Florida man faces charges in alleged veterans charity scam

Published: Sunday, December 31, 2017 @ 10:36 AM

Christopher Blake, right, is accused of running a bogus charity for military veterans.
WFTV.com
Christopher Blake, right, is accused of running a bogus charity for military veterans.(WFTV.com)

A Florida man os facing charges after allegedly running a bogus charity for military veterans, Volusia County deputies said.

Deputies said Christopher Blake, 46, of Ormond Beach, allegedly scammed dozens of people out of at least $20,000, saying the money was going to help military veterans. Deputies said Blake allegedly tried to use a selfie he took with Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood to help boost profits.

Blake is facing a charge of operating an organized scheme to defraud, deputies said.

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Deputies opened an investigation a couple of weeks ago after Blake took the selfie with the sheriff and posted it online. 

"He's a scumbag," Chitwood said.

Chitwood said Blake asked for a selfie. Deputies said Blake allegedly posted the selfie to a bogus charity website to make the site appear more credible.

“The next morning, I received about five phone calls from different people who had dealings with him.” Chitwood said.

Blake allegedly claimed to run a charity for military veterans called Second Chance Veterans Foundation.

Investigators said Blake hosted a charity golf tournament at Debary Golf and Country Club on Oct 28.

According to arrest documents, 40 people attended the event and each paid Blake $100 to play golf and eat lunch.

The documents said Blake did not pay the $6,500 he owed to the golf course. Deputies said Blake eventually handed over a check, but it bounced.

“Everything was lining his pockets and he was going to run this scam until he got locked up,” Chitwood said.

Faye Crow is one of dozens of people the Volusia County Sheriff's Office said were fooled by Blake’s alleged scheme.

Crow is the property manager for the Daytona Beach building where Blake leased an office to operate his foundation.

She said Blake paid one month of rent, but then the money stopped coming.

“He was convincing,” she said. “We believed him.”

She continued, “We kind of still believed in his cause because he had a good story, so we moved him into an external, like another general space, out of his office.”

Despite promises of money coming soon, Crow said Blake never paid.

“(He had) lots of excuses,” Crow said. “Telling us, ‘Oh, we've got this fundraiser going on. We've got a golf tournament that's happening and it's almost there.’”

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Dayton traffic from the WHIO Traffic Center

Published: Thursday, July 19, 2018 @ 5:16 AM
Updated: Sunday, July 22, 2018 @ 11:47 PM

Traffic issues can be reported by calling our newsroom at 937-259-2237 or tweeting @WHIOTraffic.

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Traffic conditions are updated every six minutes on AM 1290 and NEWS 95.7 WHIO.

Major Highway Incidents

  • No incidents to report.

Surface Street Incidents

  • No incidents to report. 

>> RELATED: WHIO Weather App

>> RELATED: Track the latest conditions in your neighborhood on our live WHIO Doppler 7 Interactive Radar

Ongoing Construction & Other Closures 

Live look at highways on our traffic cameras here.

Latest traffic conditions are also available on our traffic map. 

MONTGOMERY COUNTY

  • On West Wenger Road in Englewood, contractors will begin a water main replacement project. One lane of traffic will be maintained in either direction on West Wenger Road between Fallview Avenue and Arcadia Boulevard. One-thousand feet of water main will be replaced, Englewood police say.
  • Valley Street between Stanley Avenue and Brandt Street will be closed for reconstruction through late October. This is the first phase of a project to reconstruct Valley Street from Stanley Avenue to Rita Street.
  • Arlington Road between Pleasant Plain and Upper Lewisburg Salem Road, BRIDGE CLOSURE, March 5 - Sept. 30. All ramps for I-70 will remain open. 
  • Keowee Street north of Stanley Avenue, bridge closed until 2019. The official detour is: Keowee Street to Stanley Avenue to I-75 to Wagner Ford Road and back to Dixie. More information is available here.
  • Stewart Street Ramp to US 35 East, RAMP CLOSURE March 28 - Sept 30, 2018. The official detour is: Stewart Street to Edwin C. Moses Boulevard to I-75 north to US 35 west to James H. McGee Blvd. to US 35 east.
  • I-70 east Ramp to SR 235 north, RAMP CLOSURE July 16 - September 28. The official detour is: I-70 east to I-675 south to SR 444 to I-675 north to I-70 west to SR 235 north. 
  • I-75 north Ramp to US 35 west, RAMP CLOSURE, March 12 - Sept. 30. The official detour is: I-75 north to US 35 east to Jefferson/Main Street to Ludlow Street to US 35 west
  • I-75 between SR 48 and Needmore Road, Nightly lane closures April 29 - July 31 between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. Will become double lane closures at 10 p.m. 
  • SR 48 between First Street and Riverdale Street, Lane closure April 2, 2018 - April 1, 2019. One lane will remain open in each direction.
  • SR 235 north at the I-70 interchange, ROAD CLOSURE July 16 - September 28. The official detour is: I-70 east to I-675 south to SR 444 to I-675 north to I-70 west to SR 235 north. 
  • SR 4 south between I-70 and Lower Valley Pike, Lane closure July 9 - 27. Two southbound lanes will remain open. 

