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Dealer faces fines, jail time after parking cars in public garage during Irma

Published: Thursday, September 14, 2017 @ 1:12 PM



Carl Court/Getty Images
(Carl Court/Getty Images)

The owner of a used car dealership in South Florida is facing thousands of dollars in fines and potential jail time after he was accused of using a downtown parking garage to store his cars during Hurricane Irma.

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Autoline on Federal Highway in Hallandale Beach parked 47 cars, with warranty stickers and no tags, in residents’ spaces in a city garage, according to WPLG.

The dealership’s alleged action forced residents, who were supposed to have reserved spots in the garage for their cars, to have to find another place for their vehicles during the storm.

Workers moved the fleet of vehicles back to the dealership on Wednesday and declined to comment on the impending fines and possible arrest, according to WPLG.

The owner of the dealership was issued 24 notices to appear in court from the city of Hollywood, claiming that Autoline violated a city ordinance that makes it illegal to use public property for private business.

The owner faces $12,000 in fines and a potential 60 days in jail.

Irma Aftermath In Florida

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Cook smashes rat’s head with hatchet on Florida BBQ restaurant’s kitchen floor

Published: Friday, June 22, 2018 @ 1:42 PM

File photo. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)
China Photos/Getty Images
File photo. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)(China Photos/Getty Images)

A cook at a rat-infested barbecue restaurant cut the head of a rodent with a hatchet on the kitchen floor, video shows.

The Dixie Pig was shut down and a stop sale on vegetables and ribs was issued by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation June 14 for 14 violations ,including multiple rodent droppings, according to a state report.

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“Observed four fresh rodent droppings next to trap between True reach-in cooler and Continental reach in cooler in wait station,” the report states. “Observed five fresh rodent droppings behind soda machine at front counter. Observed seven fresh rodent droppings under prep table with can opener in kitchen area.”

The stop sale included a pound of cut onions, 2 pounds of peppers, 5 pounds of pickles and 15 pounds of ribs. 

While the restaurant was closed, video of an employee mutilating the rat, including chopping of its head in the kitchen, was discovered, according to WPLG

"To be honest with you, it's sickening, OK," restaurant owner Sherrie Gentry told WPLG. "It really is."

Cleaning crews and pest control were at the restaurant every day after the closure. 

"We spent 24 hours since that day (cleaning the restaurant,” Manny Varias, kitchen manager for 10 years, told WPLG. “Power-washed everything, looked in every corner with a flashlight."

The restaurant met inspection standards and was allowed to reopen two days later, according to state records.

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House approves big, bipartisan bill to deal with opioid crisis

Published: Friday, June 22, 2018 @ 1:25 PM

In a fresh reminder that political cooperation is not dead on Capitol Hill, the House on Friday overwhelmingly approved a sweeping package of over fifty bipartisan bills to address the misuse of prescription opioid pain medicine, as lawmakers voted to expand a variety of services under Medicare and Medicaid to deal with the drug scourge.

“We can do things when we put partisan politics aside and work together,” said Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), one of a number of lawmakers who touted various provisions in the sweeping opioids measure.

“This particular bill, H.R. 6, is the crown jewel of all that legislation,” said Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX).

“This legislation will strengthen our efforts to advance treatment and recovery issues, and bolster the fight against deadly and illicit drugs,” said Rep. Rick Allen (R-GA).

“This is a big deal in the fight against the largest public health crisis in our country,” said Speaker Paul Ryan.

“Mr. Speaker, so often we hear about the partisan wrangling in Congress and clearly there are dividing lines on some high-profile issues,” said Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA). “But this an issue where Republicans and Democrats have come together.”

The final vote was 396-14. The bill now goes to the Senate.

“Currently, Medicare doesn’t cover opioid treatment programs,” said Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA). “These bills are pieces of a large, complex puzzle. We need to find realistic solutions with long term outcomes.”

