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Latest from Stephanie Brown

    ***UPDATE: JSO says the suspect has been identified and is in custody. WOKV is working to learn more details.*** Jacksonville police are asking for your help finding a man accused of exposing himself to a child.  The Sheriff’s Office says an incident occurred around 8:30AM on May 18th, where a man pulled up near the victim around the intersection of Cedar Hills Boulevard and Blanding Boulevard. The suspect reportedly provided a picture of a cat and asked if the victim had seen the cat. We’re told the suspect had his pants down and was fondling himself.   The suspect is described as a white man in his 40s, balding with dark hair around the sides and back. His vehicle is described as a silver or gray 2000-2005 Ford Focus station wagon.  Police say it’s possible there have been other incidents involving this suspect, although none have been reported at this time.  If you have any information on the suspect or his vehicle, you’re asked to contact JSO at 904-630-0500 or JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org. You can also submit an anonymous tip and be eligible for a possible reward by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.
  • A multi-year dispute over a Springfield housing project has now come to a close- and it’s costing the City of Jacksonville close to $2 million and some changes to zoning code. This started when the nonprofit Ability Housing announced plans for a 12-unit apartment building in Springfield, which they would rework to serve as “supportive housing” for disabled homeless veterans. Through a lengthy proves, the project was denied the needed approval from the City, which claimed that the housing project violated the Springfield Zoning Overlay which restricted “special uses” including residential treatment facilities and similar groupings. Ability Housing maintained they would fit within the zoning code, because no on-site services would be provided, so the project would, in essence, be a multiple-family dwelling- which was allowed.  In 2015, Ability Housing filed a lawsuit against the City of Jacksonville for a violation of the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Disability Rights Florida also sued, and was later consolidated in to Ability Housing’s claim. The US Department of Justice further brought forward a claim against the City in 2016.  WOKV was the first to tell you earlier this year that federal court records showed agreements had been reached to settle this pending litigation. Three bills were filed with the City Council- two of which contain the settlements of the two lawsuits, and the third dealing with changing the Springfield Zoning Overlay- which is a condition of the settlements. The bills were snagged at the Committee level for some time over the zoning provisions, but all three bills have now passed the full City Council.  Under the settlement, Jacksonville commits to awarding a $1.5 million grant through a competitive grant process, with the money going to permanent supportive housing for persons with disabilities. Additionally, Jacksonville is paying Ability Housing $400,000 and Disability Rights Florida $25,000 in fees and expenses, as well as a $25,000 fine to the Justice Department.  On the administrative side, there are some zoning changes, to include a statement of intent that the code be interpreted under civil rights law and that persons with disabilities can request and receive reasonable accommodations. City representatives involved in zoning, permitting, housing, and similar areas will also be retrained under the Fair Housing Act and Americans With Disabilities Act, and the City will designate a Fair Housing Compliance Officer.
  • It’s an “unprecedented” move for an undefeated team- the Jacksonville Sharks arena football team has fired their coach. “We felt that the long term visions were not aligned, and it was better to make a change now than after the season,” says Operating Manager Jeff Bouchy.  Bouchy didn’t offer any further explanation during a brief Tuesday press conference, nor did the team provide further details about the move through their press release. Mark Stoute became the Head Coach of the Sharks in 2017, and was previously assistant to the Interim Head Coach. The team is currently 8-0, all under Stoute’s time as Head Coach.  Bouchy says the same name kept coming up in his early conversations about who should fill the Head Coach spot, and they ultimately reached a deal with that candidate Monday night. Siaha Burley comes to the Sharks with 11 years of playing experience and six years of coaching experience, most recently serving as the Offensive Coordinator for the Cleveland Gladiators. This will be his first time as Head Coach.  “I’m just very honored to take this opportunity to be able to help this franchise continue with their long term vision, to continue the success, and winning more championships here,” Burley says.  Burley will be the third Head Coach in the history of the franchise.
