fountainhead Memorial Park called and asked to speak with the deceased, he said.

“He’s there in your gardens,” Musgrove told the caller. “She said, ‘Oh my gosh!'”

About six months later, according to Musgrove, another cemetery worker called and requested to speak with Abare.

“Are you guys going to get this right?” Musgrove said he asked the telemarketer. “I told you he’s there. He’s dead!”

A sales supervisor reportedly told Musgrove that the deceased’s name was finally being removed from the call list. But on March 3, Musgrove received another phone call.

“I don’t think I’m asking too much, I really don’t,” Musgrove said.

After that fourth mistaken phone call, Musgrove said he believed the cemetery’s sales office had finally corrected the error. So when Fountainhead Memorial Park showed up on his Caller ID just six days later, he assumed someone was reaching out to apologize for the repeated mix-ups.

“I answer the phone, I say, ‘Hello?’ They say, ‘Is Bruce Abare there?'”

Although Musgrove’s home phone number is on Florida’s Do Not Call list, companies he and Abare have done prior business with, such the cemetery, are allowed to call. But that does not mean those businesses can always contact their former customers.

“According to the rules of the Do Not Call program, a business should stop calling an individual when that individual asks the business to do so,” said a spokesman for Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which oversees the Do Not Call list. Violators can face a $10,000 fine per call.

The state agency has not received any prior telemarketing complaints about Fountainhead Memorial Park.

“When we receive a request to remove a name from our call list, we make a notation in our database not to contact the individual. This removes the name from all call lists,” said Jessica McDunn, a spokeswoman for the cemetery’s parent company. “Occasionally, mistakes happen. In these circumstances we work to ensure our list is up-to-date.”

McDunn would not confirm whether Bruce Abare’s name has been removed from Fountainhead’s list, nor would she specifically comment about Musgrove’s allegations of repeat sales calls, citing privacy concerns. Fountainhead Memorial Park staff handles those sales calls in-house and does not contract the work to outside telemarketing companies, according to McDunn.

“It brought back really sad memories the first time (the cemetery called). And the second time. But it really does irritate me now,” said Musgrove, who said he believes the company was trying to sell his late partner upgraded funeral arrangements.

“The credit card company stopped calling. Everyone else did. Nobody calls for him. But the place he’s buried can’t get it,” he said.

 

Guns don’t shoot people, but they do sort out food fights

Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco says they still don’t know what led to a fight between a group of brothers that ended with two of them dead and another one in the hospital.

helen-trevor-326At a press conference Thursday morning, Nocco released the names of the brothers; Trevor Pimentel, 16, Kevin Pimentel, 12, Brady Pimentel, 6. He said Kevin would’ve turned 13 at the end of this month.

Nocco said initially they believed the fight was over food but now say Trevor and Kevin were preparing food at the time an argument broke out.

Deputies received the call at 6:19 p.m. from a mobile home in the 16000 block of Bachmann Avenue in Hudson.

“Sixteen-year-old Trevor called 911, telling the dispatcher his brother, Kevin, 12 years old, had just shot Brady, 6, then shot himself,” Nocco said.

A deputy arriving on scene heard a boy screaming and he charged into the house, Nocco said.

Trevor was transported to a local hospital with a non-life threatening gunshot wound, according to deputies. Nocco said Trevor has been cooperative but he is emotional.

“Trevor’s heart rate would go up during interview process with detectives,” Nocco said. “He is grieving.”

The boys’ mother, Helen Campochiaro, was at work. Nocco described her as hard-working, noting she has two jobs and was recently in a car accident but chose to keep working.

An 18-year-old brother that also lives at the home also was not at the residence at the time of the shooting.

Brady attended Hudson Elementary School, Kevin went to Hudson Middle School and Trevor attended Hudson High School in the mornings through virtual education classes, according to Superintendent Kurt Browning.

Crisis teams will be at the elementary and middle schools “as long as we need to,” Browning said. “It’s very tragic but we are working to heal families and students.”

Browning said Trevor attended Marchmen Technical College’s culinary program in the afternoons.

Nocco said there are no signs child protection investigators or law enforcement has ever been to the home before.

 

Couple Arrested For Having Sex In Front Of Youngsters Near Florida Playground March 25, 2015

An amorous couple is facing criminal charges after they were spotted having sex in front of a group of children near a Florida playground, according to cops.

flasexduo

Danielle Stager, 26, and Shane Johnson, 38, were initially observed late Friday afternoon with their pants down while next to a tree near the playground in Greenacres, a city about 10 miles from Palm Beach.