GREENE COUNTY

  • State Route 235 between Dayton Yellow Springs and Enon Roads, ROAD CLOSURE for six months. The official detour is U.S. 68, West Hyde, and West Enon Roads.
  • Trebein Road from U.S. 35, Lane restrictions April 16 - August, 2018 for construction of a right turn lane. One lane will remain maintained at all times with flagging operations. 

WARREN COUNTY

MIAMI COUNTY

  • I-75 between CR 25A (Tipp City) and Eldean Road, Lane closures June 18 - Aug. 31. One lane will remain open at all times. These closures will not be in effect Friday mornings - Sunday afternoons. 
  • N. Market Street between Foss Way/Kirk Lane and Stonyridge Avenue, ROAD CLOSURE March 5 at 7 a.m. - Aug. 10 at 5 p.m. 
  • US 36 between Scott Drive and Aerovent Drive, Lane closure April 26 - Aug. 31. 

DARKE COUNTY

  • SR 571 between Palestine Union City Road and Fisher Dangler Road, BRIDGE CLOSURE July 23 - Aug. 14. The official detour is: SR 49 to SR 47 to Indiana SR 28 to Indiana SR 32 to SR 571.
  • Arcanum Bears-Mill Road between Folkerth Road and Erisman Road, ROAD CLOSURE June 4 - Aug. 3. The official detour is: SR 49 to US 36/US 127 to US 36
  • SR 49 between Rossburg Lightsville Road and SR 47, Daily lane closures June 18 - July 30 between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. One lane will remain open in each direction through the use of flaggers.
  • Sweitzer Street/ West Fourth Street between Pine Street and Sycamore Street, ROAD CLOSURE May 21 - May 31, 2019. The official detour is: Pine Street to Washington Avenue to Broadway.
  • US 36/US 127 between Hogpath Road and Horatio- Harris Creek Road, Daily lane closures April 30 - Aug. 31 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

MERCER COUNTY

  • SR 117 between US 127 and SR 116, Daily lane closures April 23 - July 31 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. 

SHELBY COUNTY

  • SR 48 between Russia Versailles Road and SR 66, Daily lane closures July 3 - 31 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. One lane will remain open in each direction. 
  • SR 47 between Fifth Avenue and Wilkinson Avenue, Lane closures Jan. 21 - Nov. 27. One lane will remain open in each direction at all times.  

CLARK COUNTY

  • I-70 east Ramp to I-675 north, RAMP CLOSURE March 15 - Aug. 15. The official detour is: I-70 east to I-675 south to SR 444 to I-675 north
  • Spangler Road south between Restoration Drive and I-70, Traffic pattern switch March 26 - Aug. 15. Southbound Spangler Road traffic going to I-675 south and I-70 east will be moved to northbound side of I-675. Traffic will then be redirected to the southbound side of I-675 after passing over I-70. 

CHAMPAIGN COUNTY

  • SR 560 between SR 29 and US 36, Daily lane closures June 25 - July 30 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. One lane will remain open in each direction using flaggers.
  • US 36 between Zimmerman Road and Kite Road, BRIDGE CLOSURE June 11 - Aug. 10. The official detour is: SR 235 to SR 29 to SR 560.

LOGAN COUNTY

  • SR 540 between US 33 and CR 25S, Daily lane closures June 18 - July 30 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. One lane will remain open for travel in each direction through the use of flaggers. 
  • SR 235 between T-192 and T-47, Lane closures June 4 - July 31 between the hours of 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. One lane will remain open for travel in each direction using flaggers.
  • SR 117 between SR 274 and T-37, Lane closures June 4 - July 31 between 7 a.m and 4 p.m. One lane will remain open for travel in each direction using flaggers. 

