Law & Order

Florida Gets Biggest Chunk of Chase Settlement

Jul 8, 2015
Yoselis Ramos

The bank giant JP Morgan Chase is changing its credit card debt collection practices after a lawsuit involving Florida's and 46 other state attorney generals.  Florida is getting the largest chunk of the $136 million settlement. 

Florida Chase customers who were affected by the company's debt collection practices are receiving $4.6 million  in restitution. Chase has been accused of illegal tactics like robo-signing - signing lots of documents without actually reviewing records.

 

Tampa Responds to Gun Violence Spike

Jul 6, 2015
Yoselis Ramos

Responding to a surge in gun deaths, Tampa police say they will increase patrols through East and West Tampa, where a higher concentration of the gun violence is happening.

"It's just this particular spike in violent crime is obviously very concerning so we're doing even more than what we traditionally do," Andrea Davis with the Tampa Police Department said. "We want to have that very visible police presence to deter some of this violent crime."

A federal grant received last year will cover overtime pay, she said.

By Ben Ostrowsky via Wikimedia Commons

Tampa city council members learned Thursday they can not sue the state for its planned widening of Interstate 275. 

 

Council members wanted to know if they could sue to stop the Florida Department of Transportation from adding an express lane through Tampa Heights.

 Tampa City attorney Sal Territo said only people can sue, not another governmental body.

Associated Press

The Ruskin man who flew a gyrocopter through some of America's most restricted airspace before landing outside the U.S. Capitol said Monday that he's rejected a plea deal that would have involved several years in prison.

 He declined to give specifics of ongoing negotiations but said that if prosecutors continue to insist on "significant hard jail time," his case will go to trial.

Wikimedia Commons

A 55-year-old man on death row for the murder of a Pasco County waitress will soon walk free.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday that there wasn't enough evidence to convict Derral Hodgkins for the 2006 murder of 46-year-old Teresa Lodge.

Lodge was found dead in her Land O'Lakes apartment.

She had been beaten, strangled and stabbed multiple times.

Hodgkins' skin was found under her fingernails, but investigators didn't find a weapon or other evidence that placed Hodgkins at the scene.

Tampa Hosting Gun Buyback Program

Jun 18, 2015
Alex Borland, Wikipedia Commons

As a part of a summer initiative, the City of Tampa is hosting an anonymous gun buyback event next week aiming to curb gun violence. Any Hillsborough County resident can bring in their handguns, rifles and shotguns in exchange for $50 cash per weapon, no questions asked. 

A bill aimed at toughening Florida’s human trafficking laws will become law in a few months, following Governor Rick Scott’s signing. It increases the penalties for soliciting another for prostitution.

Bay News 9

U.S. Representative Dennis Ross and Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd have introduced a bill that would allow businesses whose workers interact with children to screen potential employers with polygraph testing.

As Florida lawmakers continue to iron out how much funding will go toward the state’s troubled prison system, some are hopeful there will be enough to cover staffing levels and deteriorating buildings.

According to recent national reports, there are thousands of untested rape kits around the U.S.—leading to a backlog of unsolved cases. The Florida Legislature is now considering putting thousands of dollars into a statewide rape kit assessment.

A new survey commissioned by a sexual abuse survivor says child abuse occurs more frequently than people think, and reporting the suspected abuse does not happen as much as it should.

Pinellas County Sheriff's Office

Pinellas County emergency officials face some major challenges evacuating about a dozen barrier islands before a hurricane hits. But Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri says that, in many cases, the trip back after a storm is actually more stressful.

"People, rightfully so, don't know what has happened to their homes and to their properties and their livelihood and their business, they want to get out there and they want to get out there now to assess the damage and try to get their lives back together again," he said.

St. Petersburg Police Department

St. Petersburg police are still trying to sort out how a local teen got a loaded handgun and ended up shooting a police officer and rattling the department.

St. Petersburg Police Office Michael Cordiviola is recovering at Bayfront Medical Center after being shot in the leg on Sunday. Two other officers at the scene, Matthew Enhoffer and Brian Lynch,  were not injured.

St. Petersburg Police Chief  Holloway said  the wounded officer’s training kicked in and he used a nearby garden hose as a tourniquet until medical help could arrive.

AP

Revenge porn will be illegal, half-gallon beer growlers will be legal and cities like Waldo won't be able to set ticket quotas for police officers under three of the 27 bills Gov. Rick Scott signed on Thursday.

Among other new laws: it will be illegal to use drones to take photo or video of private property without consent of the owner and to impersonate a firefighter. Also, five new synthetic drugs were made illegal.

Jeff Weiner / AP Photo/Orlando Sentinel

Police recovered a handgun from George Zimmerman and took two guns from a man accused of shooting at Zimmerman while both were driving, authorities said Tuesday.

Police also released a 911 call in which the caller says the other man, Matthew Apperson, told him he was forced to fire his gun Monday at the former neighborhood watch leader on a busy street in the Orlando suburb of Lake Mary.

“A guy says he had to shoot a guy through the window and he wants the police to come,” the man said on the call. “He had to shoot at somebody ... He said it was George Zimmerman.”

Joe Burbank / Orlando Sentinel

George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who has had a series of run-ins with girlfriends, his ex-wife and random strangers since killing an unarmed black teenager, narrowly missed getting shot Monday after a mysterious dispute.

The dispute this time was with the same man that authorities said was involved in a road rage incident with Zimmerman last year. A bullet missed his head, spraying glass from the vehicle’s windshield, said his attorney, Don West. He said the bullet lodged somewhere in the vehicle. He was treated at a hospital and released.

Wilfredo Lee / AP Photo

Attorneys for top NFL draft pick Jameis Winston contend a woman seeking civil damages from the quarterback after accusing him of rape is trying to tarnish his reputation and tap into the Heisman Trophy winner's newfound wealth.

The former Florida State star practiced again Saturday, the final day of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' rookie minicamp, and was not made available to comment on a counterclaim filed on his behalf one week after signing a four-year, $23.35 million contract.

While one body cameras-related bill was sent to the Governor, another died amid the budget impasse between the House and Senate. But, the bill’s main sponsor says he’ll be back again next year.

Florida sheriffs gathered in Tallahassee Monday to honor those who lost their lives last year in the line of duty.  The Florida Sheriff’s association memorialized three deputies including Leon County’s Chris Smith.

  The decision by House leaders to end their legislative session more than three days early violated the state Constitution, a majority of the Florida Supreme Court said Friday, while ruling that it was too late to order lawmakers to return to Tallahassee.

The ruling effectively ended the 2015 regular session, which was notable for an unresolved budget controversy that caused widespread dysfunction and sharp exchanges between Republican leaders.

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