Whole Foods Market is fighting back in the battle of supermarkets in South Florida. The Texas-based natural foods chain is opening five stores in the area in the first half of 2015. Those stores will be in West Palm Beach, Pompano Beach, Plantation and Miami. Still, Whole Foods will have less than 30 stores in Florida, but is expected to announce additional store openings over the next year.
Palm Beach County
Former Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp is president of Audible Media Group (AMG); a company that provides real-time traffic information. Audible Media Group has been shopping its traffic app to governmental agencies, including the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Ric Bradshaw is reportedly open to give AMG access to its logs and data to provide traffic updates in Palm Beach County.
West Palm Beach City Commissioner Kimberly Mitchell has announced she will challenge Mayor Jeri Muoio for mayor. Muoio is seeking re-election in 2015, and this will be a hotly contested race that may get nasty.
Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association President John Kazanjian led a protest in West Palm Beach in support of law enforcement officers. Over 200 people joined the picket line, which was held in response to the rash of anti-police protests. There have been 14 police shootings in Palm Beach County this year.
Broward County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Imperato, 57, was convicted of driving under the influence and reckless driving in an incident that occurred on Nov. 5, 2013, in Boca Raton. Palm Beach County Judge Mark Eissey sentenced Imperato to 20 days house arrest. She must also wear an ankle bracelet, serve 12 months’ probation and pay $2,531 in fines. Imperato will also have her driver’s license suspended for one year, perform 150 hours of community service and have a device installed in her car that measures alcohol use before the vehicle will start. She is appealing but it is her second DUI conviction and raises the question if she should have received jail time or if she should voluntarily resign from the bench.
Apollo Brown Jr., 8, the younger of two Dania Beach children who were critically injured in a hit and run accident, has died. He and his older brother Kelv’ron Florence, 14, were walking home from a school basketball game in Dania Beach on Dec. 8 when they were run over by a truck. Parts from the vehicle were recovered and it is believed to be a gray Toyota Tacoma pickup. It is missing its Toyota emblem and has damage to the passenger-side headlight. Anyone with information is asked to call Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-8477.
FBI agents have arrested several persons, including Christian Dupre Arroba, 28, and Marco Cannizzo Gaona, 29, on cocaine trafficking charges. They were arrested while unloading $4.5 million in drugs from a jet at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport. The drugs had been picked up from locations in South America and the Caribbean.
Cathy Hanna, 42, of Fort Lauderdale, is a former director of admissions at Harbor Beach Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Fort Lauderdale. She has been arrested on multiple charges over the alleged theft of $12,466 from an elderly dementia patient at the facility by taking the victim to the bank to withdraw the funds.
Former U.S. Rep. Allen West is pulling up stakes and moving to Texas. He has taken a job as CEO of the conservative Dallas-based National Center for Policy Analysis. West lost his re-election bid for a second term in Congress in 2012 to Democrat Patrick Murphy.
Convicted Wellington polo club founder John Goodman has now been transferred to the South Florida Reception Center in Doral. After processing, he will likely be transferred to a state prison to begin serving a 16-year sentence for DUI manslaughter in the death of Scott Patrick Wilson.
University of Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya is the Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year. Kaaya, a true freshman, set Hurricanes passing records with 2,962 yards and 25 touchdowns. Things are looking up for the Hurricanes.
Maria Luzula, 52, of Miami and her son, operated call centers in Peru. Their business targeted unsuspecting people by falsely claiming they owed debts to various companies and faced lawsuits and arrest if they did not pay up. She and her son have been convicted and Maria Luzula has been sentenced to a lucky 13 years in prison. Her son’s sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 25.
Calling previous investigations “tainted,” the city of Key West Citizen Review Board has voted unanimously to send a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder requesting an investigation into the in-custody death of Charles Eimers, a 61-year-old tourist. In 2013,Eimers, of Birch Run, Mich., was pulled over by police for an illegal lane change, but did not stop and led police on a brief chase on the beach. He got out of his car and lay on ground. He suffered injuries, was unconscious and suffered a heart attack in his arrest. He died days later in the hospital.
Twelve turkey vultures, or buzzards, on Big Pine Key have been poisoned in the last month. Authorities believe this may be due to the buzzards eating rodents that were killed with the poison. Wildlife officials are reminding the public to bury or properly discard dead rodents, and not to spread poison in a wildlife habitat.