A quartet of youngsters–none of whom was older than 10–told police that they spotted the pantsless pair.

By the time cops responded to a call about the public sex, they discovered that Stager and Johnson had relocated to a nearby truck, where they were continuing to have sex (Stager’s feet were dangling out the driver’s side door while Johnson kneeled above her).

Upon spotting the police, Stager announced, “Shane, we are going to jail.”

Seen in the above mug shots, Stager and Johnson were each charged with lewd and lascivious behavior and booked into the Palm Beach County jail on the misdemeanor count. Both were subsequently released from custody after posting bond.

 

Drunken mom arrested after young son found wandering on busy road

A mother was passed out and intoxicated, while her young son was found wandering on State Road 434.

Investigators said Ramona Petty’s 6-year-old son was found more than a mile away on Sheoah Boulevard.

Ramona-Petty-jpgHowever, Petty spoke with Eyewitness News reporter Tim Barber and said there wasno way her son could have walked that far because he gets tired very quickly.

Petty admitted to Barber that she did not remember a lot from Sunday night.

Investigators said a driver spotted Petty’s 6-year-old and called 911.

The officers who rescued the boy said they recognized him from previous cases that involved his mother. The officers said they brought him home, where Petty was drunk and lying in the grass with her 5-year-old daughter.

“My son, he has this little habit of taking off and he runs because behind here we have trees and woods. So, my daughter and I are screaming, ‘Joseph! Joseph!’ Can’t find him, can’t find him,” said Petty.

Petty said she had a few drinks, but denied being drunk. She said she did not believe that her son was capable of walking a mile from their apartment to State Road 434.

“It’s not true, because he would have stopped at the park. He is not like that. It’s not true,” Petty said.

A police document shows that Petty had marks on her face because she “fell down” while officers were trying to arrest her on child abuse charges. She was also charged with resisting arrest.

Court records show that it was not Petty’s first time in trouble. She was arrested on child neglect charges in 2013 for a similar situation. In that case, she pleaded no contest and took anger management, substance abuse and parenting classes.

 

Who wants to go on a legal bear hunt?

Black-bear-blurb-jpgNew details have been released on a proposed plan for legalized bear hunting in Florida, including the price for a permit, potential hunting locations and the duration of the hunting season.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, a bear hunting permit would cost $100 for Florida residents and $300 for non-residents if the proposal is approved. That would allow one bear per person. All weapons currently approved for deer hunting would be allowed for bear hunting.

The hunting season would last between two and seven days in October.

The following wildlife management areas in Central Florida would be considered for hunting:

-Bayard WMA
-Belmore WMA
-Etoniah Creek WMA
-Hatchet Creek WMA
-Jennings Forest WMA
-Jumper Creek WMA
-Lake Monroe WMA
-Lochloosa WMA
-Marshall Swamp WMA
-Ocala WMA
-Raiford WMA
-Rock Springs Run WMA
-Seminole Forest WMA
-Tiger Bay WMA

The goal of hunting in bear “hot spots” is to control the population.

Hunters would be prohibited from wasting any part of the animal or selling its parts. They’d also be prohibited from shooting a bear weighing less than 100 pounds or a grown bear with cubs, according to the proposal.

“Bear populations have really grown in the last 15, 20 years, and we’re fortunate to have a lot of bears, but also, it comes with a responsibility to manage those populations. And hunting is an important tool in that regard,” said FWC executive director Nick Wiley.

Many are opposed to the plan.

“It seems like the first solution is to pick up a gun and go after them, when, I mean, with technology and everything, I think there’d be a better solution to handle this than just killing them,” protester Adam Sugalski said.

Bear management webinars are being held by FWC. The next webinar is on Thursday. See more information.

 

Jacksonville police officer who let woman drive patrol car to Hooters was suspended for 10 days March 24, 2015

met_JSO_hug_photo_0A Jacksonville police officer who let an unauthorized woman drive his police car was suspended 10 days and received a written reprimand as discipline, according to Sheriff’s Office records released Monday.

Officer Irving Diaz, hired by the Sheriff’s Office in December 2004, also inappropriately searched her name in a police database because she often was around his children, according to an internal affairs report. The woman was seen at least twice driving his patrol car while dressed scantily.

