Woman Sentenced For Using Deceased Mother’s Credit Card, Checks

February 28, 2014

A Molino woman has been sentenced for using her deceased mother’s credit card and writing checks on her account.

On October 11, 2013,  Rhonda Renee Fillingim, 42,  was arrested for writing a $20 check on the account of her deceased mother Linda Albritton to Molino Park Elementary School during a fall carnival.  During the busy carnival,  the principal did not notice the check belonged to Albritton, not Fillingim. The check was later returned by the bank because it was written on a closed account.

For the Molino Park check, Fillingim was charged with felony passing a forged instrument.  She was charged for allegedly signing her deceased mother’s name and issuing two checks totaling $47.34 to Hendrix Lawn and Cycle in Molino.

Fillingim was also charged with 64 felony counts of fraudulent use of a credit card and one count of felony grand theft for using her mother’s credit card.

Her brother, Orbin Albritton, reported to the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office in August that Fillingim had used their deceased mother Linda Albritton’s Sears Mastercard to make no less than $6,500 worth of unauthorized purchases over a two week period that begin one day after their mother died on December 31, 2012. Credit card statements showed 64 transactions during the period totaling $8,960.32,  according to an arrest report.

She pleaded no contest to one count of fraudulent use of a credit card, one count of grand theft,  two counts of uttering a forged instrument and one count of petit theft. The dozens of remaining charges were dropped.

Fillingim was sentenced to 24 months probation and 240 hours of community service. The court, which withheld adjudication in the case, also withheld the right to determine what restitution might be owed in the case.

Atmore Mourns Loss Of Police Officer Dean Lindberg

February 28, 2014

Atmore is mourning the loss of Office Dean Lindberg. He was 54.

Lindberg suffered a stroke early Sunday morning, February 23, and never regained consciousness before passing away on Tuesday, February 25 at the USA Medical Center in Mobile.

Visitation for Atmore Police Office Dean Lindberg will be held Saturday, March 1 from 9:30 until service time at 11:00 at Johnson Quimby Funeral Home at 1322 South Main Street in Atmore. Burial will follow with full military honors at the Ray’s Chapel Baptist Church at 170 West Bogia Road in McDavid.

A retired Army Ranger, Officer Lindberg has been employed with Atmore Police Department as a full-time Law Enforcement Officer since March of 2011. He had previously worked as a law enforcement officer for the Kent, WA, Police Department and the Whiting Field Naval Air Station.

He is survived by his wife of 14 years, Mary Ann Lindberg, two sons, Terry (Kate) Lindberg and Adam Lindberg both of Kent, WA,  a daughter, HunterRose Lindberg, and a host of other relatives and friends. He attended the Grace Valley Baptist Church in Cantonment.

For his complete obituary, click here.

Man Faces 330 Years After Child Sex Abuse Conviction

February 28, 2014

A Santa Rosa County man is facing a sentence of over 300 years after being convicted on child sex abuse charges.

A jury found Donzell Kevin Nuckles of Pace guilty of 10 counts of sexual battery upon a child by a person in familial or custodial authority and two counts of lewd or lascivious molestation for crimes he committed against three young girls while he and his family lived in Pace.

Between February 2011 and October 2012, Nuckles committed various sexual offenses against three victims, ages 12 to 17  at the time the crimes were committed. The abuse was reported to the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s office in November 2012 and was investigated by Dectective Larry Tynes.

All three victims testified during the trial about the abuse they suffered. As a result of the sexual abuse, one of the girls became pregnant and gave birth to the defendant’s child. DNA evidence introduced at trial confirmed that Nuckles was the father of that child.

After his conviction, Nuckles was immediately remanded to the Santa Rosa County Jail by Circuit Judge John L. Miller. Nuckles will remain in jail without bond until his sentencing on  April 15. The 40-year old old Nuckles faces a maximum sentence of 330 years in prison.

Lawmakers Now Ready To Push ‘No Fault’ Off Florida Roads

February 28, 2014

There is little chance Florida lawmakers will abandon the “no-fault” auto insurance system during the upcoming legislative session, giving more time to a 2012 reform effort backed by Gov. Rick Scott.

Senate Banking and Insurance Chairman David Simmons maintains that the four-decade-old Personal Injury Protection, or no-fault, system can’t be fixed and needs to be abandoned before courts possibly could strike down the 2012 law.

