Florida briefly

Published September 21, 2006

Pilot dies when small plane crashes in Polk County

LAKE WALES - The pilot of a single-engine plane died Wednesday afternoon when the aircraft overturned on the runway of a small community airport, police said.

Jon R. Shimer, 70, of Live Oak was dead when authorities got to the plane, which wound up upside down on the runway of Lake Wales Municipal Airport. The Federal Aviation Administration said Shimer owned the single-seat, kit-made acrobatic plane.

Lake Wales police Lt. Troy Schulze said it was unclear whether Shimer was taking off or landing. The airport has no control tower.

"The pilot compartment completely collapsed," Schulze said.

U.S. suit says Boca Raton housing law discriminates

BOCA RATON - The Justice Department sued the city of Boca Raton on Wednesday, claiming that a zoning ordinance discriminates against disabled people.

The complaint filed in federal court in Miami says the ordinance forbids housing recovering drug and alcohol addicts in residential areas and imposes "conditions and prohibitions on housing for persons with disabilities that are not imposed on housing for an equal or greater number of persons without disabilities," in violation of the Fair Housing Act.

The suit seeks damages for victims, civil penalties, and a court order barring enforcement of the ordinance and future discrimination.

Mayor Steven Abrams said the city has been negotiating a compromise with drug rehabilitation facilities. But he defended the ordinance, saying it "was carefully crafted to protect residents from commercial intrusion," and said the city would fight the complaint.

Ex-teacher, coach gets 21 years for sexual abuses

SARASOTA - A former high school teacher and coach was sentenced to 21 years in prison for sexually abusing students in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Circuit Judge Andrew Owens gave James LaMorte, 63, who has prostate cancer, the maximum sentence Tuesday after listening to former students who said he molested them.

Prosecutors said former students and swim team members began coming forward last year with tales of abuse by LaMorte years ago. A teacher and coach for more than 30 years, LaMorte retired when the allegations surfaced.

He apologized in court Tuesday. "There is always, always, the nagging realization of the sins I have committed," LaMorte said. "Unfortunately, I can't take anything back."

LaMorte's attorneys plan to appeal. They argued for a five-year sentence.

Grounded freighter freed from reef after six days

FORT LAUDERDALE - The Clipper Lasco, a Bahamian-flagged freighter that ran aground on a reef Thursday, was freed Wednesday and anchored nearby while inspectors examined it for damage.