Florida in brief
Briefs and news of note.
By TIMES WIRES
Published November 1, 2006
WEST PALM BEACH
Man who hired hit on ex-wife gets life
A Boca Raton man was sentenced to life in prison plus 120 years Tuesday for hiring hit men to kill his former wife and her husband in 1997.
Ronald Samuels, 58, was convicted earlier in the day. He had fled the country before being charged in an eight-count indictment in 1998.
Prosecutors said Samuels hired crack addicts to kill his ex-wife, Heather, and her husband, John Grossman, during a battle over child support.
Heather Grossman has required 24-hour nursing care and a ventilator since the shooting. John Grossman survived with minor injuries but has since died.
Man gets 30 months for hoax distress call
A Boynton Beach man was sentenced to 30 months in prison for making a hoax distress call to the Coast Guard about a boat with nine people aboard sinking in the Atlantic Ocean.
U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard also ordered Robert Moran, 45, on Monday to pay the government $347,015 for the hazardous two-day search-and-rescue operation in response to his June 11 call.
Moran pleaded guilty in August.
The call to a Coast Guard unit based in Miami Beach claimed five adults and four children were aboard a 33-foot-long boat named Blue Sheep that began taking on water and sinking near the Boynton Beach Inlet.
The massive two-day search, using aircraft, helicopters and vessels from multiple agencies found nothing.
Mom allegedly taped tots together and left
A woman accused of duct-taping her two children together and leaving them home alone all day was arrested on child abuse charges.
Agla Nadia Vincent, 25, was arrested following a seven-month investigation.
She allegedly left her two boys, then ages 2 and 3, taped to each other while she went to work, said Lt. Annie Smith of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
Vincent was a naval officer and had worked at the Jacksonville Naval Air Station before completing her service and being discharged in August, base spokesman Rick Cruz said.
In March, a witness heard the children crying through an open window and called police. When military police arrived, Vincent told them her children were not home, but they found the children taped in a bedroom with feces and cereal scattered on play mats on the floor, the Sheriff's Office said.
Her children were taken into custody by the Department of Children and Families.
Woman made another work as a prostitute
A woman pleaded guilty to forcing a Russian woman to work against her will as a prostitute, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.
Yelena Telichenko faces up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and payments for human trafficking charges.
The victim and Telichenko met in Philadelphia, where Telichenko persuaded the victim to move to Orlando and engage in prostitution in order to earn money, the department said. The victim told authorities that Telichenko repeatedly beat her and would not let her out of the apartment unescorted.
FORT WALTON BEACH
Sea turtle nests decline in Panhandle
Panhandle sea turtle experts report fewer turtle nests on area beaches this nesting season.
Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton counties reported 49 nests on their beaches this year. In 2000, the area had more than 150 nests, but the numbers have generally decreased since, says the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Sharon Maxwell heads the volunteer group South Walton Turtle Watch, which finds and monitors nests. The group found 20 nests this season in Walton County. The number was about the same as last year's number, she said, but, "I was hoping for more."
The majority of the eggs in each nest hatched, which means the baby turtles have a chance for survival, she said. The surviving hatchlings could return in six years or so to nest on the same beaches as their mothers.
Scientists don't know exactly why the number of nests has declined in recent years, said Bob Miller, endangered species biologist with Eglin Air Force Base. Eglin had 24 sea turtle nests on its 17 miles of beach this year, he said. "Since 2000, the numbers have gone down quite a bit."
Bomb threats empty three high schools
Three Osceola County high schools were evacuated Tuesday morning after authorities received bomb threats, but classes resumed after no explosives were found.
Authorities received several 911 calls, each of them reporting bombs at Osceola, Poinciana and Celebration high schools.
The schools were shut down for more than two hours.
[Last modified November 1, 2006, 07:03:25]
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