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    Five men have been arrested at a Florida beach in an apparent smuggling attempt. A U.S. Border Patrol official says the men from different nationalities were caught Monday near the waterfront Hyatt Regency hotel in Fort Lauderdale. Miami Division Chief Todd Bryant says federal authorities and local police continue to look in the area for more suspects who were involved. Bryant said in a statement that one of the men appeared to be suffering from dehydration and was taken to a local hospital for treatment. Officials did not disclose the nationalities of the men. Bryant said they will likely be booked into the Dania Beach Border Patrol station.
  • She heard the front door open and then found a shirtless man standing in her house.   A St. Augustine woman is shaken-up, but otherwise OK, after pushing an intruder out of her home.   The offense report from the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office says they found a man matching the description of the intruder a short time later, during a patrol of the woman's neighborhood.   Deputies say he appeared to be swaying from side to side and that his speech was slurred. The man, identified as Devin Howell, 20, initially admitted to drinking a couple of beers, but later said he drank an entire case of beer.   Deputies searched his backpack and found him to be in possession of marijuana as well.   Howell is now charged with trespassing, disorderly intoxication, and possession of marijuana.
  • Another round of heavy rain and storms this evening will be capable of localized flooding through early tonight. With the ground saturated after two days of heavy rain, some urban and small stream flooding will be possible with rainfall rates of 1-3' per hour. Rain and storms will diminish between 8 and 10pm with overnight lows in the low to mid 70s. Finally a bit of a break from the heavy rain Wednesday. A few widely scattered showers & thunderstorms will develop - mainly inland with coverage well less than half the area. Temperatures will be a little hotter with more sun as afternoon highs top out near 90 degrees. Tracking the Tropics: The First Alert Weather team is not tracking any areas of interest over the Atlantic Basin at this time. Visit the First Alert Hurricane Center for more information + 'Talking the Tropics With Mike'.Download the FREE First Alert Weather App to receive video forecasts and instant severe weather warnings to your mobile device. Click... ** here ** for the 'Buresh Blog'.
  • Does Florida's governor have the power to take away a prosecutor's case if he disagrees with a decision not to seek the death penalty? The state's highest court will hear arguments Wednesday over that question in a legal fight between Gov. Rick Scott and State Attorney Aramis Ayala, whose district covers the Orlando area. Their fight began in March when Ayala, a Democrat, said her office would no longer seek the death penalty, explaining the process is costly, it's not a crime deterrent and it drags on for years for the victims' relatives. Ayala announced her decision as her office was starting to build a case against Markeith Loyd in the fatal shooting of an Orlando police lieutenant and his pregnant ex-girlfriend. With her decision, Ayala, intentionally or not, thrust herself into the forefront of the anti-death penalty movement. Scott, a Republican, responded by reassigning her office's death penalty cases to a prosecutor in a neighboring district, and top Republican lawmakers in Tallahassee announced budget cuts to Ayala's office. A spokeswoman for Ayala this week said she wouldn't be talking about the case before the hearing. In court papers, Ayala argued that it was unlawful for Scott to take away her cases since she is independently elected by voters, and that he could only remove her from cases for 'good and sufficient reason,' none of which were present in their disagreement over the death penalty. 'Removing an elected prosecutor from a case because of a disagreement over her exercise of discretion is unprecedented,' Ayala's attorneys said in court papers. 'Every day state attorneys here in Florida make important decision on who to charge, what to charge, and what to prioritize. Giving the governor the tremendous and unfettered discretion to interfere in that decision making, would be unprecedented and could undermine the entire justice system in Florida.' Scott argued in court papers that Ayala is refusing to follow Florida law by making a blanket decision not to seek the death penalty, and that her decision sets a dangerous precedent. 