AUGLAIZE COUNTY

  • SR 196 between SR 67 and Auglaize County Line Road, Daily lane closures June 19 - July 30 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. One lane will remain open in each direction using flaggers. 
  • US 33 between SR 29 and I-75, Daily lane closures March 26 - July 31 between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. One lane will remain open in each direction. 

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Baby found dead after mom left him home alone for 10 hours while she worked, police say

Published: Sunday, July 22, 2018 @ 10:46 AM

Mom Arrested After Baby Found Dead After Being Left Home Alone for 10 Hours, Police Say

An Arizona mother is in jail after police said she went to work and left her 1-year-old son alone in their apartment, where he was found dead 10 hours later.

>> Missing baby found dead near slough after 5-day search

According to court documents obtained by KTVK, Donielle Joyce King, 32, of Phoenix, was arrested and charged with child abuse after first responders found the boy unresponsive Tuesday afternoon. 

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King told investigators that she left the baby at home about 6:20 a.m. Tuesday before dropping off her other children at day care and going to work, the probable cause statement said. She claimed the baby could not go to day care because he "had open sores," court documents said. She also reportedly told investigators that a friend was supposed to babysit but never showed up.

>> Read more trending news 

King said she came back home at 4:15 p.m. and found the baby unresponsive on a mattress, investigators said. She said she performed CPR on the child as her daughter called 911, court documents said.

The baby, who reportedly had several bruises, was pronounced dead about 4:47 p.m., court documents said.

King is being held on a $50,000 bond.

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9 members of one family among 17 killed in duck boat accident on lake in Branson, Missouri 

Published: Sunday, July 22, 2018 @ 12:51 PM
Updated: Sunday, July 22, 2018 @ 12:51 PM

9 Members of Same Family Among 17 Killed in Duck Boat Accident

A duck boat accident on Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri, killed 17 people Thursday night, including the boat’s driver and nine members of an Indiana family, according to authorities. Fourteen other people were injured.

>> Read more trending news 

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Update 12:50 p.m. EDT July 22: The 17 people killed in the duck boat accident have all been identified, according to The Associated Press. They are:

Indiana family members 45-year-old Angela Coleman, 1-year-old Arya Coleman, 69-year-old Belinda Coleman, 76-year-old Ervin Coleman, 7-year-old Evan Coleman, 40-year-old Glenn Coleman, 70-year-old Horace Coleman, 2-year-old Maxwell Coleman, and 9-year-old Reece Coleman.

Missouri natives 69-year-old William Asher, 68-year-old Rosemarie Hamann, 63-year-old Janice Bright, 65-year-old William Bright, and 73-year-old Bob Williams.

Arkansas natives 53-year-old Steve Smith and 15-year-old Lance Smith.

Illinois native Leslie Dennison, 64.

Update 8:45 a.m. EDT July 21: The Stone County coroner confirmed to KSDK that William Asher, 69, and his girlfriend, Rose Hamann, were among those killed in Thursday night's duck boat accident in Missouri.

The news station reported that the couple lived in St. Louis County, Missouri. They were visiting Branson to celebrate Hamann’s birthday, which was on Monday, according KSDK.

Todd Dennison’s mother, 64-year-old Leslie Dennison, was also killed in the boat accident, the Kansas City Star reported. In an emotional and brief interview Friday, Todd Dennison told the newspaper that his mother was visiting Branson with his 12-year-old daughter, Alicia, and that they were together for less than an hour before they boarded the duck boat.

He told the Star that while in the hospital on Thursday night, his daughter told him that she could feel her grandmother pushing her upward from below while the boat was sinking.
“She said her grandmother saved her,” Todd Dennison told the Star.

Update 1:30 a.m. EDT July 21: Authorities have identified more victims in the duck boat accident.

Steve Smith and his teenage son, Lance Smith, from Osceola, Arkansas, were among those killed in the crash.

Steve Smith was a pastor and Lance Smith was preparing to open his own church in less than a week, according to CNN, first reported by The Christian Chronicle

Steve Smith’s daughter, Loren Smith, suffered a concussion during the accident but survived.

Smith’s wife, Pam Smith, opted to stay behind and was not on the boat.

William and Janice Bright from Higginsville, Missouri, near Kansas City, were also identified as victims in the crash.

WDAF reports that the couple had three children, 16 grandchildren and had been married for 45 years.

“My great nieces and nephews now have no grandparents,” Karen Abbott, William Bright’s sister, told WDAF.

