Around the region


Published: Saturday, September 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, August 31, 2007 at 11:47 p.m.

Levy man implicated in child pornography ring

A Levy County man has been arrested and his computer seized as part of a child pornography ring investigation that began in California.

The investigation started in Sacramento more than a week ago and centered on adults who allegedly had been uploading, downloading and distributing child pornography on the Internet, according to Levy County Sheriff's Lt. Evan Sullivan. The case began in California when the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children forwarded a cyber tip to officials, resulting in search warrants at several U.S. locations.

On Wednesday, Levy County Detective Mark Morgan arrested Milton Don Bishop, 66, of 20033 SE 11th Terrace in Inglis for possession of child pornography and transmission of child pornography by electronic device. Morgan is a member of Internet Crimes Against Children and is an expert examiner in forensic computers.

When Bishop was arrested, several electronic items were taken from his singlewide mobile home, including computers, scanners, laptops, cell phones and a digital camera, Sullivan said. On Friday morning, a judge issued a search warrant, which will allow Morgan to examine Bishop's computer.

Anyone who believes they may have information about the case is asked to call the Levy County Sheriff's Office at (352) 486-5111.

- Karen Voyles

Man accused of stealing ATVs, trading for crack

A Williston man was arrested Friday for allegedly stealing a pair of all-terrain vehicles worth a combined $6,000 and then trading them for $80 worth of crack cocaine, according to Levy County sheriff's authorities.

Charles Ray Harris, 49, of 650 NE 132nd Terrace in Williston was arrested by Levy County Sheriff's Detective Mike Narayan and charged with grand theft and dealing in stolen property, according to the sheriff's office. Narayan estimated the value of the ATVs at about $6,000.

According to Lt. Evan Sullivan, the ATVs were stolen from a home in the 10000 block of NE 69th Place in Bronson and traded for crack in East Williston. Sullivan said the case remains under investigation and additional arrests are possible.

Harris was being held at the Levy County jail without bond Friday night.

- Karen Voyles

Pickup truck runs into day care, no one hurt

A pickup slammed into a Lake City day-care center, but no one was injured in the Thursday morning crash, the Florida Highway Patrol reported.

Georgia W. Wiggins, 23, was pulling into the parking lot of the Happy Hearts Childcare Center, 149 SE Lochlynn Terrace, in Columbia County when she accidentally hit the gas pedal in her vehicle, according to troopers.

Wiggins told officers her foot slid off the brake pedal and onto the gas, FHP reported. The pickup struck the west wall of the center, knocking down the wall.

No one inside the building was hurt, according to officers. Neither Wiggins nor an infant in the vehicle were injured in the crash, which occurred at about 9:30 a.m.

- Lise Fisher

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Alachua County cancels 10 a.m. budget meeting

An Alachua County Commission meeting scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday to discuss the 2008 budget has been canceled.

However, the commission will meet at 1:30 p.m. as planned. It is expected the commission will discuss the proposed budget for the Sheriff's Office.

- Cindy Swirko

Deputy county manager Mark Hill to resign

Alachua County Deputy Manager Mark Hill has resigned to become executive vice president of the Gold Coast Builders Association, County Manager Randall Reid said Friday.

Among Hill's key projects during his seven years with Alachua County were a joint planning program between the county and municipalities, an annexation transition agreement between the county and Gainesville and development of a new site for the county fairgrounds.

Hill's last day with Alachua County will be Oct. 12, Reid said.

"It's a great loss for the county," Reid said. "I hired him seven years ago. His background was in regional planning and architecture. He is someone who gets along very well with others, that's why he did the intergovernmental projects."

The Gold Coast Builders Association headquarters is in Boynton Beach.

Hill said in his resignation letter, "I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve Alachua County over the last seven years and I wish the very best for both the County and its residents."

- Cindy Swirko

WATER SAFETY

Boaters warned to be careful over Labor Day

Officers are asking boaters to be careful on Florida's waterways this Labor Day holiday.

Many people head for the water on the holiday, which marks the end of the summer season for some. With 52 boating fatalities in the state this year, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission cautioned residents to boat safely.

"The combination of paying better attention and wearing life jackets all the time while on the water would result in fewer injuries and deaths each year," said Capt. Richard Moore with the agency's boating and waterways section.

The commission plans to increase its presence on the waterways, due to the holiday, and will "strictly enforce" boating-under-the-influence laws.

Most of the people killed this year in boating accidents were men, according to the FWC. In most cases, the crashes involved a single vessel, the FWC said.

- Lise Fisher

WEATHER

Storm expected to follow Dean's path

Tropical Depression 6 is expected to strengthen into a tropical storm today and likely become Hurricane Erin over the next three to five days, according to the National Weather Service.

Forecaster Andrew Shashy of the National Weather Service office in Jacksonville said the depression was about 75 miles south of Barbados and 170 miles east of Grenada Friday evening and moving west at 16 mph.

"We have had some reports of sustained winds of 25 to 30 miles per hour ahead of this system," Shashy said. "The central pressure did not change over a six-hour period so it is not deepening very rapidly, but we do expect it to intensify on Saturday and then slowly reach hurricane status."

Early tracking estimates show the storm likely would follow a path similar to that taken less than two weeks ago by Hurricane Dean toward Mexico.

- Karen Voyles

STATE

Jury says death in murder, kidnapping

MIAMI - A man should be sentenced to death for trying to kill a young mother and leaving her 5-year-old daughter to be eaten alive by alligators in the Everglades nearly nine years ago, a jury recommended Friday.

A judge will now decide the sentence for Harrel Franklin Braddy, 58, who attacked Shandelle Maycock and daughter Quatisha after he was released early from prison in another case for good behavior.

He was convicted last month of first-degree murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, attempted escape and other charges.

The jury voted 11-1, deliberating for just under two hours.

"I have been Quatisha's voice for the last 9 years, after she was brutally silenced by Harrel Braddy,'' Assistant State Attorney Abbe Rifkin said. "Today she finally got justice.''

Prosecutors said Braddy repeatedly choked Maycock and kidnapped her and Quatisha in 1998.

- The Associated Press

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