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Suspicious powders found in courthouses

By TIMES WIRES
Published January 12, 2007


A suspicious white powder was found on the outside of two letters delivered to the Palm Beach County Courthouse Thursday morning, and five employees had to be decontaminated. The substance tested positive for tellurium, but it did not pose a threat, said sheriff's spokeswoman Teri Barbera. "We're trying to find out now where this substance came from." If ingested, tellurium can damage the liver and affect a person's central nervous system, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The five employees had to strip and shower in a decontamination tent. Later, three employees were exposed to a brown, granular powder in the mail room of the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale. It was being tested, but did not appear to be hazardous. It was not known whether the incidents were related.

State Democrats have new director

The Florida Democratic Party named Leonard Joseph as its new executive director Thursday. Leonard replaces Luis Navarro, who is leaving to run Delaware Sen. Joe Biden's presidential campaign. Leonard had been the party's political director. He ran Florida operations for John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign. "He knows Florida, and he is knowledgeable about presidential politics," state party chairwoman Karen Thurman said in a press release.

Ex-commissioner admits to fraud

Former Palm Beach County Commission Chairman Tony Masilotti pleaded guilty Thursday to federal fraud charges involving tainted land deals. He will forfeit property worth $9-million and $175,000 in cash and face up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines at sentencing March 23. Masilotti, 50, who resigned in October, admitted using his position to advocate and vote on issues connected to land deals in which he had secret financial interests, and to accepting about $100,000 in free air travel from a developer with business before the commission. "I got bad advice from my lawyers, and now I'm paying the price," he said. "I'm not a child molester, and I'm not a thief. But I'm not going to cry about it."

Web page's 'Christ' spelling fixed fast

Gov. Charlie Crist has friends in high places. Very high, his Web page indicated. The page listed information on Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp, Crist's staff and his agency appointees under a headline, "The Christ Team." It's a common typographical error - at least three Florida newspapers have referred to Crist as Christ in the past two weeks alone - but one that was a little embarrassing for the Governor's Office. Once it was pointed out, the Web page was corrected in less than a minute.