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Florida man charged after 2001 murder case is reinvestigated

A Florida man has been charged with a murder that took place in the fall of 2001. The incident, which occurred on Sanctuary Drive in New Port Richey in Pasco County, involved a man who had been beaten to death with a baseball bat. He had gone to visit a new home construction site to assist a friend with financial issues related to the project. At the time, law enforcement officials did focus on the same suspect, but they lacked sufficient evidence to make an arrest.

The cold case arrest occurred after a New Port Richey Police Department Detective was able to locate some of the witnesses to the incident when he was asked to take a second look at the case. Some of those individuals were "a little more forthcoming," according to the detective, than they were when first questioned.

3 men arrested for Ponzi scheme after settling civil SEC case

At least 700 people in Florida were invested in real estate acquired by the Woodbridge Group of Companies until its financial collapse. The aftermath of the company's bankruptcy filing revealed a Ponzi scheme that cost investors $1.3 billion. The company's former CEO along with two senior executives have been arrested on federal charges of wire and mail fraud and money laundering.

Their promises of returns as high as 10% lured mostly retirees into investing money in luxury real estate purchased by the company. Woodbridge Group bought properties in wealthy locations like Beverly Hills and Aspen. By 2017, the executives had allegedly run out of money to pay original investors when new investors stopped buying in. The Securities and Exchange Commission in Miami then launched an investigation. The civil suit brought by the SEC produced a settlement requiring payment of $1 billion to compensate fraud victims.

Florida Waffle House shooting captured on surveillance video

The generosity of a customer at a Waffle House restaurant in Gainesville triggered an altercation that led to the death of a 41-year-old man. According to the Alachua County Sheriff's Office, surveillance cameras in the restaurant recorded the entire episode that culminated in a 25-year-old man shooting the other man to death.

The victim had paid for some customers' meals and also gave away some money. The local newspaper reported that one woman at the restaurant became upset when the man did not pay for her meal. A man in her company confronted the man passing out money. They argued, and the younger man left but then allegedly returned with a handgun.

Felicity Huffman pleads guilty in college admissions scandal

Florida fans of "Desperate Housewives" heard many apologies from actress Felicity Huffman, former star of the series, after she entered guilty pleas in the college admission scandal. She accepted responsibility for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud and provided a public statement. Huffman expressed shame for her choice to pay a bribe to improve her daughter's SAT score. She apologized specifically to honest parents who sacrifice to help their hard-working children enter college.

Huffman was charged with criminal activity after an FBI investigation identified a web of affluent and sometimes famous parents who had conspired with a man to get their children into colleges for a price. Huffman paid the ringleader $15,000 via a so-called donation to his charity organization. For that price, he arranged for an SAT proctor to correct answers on the test taken by Huffman's daughter. This increased the score by 400 points. Huffman insists that her daughter did not know about it.

Florida facility owner convicted in health care fraud case

A Florida man has been convicted in a Medicare and Medicaid fraud case for allegedly billing over $1.3 billion in false claims to the government-run health care programs. The 50-year-old man's trial ran for eight weeks and included extensive testimony on the nature of the allegations in the case. He was accused of billing both programs for services that were never provided to patients, were not medically needed or which were provided through kickback payments. The man has not yet been sentenced.

According to the Department of Justice, the case represents the largest single health care fraud scheme it has prosecuted. The man owned multiple assisted living and skilled nursing facilities. Between 1998 and 2016, prosecutors charged that he paid doctors to admit patients to his facilities rather than competing institutions. However, prosecutors say that after the patients were admitted, they often failed to receive necessary care. Many received unnecessary treatments solely for the purposes of billing Medicare and Medicaid, they alleged. The man reportedly made more than $37 million from the false billings and bought personal items, such as luxury cars and expensive watches, with the proceeds of the funds.

Florida police say Gifford home was a drug and gun den

Police in Florida have reported that a large cache of weapons, illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia were discovered during the search of a Gifford home on March 29. A 38-year-old man has been taken into custody in connection with the seized items and is being held without bond at the Indian River County Jail. A Indian River County Sheriff's Office representative said that the investigation into the man's alleged activities began after members of the office's Special Investigations Unit made two undercover narcotics purchases from him.

According to media accounts, IRCSO deputies were assisted in the operation by federal agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. During the search of the 44th Street residence, the agents and deputies are said to have discovered seven rifles and eight handguns. Two of the rifles had allegedly been modified for fully automatic use and another had been fitted with a sniper scope. Bump stocks that are used to enable fully automatic fire were also allegedly discovered.

Two men cleared of murder after wrongful conviction

Two men in Florida have finally received justice after 42 years of imprisonment. The 76-year-old and 61-year-old men, an uncle and nephew, had their convictions vacated on March 28 after prosecutors filed a request. Prosecutors said that they were no longer convinced of the men's responsibility for the murder of which they were convicted. The two are the first people to be cleared of a wrongful conviction after the state attorney's office announced that it would review such claims. This marks the first statewide Florida effort to address false convictions.

The 61-year-old man was only 18 at the time of his conviction. He said that he wanted to reconnect with his family and thanked his lawyer as well as the State Attorney for the resolution of the case. He had reached out to his attorney after learning about the state initiative through news reporting. The two men had been convicted and sentenced to life in prison for shooting one woman and injuring her girlfriend. The two women knew the two men socially. The men were convicted based solely on the eyewitness testimony of the surviving woman, who said that she saw the two men at the foot of the bed shooting at them.

Man charged with murder after applying for job

On March 27, a 51-year-old Florida man was arrested on suspicion of murder after undergoing a background and fingerprint check while applying for a job. The incident took place in Delray Beach.

According to NBC News, the defendant applied for a job at a fire and water cleanup company in December. As part of the application process, he was required to submit fingerprints and undergo a background check. However, in January, a national database flagged the fingerprints after they matched evidence from a murder that had been uploaded by detectives decades earlier. As a result of the match, agents from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement placed him under surveillance and managed to obtain some of his DNA for testing. It ended up matching DNA gathered from the crime scene.

Man charged with bludgeoning father to death on boat

A Florida man has been charged with murdering his father while on a fishing trip off the coast of Marco Island on March 18. Investigators allege that other people on the boat witnessed the crime.

According to media reports, the defendant, a 30-year-old Copeland resident, bludgeoned his father in the head with a spare alternator while the older man was asleep. He then allegedly threw the alternator over the side of the boat. The incident took place while the boat was approximately 70 miles southwest of Marco Island.

Man accused of selling cocaine near a school

On March 21, a 30-year-old Florida man was arrested for allegedly attempting to sell cocaine close to a school. The incident took place in Fort Walton Beach in Okaloosa County.

According to authorities, deputies from the Okaloosa County Sheriff's office took the defendant into custody for alleged possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. During a subsequent interview with investigators, he reportedly admitted that he had 10 grams of marijuana hidden in a container in the garage of his home.

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