  • An attempted murder suspect could be facing an upgraded charge, after a man shot in the Lackawanna area dies. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office was able to immediately identify 20-year-old Tenelle Cannon as the suspect in the May 14th shooting on Nolan Street, and investigators obtained an arrest warrant for attempted murder. Cannon was booked on that charge May 17th.  On May 22nd, the victim in the shooting- 27-year-old Raymon Cummings- died as a result of his injuries. Cummings had been shot several times, and the injuries were initially considered to be life threatening although his condition had been upgraded since then.  JSO says they’re working with the State Attorney’s Office to review the case and upgrade charges “when appropriate”.
  • He’s posing as police to scam locals out of hundreds of dollars at a time. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is searching for 47-year-old Timothy Liptrap. He allegedly called a local business on Saturday, April 29th, claiming to be “Officer Anderson” with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. He told the woman who answered that her boss had been arrested and his bail was $650.  The suspect told the woman that her boss’s brother-in-law is a police officer in St. Johns County/St. Augustine, and he had come up with half of the bond. The suspect then asked the victim if she could make up the rest.  The woman agreed to meet up with her boss’s “brother-in-law” to give him $340 for the bail. The suspect, still posing as “Officer Anderson”, told the victim to meet the “brother-in-law” around Philips and Sunbeam, because the “brother-in-law” was lost.  The meeting happened, where the “brother-in-law” told the victim that they would meet back up at the business where she works to repay her, after her boss was freed. “Officer Anderson” even called the woman back asking how everything had gone.  When the victim got back to the business, she called her boss and got voicemail. He later returned her call, but told the victim she had been home sleeping and had not been arrested. He further said his brother does not live anywhere near Jacksonville.  JSO says Liptrap is the suspect in this case, and he is responsible for other cases with the same scenario in various parts of town. Liptrap is wanted for three counts of grand theft and organized fraud.  Liptrap also goes by the aliases Colin Alexander, Jason Coulbourn, and Raymond Steiner. He has briwn hair and blue eyes, and is 5’9”, 190 pounds. Liptrap’s last known address is on Ortega Park Blvd, and he drives a gray, four door Dodge Charger with Florida tag HJD-U39.  If you have any information on Liptrap, or believe you have been victimized, you can contact JSO at 904-630-0500 ore JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org. You can also submit an anonymous tip and be eligible for a possible reward by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.
  • A data breach that originated overseas, hits the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The online payment system was being targeted. We’re told the social security numbers of 469 people may have been compromised. The state had contacted each of those people and is offering a year of free credit protection.  The breach may have further resulted in hackers obtaining the names of 16,190 concealed weapon license holders. The Department says no further personal information was involved, and they have determined there is no risk of identity theft for those license holders.  It’s believed still further information was accessed as a result of the breach, but that is all public information.  No financial information was compromised in the breach, according to the Department. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has ordered a review of the Department’s cybersecurity measures, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is assisting.  If you’ve been affected by this breach, you can call 1-800-350-1119 for more information.
  • Videos posted online help Jacksonville police make an arrest in connection to fights at a local park. JSO first responded to Simonds-Johnson Park on Moncrief Road Friday night, after being alerted through social media to videos showing a fight taking place. Police say the suspect, 18-year-old Jontaianna Pitts, was seen on the videos fighting with another woman, including hitting her with a closed first while the victim tried to defend herself but didn’t fight back.  The video further shows a uniformed security guard intervene, but Pitts repeatedly hit him as he tried to stop the fight, according to JSO.  VIDEO: Fight at Jacksonville park caught on camera, posted on social media About 90 minutes later, JSO says a larger fight broke out at the same location involving the same people. More videos- including some which were broadcast on Facebook Live- show Pitts hitting two people several times in the head and body with a baseball bat, while the victims were laying on the ground, according to JSO. They have been hospitalized. Police further say Pitts then used the baseball bat on a vehicle where another victim was hiding inside, including smashing the windshield and denting the hood. The victim in that car was eventually able to get out of the car and to flee on foot.  Pitts was located Saturday night and arrested for aggravated battery, felony battery on a security guard, and criminal mischief.  JSO says the investigation is still active at this time. They’re thanking the community for the tips and information submitted in connection to this case, which they say helped quickly lead to this arrest.