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Migrant mother, 7-year-old son reunited after being separated at border

Published: Friday, June 22, 2018 @ 1:01 PM

WATCH: Guatemalan Mother And Son Reunited

A Guatemalan woman and her 7-year-old son were reunited early Friday in Baltimore, one month after immigration officials separated them at the U.S.-Mexico border, according to multiple reports.

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Beata Mariana de Jesus Mejia-Mejia filed suit Tuesday against the government, claiming immigration officials “ripped” her son, Darwin, from her after they crossed the border into Arizona last month, Politico reported.

>> What does the new executive order on immigration do; can migrants be held indefinitely

She was reunited with her son around 2:30 a.m. at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, hours after a Justice Department lawyer told a U.S. District Court judge the child would be released.

Mejia-Mejia, 38, told reporters waiting to capture their reunion Friday morning that she could tell from her son’s face that “he’s sad, but we’re going to be together, and no one’s going to separate us again,” The Washington Post reported.

Mejia-Mejia and Darwin surrendered on May 19 to Border Patrol agents after they crossed from Mexico into the U.S. near San Luis, Arizona, according to the Post. Darwin was held at a shelter in Phoenix before his release Friday, CNN reported.

Mejia-Mejia, who came from Guatemala, filed for asylum after crossing the border. She was fleeing from violence and death threats from her husband, according to CNN.

 >> Behind the viral photo of toddler crying at the US border 

The Post reported that Mejia-Mejia was not criminally charged for crossing the border. Her attorneys argued that her case “showed that border officials were separating families to deter asylum seekers,” a tactic authorities have denied using.

The Trump administration in April directed prosecutors to pursue cases against all people suspected of crossing the border illegally as part of a “zero tolerance” immigration enforcement policy. Parents were separated from their children as they faced prosecution. 

>> Trump signs executive order ending migrant family separations 

Nearly 2,000 children were separated from their families over a six-week period in April and May, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

Trump ended the policy Wednesday with an executive order after unsuccessfully calling on Congress to stop the separations through legislation. 

Watch – President Trump Signs Executive Order Ending Migrant Family Separations
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Police make arrest in 1986 child murder

Published: Friday, June 22, 2018 @ 12:58 PM

Michella Welch. (Photo: KIRO7.com)
Michella Welch. (Photo: KIRO7.com)

A suspect was arrested Wednesday in the 1986 child murder case of Michella Welch.

Gary Charles Hartman, 66, was booked into the Pierce County Jail. He's expected to have a bail hearing Thursday, and KIRO 7 will be there. 

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Welch was 12 years old when she disappeared after she and her younger sisters visited Tacoma’s Puget Park on March 26, 1986.

Her body was found in a gulch after police conducted a search. 

In 2016, using technology called DNA phenotyping, Tacoma police and the Virginia-based company Parabon Nanolabs produced computer-generated composites using evidence found after the murders of Welch and 13-year-old Jennifer Bastian.

Welch was found in Tacoma's Puget Park in March 1986, Bastian five months later in Point Defiance Park. Both had been raped and murdered. 

At first, police thought both murders were the work of the same man, until 2013, when a re-examination of evidence proved there were actually two different killers. 

Earlier this year, Jennifer Bastian's suspected killer was also arrested.

That suspect was detained out of state and taken to Washington for prosecution. Officials with the Illinois State Police said they helped apprehend the suspect in Bastian's killing, identified as Robert Washburn.

In court documents, Pierce County prosecuting attorney Jared Ausserer said Washburn first became a suspect when he called police in May of 1986 about a composite sketch released of a suspect in the murder of Welch.

Washburn called police after the suspect sketch was released, saying he saw a similar-looking man while jogging in Point Defiance Park. 

He told police he jogged in the park as often as twice a day, Ausserer said. 

In 1986, a special task force was formed to investigate the murders of Welch and Bastian.

"There are remarkable similarities (in the murders of Welch and Bastian)," KIRO 7 reporter Karen O'Leary said on-air that year. "She and Jennifer were about the same age. Both were riding bikes when they disappeared. Both were found in north Tacoma parks."

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