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Around the state

Lobbyist fined for late reports

By wire services
Published December 9, 2005


TALLAHASSEE - The state Commission on Ethics fined Tallahassee lobbyist Don Yaeger $17,850 for being overdue on lobbyist expenditure reports filed for the second half of 2004.

Yaeger, who represented 37 clients in 2004, was found to have submitted late reports on 21 of them. The clients included KPMG, Oracle Corp., Sawgrass Asset Management, Presidio Corp., Florida Recyclers Coalition, Software AG and Interview USA.

Florida law assesses a fine of $50 for each day an expenditure report is past due. The law also allows a one-time grace period or waiver of a fine for a lobbyist who fails to file reports on time. Yaeger received his waiver in 1997.

Nativity scene finds room in park

JACKSONVILLE - Two North Florida beach cities have agreed to allow a nativity scene to join a Christmas tree and a Menorah in a public park they share.

Officials of Atlantic Beach and Neptune Beach had barred the scene but changed their minds after Liberty Counsel filed suit Tuesday seeking a temporary restraining order requiring them to permit the display in Town Center Park.

Orlando-based Liberty Counsel, suing on behalf of Ponte Vedra Beach resident Ken Koenig, claimed that excluding a nativity scene, while allowing a Christmas tree and a Menorah, violated the First Amendment.

Liberty Counsel said the scene will go on display Monday. Koenig and the cities' attorneys could not be reached for comment.

Homeless man's killers plead guilty

DAYTONA BEACH - Four teenagers who beat a homeless man to death and then brought others to see the body pleaded guilty Thursday to second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.

Jeff Spurgeon, 18, Christopher Scamahorn, 15, Justin Stearns, 18, and Warren Messner, 16, face possible life sentences for killing Michael Eugene Roberts, 53. Circuit Judge Joseph Will scheduled sentencing for Feb. 21.

A fifth youth, Phi Huynk, 16, still faces a charge of aggravated battery.

Scamahorn and Spurgeon told investigators they attacked Roberts "for fun" and "to have something to do." Roberts, who lived in a wooded area in Holly Hill, was kicked and crushed when the teenagers jumped on a log on his chest on May 25.

Investigators said the attackers brought friends and relatives to look at the body. It remained in the woods for three days until Spurgeon's mother called authorities after overhearing something about a beating.

Legislators honor Rosa Parks

TALLAHASSEE - As the Florida House did a day earlier, the Senate passed a resolution Thursday in honor of the late Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her bus seat to a white man on Dec. 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Ala., leading to a 381-day bus boycott.

The boycott, which ended after the Supreme Court upheld a federal court ruling that outlawed racial segregation on city buses, hurt the city financially and drew the nation's attention to the emerging movement for racial equality.

Parks died Oct. 24 at age 92 in Detroit.

Police: Killer shopped, killed again

BRADENTON - After strangling his mother, a 19-year-old man went shopping at a nearby mall before returning to their apartment and killing his grandfather, police said.

Clifford Anthony Davis told investigators he killed his mother, Stephanie Davis, 42, on Sunday, then sexually abused the body, Bradenton police said. Hours later, after going shopping, he came back to the apartment and killed his 77-year-old grandfather, Joel C. Hill.

Police said the killings were planned.

Davis visited at least three stores in the mall, buying pants, a T-shirt, a bracelet, a necklace and a knife, police said. Then he got his grandfather, who lived nearby, to drive him back to the apartment. Davis, who is 6 feet 4 and weighs 250 pounds, told police he then tried to kill his grandfather with a knife. When Hill put up a struggle, Davis stood on his neck until he died, police said.

Davis' grandmother, Nancy Hill, looking for her husband, discovered the bodies Monday morning. Joel Hill's body was on the kitchen floor with his ankles bound together by duct tape and blood on his face. Stephanie Davis' partially nude body was in her bedroom.

Davis was arrested later Monday at a friend's house.

He is being held without bail at the Manatee County jail awaiting formal charges. He is being represented by the Public Defender's Office, which declined comment.

Missing man depressed, dad says

ROCK HILL, S.C. - A Florida man who makes annual trips to North Carolina to mourn the loss of a daughter is missing, and his abandoned car was found near here.

Fifty-one-year-old Robert Tolar's 2001 Dodge Intrepid was parked at a boat landing off State Highway 21 on Nov. 28, according to a Chester County Sheriff's Office report. After seeing the car was still there Monday, a Fort Lawn police officer traced it to Tolar's Jacksonville address.

Tolar's father told investigators his son had been depressed about losing his job and about his 24-year-old daughter's death five years ago. He said Tolar travels each year to Charlotte to observe the Nov. 25 anniversary of his daughter's death.

Tolar hasn't been seen since he left a relative's home in Tar Heel, N.C., on Nov. 23, said Maj. James McNeil of the Sheriff's Office.

McNeil said Tolar's car contained a suitcase and several sets of clothes.

New minimum wage implemented

TALLAHASSEE - Lawmakers passed a bill Thursday to implement the Florida Minimum Wage Amendment voters passed in 2004.

Voters approved an amendment to the Florida Constitution raising the state's minimum wage to $6.15 an hour, as of May 2. The amendment, however, did not establish provisions to enact the changes.

The bill also requires the Department of Revenue and the Agency for Workforce Innovation to mail notices to employers.

[Last modified December 9, 2005, 01:18:14]


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