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The Bizarre World of Florida

Who wants to go on a legal bear hunt? March 25, 2015

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.

 

Naked man in Fort Pierce: ‘I’m famous now look at what I did’

A naked man stands accused of trashing a portion of North 15th Street before screaming, “I’m famous now look at what I did.”

Fort Pierce police at 3:07 a.m. March 11 went to North 15th Street and G Terrace after a report of a shirtless man jumping on a vehicle, according to records.

antuan_anderson_mugThe deputy reported when she pulled up, Anderson jumped on her patrol vehicle. He started banging on the front window and broke off a windshield wiper.Investigators encountered Antuan Anderson, 32, on the ground, naked and screaming. A St. Lucie County Sheriff’s deputy had him at gunpoint. Anderson started kicking and spitting and exclaimed, “I’m famous now look at what I did.”

The deputy said she got out and demanded he get on the ground. Anderson took off the remainder of his clothes and got on the ground.

Investigators found several mailboxes damaged and a stop sign and pole ripped from the ground. A drain grate cover was out of place; garbage cans and bags were strewn about; and a metal fence and fence posts were scattered around.

Officers later were told of additional damage, including a vandalized or damaged light fixture, fence and windshield wipers. Anderson also is accused of denting the roof of a car and ripping away a basketball hoop.

Two people reported “Anderson was running around the neighborhood naked vandalizing things.”

Anderson, of the 1500 block of G Terrace in Fort Pierce, was arrested on several criminal mischief related charges along with resist officer with violence and two outstanding warrants.

 

Arizona Man Arrested for Making False Report

image00143Friday night, Walton County Sheriff’s Deputies arrested 22-year-old Christopher Catlett of Hot Springs, Arizona for providing a false report to officers.

Reports say, Catlett told deputies that two men approached him while he was in his front yard and attempted to rob him.

Deputies detain an individual based on Catlett’s description.

The WCSO K9 Unit even responded to located the other suspect, but they had no luck.

Investigators then told Catlett that a full investigation into the issue would be conducted, and at that time officers say Catlett became nervous, and later told investigators he fabricated the whole story.

Catlett told deputies he was drunk at the time that he called police.

The man that deputies detained earlier was released.

Catlett has been booked in the Walton County Jail.

 

Man videotaped another man’s putter at miniature golf course

7217361_GAn employee at a mini golf is under arrest because he used his cell phone to record another man urinating in a bathroom of the Congo River Golf in Port Richey, Pasco deputies said.

A mini golf customer saw a cell phone recording him near the urinal when he went to the men’s room. He called the authorities. He said he didn’t give anybody a permission to record him.

When the deputies arrived, they found the owner of the phone, Justin Lynn Barrett, 28, of Port Richey who worked at the Congo River.

After Barrett was Mirandized, he told the deputies that he had put his cell phone into the man’s room because he “saw a hot man.”

Barrett is in the Pasco County jail on a $5000 bond.

 

Izbella Bronson, 2, Killed After Being Ran Over By Her Great-Grandmother March 23, 2015

Izbella Bronson was killed after the A 2-year-old fell out of her great-grandmother’s minivan and was accidentally run over.

drivewayAccording to Hillsborough County deputies, Izbella Bronson was with 69-year-old Alice Barber in a 2008 Kia Sedona, waiting at the end of Barber’s private dirt driveway to pick up the girl’s brothers as they got off their school bus.

As Izbella’s 7-year-old brother ran ahead of the vehicle towards the house, Barber allowed Izbella and her 9-year-old brother to sit on the floor of the minivan with one of the side doors open as she proceeded back up the driveway.

“Sometimes, the kids would sit there and dangle their feet out and she would travel very slowly,” said HCSO spokesperson Larry McKinnon. “Unfortunately, this time on the way back, she obviously hit something that knocked the child out.”

Izbella ended up falling underneath the minivan and was ran over by one of the vehicle’s rear tires, which makes the entire story more horrific when combined with that “very slowly” portion of McKinnon’s statement.

Izbella would die shortly after being flown to Tampa General Hospital. No charges have been filed at this time and it isn’t likely any will be.

“It’s on private property so the car seat and all those rules don’t apply unfortunately,” said McKinnon, who added that he hopes this story serves as a cautionary tale.

“These are potential risks that you take when you put a child that is not secured in a car seat regardless of where it’s at,” said McKinnon. “So it’s a lesson learned, a tragic lesson learned, but hopefully it’s a message we can send out to everyone. That this is what happens when you practice these habits.”

Sometimes I find it hard to believe I made it out of childhood. I still remember riding in the back of my old man’s truck with a group of other teammates as we headed down the highway to our baseball games, or playing the hot lava game with my brother in the back of my mom’s station wagon.

 

 
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