  • It’s a crime you need to know about before your next trip to the bank. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is warning about “jugging”, which has been recently noticed in the city. The crime involves a suspect or suspects sitting in a parking lot at or near a bank, watching customers going in and out. If the suspects think you have cash from the bank, they will follow you and look for an opportunity to steal it from your car.  JSO is concerned the suspects may start confronting victims outright in order to get the money by force. Currently, there has been no report of a confrontation locally, with JSO saying suspects who don’t find the cash in cars are largely returning to the banks to look for a new target.  To protect yourself from “juggers”, JSO is urging you not to openly carry bank bags, bank envelopes, and coin boxes out of the bank, instead conceal those items before leaving the bank itself. You’re further warned to be aware of your surroundings, and especially wary of any occupied people where the occupants aren’t going in to the bank or a vehicle that changes parking spaces. Additionally, you should not count your money in the open or leave your money in your vehicle at your next destination- instead, rearrange your errands so baking is the last thing you do before going home.  If you suspect you’re being targeted, JSO says you should call 911 from your cell phone, and continually update the dispatcher on your location while they send a marked patrol to assist you. If you see a suspicious vehicle at a bank parking lot, you’re asked to get as much of a description of the vehicle as you can safely and then to report it to 911.
  • A suspect flashes a gun and makes off with cash from a Westside bank. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office responded to an Atlantic Coast Federal Bank on Normandy Boulevard Thursday morning following a reported robbery. We’re told the suspect displayed a gun and demanded money from the teller, who complied. The suspect fled the scene on foot, heading eastbound.  The suspect is described as a black male in his late 20s, 5’8”-5’10”, thin build, who was wearing a dark hoodie and dark pants.  Nobody was hurt in this incident. 
  • After three escapes in as many months, the Hastings Youth Academy is now getting support from the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office.  The Department of Juvenile Justice facility is run by G4S Youth Services, LLC. The site is home to both the Hastings Comprehensive Mental Health Treatment Program and the Hastings Substance Abuse Program for youth offenders. It is a non-secure residential site.  WOKV told you earlier this week that two teens were able to climb a fence at the facility and escape. They had been on the rec yard, among ten youths and two staff members. In April, four teens escaped after battering a staff member and taking his keys. In March, there was a previously undisclosed escape of two youths and attempted escape of two others as well, which did not involve the assistance of law enforcement.  “The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice takes seriously its public safety responsibility to the St. Johns County community,” says a statement to WOKV from DJJ Secretary Christina Daly.  SJSO says, effective Wednesday, they’re providing perimeter security at Hastings Youth Academy. DJJ confirms they’re reviewing the management of the facility, and there is a need to enhance the security in the interim.  “While we agree the effort involving deputies at the facility is currently necessary, albeit temporary, this effort must be initiated immediately,” says a statement from St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar.  In addition to deputies to staff the perimeter, SJSO is offering their Corrections and Law Enforcement divisions to advise on policy and procedure. DJJ Secretary Christina Daly says they will be speaking with G4S Youth Services about how to offset the cost to taxpayers that will come with this SJSO activity, including potentially contracting local law enforcement or contracted security.  A statement from G4S Youth Services Chief Operating Officer Lisa Tackus says they will “support the financial impact of providing additional security, during the time it takes to implement additional safety measures”.  Tackus further says  they will be reaching out to SJSO to invite them to join the Advisory Board for the facility. Shoar says deputies will remain on the property until both SJSO and DJJ believe the needed changes have been made.  “Our citizens in the surrounding areas deserve, to once again feel safe in their homes and neighborhood,” Shoar says.  Daly says they’re currently investigating all of the escape incidents and how staff adhered to policy.  “Should a failure be identified, staff will be held accountable for their actions,” Daly says.  Each of the last three of DJJ’s Bureau of Monitoring and Quality Improvement Program Report for the Hastings Youth Academy show satisfactory rankings on almost all areas of investigation. The most recent review was performed in October 2016.
  • Stephanie Brown

    Assistant News Director

    Stephanie Brown is the WOKV Assistant Director of News and Afternoon Reporter. She guides the direction of WOKV’s news content, frequently contributes to social and digital platforms, and is a leading voice on-air. Stephanie has been with the team full-time since May 2012, which is when she graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in telecommunication and political science. When she’s not enterprising story ideas or digging in to an investigation, she’s likely cooking or enjoying downtime with her dog.