'The novel and extraordinary constitutional authority Ayala asserts, if accepted, will not just apply to prosecutors who decline to enforce the state's death penalty laws. It will also apply to prosecutors who disagree with other kinds of criminal laws and penalties, including, for example, hate-crimes enhancements, laws that ban the open carrying of firearms and campaign finance regulations,' Scott's attorneys said in court papers. Florida's death penalty has been in flux for the past year or so. Executions in Florida ground to a halt last year after the U.S. Supreme Court declared the state's death penalty sentencing law unconstitutional because it gave too much power to judges. The Florida Legislature responded by overhauling the law to let the death penalty be imposed by at least a 10-2 jury vote. The state Supreme Court struck down the law and required unanimous jury decisions for capital punishment. Earlier this year, the Legislature passed a bill requiring a unanimous jury recommendation. Ayala, who previously worked as a public defender and prosecutor, was a virtual unknown when she ran for state attorney last year. With an infusion of more than $1 million from a Washington-based political action committee with ties to liberal Hungarian-born U.S. billionaire George Soros, Ayala unseated the incumbent state attorney in the Democratic primary and became Florida's first African-American state attorney. In her campaign, she promised to listen to communities that hadn't had a voice in the past. Given that Florida's death sentence was in a legal holding pattern at the time, capital punishment never came up during Ayala's campaign. A host of civil rights activists and legal scholars have come out in support of Ayala. Lawmakers in the Republican-dominated Florida House, and other state attorneys, have denounced her decision. 'Ms. Ayala effectively abolished the death penalty ... by implementing a hard-and-fast rule that removes her decision-making on a case-by-case basis, which is beyond the scope of her prosecutorial independence and discretion,' the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys said in court papers. Ayala has also sued Scott in federal court, but asked it to wait until the Florida Supreme Court lawsuit is resolved.
  • Millennials may be shunning some habits beloved by past generations, but one restaurant company CEO says they still want to go to sit-down chains like Olive Garden. 'Believe it or not, millennials still want to come to restaurants,' Gene Lee, chief executive of Olive Garden's parent company Darden Restaurants, said Tuesday, based on what he said was the company's research. 'I know you don't think millennials go to casual dining restaurants, but 30 percent of all of our guests are millennials versus 24 percent of the population,' Lee told Wall Street analysts. He said that the company's flagship Olive Garden and its recently acquired Cheddar's chain both 'over index' with millennials. Darden reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit, with higher sales at Olive Garden. That's even though casual dining sector has struggled in recent years amid the proliferation of 'fast casual' places, or those that market restaurant-quality at prices closer to fast food. For the quarter ended May 28, Darden said Olive Garden's sales rose 4.4 percent at established locations. Its other chains including LongHorn Steakhouse and The Capital Grille also saw increases. Profit fell 11.3 percent to $123.8 million, or 98 cents per share, mainly on higher costs. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring items came to $1.18 per share. That was 3 cents better than Wall Street expected, according to a survey by Zacks Investment Research. Total revenue rose 8 percent to $1.93 billion, also edging out analyst projections. Shares of Darden Restaurants Inc. rose about 3 percent to $92.82.
  • It had to be a shock for neighbors, living near the Northeast Florida Regional Airport.   A St. Augustine man is accused of firing a a handgun at least 6 times into a wooded area on Avenue B and Decoy Alley, just off US 1, on Monday afternoon, only a few hundred feet from where kids were playing.   The St. Johns County Sheriff's Office says Bruce Johnson, 22, initially fled the area, but when they caught up with him a short time later, he admitted to the crime.   Johnson is now charged with discharging a firearm from a vehicle, which is a felony.
