Offical: prison overpayments state's fault

Published January 27, 2007

More than $4.5-million in questionable payments to two companies that run five private prisons resulted from the state's contract concessions, not overcharges by the firms, a top state official said Friday. Department of Management Services Secretary Linda South blamed the concessions on the now-defunct Correctional Privatization Commission after Sen. Victor Crist, R-Tampa, chairman of the Criminal and Civil Justice Committee, asked for an investigation of her agency's settlement with one of the companies.

Teacher convicted of abusing student

A special education teacher faces up to five years in prison after being convicted Friday of physically abusing an autistic student. Kathleen Garrett, 50, was originally charged with abusing five students early in the 2004-2005 school year. Jurors found she nearly crushed a 60-pound student when she placed her 200-pound body on him as he leaned across his desk, allegedly until his lips turned blue.

Boss gets 30 years for worker abuse

The farm boss lured recruits from homeless shelters with promises of work. Yet when they arrived at Ronald Evans Sr.'s East Palatka camp, they found a hovel-turned-bazaar of crack, booze and cigarettes sold at the "company store." Evans, who also had a camp in North Carolina, docked workers' pay so much they made just 30 cents on the dollar. Friday in federal court, Evans got 30 years in prison. He and wife Jequita - his co-defendant-must also hand over $1.1-million. She and his son, Ronald Evans Jr., will be sentenced next month.