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The Latest News Headlines

  • ***UPDATE: JSO says the suspect has been identified and is in custody. WOKV is working to learn more details.*** Jacksonville police are asking for your help finding a man accused of exposing himself to a child.  The Sheriff’s Office says an incident occurred around 8:30AM on May 18th, where a man pulled up near the victim around the intersection of Cedar Hills Boulevard and Blanding Boulevard. The suspect reportedly provided a picture of a cat and asked if the victim had seen the cat. We’re told the suspect had his pants down and was fondling himself.   The suspect is described as a white man in his 40s, balding with dark hair around the sides and back. His vehicle is described as a silver or gray 2000-2005 Ford Focus station wagon.  Police say it’s possible there have been other incidents involving this suspect, although none have been reported at this time.  If you have any information on the suspect or his vehicle, you’re asked to contact JSO at 904-630-0500 or JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org. You can also submit an anonymous tip and be eligible for a possible reward by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.
  • It marks Florida Governor Rick Scott's first veto of the year.   Scott has vetoed a bill, commonly called 'Whiskey and Wheaties', that would have allowed grocery stores, retailers, and certain gas stations to sell liquors alongside other products.   Instead, with this veto, there will be no changes. That means the 'liquor wall' requiring spirits to be sold in a location with a separate entrance will stay in place.   In a letter to the Florida Secretary of State, Kenneth Detzner, Scott says both sides of the bill had good points, but that ultimately he had to side with small businesses.   Scott says small business owners told him they were concerned about this bill's impact on their families and their ability to create jobs.
  • Dog bites man. Man sues dog. Dog wins. The dog was Draco, a prized member of the Gwinnett County Police Department’s K-9 unit. But on July 6, 2013, Draco bit the arm of burglary suspect Randall Kevin Jones, who later claimed the dog clamped down for what “seemed like a lifetime.” >> Read more trending news Jones was taken to Gwinnett Medical Center and given stitches for the dog bite before being jailed and charged with burglary and obstruction. Two years later, he filed a highly unusual lawsuit, in that he not only sued the officers involved but also “Officer K-9 Draco of the Gwinnett County Police Department in his individual capacity.” The lawsuit, alleging excessive use of force, said Draco “viciously mauled” Jones, “tearing his flesh and permanently injuring and disfiguring him, while … officers stood by and failed to intervene.” When a federal judge rejected Gwinnett’s initial attempt to dismiss the lawsuit, the county appealed. On Friday, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta threw out the case against Draco. >> Related: Dog saves family with 9 children from house fire “We hold that a dog may not be sued individually for negligence since a dog is not a ‘person,’” Judge Robin Rosenbaum wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel. Georgia law, she noted, does not allow such claims to be litigated against dogs. The mere notion of allowing a lawsuit against a dog raises abundant practical issues, Rosenbaum added. How would you formally serve the lawsuit on a dog? What about the dog’s retention of legal representation? How can a dog be expected to pay damages? >> Related: Why is there a dog on the roof in a Texas neighborhood? Draco, a Belgian Malinois, retired from the K-9 unit in mid-2014 after seven years on the force, helping officers track down suspects and find stashes of illegal drugs. Read more here.
  • A Texas teenager and cancer survivor is thanking a new friend for giving him a college scholarship. Chase Bradley, 17, of Hyde Park High School in Austin knows what a cancer battle is like. His older sister was diagnosed with cancer five years ago and beat it. >> Read more trending news The experience made him an advocate for cancer research. “I remember being in her hospital room, trying to keep a straight face and not cry in front of her. It was a very heartbreaking setting. I gave my sister a hug and it was very overwhelming.' Bradley told ABC News. Bradley and earned a scholarship after raising $57,000 for cancer research. But instead of keeping the $2,500 prize for himself, he gave it to Sergio Garcia, a senior at nearby Anderson High School, who beat leukemia. 'It was something really nice that he did for me and I didn't even know him,' Garcia said in an interview with ABC News. 'We've became really good friends after that. [I plan] to pay some of my tuition for college.' >> Related: 11-year-old cancer survivor commits suicide after relentless bullying, family says Garcia, now cancer-free, says he’s grateful for friends like Bradley. He plans on attending Austin Community College before transferring to a larger school.
