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Latest from Arielle Wysocki

    The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office is warning everyone, especially women, to be aware of your surroundings, lock your vehicle doors, and don’t leave your valuables unattended.  SJC deputies issued this warning after multiple vehicle burglaries were reported at an area gym Monday morning.   Our partner Action News Jax says the windows of three vehicles were shattered at Orangetheory Fitness on County Road 210. According to Action News Jax, among the items stolen from the vehicles were three purses, a dozen credit cards, and an iPhone.     SJC deputies are calling this type of crime, “The Felony Lane Gang” tactic, in which gang members travel the country and target places with more women and a better likelihood of finding purses left in vehicles. Commonly targeted places include gyms, parks, daycare centers, funeral homes, churches, cemeteries, and sporting events, deputies say.  According to the SJSO, gang members check for unlocked vehicles or punch in the windows of vehicles that are locked and search for driver licenses, checks and debit cards, among other things. Gang members then recruit females to conduct fraudulent transactions by mimicking the appearance of the stolen identity victim, investigators say. 
  • Westside Jacksonville drivers who regularly take the Ortega River Bridge to get between Avondale and Ortega will not be able to access the Bridge until late next week, according to the Florida Department of Transportation.   As part of the Ortega River Drawbridge (SR-211) rehabilitation project, FDOT says the closure is necessary for crews to complete some electrical work, and will take place from Tuesday, December 4, to Friday, December 14. FDOT says a detour will be in place. Motorists heading southbound on SR-211 will be redirected to San Juan Avenue, and then to US-17 (Roosevelt Boulevard) south. Northbound motorists will detour to Grand Avenue, and continue north on Ortega Boulevard to Verona Avenue, and then to US-17 north.  Marine traffic will not be impacted during this time, FDOT says.  According to FDOT, automated signs are already in place to alert motorists and pedestrians about the closure.   FDOT says Astron General Contracting Co. Inc. is scheduled to complete the $1.7 million rehabilitation project by early 2019.
  • A 36-year-old man has been arrested in Nassau County after deputies say he stabbed a woman in the head with a fork, during an argument over a baked potato.  According to the arrest report we’ve obtained from the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office, deputies were dispatched to a residence on Susi Lane around 11:30 pm on Sunday, after receiving a call that a person had been stabbed. When deputies arrived, they made contact with the victim, who had multiple stab wounds and blood on both sides of her head, according to the arrest report.  The arrest report says after the victim gave deputies consent to search the home, deputies found Kenneth Crumpton Jr. inside the residence. Crumpton told deputies that he threw a fork at the victim during a dispute over a potato, and that Crumpton thought the fork “glanced off her head,” according to the arrest report.  Crumpton was arrested and charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, according to deputies. 
  • It will hopefully make your drive through Downtown St. Augustine a little more enjoyable, without the hassle of sitting in traffic. The Florida Department of Transportation is installing an Advanced Notification System for the Bridge of Lions, to alert drivers ahead of time when the Bridge is raised up. FDOT says the system will be activated this week and will provide advanced warning for drivers when the Bridge is raised, giving motorists the option to choose an alternate route to avoid a major delay.  As part of the $95,000 project, FDOT has installed flashing signals in five locations in St. Augustine: May Street westbound, east of San Marco Avenue US 1 southbound, north of Castillo  US 1 northbound, south of King Street  State Road A1A northbound, south of State Road 312  A1A Beach Boulevard westbound, east of State Road A1A FDOT says the signals will be activated using fiber optic and wireless communication when the Bridge of Lions is raised.  Once the Bridge operator presses the button to lower the Bridge, the flashing lights will turn off. 
  • The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office is asking for your help identifying the suspects who burglarized more than a dozen vehicles in the Deerfield Preserve and Treaty Oaks neighborhoods Monday night. Surveillance images provided by SJSO show three to four men dressed in hoodies, pants, and gloves, checking vehicle door handles. Deputies say the suspects appeared to pass over vehicles that had locked doors, while burglarizing ones that were unlocked. SJSO says the dark SUV the suspects were driving at the time has been identified as a stolen 2013 blue Jeep Grand Cherokee with Florida tag GNQA60, from Volusia County.  Deputies say a second vehicle, described as a 2017 white Honda Accord with the Florida tag CEYE86, was also stolen out of the Deerfield Preserve neighborhood.  Anyone with information about the suspects or stolen vehicles is asked to contact law enforcement. 
