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FLORIDA KEYS

Military housing to be scrutinized

The U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Bill, sponsored by Congressman Joe Garcia, D-South Florida, that calls for greater transparency of companies that partner with the military on housing projects.

"My amendment will focus...on the issue of private housing companies that are not paying their local taxes," Garcia said Friday.

He was referring to a local lawsuit in which the Monroe County Property Appraiser's Office sued Balfour Beatty, a corporate partner of Naval Air Station Key West, for $11.3 million in back taxes and penalties that the appraiser's office claims are due to the county for property Balfour Beatty acquired from the Navy.

FLORIDA KEYS

Zecca trial set for Dec. 2

A judge set a Key West trial date of Dec. 2 in the murder-for-hire trial against a retired Coast Guard Station Islamorada commander.

Retired Chief Warrant Officer Dennis Zecca will stand trial on charges that he attempted to have Marathon real estate businessman Bruce Schmitt killed last year.

U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez ordered a pre-trial conference with attorneys for Nov. 27 in Miami, according to federal court records.

Zecca is being held at Federal Detention Center in Miami.

FLORIDA KEYS

Coast Guard returns 56 Cubans

The Coast Guard returned 38 Cubans on Wednesday, and 18 on Monday, to their island nation at Bahia de Cabañas.

They were stopped in three separate incidents. On June 7, a rustic boat with 20 Cubans aboard was reportedly seen south of Marathon; the 87-foot patrol boat Sawfish picked them up. Later that day, a Customs and Border Protection plane spotted another such vessel southwest of Key West; the cutter Ocracoke took 18 Cubans on board.

On June 5, a good Samaritan reported a makeshift boat south of Cudjoe Key. The cutter Valiant arrived and took on 18 Cubans. Once aboard a Coast Guard Cutter, all migrants receive food, water, shelter and basic medical attention.