However, the Altamonte Springs Republican, who has led key Senate insurance issues, doesn’t plan during the legislative session that starts Tuesday to advance any measures that would replace no fault with a bodily-injury coverage requirement.

“You can be assured that if there is some catalyst, such as a court ruling or that the insurers are able to build a coalition to get some movement on getting rid of PIP, you can be assured that I’ll be the first one to file a bill,” Simmons said. “But I’m not going to do anything until there is a greater consensus among both the stakeholders and the legislators.”

While a challenge to the law is now before the Florida Supreme Court, the emergence of such a catalyst, Simmons said, could take a couple of years.

That should be good news for Scott and state Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, who championed the 2012 reforms and have maintained their support for the changes aimed at reducing rampant fraud in the system that caused premium increases.

With some of the law’s changes only going into effect last year, quickly abandoning the reform effort could be seen as a failure of one of their policies.

Scott, in a statement from his office Thursday, noted that since the law went into effect, Florida drivers have seen their PIP premiums drop by an average of 13 percent.

“Two years ago, PIP premiums were expected to increase by an average of 29 percent in Florida — and we fought to keep the cost of living low for Florida families,” Scott said in the statement. “That’s why we worked to pass legislation to lower PIP rates by increasing licensing standards for medical clinics, establishing strong penalties for those who commit PIP fraud, and creating a statewide anti-fraud task force.”

Simmons said he’s talked with Scott and Atwater but doesn’t share their view on no-fault. Yet the senator also isn’t ready to go as far as some national insurers who he says are in favor of ending no-fault.

The move to bodily injury coverage wouldn’t require much change for the majority of Florida motorists. The state Office of Insurance Regulation has estimated that more than 70 percent of motorists already have some bodily injury coverage.

The impact would be on post-crash recoveries.

Under PIP, motorists can receive up to $10,000 to cover medical costs from crashes, regardless of who is at fault. But bodily injury coverage would send more people to court as injured parties would seek to recoup expenses from at-fault motorists.

Donovan Brown, state government relations counsel for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, said many in the industry contend the 2012 law should be given time to take hold.

“You typically need a couple years of implementation to get credible data to weigh out the effect of the reforms,” Brown said. “It’s just human nature. On the day this bill was passed, folks were immediately asking ‘What happened? Where’s the change?’ But really it was ongoing into 2013 as the changes rolled on to consumers’ policies.”

He added that some insurance companies have held off on implementing the recommended reductions to no-fault premiums until the court battle is concluded.

The 2012 law, considered a last-ditch effort to maintain the no-fault system, set benchmarks for insurers to lower rates on personal-injury protection coverage. It required people involved in motor vehicle crashes to seek treatment within 14 days, allowing up to $10,000 in benefits for emergency medical conditions, while putting a $2,500 cap on non-emergency conditions.

A Leon County circuit judge ruled the law illegally prevents accident patients from using PIP coverage to pay for treatment by acupuncturists and massage therapists and limits the services from chiropractors.

But the 1st District Court of Appeal in October reversed the ruling, saying challengers needed a “factual” motorist who had been harmed by the law, rather than a hypothetical “Jane Doe” as listed in the lawsuit, for the case to proceed.

If the Supreme Court sides with the challengers, the fight will return to the lower courts. If the Supreme Court sides with the state, the challenge is expected to be reintroduced with new named plaintiffs.

Meanwhile, the expected rate savings also haven’t been as dramatic as first envisioned.

The reforms required insurers to submit rate filings to the Office of Insurance Regulation on October 1, 2012 and January 1, 2014. Cumulatively, the two rate filings were expected to reflect a drop in PIP rates of 25 percent or insurers must show why they could not meet that goal.

In January, the state office reported that of the top 20 insurers by market share in Florida, 14 lowered rates for the no-fault coverage, half reaching the 25 percent mark. However, a majority of firms raised overall rates.

As an example, Geico General Insurance Co., the state’s largest auto insurer, reported a 25 percent reduction in its PIP rates, which translated into only a 0.6 reduction in its overall auto-insurance rate.

“A system that is so fundamentally flawed will have to be changed,” Simmons said. “Every three years the Legislature has gone back and done PIP reform. You just look at PIP, it’s a patient that has bandages all over it from trying to be fixed, and it’s still as sick as can be.”

Simmons has been working on legislation to replace PIP since the end of the 2013 session, and a measure (HB 267) filed in the House by Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami, would repeal the “Florida Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law” and allow Floridians to carry only bodily injury coverage.

