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Published: Wednesday, January 15, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 15, 2003 at 12:10 a.m.

Woman faces charge of DUI manslaughter

  • ALACHUA - An Alachua woman was charged with DUI manslaughter Tuesday after an investigation into a November crash that killed her son and seriously injured her daughter.
    Mickey Jean Tonasket, 43, was charged with DUI manslaughter, DUI with property damage and DUI with serious bodily injury.
    Tonasket was driving a 2000 Kia four-door on US 41/27 near Archer when it flipped several times and then hit a tree, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
    Colton A. Darden, 3, died after he was ejected from the car. His sister, Jessica Darden, 4, was critically injured but was upgraded to fair condition a few days later.
    Neither child had been in a restraint seat when the car went off the road and hit a tree, according to FHP. Troopers also believe Tonasket was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash, according to reports.
    Tonasket was booked into the Alachua County jail on a $100,000 bond.
    - Kathy Ciotola

    Area man charged with lewd assault on girl, 11

  • A 53-year-old Gainesville man was arrested and charged late Monday night with lewd assault on a 11-year-old girl.
    The girl and her mother were visiting Roosevelt Boswell at his residence at 415 SE 14th St. when Boswell told the girl that he wanted to show her around the house, said Gainesville Police spokesman Cpl. Keith Kameg.
    Police reported that Boswell tried to inappropriately kiss and hug the girl and performed other lewd behaviors.
    The girl was able to run away and approached a neighbor, who called the authorities.
    Boswell was jailed on the felony assault charge and a misdemeanor battery charge.
    - Douane D. James

    Extradition is halted for local banker abroad

  • ST. JOHN'S, Antigua - A judge halted the extradition of an American banker charged with money laundering in Gainesville, Fla., citing problems with the original extradition order, officials said Tuesday.
    William Cooper, who managed an offshore bank in this Caribbean country, is charged with scamming U.S. investors between 1994 and 1997 by taking advance payments for loans he allegedly said he would secure.
    Cooper is accused of conducting the scam with two other men out of Gainesville. Often offshore banks exist only on paper and, although registered in one country, are run in another.
    Saying federal officials in Florida applied for Cooper's extradition before Antigua had ratified its extradition treaty with the United States, High Court Justice Ian Mitchell threw out a magistrate's 2002 extradition order on Monday.
    Mitchell also said the alleged crime hadn't been an offense in Antigua at the time and couldn't have applied to Cooper. Antigua's Parliament only outlawed money laundering in 1998.
    Cooper said Tuesday he was innocent. "I handled the transactions on their behalf, but I didn't know what was involved," he said.
    Mitchell ordered authorities Monday to pay Cooper $18,000 to compensate his legal costs.
    Antigua authorities did not say how much Cooper is accused of laundering through American International Bank Ltd.
    Cooper said Tuesday, however, that the account for advance loan payments totaled $1.8 million when the bank went into receivership in 1997. The government shut the bank down because it failed to meet international standards of transparency.
    Attorney General Gertel Thom said if U.S. authorities can provide additional information to link Cooper to an offense that was recognized in Antigua at the time, the Antiguan government would resubmit the extradition request.
    Cooper said the charges stemmed from complaints by two alleged accomplices who took the advances and deposited them in his bank.
    Donald Ray Gamble and Lawrence Sangaree were convicted in Northern District Court of Florida of fraud and imprisoned, Cooper's lawyer, John Fuller, said.
    - The Associated Press COUNTY COMMISSION

    Board defers action on Tower Road design

  • The design of a future road project that pitted neighbors against each other several years ago faces being postponed indefinitely due to a lack of funds.
    Residents argued for years over whether parts of Tower Road should be expanded to four lanes or left as a neighborhoodlike street at two lanes. The final decision came in 2001 to augment the two-lane sections so they would be amenable to bicyclists and pedestrians.
    Alachua County had begun to negotiate with Gainesville-based Causseaux and Ellington to design the project. But those negotiations were halted late last year after anticipated engineering fees came in at $1.4 million - more than twice the $600,000 the county had budgeted.
    The County Commission had been scheduled to discuss the shortage Tuesday, but it deferred any decision until its next meeting on Jan. 28.
    The Public Works' staff recommends the county suspend the design of the Tower Road project.
    - Janine Young Sikes

    Conservation effort adds dollars to taxes

  • A little more than two years ago, Alachua County voters agreed to a property tax increase that would raise as much as $29 million to fund a new land conservation program.
    On Tuesday, the County Commission gave officials the go-ahead to search for an underwriter to finance about $14 million in bonds that are expected to be issued in April.
    The money would pay for environmentally sensitive lands that have been identified for purchase. One property - called Mill Creek - was bought with a short-term loan of $3.2 million in the fall. The bonds will pay off the loan.
    A property tax increase of about 21 cents for every $1,000 of assessed property value is expected to cover the cost of the bonds over a 10-year period. For someone with a $100,000 house, less a $25,000 homestead exemption, that would amount to about $15.75 a year.
    The property tax is expected to be itemized on this year's tax bill, distributed in the fall.
    A second bond issue for the remaining $15 million could come in five to 10 years.
    - Janine Young Sikes COMMUNITY

    Public library upgrades online catalog system

  • The Alachua County Library District has upgraded its online catalog, WebCat, to a new and enhanced version called iBistro.
    Catalog service was interrupted Tuesday but is expected to be up and running today.
    The new catalog will provide users with several new options, including full descriptions of many titles and a direct link to best-seller lists such as The New York Times and Publishers Weekly. In addition, iBistro allows users to place a hold on a title directly from the best-sellers list if the book is available at the library district. Users also can browse through recommended reading lists such as Oprah's Book Club.
    The "Library Info" section also will include direct links to library district Web pages containing branch hours and locations, library events and meetings, and other information. The Gainesville Sun Index will be found in the "Knowledge Portal" section of iBistro.
    Library District staff has produced instructional brochures that will guide users through the transition from WebCat to iBistro. The county's library district Web site is www.acld.lib.fl.us.
    For more information, call Patricia O'Donnell at 334-3909.
    - Sun staff report

    Some Alachua residents are urged to boil water

  • ALACHUA - Residents who live west of Interstate 75 have been urged to boil their water because of a city pipe that broke along U.S. 441.
    Officials said the precautionary action should be taken for the next day or two until testing can verify that the water is safe, according to a city notice.
    An 8-inch water main broke Saturday along U.S. 441, near the Kazbor's and Hungry Howie's restaurants.
    The leak was fixed, but the state Department of Environmental Protection issued a precautionary notice to the affected areas until a bacteriological survey is completed.
    - Cindy Swirko

    Agricultural exemptions call for new application

  • Beginning this year, all Alachua County farmers, ranchers, timber owners and other landowners with agricultural exemptions must reapply to receive tax benefits.
    Green "Agricultural Renewal Post Cards" for the Tax Year 2003 have been mailed and should begin arriving in mailboxes today.
    A new state law has ended the automatic renewal of agricultural classifications.
    The renewals must be filled out, signed and returned to the Property Appraiser's Office - or land owners could lose their exemptions.
    For more information, call the Alachua County Property Appraiser's Office at 374-5230.
    - Janine Young Sikes WEATHER
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