News and notes

Published September 15, 2006

Turtle tangles with ray, gets a painful souvenir

Humans aren't the only creatures who have to worry about painful jabs from stingrays. On Aug. 12, a 122-pound loggerhead sea turtle was captured in a net with a stingray by a company working to save sea life during a dredging project near Egmont Key. A stingray barb was found lodged in the turtle's left rear flipper. The staff of Clearwater Marine Aquarium was called to rescue the loggerhead, later named Soto. Surgery removed the barb, but staff members noticed Soto wasn't using the flipper, said Dana Zucker, the aquarium's chief operating officer. So last week Soto was among nine turtles shipped to the University of Florida for treatment of various ailments. An X-ray showed that part of the barb was still embedded in the flipper, requiring further surgery that revealed the barb perforated the turtle's intestine. Vets in Gainesville are cautiously optimistic about Soto's recovery. The medical bill will be paid by the Batchelor Foundation, which focuses on environmental issues and medical research.

He's a Category 5 jerk, but not a criminal

Salah Darwish did a bad, bad thing: he took free water intended for victims of Hurricane Charley in 2004 and sold it at his Polk County convenience store. Unethical, a court said. Reprehensible, his own attorney said. But illegal? Nope. An appeals court decided he should be freed from five years' probation because Darwish, 42, wasn't required to say what he planned to do with the water. "In this case, we expect that many people would find Mr. Darwish's conduct to be offensive from an ethical point of view," the 2nd District Court of Appeal court wrote. "But the question before us is not one of morality." Darwish's attorney, Jeff Holmes, said his client has offered to make restitution. "It was wrong and reprehensible," Holmes said. "He acknowledged that, but he didn't commit a crime."

Sounds like episode of 'Miami Vice'

Piles of cash. A secret safe. Phony receipts. It's politics, Miami style. Details have begun to emerge from the long-running corruption probe of former Miami-Dade Commissioner Miriam Alonso involving a scheme to siphon more than $100,000 out of her campaign accounts in the late 1990s, the Miami Herald reports. Worried the cops would find the cash, her husband had a secret floor safe installed at an apartment an aide owned and stuffed it with cash, the newspaper reported. Phony receipts were used in a coverup, the aide alleged. Alonso and her husband, Leonel, have pleaded not guilty to 117 felony counts. The case is not expected to go to trial until next year.