Trujillo’s measure, filed Nov. 5, has yet to be brought up for a committee vote.

by Jim Turner, The News Service of Florida

Womanless Beauty Pageant Tonight At Ernest Ward

February 28, 2014

The Ernest Ward Middle School cheerleaders will hold their annual Womanless Beauty Pageant tonight.

Eleven young “ladies” will be vying for the coveted title. The pageant begins at 7 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults and middle school students; $3  for elementary students.  Proceeds from the service project will go towards recarpeting the stage steps in the gymnasium.

Pictured top: Luke Ward and and Hunter Edwards (right) competed in a womanless beauty pageant last year at Ernest Ward Middle School. Pictured left inset: Hunter Edwards was crowned Junior Mr. Miss Ernest Ward Middle School last year. NorthEscambia.com file photos, click to enlarge.

Jana Pavlus Named Escambia Teacher Of The Year

February 28, 2014

Jana Pavlus of Woodham Middle School was named the Escambia County’s Teacher of the Year Thursday night during the 29th Annual Golden Apple Awards Banquet. The banquet honored each of the Teachers of the Year from each school and program in the county.

Other finalists for  the Escambia County Teacher of the Year were :  Dawn Jackson, Beulah Elementary; Amanda Cravatt, Hellen Caro Elementary; Pamela Cebula, N.B. Cook Elementary; and Katie Strength, R.C. Lipscomb Elementary.

The 60 Teachers of the Year from across the county were:

  • Alternative Education - Aaron Dubreuil
  • Jim Allen Elementary - Wynell Gainey
  • Jim C. Bailey Middle - Tracey Burnett
  • Bellview Elementary - Trudy Laird
  • Bellview Middle - Suzanne Edington
  • Beulah Academy of Science - Kristina Angus
  • Beulah Elementary - Dawn Jackson
  • Blue Angels Elementary - Jamie Dufurrena
  • Bratt Elementary - Sherri Carter
  • Brentwood Elementary - Alison Brantley
  • Brown-Barge Middle - Lalla Pierce
  • Byrneville Elementary - Amanda Dawson
  • Camelot Academy - Ashley Phillips
  • Hellen Caro Elementary - Amanda Cravatt
  • N.B. Cook Elementary - Pamela Cebula
  • Cordova Park Elementary - Amanda Lagergren
  • Ensley Elementary - Julie Jones
  • Escambia Charter - Matthew Alexander
  • Escambia High - Trish Andrews
  • Escambia Westgate - Ashley McCombs
  • Ferry Pass Elementary - John Blackwelder
  • Ferry Pass Middle - Maureen Humphrey
  • Global Learning Academy - Janet Kay Spencer
  • Holm Elementary - Lynette Chandler
  • Lakeview School - Sherry King
  • Lincoln Park Elementary - LaTris Sykes
  • R.C. Lipscomb Elementary - Katie Strength
  • Longleaf Elementary - Stella Owens
  • McArthur Elementary - Lynn Powell
  • McMillan Pre-K - Renee Khatena
  • Molino Park Elementary - Rebecca Hatch
  • Montclair Elementary School - Edelsa Chalanczuk
  • Myrtle Grove Elementary - Sharon Bradley
  • Navy Point Elementary - Jennifer Griffiths
  • Newpoint Academy - Alisa Wilson
  • Newpoint Pensacola - Tanya Pope
  • Northview High - Terri Jernigan
  • Oakcrest Elementary - Angela Nicks
  • PATS Center - Allison Rhodes
  • Pensacola High - Melissa Marsh
  • Pine Forest High - Charles Cather
  • Pine Meadow Elementary - Marisa Vulcano
  • Pleasant Grove Elementary - Alice Downs
  • Ransom Middle - Holly Kendrick
  • Scenic Heights Elementary - Lacy Zimmerman
  • O.J.Semmes Elementary - Tamiko Womack
  • Sherwood Elementary - Georgia Seitz
  • George Stone Technical Center - Craig Spoke
  • A.K. Suter Elementary - Lauren Farmer
  • J.M. Tate High - Brian Caldwell
  • Title 1 - Rayeko McCartan
  • Ernest Ward Middle - Kathleen C. Ellis
  • Warrington Elementary - Rachael Farmer
  • Warrington Middle - Tourischeva Knecole Lambert
  • Booker T. Washington High - Jade Brown
  • C.A. Weis Elementary - Nan Nevels
  • West Florida High - Cathy Organt
  • West Pensacola Elementary - Majorca McQueen
  • Woodham Middle - Jana Pavlus
  • Workman Middle - Leslie Cuyuch

Registration Underway For Century Sawmill Pageant

February 28, 2014

The 23rd Annual Miss Century Sawmill Pageant  sponsored by the Century Lions Club is coming Saturday, March 29 at 10 a.m. at the former Carver/Century school.