  • A Baltimore defense attorney was arrested Tuesday after he was recorded telling an alleged rape victim the Trump administration would deport her if she testified against his client, court documents said.  Christos Vasiliades, 38, was arrested Tuesday at the courthouse as his client’s rape trial was set to start, according to the Baltimore Sun. He is charged with multiple counts that include witness intimidation and obstruction of justice.  Vasiliades’ interpreter, Edgar Ivan Rodriguez, was also arrested, the Sun reported. A 12-court indictment in the case alleges that Vasiliades was recorded trying to dissuade the woman who accused his client of rape from testifying at trial. He and Rodriguez are also accused of trying to bribe her with $3,000. The recording allegedly captured the lawyer talking about the “current environment” for immigrants in the United States since President Trump’s inauguration.  “You know how things are with Trump’s laws now,” he told the woman’s husband in the recorded conversation. “Someone goes to court, and boom, they get taken away.” According to court documents, Vasiliades also offered an alternative solution that he said would go over well in his native Greece: beat the defendant up. “He’s an (expletive). I think you should find him and kick his (expletive), personally,” Vasiliades said, according to court documents obtained by the Sun. Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, who obtained the indictment against Vasiliades and Rodriguez, commented on the indictment on Facebook.  'Threatening a victim of crime with deportation could have a chilling effect on our criminal justice system,' Frosh said.  >> Read more trending news The indictment, which was filed Tuesday, stated that the case against Vasiliades and Rodriguez began on April 11, when the men called the woman and her husband and asked to meet them, stating that her case had become “more complicated.” The meeting took place at a Baltimore restaurant.  During the meeting, they pointed out that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents would be in the courtroom for their client, Mario Aguilar-Delossantos, the indictment said. They told the couple that due to new federal laws and policies enacted by the Trump administration, there was a high risk that they would be deported if they showed up in court.   Vasiliades and Rodriguez are accused of telling the couple that Aguilar-Delossantos was “very sorry and could offer compensation if they did not come to court and testify against him,” the indictment said. The men claimed that the money could help ensure that the couple remained in the country. Instead of taking the lawyer up on his offer, the couple went to law enforcement. Police investigators had them call Vasiliades on May 15, but that call was closely monitored and recorded.  Over the span of a couple of days, and multiple phone calls with Vasiliades, a face-to-face meeting was set up for May 18. When everyone arrived at the meeting place, an office space in Baltimore, Vasiliades made everyone leave their cellphones in the lobby.  Unknown to him or Rodriguez, however, the couple still had a recording device with them. The device recorded the lawyer reiterating the risk of deportation for the victim if she testified, the indictment said. “Because she’s there (in court), you know, my guy’s going to be, like, ‘I’m here, but she is, too,’” Vasiliades told them, according to the document. Rodriguez told the woman ICE officials would ask for her immigration documents. At that point, Vasiliades allegedly said, “Then everybody’s (expletive).”  Read the entire indictment here.  It was during the May 18 meeting that Vasiliades and Rodriguez told the victim she and her husband would receive $3,000 if they failed to show up and the case got thrown out of court, the indictment said. The court document detailed the plan the men came up with.  “On the upcoming trial date, (the couple) should not show up to court and should instead wait outside the courthouse with Rodriguez, who would be holding the cash, while Vasiliades would appear in court,” the indictment said. “If the case was then ‘thrown out’ due to the fact that (the couple) did not show up, Vasiliades would come out of the courthouse, give a ‘thumbs up’ to Rodriguez and Rodriguez would hand (the couple) the cash.” After pointing out that, in Greece, the punishment for an alleged rapist would be a beating, Vasiliades told the couple that all he wanted was for them to not show up at the trial, court documents said.  “I did my job, I did very good, and I can go home and go to sleep OK,” Vasiliades said, according to the indictment. “And then you get something, and then you find him outside, brother, and you (expletive) him up, that’s it.” The Sun reported that Aguilar-Delossantos’s trial was pushed back to August because of his lawyer’s arrest. Aguilar-Delossantos is charged with second-degree rape and second-degree assault, as well as third- and fourth-degree sexual offenses. 

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