Toddler Dies, Daycare Owner To Face Second Degree Murder Charge

October 30, 2014

A toddler died Wednesday after allegedly being abused by a daycare owner, and the State Attorney’s Office is filing a second degree murder charge in teh case.

According to the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office the 15-month old was taken to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola with traumatic injuries consistent with shaken baby syndrome.  Investigators said the injuries to the child occurred under the care of 55-year old Thelma Denise Lowery, who runs a daycare business from her home at 4738 Ward Basin Road in Milton.

The toddler died Wednesday at Sacred Heart Hospital , according to the State Attorney’s Office.

The Sheriff’s Office said investigators obtained sufficient probable cause to believe Lowery was the person responsible for inflicting the injuries on the toddler. She was charged with aggravated child abuse prior to the child’s death, but will be arraigned on the second degree murder charge on Friday afternoon.

A Santa Rosa Grand Jury will be scheduled to hear evidence and determine whether  sufficient evidence is present for a first degree felony murder indictment. A first degree murder indictment can only be charged by a Grand Jury in Florida.

The Department of Children and Families has revoked Lowery’s license to operate her home daycare. Lowery remains in the Santa Rosa County Jail without bond.

International Paper Announces $90 Million Reinvestment In Cantonment Mill

October 30, 2014

International Paper has announced plans to reinvest more than $90 million over the next five years in their mill in Cantonment in order to increase energy efficiencies, support and enhance the work environment and strengthen its competitive position.

The Pensacola Containerboard Mill, located in Cantonment, employs more than 400 people. The mill has been a foundation in the Greater Pensacola Region since 1941 and was acquired by IP in 2000. IP’s Pensacola Mill – which is part of the company’s industrial packaging group – produces lightweight containerboard and specialty fluff pulp. From Pensacola, the mill’s containerboard products are sent to container facilities to create corrugated brown boxes. The fluff pulp is distributed to customers for diapers and other hygiene products.

“Northwest Florida’s business-friendly environment and initiatives continue to attract strong, innovative businesses,” said Florida Senate President Don Gaetz. “Just last year, International Paper’s Pensacola Mill had a local economic impact of nearly $330 million. I am confident this multi-year investment will continue to help our communities thrive and our region’s economy to grow.”

The IP Pensacola Mill is vitally important to the local, regional and statewide economy, with the company’s local annual average wages representing more than 200 percent of the Escambia County average wage of $37,360. According to an analysis by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the manufacturing industry sector directly contributed more than 14,500 jobs in the Northwest Florida region, with an additional gain of more than 9,700 jobs for local businesses.

The company’s commitment to Escambia County will be supported by approximately $5,000,000 in grants and infrastructure improvements.

“The Escambia County Board of Commissioners supports fostering the growth of our existing industry base. The Board’s commitment of tax incentives and investments in county-wide infrastructure, such as the proposed project at Muscogee Road and US-29, not only serves the logistic needs of one of our most established local companies, but it also benefits IP’s more than 400 employees and the citizens of Escambia County,” said Escambia County Commissioner Steven Barry.

Navy Federal To Create 5,000 New Local Jobs With Expansion

October 29, 2014

This morning, Navy Federal Credit Union announced it will continue expanding its operations in Pensacola, bringing 5,000 new jobs and $350 million in capital investment to the region by 2026.

“This is our largest expansion in Pensacola thus far. It underscores what we’ve long been saying about this great community—it’s a great place to grow your business and a wellspring of talented people to employ,” said Cutler Dawson, CEO/president of Navy Federal. “Continued growth for Navy Federal not only signifies the strength of the credit union, but also means upholding our high standards for member service. It takes the best to serve the best, and that’s why we continue to invest in Pensacola.”
The expansion will include facilities and parking for an additional 5,000 employees, bringing the total number of employees on the Nine Mile Road campus to 10,000 by 2026 and an overall capital investment of $1 billion.

“Today’s announcement that Navy Federal will create 5,000 more jobs for Floridians is a huge win for the Florida families. Because of companies like Navy Federal, we have created 651,300 private-sector jobs since December 2010, and we will continue working hard to create jobs so that every Floridian can live the American Dream,” said Gov. Rick Scott.

Potential employees can apply for existing jobs online.

Navy Federal is a growth story in Pensacola, beginning in 2003 with 60 employees. In 2014, Navy Federal has added 530 jobs, bringing its current total in the region to over 3,800 employees with an annual payroll of $160 million. Gov. Scott recognized these efforts and awarded Dawson the Business Ambassador Award, given to individuals for their efforts in creating jobs and opportunities for Florida families.

