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Man charged in $5M gold heist

MIAMI — Federal prosecutors have formally charged a fugitive in the 2015 highway robbery of 10 gold bars worth almost $5 million. U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami announced Thursday that Pedro Santamaria, 56, has been indicted on robbery and gun charges. The FBI is offering up to $10,000 for information leading to his arrest and[…]

Troopers: Pickup driver hits man, backs up, hits him again

SEFFNER — The Florida Highway Patrol is looking for a pickup truck driver they say hit a man who was crossing the street and then backed up and hit him again. In a news release, Sgt. Steve Gaskins named 32-year-old Darryl Watkins is a person of interest in the incident that happened Thursday night in[…]

Ring busted forging immigration documents to get IDs

MIAMI — Investigators have arrested more than 20 people as part of a counterfeit ring that forged immigration documents to get real Florida driver licenses. The Miami Herald reports 47-year-old Valois Nunez Artelis has been charged with masterminding the scheme. He faces trial later this month in federal court. Prosecutors say Nunez posed as an[…]

Florida’s busiest airport had 47 million travelers in 2018

ORLANDO — Florida’s busiest airport had a record-breaking 47 million passengers passing through it in 2018. Orlando International Airport officials said Wednesday that the 47.7 million passengers last year marked an almost a 7 percent increase over 2017. The overwhelming majority of those passengers, or 41 million people, were traveling domestically, which was up more[…]

Florida governor pushes for new teacher bonus program

BRANDON — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wants to give nearly 45,000 teachers a bonus of more than $9,000 in the coming year. DeSantis on Thursday visited a Hillsborough County high school where he announced plans to help the state recruit and retain teachers. He wants the Florida Legislature to set aside $422 million for the[…]

Endangered okapi calf gets surgery to save its eyesight

YULEE — An endangered okapi calf at a nonprofit wildlife refuge in Florida has undergone a delicate surgery to save its eyesight. The Gainesville Sun reports the 2-month-old calf named Maziwa had a lesion removed from her cornea six weeks ago and is now recovering. Maziwa was born at the White Oak Conservation Foundation in[…]

Wife charged with murder in UCF official’s fatal stabbing

ORLANDO — The estranged wife of a University of Central Florida faculty member who was found dead at home in one of Orlando’s wealthiest neighborhoods last month was arrested in his stabbing death Wednesday, according to authorities. Danielle Redlick, 45, waited more than 11 hours before calling 911 and told detectives that her husband, Michael[…]

Florida county to shutter schools due to Hurricane Michael

PANAMA CITY — A Florida county suffering a population drop after being hit hard by Hurricane Michael has voted in favor of temporarily closing three elementary schools. The Panama City News Herald reports that the Bay County School Board voted Tuesday to close the schools due to hurricane damage and enrollment drops. Callaway Mayor Pam[…]

Florida ag commissioner creates cannabis director position

TALLAHASSEE — Florida now has a director of cannabis, who will be tasked with developing a hemp industry for the Department of Agriculture. Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried announced Wednesday that she hired Holly Bell for the position. Fried took office this year after campaigning on making medical marijuana more accessible and expanding industrial hemp. Bell[…]

Doctor, nursing facility under fire for kickback scheme

ORLANDO — An orthopedic surgeon and skilled nursing facility have agreed to pay $1.5 million to the federal government following allegations of kickback scheme involving Medicare and TRICARE patients. The Orlando Sentinel reports Dr. Kenneth Krumins agreed to pay $500,000 for his part in the scheme, while Conway Lakes Health & Rehabilitation Center and its[…]