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Around the state

Crist's office joins Sony BMG spyware probe

By wire services
Published December 24, 2005

Like his counterparts in some other states, Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist is investigating Sony BMG spyware.

The New York-based entertainment giant got in hot water last month when a software engineer discovered that certain Sony BMG CDs install spyware on computers they're played on. The spyware may also leave computers open to virus and hacker attacks.

So far, Sony's damage control efforts, a recall and a software patch, have failed to stem legal action. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott was the first state prosecutor to sue, citing violations of the state's computer spyware act. New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer is investigating.

Now Crist's Tampa Economic Crimes office is pursuing an investigation into possible "false and deceptive trade practices" after receiving complaints from two Florida consumers, agency spokesman Bob Sparks said. Sony has said it is cooperating with the investigation.

Dad hands $46-million Lotto ticket to daughter

TALLAHASSEE - Phillip Martin gave his 20-year-old daughter an early Christmas present: a lottery ticket worth $46-million.

April Martin, a student at Indian River Community College, claimed the Florida Lotto jackpot, lottery officials announced Friday.

The ticket her dad bought during his weekly grocery shopping in Okeechobee was the only one to match all six numbers in Wednesday's drawing. After discovering it was the winner, he handed it over to her, his daughter said, knowing she would be fair in deciding how to divvy up the fortune.

She said she will split the winnings - to be paid in 30 annual installments - with her four siblings and her mom. Each sibling will get a new car, and Martin said she also plans to buy a house and pay for college.

Suspected "bicycle rapist' is arrested in Bradenton

BRADENTON - A 22-year-old man who deputies think may be responsible for two rapes and five attempted sexual assaults in Manatee County since August is in jail.

Robert Christopher Celinko was arrested late Thursday at his Bradenton home, the Manatee County Sheriff's Office said. Deputies think he may be the "bicycle rapist," so-called because all the victims said the assailant approached them riding a bicycle.

Investigators have charged Celinko so far with one rape and one rape attempt, according to the Sheriff's Office.

The victim of an Aug. 20 rape in the 4100 block of 18th Street W, a bicyclist, told investigators she was knocked to the ground and raped by another bicyclist.

The attempted sexual battery, occurring at 8 a.m. Tuesday in the 5000 block of Water Oak Drive, involved an 18-year-old woman.

Court records show Celinko has had previous clashes with the law, including allegedly making several false bomb threats on a pizza parlor and Bradenton police in November 2000.

In July 2002 he was charged with aggravated battery, accused of stabbing a woman in the head with a knife. A judge sent him home after deciding he was not mentally competent to stand trial, court records show.

Landing gear acts up, but plane lands safely

FORT LAUDERDALE - The landing gear on a commuter plane carrying 15 people malfunctioned when the aircraft landed Friday at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, but the plane landed safely and no one was hurt.

As the Beech 1900 aircraft, operated by Gulfstream International Airlines as Continental Connection Flight 9288, arrived from Key West shortly after 2 p.m., "the nose gear didn't extend when they landed," said Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Laura Brown.

[Last modified December 24, 2005, 01:09:13]

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