Around the Region, Jan. 24
Published: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 5:50 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 5:50 p.m.
Pedestrian killed by semi on I-75, FHP says
A pedestrian was struck by a tractor-trailer and killed on Interstate 75 in Gainesville early Wednesday morning, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Ashley E. Lawson, 28, of Chesapeake, Va., died at the scene.
The crash was reported at 2:30 a.m. on southbound I-75 near the Newberry Road interchange, according to an FHP media release.
Truck driver Orbin E. Samples of Dry Ridge, Ky., told FHP he saw an object move in front of him from the emergency lane. He was unable to take evasive action and struck Lawson.
FHP Sgt. Tracy Pace said it has not been determined what Lawson was doing on I-75.
— Cindy Swirko
UF student robbed of his cellphone by three men
Three men accosted a University of Florida student Tuesday night, knocking him to the ground and stealing his cellphone, Gainesville Police Department Lt. Jorge Campos said.
The incident was reported about 10:15 p.m. in the 1600 block of West University Avenue. The student was walking along the street and talking on his phone when the culprits knocked him down, kicked him, took his phone and ran off.
He could offer police only an incomplete description of the culprits, noting that they were in their 20s and wore basketball-style shorts.
Police searched the area, but no arrests were made.
— Cindy Swirko
Deputies report man molested 12-year-old girl
A Newberry man was arrested Tuesday on allegations he repeatedly molested a 12-year-old girl over a two-month period, according to an arrest report from the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office.
Charles William Kennedy, 52, of 14849 NW 11th Place, was charged with lewd and lascivious behavior.
The three incidents allegedly happened between May and June 2012. It’s alleged that Kennedy touched the girl in a lewd way. The mother of the child witnessed the last incident, according to the report.
An investigation by ACSO and the state Department of Children and Families resulted in the arrest.
Kennedy would not answer detectives’ questions, the report added.
— Cindy Swirko
Couple sues Church of Scientology, alleges fraud
WEST PALM BEACH — A California couple has filed a lawsuit claiming the Church of Scientology duped them into giving hundreds of thousands of dollars for causes that were misrepresented.
Luis and Maria Garcia of Irvine, Calif., filed the federal lawsuit Wednesday in Tampa against several church-affiliated organizations. Their attorney says it is the first of numerous lawsuits to be filed by former Scientologists charging fraud.
Among the accusations leveled by the Garcias is that they were repeatedly strong-armed into supporting disaster relief efforts only to find the money never went where it was supposed to. Their attorney says it was an elaborate scheme that ultimately benefitted the church coffers and the pockets of its leader.
A spokeswoman for the Church of Scientology did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
— The Associated Press
State to start cracking down on food stamp fraud
TALLAHASSEE — Florida officials are cracking down on fraud in the food stamp program through a new system that verifies client’s identities before an application is processed.
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater said Wednesday that more than $100 million was lost to fraud in the food stamp program from 2010 to 2011.
Department of Children and Families employees who administer the program will now use the same technology as banks to verify an individual’s identity. This includes asking questions about the recipient’s financial history and residence.
Food stamps are delivered through electronic debit cards.
The agency is also monitoring social media sites like Craigslist to stop people from buying and selling the debit cards.
Other steps include monitoring multiple requests for replacement cards and automatically closing certain cases when benefits expire.
— The Associated Press
Fla. journalism institute faculty member is dead
ST. PETERSBURG — Paul Pohlman, a senior faculty member at The Poynter Institute, has died after a brief illness. He was 70.
Poynter Vice President Roy Peter Clark said Pohlman passed away Wednesday in St. Petersburg.
According to Poynter’s website, Pohlman started teaching at the institute in 1979, joining fulltime 10 years later as head of what was then called the Management Center. Since then, he led leadership programs and coordinated international training. Pohlman was part of the team that helped establish the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Before going to work for Poynter, Pohlman was director of management development programs and newspaper management education at the University of Chicago, where he also earned a master’s degree in history. His earned his undergraduate degree at Cornell College in Iowa.
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