Gov. Rick Scott’s promise of creating jobs has not panned out, at least not yet, but Florida’s minimum wage increases by 12 cents an hour, from $7.67 to $7.79. The increase will affect about a quarter of a million of the state’s 7.4 million workers. In 2004, voters passed a constitutional amendment that indexes the state’s minimum wage to cost of living increases. It means part-time workers earning minimum wage will see an average of about $5 per week added to their paychecks.
Palm Beach County
Mary Patricia Maloney, a seventh-grade science teacher at Palm Springs Middle School, was arrested in connection with a hit-and-run accident at South Jog Road and Purdy Lane in Greenacres. The police report said Maloney offered to perform oral sex on the police officer and invited him to feel her breasts. Maloney, 53, of Lake Worth, also asked the officer how much it would take for him to give her a break. She was arrested on charges that include DUI and driving with a suspended license.
The city of Boynton Beach is facing a public records lawsuit over the way it responds to requests for city records. Robert and Joel Chandler, founders of FogWatch.org, a Lakeland-based government watchdog group, visited the city’s police department on Nov. 20 and requested documents. They were sent to City Hall because the police lobby is open only on Wednesdays. Their lawsuit alleges the city is not complying with state law which requires public records requests to be complied with in a reasonable time frame. FogWatch has successfully sued hundreds of cities and governmental agencies over public records violations.
Kevin Peters, president of Office Depot’s North American division, announced his departure from the Boca Raton-headquartered company. CEO Neil Austrian has yet to appoint his replacement. In November, Office Depot announced a plan to downsize or relocate 500 stores, which is about half of its retail stores. On Nov. 12, the company disclosed to investors that it was forecasting lower sales for the next three years. The company announced Peters’ departure on Friday, when its stock price increased by 6 cents per share to close at $3.66.
Timothy Finell Walker Jr., 31, of Fort Pierce, has been charged in the shooting death of Patrick R. Balam of Delray Beach. Balam was killed at Pompey Park located in the northwest section of the city. Police said the two men were dating the same woman, who drove Walker to the park where Balam was hanging out. Walker and Balam got into a fight and Walker pulled out a handgun and shot Balam multiple times, police said. Balam, 32, was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. An investigation led to Walker’s arrest several days later. He is charged with second-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Pierre Revol, 26, of Boynton Beach, was arrested after leading Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputies on a car chase in downtown West Palm Beach and then bailing out of the car and running off, police said. Officers said after they caught up with him they found crystal meth in his wallet. Revol told deputies he purchased the wallet from a stranger for a dollar and had no idea the drugs were inside, police said. He was arrested and charged with drug possession — his 14th arrest since 2004.
Ashley Wakeling, 22, of West Palm Beach, a waitress at Bru’s Room Sports Grill in Delray Beach, was arrested on numerous fraud-related counts after she allegedly used customers’ credit card numbers to make her car payments and other personal items, police said. Robert Camche, a local business owner, discovered the charges on his credit card and tracked them to Wakeling. He checked all the places where he had used his credit card and determined she was the waitress who served him at the restaurant.
Miami Heat forward Mike Miller has auctioned off his 9,000-square-foot waterfront mansion in Pompano Beach for $3.35 million. Eleven bidders submitted offers for the six-bedroom home which was originally listed at nearly $8 million and was sold for $2 million lower than the $5.4 million that Miller paid for it in 2010. The NBA star’s decision to auction the home instead of putting it on the market for a traditional sale garnered international media attention.
Fort Lauderdale Police Officer Vincent Falzone was involved in a single-car accident in his take-home squad car while he was off duty last September. After crashing into a rail along Florida’s Turnpike in Lauderhill, he abandoned the squad car and left the scene, police said. He called his sister, who is also a Fort Lauderdale police officer, and she in turn called his superiors. His supervisors took him to a medical facility for examination and it was determined he was intoxicated. The Florida Highway Patrol was dispatched to the scene of the accident but did not give him a sobriety test and could not use the results from his medical examination. He was not charged with DUI but was given a ticket for careless driving, which was thrown out of court.
Police are asking for information in the death of Mary Swinford, 56, of Dania Beach. She was found dead in the backyard of a foreclosed home in the city after she walked away from her residence in the city. A person seeking to buy the home located in the 2900 block of S.W. 46th Court discovered her body. The Broward Sheriff’s Office said there were signs of foul play.
Andre Clements, 30, was charged after “Peeping Tom” complaints were made against him at a clothes store at the Sawgrass Mills Mall in Sunrise. Customers and the Forever21 store manager called police after Clements was seen hanging out in the dressing rooms. Police said they found several slits in the curtain that separated the dressing area he was in from the adjacent room.
Police are looking for the killers of Robert Brothers, 41, in a driveway near his home in Miami Gardens on New Year’s Eve. He had attended a New Year’s party and a newspaper delivery person discovered his body just before sunup. He had been shot several times in the head. Roberts was a married father of nine who was a cook. Police are asking anyone with information to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-8477.
Jonathan Torres-Bonilla, 36, of Hollywood has been convicted in an identity theft scheme that defrauded victims out of $117,000 in income tax refunds. U.S. State Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer announced that Torres-Bonilla was convicted on two counts of fraud and four counts of aggravated identity theft. He had the tax refunds placed on dozens of debits cards and was tracked and caught using them in November 2011 at several ATM machines at the Aventura Mall, where he was captured after attempting to flee. More than 28 debit cards, $1,700 in cash and dozens of ATM receipts were found in his vehicle. Torres-Bonilla is scheduled for sentencing March 9 and faces a maximum prison sentence of 28 years.
Shelton “Shelly” Berg, a dean at University of Miami’s Frost School of Music, has been nominated for a Grammy. Berg is a jazz pianist and arranger who has worked with internationally known artists such as Arturo Sandoval and Gloria Estefan. He has been nominated for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist for his work on singer Lorraine Feather’s song Out There which he co-wrote with her. The award winners will be announced on Feb. 10 during the Grammy Awards program on CBS.
IN THE RUNNING
Miami City Commissioner Francis Suarez is running for mayor of Miami, a post which his father, Xavier Suarez, once held. The younger Suarez has raised more than $460,000 over the last three months through his political communications organization. The son of the former mayor will challenge incumbent Tomás Regalado, who is seeking re-election.
Adri Anna Stewart, the 30-year-old principal at Key West Collegiate Academy in the Florida Keys, committed suicide at the Pembroke Gun & Range in Pembroke Park the day after Christmas. Authorities said she shot herself in the head and was rushed to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.