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Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 14, 2001


Downed power line starts fire on Disney preserve

KISSIMMEE -- A fire started by a downed power line developed into a 1,200-acre blaze on the Disney Wilderness Preserve Tuesday.

The fire, near the Polk and Osceola county line, was about a mile from the closest homes, and none appeared threatened.

The fire began Monday night and could grow to 1,500 acres before being contained, said Chris Kintner, a spokesman for the Florida Division of Forestry in Lakeland. But Kintner said "it's in a very remote area."

The wilderness preserve is southwest of Walt Disney World, which is centered in Lake Buena Vista in Orange County. Disney donated the preserve to the Nature Conservancy to help preserve other wetlands to offset any damage the theme park resort might cause to wetlands at its own construction sites.

Tractors and a single-engine plane were fighting the flames.

Student who fell from third-floor balcony dies

FORT LAUDERDALE -- A New Jersey teenager who suffered head and leg injuries when he fell from the third-floor balcony of his motel room early Sunday died Monday.

Michael Santiago, 19, was declared brain-dead and taken off life support with his family's consent, Broward General Medical Center spokeswoman Sara Howley said. The boy's parents and sister were at his bedside throughout the day.

Santiago, a Rutgers University student in Fort Lauderdale for spring break, fell from the balcony onto concrete next to the Days Inn motel's swimming pool. Witnesses said Santiago had jumped at least twice from the balcony into the pool and was trying it again when he lost his footing on the railing and fell.

UF student who headed drug ring gets seven years

GAINESVILLE -- A University of Florida student accused of running a drug ring that supplied the Gainesville area with more than 42,000 ecstasy pills two years ago was ordered to serve seven years in federal prison.

Juan Carlos Asse, 24, begged Senior U.S. District Judge Maurice Paul for leniency Monday, saying he had learned from his ordeal.

"I became something I used to be strongly against," Asse said of his involvement in the drug ring. "Getting arrested saved me."

However, Paul said Asse "wasn't just a user who sold to supply his own habit."

Asse, a UF finance major, and six others pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to possess and distribute ecstasy. Last month, Paul sentenced the other ring leader, Jason Lumley-Anthony, 23, to seven years in prison.

Investigators said the ring, mostly made up of childhood friends, appeared to be linked to various crimes, including rape, aggravated battery and witness tampering.

Ruling: Photo of mayor's injured wife public record

MIAMI -- A police photo taken of Miami Mayor Joe Carollo's wife after she was allegedly hit by an object he threw at her last month must be made available to the public, a judge ruled.

Circuit Judge Bernard Shapiro said Monday that the photo was exempt from the state's public records law, which normally bars disclosure of evidence in an active investigation.

WPLG-TV filed suit last month demanding the photo's release.

The release was put on hold while the city appeals Shapiro's decision.

Also on Tuesday, County Judge Carroll Kelly set a May 2 trial date for Carollo and gave defense attorney Benedict Kuehne until April 20 to request a jury trial.

Carollo faces a misdemeanor simple battery charge for allegedly throwing a cardboard tea canister at his wife, Maria Ledon Carollo, hard enough to create a lump on her head. After a night in jail, he was released on $1,500 bail and ordered to stay away from his wife.

Maria Ledon Carollo filed for divorce last November.

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