Registration dates are Saturday, March 1, and Saturday, March 8 from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. at Southern Treasures Florist at 8341 North Century Boulevard. Registration forms and entry fees may also be turned in at Byrneville Elementary School during regular school hours. The entry deadline in Saturday, March 8 at 5 p.m. with no exceptions.

For more information and a printable registration form, click here.

File photos, click to enlarge.

Cottage Hill Water Works Rescinds Boil Water Notice

February 28, 2014

Cottage Hill Water Works has issued a rescinded aboil water notice for McKenzie Road, Handy Road, Chavers Road, Smyers Road, Grenelefe Drive, Cottage Park Raod, Elna Road and the Huntington Subdivision.

This notice was  issued Tuesday following a water main leak. Bacterial sampling indicated that the water is now safe to drink. For more information, contact Cottage Hill Water Works at (850) 968-5485.

Claude Howard Weaver

February 28, 2014

Claude  Howard Weaver, 83 of Atmore,. passed away on Wednesday February 26, 2014, at his residence. He worked for Truckers Association and retired from the City of Atmore, also from the Army National Guard with 25 years of service, and was a member  of  the McCullough Christian Center. He was  born in Escambia County, AL, on April 18, 1930, to the late Stiner and Grace Phillips Weaver.

He is preceded in death by a son, Kenneth Mack Weaver, a brother, Cecil Weaver, and a sister, Louise Wilson.

Survivors are his wife of 62 years, Frances Goodson Weaver of Atmore; three sons, Howard (Jeanette) Weaver, Ricky (Cathy) Weaver all of Atmore,  Rodney (Anna) Weaver of Pace; one daughter, Cindy (Allen) Cobb of Atmore; two brothers, Clarence Weaver and Donald Ray (Peggy) Weaver all of Atmore ; two sisters, Earline (James) Burkett of Atmore,  Alice (Dick) Walsh of Pensacola; nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Services will be Saturday March 1, 2014,  at 2:30 p.m. from Johnson-Quimby Funeral Home Chapel with Rev.C.P. Phillips officiating. Interment will follow in McCullough Cemetery.

Active Pallbearers will be Earl Weaver, Cameron Cobb, Blake Weaver, Don Wooten, Scott Drew and Carl Ward.

Family will receive friends Friday evening February 28, 2014,  at Johnson-Quimby Funeral Home  from 6-8 p.m.

Feds Warn They Are Cracking Down On Local Tax Fraud

February 28, 2014

United States Attorney Pamela C. Marsh and Special Agent in Charge James D. Robnett of the Tampa Field Office of Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation jointly announced Thursday their increased local efforts to enforce federal income tax laws as the tax-filing season is underway.

From Pensacola to Gainesville, legal actions for violations of tax and monetary laws have surged. Recent trials found two guilty in Panama City of more than $500,000 in stolen identity refund fraud; six defendants throughout the district pleaded guilty in separate cases involving more than $3 million in tax fraud; and judgments of eight defendants in Pensacola, Panama City, and Tallahassee netted sentences ranging from 24 to 78 months, more than $6 million in forfeiture, and an estimated $900,000 in restitution.

These recent activities, along with the indictment of five more individuals, make up part of the increased enforcement efforts over the recent weeks.

“As the number of crooks willing to steal identities and tax dollars has grown, so has our ability to track, investigate, arrest, and prosecute these cases. We will pursue criminal prosecutions of all who engage in these illegal activities, with intensity,” Marsh said. “Further, to those who contemplate filing fraudulent tax returns, the recent sentences handed down by our courts should serve as a warning that offenders face serious punishment. Honest, hardworking taxpayers are entitled to this protection by law enforcement. We are ready for tax season.”

“Our office, in partnership with prosecutors and law enforcement officers throughout the state, will dedicate the necessary resources to make an impact in the fight against fraud. You, the taxpaying members of the public, should have confidence that those who do not pay their fair share of taxes, and who steal your hard earned money, will be held accountable,” said Robnett.

Next Page »