Diaz was suspended for 10 days or 80 hours Feb. 27, according to Sheriff’s Office records.

A June photo of Diaz in uniform leaning against his patrol car embracing a woman dressed similarly also resulted in an internal affairs report and admonishment for unbecoming conduct.

Diaz’s personnel file also includes three vehicle accidents from 2012 to 2013.

 

‘Cremated’ Florida businessman was very much alive. He’s now charged in $9 million fake death scam.

Jose Salvador Lantigua was dead.

deadIn April 2013, the debt-ridden furniture store owner traveled to Venezuela — during a time his health had been deteriorating, Florida news reports said. His family claimed he passed away on the trip. The U.S. embassy in Venezuela’s capital, Caracas, confirmed he died in Rio Chico, a tourist town by the Caribbean Sea. The Cuban native was reportedly cremated, his ashes scattered in South America.

It turns out, Lantigua was very much alive. Any lingering doubt about it vanished on Monday when he appeared in a federal courtroom in Asheville, N.C.

It was all a ruse — an alleged plan to escape mountains of debt and collect more than $9 million in bogus life insurance claims, according to prosecutors.

Over the weekend, Lantigua, a 62-year-old from Jacksonville, Fla., was arrested near his wife’s affluent mountain home in North Carolina. He has been charged with a one count of making a false statement on a passport application. He has also been charged in state court in Florida with seven counts of filing fraudulent insurance claims and another count of scheming to fraud, according to the Associated Press.

His wife, Daphne Simpson, was also arrested and faces the same state charges.

Indeed, the two-year mystery and its messy conclusion came as a shock to some back in Jacksonville, where Lantigua seemed to be a business success. He was a former executive for Fidelity National Information Services who bought a furniture store in 2008 and turned it into a “local favorite,” the Jacksonville Business Journal reported in 2013. A few years later, he opened another store on the other side of town. He even announced plans for a third. But during his alleged death scam, the newspaper revealed his estate was more than $8 million in the red.

His story started to fall apart amid lawsuits between life insurance companies and Lantigua’s son. The family claimed Lantigua died overseas, but insurance companies didn’t believe them and refused to pay the claims.

Hartford Life and Annuity Insurance Company, which was supposed to shell out $2.5 million on a life insurance policy to settle Lantigua’s debt at a local bank, started investigating the death, according to the Jacksonville Business Journal. It sent a letter to his family’s attorney saying it knew the truth, and it filed a lawsuit stating it shouldn’t have to make payments.

“Our investigation has revealed that Mr. Lantigua is alive and living in Venezuela,” a claim examiner wrote, according to the Florida Times‑Union. Without a death, the letter added, “there is no benefit payable on this claim.”
The family’s attorney at the time, Ray Driver, objected. “I have a certified death certificate and a certificate of the death of a U.S. citizen abroad from our U.S. State Department,” he said. “And I have not seen any evidence to refute those two pieces of paper.”

In the lawsuit, however, an investigator hired by the life insurance company claimed a Venezuelan attorney admitted he “participated in a scheme to fabricate documentation” for the death and that a funeral home director was “complicit in the scheme.” The funeral home allegedly got a doctor — who never saw the body — to sign the death certificate, the Jacksonville Business Journal reported.

Lantigua’s son fought back, accusing the insurance company of running a dirty investigation. But in the end, Lantigua seemed to seal his own fate.

In September of last year, the supposedly deceased Lantigua got a North Carolina driver’s license and birth certificate using the name of a former New York postal worker. Two months later, he used that identification to apply for a U.S. passport, according to a federal criminal complaint cited by the AP.

The passport application caught the attention of the State Department because the postal worker had applied for his own passport in 1999 and it didn’t quite match Lantigua’s passport application. They were different heights. Their eye color, hair color — and skin color — were also different. The photo from 1999 showed a black man. The one from 2014 showed a white man.

On the passport application, Lantigua also put down his wife’s real name as his emergency contact and listed his address as the one that matched her North Carolina home.

After weeks watching the house, federal investigators pulled over Lantigua in a Jeep Wrangler. He was wearing a “poorly dyed beard” and brown toupee, investigators said.

When he was arrested, he reportedly signed a document waiving his Miranda rights. “It’s been a long time since I signed my true name,” he said, according to court papers.

 

 
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