Law and public safety

Gainesville man with history of indecent exposure arrested for possessing child pornography, soliciting child sexual abuse material

Sixty-three-year-old Thomas Duval Andrews was arrested by the Gainesville Police Department Tuesday evening for possessing child pornography. The investigation into Andrews began last November when the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children received a tip from the adult video chatting app Flingster, which said one of its users was soliciting child sexual abuse material online. The tip was referred to Gainesville police. The user’s IP address was tracked to Andrews’ residence, where police seized several electronic items after serving a warrant in October.

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Prosecutors drop criminal charges against prominent real estate agents; related civil lawsuits settled

The State Attorney’s office has dropped its criminal investigation of  employees of a prominent commercial real estate firm whose offices were stormed by an armed SWAT team last year.  Around the same time prosecutors abandoned their criminal case, on Nov. 1, at least three related civil lawsuits and countersuits in …

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Levy County school shut down after drug scare

A Levy County middle and high school shut down on Wednesday after the school’s staff feared two students had come into contact with fentanyl in the school’s bathroom. One student was taken to the hospital and arrested, and the other student was treated and released to their parent. Today, several other students reported feeling sick and school activities were briefly put on hold while an investigation unfolded. A white powdery substance was found in the bathroom with the two students on Wednesday and was confirmed to be methamphetamine with no trace of fentanyl. The students who reported feeling ill had flu-like symptoms and school activities were resumed by 10 a.m. Attorney General Ashley Moody also announced in a press release the launch of a new webpage, One Pill Can Kill, which aims to warn Floridians about the dangers of fentanyl.

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Inmates face off in state culinary arts competition

The smell of various foods filled the air, pans of grilled chicken sizzled on the stove and inmates wearing aprons, hats and chef’s coats rushed around the industrial kitchen at Lowell Correctional Institution as they worked with their team to win the gold trophy. Wendasia Gipson, an inmate, kept her cool as she moved through the kitchen calling out “behind” to her teammates warning them not to bump into her as she helped prepare a dish called “Not the Taco." Four teams of male and female inmates from across the state competed in the first Culinary Arts Training Competition hosted by Lowell Correctional Institution Wednesday.

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43-year-old High Springs cold case reopened after body is identified

Although investigators finally have a name to go with the remains of a man found more than 40 years ago, they have plenty of questions about how Ralph Tufano’s body ended up in the woods near High Springs. In the winter of 1979, James Prince, a Florida Division of Forestry employee, found a skeleton off County Road 236 in High Springs while conducting a controlled burn. Due to the limited technology at the time, the body remained nameless for decades as the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office continued the investigation to identify the victim. 

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Football hooligans told him holocaust never happened; his relatives died in Nazi death camps

Mark Bleiweis, his wife, Jennifer, and his sister-in-law left their seats early during Saturday night’s football game between Florida and Georgia. As they exited the TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, they heard shouting from a sea of people – but it wasn’t about touchdowns. It took a few seconds for Bleiweis, a University of Florida professor and heart surgeon, to track the shouting. He said he saw a group of men, young and middle-aged, yelling antisemitic remarks. The sheriff’s office said no crimes were committed because the comments were protected as free speech.

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