Update 11:00 p.m. EDT July 20: A summer vacation ended in tragedy for nine members of an Indiana family, along with eight other tourists, killed when a duck boat capsized Thursday evening on a lake in Branson, Missouri.

The Coleman family had traveled to Branson for their annual road trip, according to The New York Times, which interviewed Carolyn Coleman.

Coleman said she lost two of her brothers-in-law and that three generations of the family died in the accident, including four young children, the Times reported.

“We just lost some wonderful people,” she said.

The Indianapolis Star reported that the four children killed in the accident were all under the age of 10.

"They were very loved," Ingrid Coleman Douglas said in a telephone interview with the Star.

Coleman Douglas said the victims included two of her uncles, cousins and their children.

"It’s a huge family on all sides. It’s unimaginable. I would never have thought I would have lost this number of people this way," she said.

Members of the Coleman family.(Gary Coleman)

Coleman Douglas identified the victims as her uncles Horace "Butch" Coleman and Irving Raymond Coleman; Horace Coleman's wife, Belinda Coleman; her cousins, Angela Coleman and Glenn Coleman; Angela's 2-year-old son Maxwell; Glenn's two sons Evan and Reece; and his 1-year-old daughter, Arya.

Glenn's wife, Tia Coleman, and Angela's older son, whose name has not been released, survived the accident, the Star reported.

Update 5:15 p.m. EDT July 20: Stone County authorities now say all 17 of the victims in the duck boat accident have been accounted for and that nine of the victims were from the same family, according to Gov. Mike Parson’s office. Two members of the family, identified by local news outlets as the Coleman family, survived. Officials said the victims range in age from 1 to 70 years old.

 

Meantime, mourners are putting flowers on the victims’ cars in the Ride the Ducks parking lot, and the community of Branson, Missouri, is holding several candlelight vigils Friday night in memory of those killed. 

One of the vigils is scheduled at Table Rock Lake where the accident happened, according to KY3-TV.

 

Update 4:30 p.m. EDT July 20: Family and friends are mourning the staggering loss of life on Table Rock Lake Thursday evening.

One woman lost nine members of her family, USA Today reported, citing Gov. Mike Parson’s office.

 

Update 2:20 p.m. EDT July 20: Branson Mayor Karen Best told The Associated Press that Bob Williams, the man who was driving the Ride the Ducks boat that sunk Thursday in a southwest Missouri lake, was a “great ambassador for Branson” who “was at every event.”

Seventeen people died, including Williams, and 14 others were injured Thursday when the duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake, according to authorities.

Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said earlier Friday that the boat’s captain survived.

In a statement posted on Facebook, employees of Ride the Ducks Branson said the business would be closed “while we support the investigation, and to allow time to grieve for the families and the community.”

“This incident has deeply affected all of us. Words cannot convey how profoundly our hearts are breaking,” the statement said. “Thank you for your support, and we ask that your thoughts and prayers be with the families during this time.”

Update 11:40 a.m. EDT July 20: Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said Friday morning that authorities recovered four more bodies after a duck boat capsized in southwest Missouri, KSMU reported, bringing the death toll from Thursday’s incident to 17.

 

Rader said 14 people were taken to hospitals after the incident. He said the driver of the Ride the Ducks boat died. The captain survived.

Update 11:20 a.m. EDT July 20: Nearly two decades ago, the National Transportation Safety Board issued a warning about boats with overhead canopies like the one that sank Thursday on Table Rock Lake after a deadly accident claimed 13 lives in Arkansas, according to the Kansas City Star.

 

The Miss Majestic duck boat was carrying 21 passengers when it sank in 1999 in Lake Hamilton, the Star reported. Authorities found seven dead passengers trapped inside the boat when they recovered it, four of which were pinned to the underside of the canopy, according to the Star.

“Contributing to the high loss of life was a continuous canopy roof that entrapped passengers within the sinking vehicle,” NTSB officials said in an accident report.

Authorities continued searching Friday for four people who are presumed dead after Thursday’s accident in southwest Missouri. Officials said 13 other people have been confirmed dead in the incident.

Update 10:25 a.m. EDT July 20: Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said divers are going back in the water Friday in search of four people who remain missing and are presumed dead after Thursday’s duck boat accident on Table Rock Lake.

Rader said the search had shifted to “recovery mode for the bodies that are still missing,” at a news conference Friday morning.

"It's been a long night,” Rader said. “It's been a very trying night.”

 

Rader said the driver of the Ride the Ducks boat died but that the captain survived.