“When FORTUNE Magazine named Navy Federal Credit Union as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2014, they highlighted what we in Northwest Florida have known for more than a decade,” said U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller.  “Our friends at Navy Federal have not only been good corporate neighbors, they have become part of the community.  We appreciate them choosing Pensacola, and we look forward to having them in our neighborhood for many years to come.”

In January 2014, FORTUNE Magazine named Navy Federal on its list of the “100 Best Companies to Work For.” This marked Navy Federal’s fourth appearance on the list, having first been recognized in 2008, 2012 and 2013. Navy Federal has also been recognized for the sixth straight year as a Best Place to Work in Florida.

Train Hits Vehicle In Bogia

October 29, 2014

A train hit an unoccupied vehicle on the railroad tracks at East Bogia Road, just east of Highway 29, Tuesday night.

The northbound CSX train with about 60 cars hit the vehicle shortly before 11:00. It was not immediately clear if the 56-year old driver was stuck or simply stopped on the tracks. He told authorities that he thought he was on Jordan Street in Pensacola.

The train engineer saw the vehicle on the tracks and began an emergency stop before reaching the crossing, but the train struck the car and pushed it down the tracks over 100 feet.  There were no injuries.

The accident was investigated by the Florida Highway Patrol. The driver’s name has not been released. The McDavid Station of Escambia Fire Rescue and the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office also responded to the accident.

Pictured: This car was pushed over 100 feet down the tracks after being hit by a train Tuesday night in Bogia. The train was backed away from the vehicle prior to the photos in order to open the railroad crossing. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.

Three Local Residents Sentenced, Two Indicted For Federal Tax Fraud

October 29, 2014

Three local residents, including a Cantonment man, have been sentenced to federal prison and two more have been indicted by a federal grand jury for their roles in related tax refund fraud and identity theft schemes.

Tuesday, 29-year old Rex E. Robinson, Jr.of Cantonment was sentenced by Senior U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson to 75 months in prison after having pled guilty to mail fraud and aggravated identity theft charges stemming from his participation in a scheme to defraud the IRS by filing over 100 false tax returns using other people’s identities, the majority of whom were deceased.

Robinson was found in possession of approximately 566 individuals’ identities, 179 of which were actually used to file the fraudulent returns attributed to the scheme. As a result of his scheme, the IRS mailed out $87,324 in fraudulently obtained tax refund checks to Robinson’s various addresses, which Robinson was ordered to pay back in restitution as part of his sentence.

Ariyanna S. Lampley (previously Schuyler J. Nickerson), 32, of Pensacola, was sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers to 75 months in prison after having pled guilty to theft of government money and aggravated identity theft. Lampley forged a deceased person’s signature and deposited into her account one of the fraudulent tax refund checks obtained by Robinson, knowing that Robinson had obtained it by filing false returns.

Lampley was ordered to pay back $212,792.96 in restitution to the IRS not only for the check she deposited for Robinson, but for the over 70 additional fraudulently obtained federal tax refund checks she had cashed for others since 2010.

This past July, Brian Richardson, 28, of Cantonment, was sentenced by Senior U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson to 12 months and one day in prison after having pled guilty to aggravated identity theft. Richardson stole the personal identifying information of over 40 elderly hospital patients from his employer and provided it to Robinson for use in the tax fraud scheme.

In addition, on October 21, a federal grand jury indicted Richard J. Beverly II, 25, and Andrey C. Cook, 33, both of Pensacola, on mail fraud and aggravated identity theft charges in a related but separate case. The indictment alleges Beverly filed approximately 40 false tax returns to get over $85,000 in tax refunds using the identities of deceased persons and disabled patients living at a group home in Pensacola, which were stolen and provided by Cook. Both defendants have pled not guilty, and trial is currently scheduled for December 1, 2014, before Senior U.S. District Judge Lacey Collier.

These cases resulted from investigations by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations Division, with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office. The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alicia Kim.

Boater Found Safe After Escambia River Search

October 29, 2014

A search and rescue effort on the Escambia River near Molino had a happy outcome Tuesday night.

Someone called 911 and reported an overturned boat and a missing boater a few bends of the Escambia River south of the Fairground Road Boat Ramp. First responders from the Molino Station of Escambia Fire Rescue found that the older model 14-foot boat had hit a stump and was still upright. But the boater was no where to be found.

After a check of the boat’s registration and a few phone calls, authorities found the boat’s  19-year old owner safe and sound several miles away at his residence on Jack’s Branch Road.