  • A married couple accused of harboring illegal aliens to work at their sushi restaurant in Jacksonville has pleaded guilty, according to the Department of Justice.  DOJ officials say Min Lin, 35, and He Ying Qiu, 46, own and operate the Sushi House at the St. Johns Town Center on Jacksonville’s Southside.   Over the past year, investigations by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents revealed that Lin and Qiu provided housing and transportation to at least four undocumented aliens, according to federal court records.  The US Attorney’s Office says each of the aliens admitted to being in the country illegally, and were paid in cash to work at the restaurant.  Lin and Qiu are each facing up to 10 years in federal prison, according to the DOJ. 
  • Health officials have issued mosquito-borne illness alerts for Duval and Nassau counties, following new confirmed human cases of West Nile.  Concerned that more people will get sick, the Florida Department of Health advises residents to continue basic precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites, including draining any standing water around the house and wearing long-sleeves, pants and socks.  Health officials say residents should apply mosquito repellent and make sure all doors and windows in the house have screens.  According to DOH officials, in recent months, this is the second confirmed human case of West Nile in Nassau County, and the fourth in Duval.  You can find more information about mosquito-borne diseases on the DOH’s website.  
  • After months of renovations, Northwest Jacksonville is celebrating the grand re-opening of a major staple in the community — Yancey Park.  According to the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Jacksonville, the park’s renovations were funded in part by a $100,000 grant from the NFL’s Grassroots initiative.  LISC says some of the park’s upgrades include new Bermuda grass turf fields, a new scoreboard, and a new irrigation system. “We know that Yancey Park is more than just a park for this community,” says president of LISC Jacksonville, Janet Owens.  To celebrate the park’s re-opening, officials from LISC Jacksonville, the Jaguars, Northwest Jacksonville CDC and the City of Jacksonville hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony this evening.   “We are proud to have played a role in facilitating positive change for children and families who use this space to learn and grow,” says Owens.  Yancey Park is one of 12 parks that LISC Jacksonville has helped to revitalize in the city, according to LISC officials. 
  • After a recent water sample from Doctors Lake revealed 10 times the level of toxic algae the Environmental Protection Agency deems safe, Clay County health officials are urging swimmers to use caution.  The Clay County Health Department says the algae can live in freshwater and saltwater, thrives in warm water, and can be toxic to fish.  If swallowed, the contaminated water from the algae can cause digestive problems. It can cause a rash, if touched or inhaled. Other, less common reactions include ear, eye and skin reactions, and hay fever and flu-like symptoms, according to health officials.  The Department of Health advises swimmers to avoid getting in the water if algae blooms are present, and to stay clear of anything that lives in or near the water. If you come across an algae bloom, you’re asked to contact the Florida Department of Environmental Protection at 855-305-3903.
  • Walmart has some exciting news for job seekers in St. Johns County! Walmart says they’re looking to fill around 350 full and part-time positions for their new Supercenter location in Durbin Park. According to Walmart, a majority of new employees will start in September to prepare the store for its grand opening this fall.  Walmart says eligible employees will receive a benefits program including a variety of affordable health and wellness plans, matching 401(k) contributions of up to 6 percent of pay, and a quarterly cash bonus based on their performance, among other benefits.  Walmart says interested candidates can apply Monday through Friday between 8 am and 5 pm, at their temporary hiring center located at 10440 US-1 N., Suites 120/121, in the Panther Plaza in St. Johns.  Walmart says you can also apply online. 
  • Arielle Wysocki

    Traffic Anchor

    Arielle Wysocki is a Traffic Anchor and Producer for WOKV.

