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Around the state

Firms who keep reservists on payroll would get break

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 4, 2003

TALLAHASSEE -- Two northeast Florida legislators want the state to offer tax credits to business owners who pay employees their full salaries while on military duty.

Sen. Tony Hill, D-Jacksonville, and Rep. Doug Wiles, D-St. Augustine, say their plan is designed to close the gap between military reservists' duty pay and their regular pay. The lawmakers would offer businesses a credit either through the corporate income tax or the sales tax.

Legislators estimate it would lower tax revenues by up to $48-million a year. Democrats often criticize Republicans for proposing tax cuts, but Wiles said this is different.

"This is about doing the right thing for the soldiers that have already been called to active duty," he said.

Hill and Wiles are veterans. Hill served six years in the Army. Wiles spent 25 years in the Army and the Florida National Guard.

Officials: Mail carrier was seized for home invasion

MIAMI -- Friday's televised chase of a mail truck driven by an abducted postal carrier resulted from two men's botched plans for a home invasion, investigators reported Monday as the suspects made their first court appearance.

A postal inspector offered a sketchy outline of the plot in a report filed to support federal kidnap, assault and weapons charges against Nevia Abraham, 38, and Jonathan Hamilton, 48.

They planned to send the mail carrier with a package to the door of the intended victim as a way of getting inside, prosecutors said. The identity of the real target was not released.

Abraham is accused of leading police on a slow chase for more than an hour Friday, occasionally shooting at them, holding the mail carrier for two hours longer and then holding heavily armed SWAT officers at bay for another hour before surrendering.

Police saw Hamilton run from the postal truck just before the chase began, and he was arrested quickly.

Officials commended carrier Tanya Mitchell for her calmness during the ordeal.

"She did a tremendous job in the face of a very dangerous situation," said Jim Belz of the U.S. Postal Service.

After Abraham surrendered, investigators found a .357-caliber Magnum handgun and a .380-caliber Baikal pistol in the truck.

Both suspects have given statements to investigators.

Trial delayed for pilots accused of being drunk

MIAMI -- The trial of two former America West pilots on charges they tried to fly drunk has been delayed because neither prosecutors nor defense attorneys were ready to begin.

Circuit Judge David Young granted the delay Monday, a week before the trial of pilots Christopher Hughes and Thomas Cloyd was to begin. The trial is now scheduled for July 7.

Prosecutors say the pilots drank heavily before boarding a Miami-Phoenix flight last July 1 and had blood-alcohol levels above 0.08 percent, the threshold at which Florida law presumes someone is unable to safely drive. They were stopped as the plane was taxiing to a runway.

Hughes and Cloyd have pleaded innocent to felony charges of operating an aircraft and motor vehicle under the influence and culpable negligence.

Two dead, two rescued in canoeing accident

WESTON -- Two Miami men died when their 14-foot canoe capsized and they were thrown into a lake Sunday night. A girl and another man were rescued.

Rescuers tried unsuccessfully to revive Bhavesh Patel, 18. He was pronounced dead at Cleveland Clinic Hospital. A neighbor in a paddle boat found the body of Bhavesh's father, Ashokkumar Patel, 44, floating face-down in the water 40 minutes later.

A 6-year-old girl and a 33-year-old man were pulled safely to shore.

Apparently, none of the four were wearing life jackets, said a spokesman for Broward County Fire Rescue.

-- Staff, wire reports

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