Update 10:05 a.m. EDT July 20: Authorities are expected to provide an update on the investigation into Thursday's deadly duck boat accident in Missouri at a news conference Friday.

Update 9:55 a.m. EDT July 20: President Donald Trump shared sympathies Friday to the families and friends of the people involved in Thursday’s deadly duck boat accident in southwest Missouri.

“Such a tragedy, such a great loss,” the president wrote Friday in a tweet. “May God be with you all!”

 

Update 8:15 a.m. EDT July 20: Officials with the State Highway Patrol said Friday that two more bodies have been found after Thursday’s duck boat accident in southwest Missouri, bringing the death toll to 13.

 >> On AJC.com: Bahamas boating tragedy brings vacation safety to the forefront

State Highway Patrol Sgt. Jason Pace said four other people remained missing.

 

Original report: Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said 14 people were taken to hospitals after the incident. Seven were being treated early Friday, he said.

The boat capsized after a strong line of thunderstorms moved through the area around 7 p.m. Thursday. Rader said weather “was a factor” in the incident.

Authorities said the boat had 31 people on board, including children, when it capsized. 

The boat had life jackets on board, according to CNN. The news network reported that other boats on the water docked before the bad weather hit.

 
Emergency responders work at Table Rock Lake after a deadly boat accident in Branson, Missouri. Officials said a tourist boat has apparently capsized on the lake. At least 8 people are confirmed dead.(Nathan Papes/AP)

The National Transportation Safety Board has sent a team to investigate and are asking anyone who witnessed the accident to come forward.

A dive team and rescue officials worked through the night to find survivors.

They ended the search around 11 p.m., according to KY3.

Rescue crews work at the scene of a deadly boat accident at Table Rock Lake in Branson, Mo., Thursday, July 19, 2018.(Andrew Jansen/AP)

Emergency responders set up a staging area overnight on the lakeshore near the Showboat Branson Belle, local media reported, although the Belle was not involved in the accident.

Branson officials opened an emergency shelter inside city hall for the victims.

National Weather Service meteorologist Steve Linderberg said a top wind speed of 63 mph was measured around 7 p.m. Thursday at Branson Airport. 

“There’s nothing to slow down winds in an open area,” he said.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is watching the developments.

 

DUKW, known as duck boats, are six-wheel-drive amphibious vehicles that were used by the U.S. military during World War II and the Korean War. 

Since then, duck boat tours have become popular and are offered on lakes and rivers around the United States, including Missouri, Wisconsin, Massachusetts and Alabama.

 

Ripley Entertainment acquired the Ride The Ducks in Branson in late 2017 from Ride the Ducks International, a subsidiary of Norcross, Georgia-based Herschend Family Entertainment Corp.

Ride the Ducks International manufactures amphibious vehicles and licenses them for tours at affiliates. It also operates duck tours at Stone Mountain Park in Georgia. The company formerly operated tours in several other cities, including Baltimore, San Francisco and Philadelphia. But in recent years it ended operations following deadly accidents. 

In 2015, a Ride the Ducks tour bus collided with a charter bus carrying student on the Aurora bridge in Seattle.

Five students were killed and several others injured.

A charter bus, left, and an amphibious Ride the Ducks tour vehicle collided on the Aurora Bridge in downtown Seattle on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015.(Elaine Thompson, AP)

The Associated Press and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution contributed to this report.

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Anonymous donor pays tuition for entire inaugural University of Houston medical school class

Published: Sunday, July 22, 2018 @ 11:39 PM

File photo. (Photo: Photouser23/Pixabay)
File photo. (Photo: Photouser23/Pixabay)

An anonymous donor pledged $3 million to pay the full tuition for the University of Houston’s inaugural class when its medical school opens in 2020. 

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The school will begin accepting applications for the 30 College of Medicine spots next year, and they expect a competitive applicant pool, according to KHOU.

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“It’s going to be a different school with a different curriculum," Dr. Stephen Spann, dean of the future medical school, told KHOU. "Secondly, it’s new. And that offers students an opportunity to help shape the learning environment. And third, for this first class, they get to go tuition-free for four years.”

Students who are from Texas and want to practice medicine in the state will be given preference, Spann told KHOU

“Student debt is the number one deterrent for students when applying to medical school,” Renu Khator, president of the University of Houston, said in a news release. “This generous gift will allow such students an opportunity to attend and ultimately lead the future medical workforce.”

Construction of the school has not yet started. It also must still attain accreditation, KHOU reported.

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