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Digest

PETA files complaint against tiger trainer

By TIMES WIRES
Published January 4, 2007


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TAMPA

The animal-rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to investigate the alleged deaths of two tigers belonging to Lancelot Kollman, who trains big cats at his compound in Balm.

RaeLeann Smith, a PETA activist, quoted unnamed sources in alleging that the tigers died this fall while anesthetized for a microchip implant prior to being released to Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Reached by cell phone Wednesday night, Kollmann said PETA had it all wrong.

No tigers died while being microchipped, he said. One tiger, Sheba, 20, did die a few months ago. Kollmann found her dead one morning, he said, and an autopsy showed she had lung problems. But she wasn't one of the tigers promised to Ringling.

TAMPA

Injured manatee in grave condition at zoo

The injured manatee rescued last week in Kings Bay of Citrus County remains in grave condition at Lowry Park Zoo, spokeswoman Rachel Nelson said.

The manatee, dubbed Big Brother, has significant injuries from a boat collision.

Veterinarians are not sure whether the manatee's condition is treatable, Nelson said.

The latest information from the state reports that eight manatees were found dead in Citrus County in 2006. Three died because they were struck by boats and a fourth died of other human-related causes.

ZEPHYRHILLS

Georgia woman wins $1-million in Lottery

A Georgia woman came forward Wednesday to claim a lottery ticket worth $1-million that was sold at the Handy Food store on County Road 54, Lottery spokeswoman Shelisa Durden said.

Ginger Johnston, 40, of Kennesaw, Ga., received the ticket when she was visiting relatives of her husband, James, in Zephyrhills, Durden said. The couple told Durden they plan to pay bills and save the money.

"I do have a quote from her," said Durden of Johnston. "In the infamous words of Dave Chappelle, 'I'm rich.' "

It was an ordinary hearing Wednesday for a routine matter: the sealing of a defendant's criminal record.

But it was no ordinary case.

Scott Lewis Heyder, 38, of Spring Hill is the former Fletcher Music Center salesman arrested in 2005 for persuading a 79-year-old woman with Alzheimer's to spend $25,400 on 11 different organs at Gulf View Square Mall over 18 months. Fletcher fired Heyder and repaid the woman.

Wednesday, a circuit judge sealed Heyder's case file at the request of his lawyer.

Now, if an employer asks Heyder whether he's ever been arrested, according to the law he can say no - and a criminal background check won't say otherwise.

Under Florida law, everyone has the right to seal one criminal arrest in his or her lifetime if it's not a sexual or violent offense.

In 2005, Heyder pleaded no contest to exploitation of the elderly. Instead of five years in prison, he got 18 months of probation. A judge withheld adjudication - meaning he wasn't convicted. In June, a judge ended his probation early after he fulfilled all his obligations.

All that, and no prior criminal record, qualified Heyder to have the record sealed.

SAFETY HARBOR

Couple's nativity gift gave city controversy

Dave Perrego says he and his wife weren't trying to make a political statement when they donated a nativity scene to the city. The couple went to four stores before finding a display they liked, then they gave it to the city around Dec. 19. Workers set it up on the lawn.

But the city also received a complaint that the display violated separation of church and state.

Perrego said he was shocked when he drove by City Hall days later and noticed it was gone.

"I thought it had been vandalized," he said.

PORT RICHEY

6-year-old gets control of front-end loader

William Henderson will survive. But the stitches in his head will remind him that 6-year-olds and front-end loaders can be a treacherous combination.

It's not clear who let the boy have the controls. But Henderson, 60, was in the back yard of a home under construction on Sudbury Drive Dec. 28, according to a sheriff's report. His grandson pushed a button and swung the bucket, which hit Henderson in the back of the head.

Henderson rode a helicopter to Bayfront Medical Center, where he received 10 to 15 stitches.

[Last modified January 4, 2007, 00:59:31]


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