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  • Facing investigations by the Justice Department, his own Inspector General, and Democrats in the U.S. House, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will leave his post by the end of this year, President Donald Trump announced on Saturday, continuing the high profile staff changes since the elections in his administration. “Ryan has accomplished much during his tenure and I want to thank him for his service to our Nation,” the President tweeted, not mentioning the investigations Zinke faced, covering excessive travel costs, improper political activities, and potential conflicts of interest. Zinke – like others in the Trump Cabinet – also faced the prospect of actual aggressive oversight in the Congress, with Democrats taking over the House of Representatives in January. The lawmaker who would lead most of those questions is Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), whom Zinke said a few weeks ago was nothing but a drunk. “It’s hard for him to think straight from the bottom of the bottle,” Zinke tweeted from his official account. My thoughts on Rep. Grijalva’s opinion piece. #TuneInnForMore pic.twitter.com/VMGxdtHwvU — Secretary Ryan Zinke (@SecretaryZinke) November 30, 2018 “This is no kind of victory, but I’m hopeful that it is a genuine turning of the page,” Grijalva said on Saturday. Among the investigations into Zinke, the internal watchdog at the Interior Department found that he had taken a security detail with him for a vacation with his wife to Turkey and Greece, costing taxpayers $25,000. Zinke also spent $12,375 on a chartered flight to take him from Las Vegas back to his home of Kalispell, Montana. During some of the Inspector General investigations of Zinke, the Trump Administration tried to move an appointed from the Department of Housing and Urban Development into the IG office at Interior; after complaints and questions about the legitimacy of the move, the change did not occur. Democrats in Congress, who often compared Zinke’s ethics questions to those of former Trump EPA chief Scott Pruitt, had nothing good to say about Zinke, who arrived at the Interior Department for his first day of work in Washington, on his horse. “Glad to see that Interior Secretary Zinke is being forced out,” tweeted Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ). “Tired of Trump Administration officials who use their office for personal gain.” “Ryan Zinke kept zero of his promises and used our public lands as handouts to his fossil fuel cronies,” said Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA). “Ryan Zinke’s tenure at Interior was a never-ending stream of terrible management decisions,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA). “I will not miss him.” Good riddance to Ryan Zinke and the horse he literally rode in on. pic.twitter.com/triFovIXPZ — Chellie Pingree (@chelliepingree) December 15, 2018 The President’s announcement about Zinke’s future came a day after the President announced that his budget chief, Mick Mulvaney, would be Acting White House Chief of Staff starting in 2019. Other Trump Cabinet officials also could be on their way out in coming weeks, including Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. “Thank u, next,” tweeted Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV).
  • Insuring that North Carolina’s Ninth District seat will be vacant when the 116th Congress convenes in January, the North Carolina state elections board on Friday set a hearing for January 11, 2019, where officials will receive evidence on election irregularities focused on absentee ballot fraud which seemingly benefited Republican Mark Harris. “State investigators are awaiting additional documents from parties subpoenaed in this matter and finalizing the investigation prior to the hearing,” the State Board of Elections and Ethics said in a statement. Originally, the board had planned a hearing before December 21. In an interview with WBTV on Friday, Harris denied knowing that McRae Dowless – hired to run an absentee ballot operation in Bladen County – was doing anything which was illegal. “No, absolutely not,” Harris said in his first interview since allegations of election fraud began to surface after the November elections. This means Mark Harris will not be sworn in on January 3. #NC09 #ncpol — Joe Bruno (@JoeBrunoWSOC9) December 14, 2018 “In the Marines, I learned what it means to fight for our democracy,” tweeted Democrat Dan McCready, who lost to Harris by 905 votes. “I never imagined I would watch our democracy come under attack right here at home,” McCready added. It’s not clear if the U.S. House of Representatives will also investigate the possible fraud in the Ninth District race, which possibly involved ballot fraud and discarded ballots. The North Carolina board could still order a new election, which may involve a new primary as well, as some Republicans would like to get Harris out of the race for the seat in Congress, worried that he will be too tainted by the charges of election fraud. . @NCSBE will hold public hearing into 9th CD irregularities on Jan. 11. Notice below. #ncpol #ncga pic.twitter.com/5TYZOFhJYC — NCSBE (@NCSBE) December 14, 2018 The decision to extend the investigation of any election fraud into 2019 means that the U.S. House will start the 116th Congress with Democrats holding a 235-199 edge in the House – with the one vacancy from North Carolina.
  • Eleven Nigerian nationals have been federally indicted for duping a Jacksonville business- and many others across the country- into handing over personal information of employees, so they could use that information to defraud millions from the IRS. The indictment says multiple US businesses were targeted in the email phishing scam, where the suspects would spoof the email address of a high-level manager in the company and ask for the IRS Form W-2 for employees. That form contains personal identifying information for the employees, information that was then used to file false federal income tax returns. Using tens of thousands of W-2 Forms, the suspects falsely claimed millions of dollars in refunds, according to the US Attorney’s Office. In order to get the refunds, the defendants allegedly developed online relationships with Americans, and then used them to accept the money, to then send to Lagos, Nigeria. Specifically in Jacksonville, prosecutors say a transportation services and logistics company with headquarters in Jacksonville was targeted, which resulted in the information of more than 1,300 employees being compromised. The charges stem from actions in early 2016, but the joint indictment was returned this month. The suspects are all charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud- 29-year-old Badmus Yusuff Abayomi, 30-year-old Omo Oba Adekunle Abayomi, 27-year-old Yusuf Adesoji Adris, 25-year-old Abayomi Habeeb Ojo, 23-year-old Olaymei Afolabi Ojo, 28-year-old Akanni Fatai Olaiya, 28-year-old Seriki Abdulramon Oluwaseun, 29-year-old Adetayo Adekunle Oyemade, 34-year-old Edgar Ramos Ozil, 26-year-old Emmanuel Pius Osebomen, and 40-year-ols Olaide Fatai Tijani. Ojo has also been indicted for wire fraud. None of the 11 suspects are in custody. Each could face up to 20 years in prison is captured and ultimately convicted. The IRS says phishing has increased up to 400% in recent years, and this business email compromise scam specifically has become more prevalent.