  • A top Colombian anti-corruption official and a lawyer are facing U.S. money-laundering-conspiracy charges in an alleged foreign bribery scheme, federal authorities said Tuesday. Luis Gustavo Moreno Rivera, 35, and Leonardo Luis Pinilla Gomez, 31, were both arrested in Colombia, said Acting Miami U.S. Attorney Benjamin Greenberg. Moreno is director of the anti-corruption office for Colombia's chief prosecutor and Pinilla is the attorney. Moreno and Pinilla sought to obtain thousands of dollars in bribes from a former governor of Colombia's Cordoba region — identified in the document as a confidential source, or CS — who was under a separate corruption investigation, according to a Drug Enforcement Administration affidavit filed in Miami federal court. The DEA document does not name the former governor, but he was identified in a statement Tuesday by Colombia's chief prosecutor, Nestor Martinez, as former Cordoba governor Alejandro Lyons. The DEA affidavit says the former governor is in negotiations to plead guilty in the other corruption case and to cooperate against others in that case. According to the DEA, Pinilla conveyed a message to the ex-governor that Moreno 'was willing to use his official position to obstruct the corruption investigation against the CS in exchange for a fee.' Many of the discussions between Pinilla and the CS took place in Miami — including at a suburban shopping mall and an inexpensive hotel — where the former governor has been living since April, the DEA said. DEA agents conducted surveillance during these meetings and recorded the conversations. One meeting occurred earlier this month, on the same day Moreno came to Miami to give an anti-corruption presentation to the Internal Revenue Service, according to the affidavit. In that meeting, outside a local La Quinta Inn, 'Moreno told the CS that he had the power to judicially control how the CS's investigation would proceed.' The DEA says Moreno discovered a hidden cellphone inside the car where the meeting took place and allegedly began to backtrack on the bribe demand. 'Moreno accused the CS of recording the conversation and began to contradict himself stating he was not asking for money and that he was sharing information with the CS because he wanted to avoid an injustice in CS's case,' the affidavit says. Eventually, however, Pinilla told the CS that Moreno wanted $20,000 while he was in Miami, separate from the $132,000 he sought for obstructing the investigation. The men worked out a plan to exchange an envelope of $10,000 money the DEA uses for investigative purposes in a restroom at the Dolphin Mall west of Miami. Some of the bills with serial numbers matching the DEA funds were found in Moreno's luggage and photographed by customs officers before he left Miami for Bogota, Colombia. Moreno and Pinilla were arrested soon after. Neither man has an attorney listed in the U.S. court case. It was not immediately clear when they would be extradited from Colombia. _____ Associated Press writer Joshua Goodman in Bogota, Colombia contributed to this story. _____ Follow Curt Anderson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Miamicurt
  • A Florida man was sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison by a judge who said he used a 'pyramid of lies' to boost a business that helped criminals process millions of dollars in illegal bitcoin transactions. Anthony Murgio, of Tampa, pleaded guilty earlier this year to conspiracy charges, admitting he knew he was acting illegally when he enticed friends and family members, including his father, to help him operate a crooked money exchange business. 'I screwed up badly,' he said in court Tuesday. His father, a former Palm Beach County, Florida, school board member, also has pleaded guilty in the scheme. U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan in Manhattan noted that Murgio's victims included a federal credit union that served a low-income community in Lakewood, New Jersey. Prosecutors said the 110-member once-healthy credit union was forced into liquidation after 36 years after Murgio and his friends made $162,000 in 'donations' and 'consulting fees' to a local church in a corrupt deal to take control of the credit union and process more than $60 million in transactions for their illegal activities. The judge called Murgio's greed-driven plans 'dangerous and destructive' criminal conduct. 'Mr. Murgio led his co-conspirators in a pyramid of lies,' the judge said. Through sobs, Murgio, 33, apologized for involving friends and family members as many of them cried from the first row of spectator benches. 'I'm sorry for all the damage I've caused to so many people,' he said. 'I put myself above the law.' He said the prosecution had given him perspective. 'Money comes and goes,' he said. 'The satisfaction you get from helping somebody's life is not even in the same universe as making $50,000 in a transaction.' Prosecutors said Murgio processed more than $10 million in illegal bitcoin transactions from April 2013 through July 2015. Murgio, his father and another man admitted roles in operating a phony Florida-based business called the Collectables Club. Authorities said the business allowed criminals to buy bitcoins to launder their money under the pretense they were buying stamps and sports memorabilia. Prosecutors had requested Murgio serve more than a decade in prison.
  • A Florida man fatally shot himself after a six-hour standoff with a SWAT team. The Tallahassee Democrat reports the man called Tallahassee police Monday evening and threated to harm himself and others. Police evacuated part of the neighborhood while a SWAT team spoke to him through a bullhorn. Just before midnight, police set off a flash bang, a non-lethal device designed to disorient a subject. A robot was then sent into the man's home. More than six hours after receiving the call, police found the man dead inside the home. Police didn't immediately identify the man. ___ Information from: Tallahassee (Fla.) Democrat, http://www.tdo.com
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