  • A Lieutenant at Naval Station Mayport has pleaded guilty to using the internet to try to entire a child for sexual activity. WOKV first reported in August about the arrest of 31-year-old Michael McNeil. He has now admitted to communicating online with someone he thought was a family member of a 12-year-old handicapped child, while expressing interest in having sex with that child. McNeil further asked for photos of the child, sent an explicit photo of himself, and asked specific questions about the child’s sexual experience and abilities, according to the US Attorney’s Office. The person he was communicating with was actually a detective with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office. He ultimately traveled to a coffee shop in Orange Park to meet the child for sex, which is when he was arrested. The US Attorney’s Office says McNeil faces a mandatory minimum of ten years in prison, with a possibility of being sentenced to life.
  • Update 5:23 p.m. EDT Dec. 14: In a tweet Friday, President Donald Trump named Mick Mulvaney, the current Director of the Office of Management and Budget, as acting White House Chief of Staff. Trump deemed Mulvaney his “acting chief of staff” but it was not immediately clear what that meant for the length of his tenure. >> Read more trending news President Donald Trump said Saturday that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly will leave his position by the end of the year. The president’s first choice was Nick Ayers, the vice president’s chief of staff, who bowed out after being unable to come to an agreement on how long he would serve in the post. Read the original report below. Trump announced last week that Kelly, who served in the post for more than a year, would soon be departing. Rumors have swirled off-and-on for months that Kelly, a retired four-star general, planned to leave his post. >> Related: Who is Gen. John Kelly, President Donald Trump’s Chief of Staff?  Sources with knowledge of the inner workings of the West Wing told CNN that President Donald Trump and Kelly have recently stopped speaking. He reportedly clashed with several members of the administration, including national security adviser John Bolton, the president's daughter, Ivanka Trump, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, Politico reported. Tension between Bolton and Kelly spilled out into the public earlier this year when The Washington Post reported Kelly stormed out of the White House after getting into a shouting match with Bolton over immigration. The Wall Street Journal reported in June that Kelly expected to make his exit over the summer, but the newspaper later reported that he agreed to stay on through the 2020 election at the president’s request. Reports indicate that the relationship between Trump and Kelly has long been fraught with tension. Former FBI director James Comey said in his book, “A Higher Loyalty,” that Kelly was “sick about my firing” in May 2017 and that he intended to quit in protest of Trump’s decision. Comey said he urged Kelly not to quit. >> 'A Higher Loyalty:' Here’s some of what James Comey says about Trump NBC News reported in April that Kelly called Trump “an idiot” who he needed to “save from himself” during a tense meeting on immigration. Kelly later denied making such a statement and claimed he and the president had “an incredibly candid and strong relationship,” according to NBC News. Kelly faced criticism earlier this year after two of former staff secretary Rob Porter’s ex-wives went public with allegations of domestic abuse. Porter denied the allegations, but submitted his resignation Feb. 7 amid public outcry. >> White House ‘could have done better’ handling Rob Porter allegations, spokesman says In a statement released after the revelations first surfaced, Kelly stood behind Porter, who he called “a man of true integrity and honor.” He appeared to walk back his comments in a subsequent statement, amid criticism based on reports that the White House knew of the allegations long before Porter’s resignation. The allegations held up the security clearance process for Porter, who was only ever issued a temporary clearance. Amid the media furor, Kelly moved to end or downgrade temporary clearances for all staff members, including some, like Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who had regular access to top secret U.S. documents. Kelly joined the Trump Administration as the secretary of Homeland Security in January 2017. Six months later, he was appointed as chief of staff after Trump’s first chief of staff, Reince Preibus, submitted his resignation amid tension with Trump. >> Reince Priebus out: Trump names new chief of staff Reuters reported in February that Kelly and Trump national security adviser H.R. McMaster were considering leaving their posts because of the way they were treated by Trump in public. Unidentified sources told Reuters that 'Kelly and McMaster have chafed at Trump’s treatment of them in public and in private, which both at times have considered insulting.' The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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