TIME Crime

Man Fakes a Burglary Because He Just Really Didn’t Feel Like Going to Work

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Getty Images

So like, can you really blame him?

You know when you just really don’t want to get up and shower and be a functional human being and put on a clean shirt and go to work? For Florida man Dwayne Yeager, that feeling was apparently so strong that he staged a burglary just to avoid going to his job, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Shortly after 7 a.m. Monday, the 31-year-old called authorities and said his home in Brandon, Fl., had been broken into. When deputies arrived, they said the house appeared ransacked — but they saw no signs of forced entry. They questioned neighbors, who said they had seen Yeager leave his house for a little while. When he returned, they saw him open some windows.

Basically, authorities weren’t buying his story, and soon enough, he admitted that he’d made the whole thing up to avoid going to his fabrication job (the irony!) at Dooson Hydro Technology. He was promptly arrested and taken to a nearby jail on one count of providing false information to law enforcement. He was released later that day on bail.

But at least he didn’t have to go to work!

TIME 2014 Election

Role-Playing GOP Candidate Takes Heat Over His Occult Fantasies

Jacob Rush is challenging the tea-party incumbent in Florida’s 3rd congressional district, but his past as a role-playing supernatural fantastist is shaking up the race. The 35-year-old attorney insists he’s a "straight shooter" and his critics are making a fuss over nothing

Vampires, live-action occult role-playing games and forcible sodomy/cocaine fantasies have become major issues in the GOP primary in Florida’s 3rd congressional district.

Bet you didn’t think you’d read that when you woke up this morning. And no, this isn’t an April Fools hoax.

Jacob Rush, a 35-year-old attorney and former sheriff’s deputy for Alachua County, Fla., announced last month he is challenging incumbent tea-party Republican Rep. Ted Yoho for Florida’s 3rd congressional seat. Days later, according to the Miami Herald, an anonymous emailer began sending messages tipping off a local political blog to Rush’s longtime participation in the occult fantasy scene, Mind’s Eye Society, where players engage in both virtual and live-action roles, playing in a sort of Dungeons & Dragons world of magic, vampires and other supernatural creatures.

In the community, Rush, whose other hobbies include acting, took on various personas with different names. According to Saintpetersblog.com, Rush wrote on a message board in 2010, under the moniker Chazz Darling, the following graphic post [WARNING: Not suitable for children]:

At first I thought you were just stupid and I wanted to stick my dick in your mouth to shut you up while I snorted a line off my new machete that was blessed by Rui (sic) but then I remembered that you were typing so my dick would really have to be in your hands to keep you from typing but since you are walking in Omaha that’s not really realistic right now.

I’m sorry, I tried.

Rae tells me that you are a Maiden, and it’s your job to be kind of stupid and that I’m not supposed to have intercourse with Maidens.

You shouldn’t believe everything that people tell you or you’re going to end up naked and sore, tied to the floor of a van marked “Free Candy.”

And stop letting people torpor (sic) you.

Rush responded to the news with a statement that brushed off the revelation as overhyped and irrelevant, calling himself a “straight shooter.”

“As a practicing Christian, I am deeply offended that the opposing campaign and their supporters would take a gaming and theatre hobby and mischaracterize it,” Rush said in a statement. “Bottom line— there is nothing wrong with being a gamer. It’s kinda nerdy, but North Central Florida deserves a legitimate debate on the issues instead of Ted Yoho’s usual sideshow distractions.”

[Miami Herald]

TIME 2014 Election

These Republican Scandals Are Not Scandals

Allegations of misconduct aimed at Florida Gov. Rick Scott are just the latest GOP "scandals" to be blown out of all proportion

The big scandal in Florida politics these days is the resignation of Governor Rick Scott’s top fundraiser, health care executive Mike Fernandez, and the emails he sent complaining about the campaign’s approach to Hispanic voters. “But what do I know, I have only made over a billion selling to this population,” Fernandez groused. He clearly got upset when Scott’s operatives blew him off, and his plaintive emails do make for amusing reading: “Trust this: My net worth exceeds $3B, and I made it because I am not stupid and I can sell!”

Fernandez thought clueless Anglos who didn’t understand Florida were controlling the Scott campaign.“Would you hire me to manage a campaign in Mississippi for a country bumpkin?” he asked.

I’m not usually sympathetic to my Tea Party governor, but Fernandez sounds like a jerk, an egomaniacal CEO who thought his money entitled him to call the political shots. His juiciest allegation—that some staffers on a Scott campaign van were mocking Mexican accents—was pure hearsay. Anyway, I’m not sure the guy dissing “country bumpkins” should be griping about cultural insensitivity.

The larger point is that this “scandal” tells us nothing about Scott’s fitness for a second term. It’s just more gotcha grist for the American political umbrage-a-thon. It is not about Scott’s early support for tougher immigration laws, or his relentless opposition to Obamacare, or any other policies that affect Hispanics and everyone else in Florida. It’s just about optics. It’s a pseudo-scandal, and there seem to be a lot of them percolating these days, mostly involving Republican candidates. Democrats apparently see these made-for-media flaps as their best chance to avoid getting clobbered in November, but there’s something pathetic about that.

Does anyone honestly think that Kentucky senator Mitch McConnell’s flubbed web ad—it featured images of Duke’s basketball team rather than Kentucky’s—illustrates the minority leader’s insufficient ardor for Wildcat hoops? Or that he would be unfit for office if it did? Do any Wisconsin residents truly care that some of Governor Scott Walker’s staff might have mixed campaign work and official business? Does it really matter that Kansas senator Pat Roberts doesn’t seem to live in Kansas? I get why Democrats are mocking Scott Brown as an opportunistic carpetbagger who moved to New Hampshire because he couldn’t win a Senate race in Massachusetts, but a senator’s residency is infinitely less important than a senator’s policies.

Even the biggest scandal in politics this year, Chris Christie’s Bridgegate, is mostly a nothingburger. His staff secretly caused a traffic jam for a few days? And the whole mess had something to do with political payback? That’s a shame, I guess, but Governor Christie himself openly killed a federally-financed rail tunnel from New Jersey to New York City, a decision that was just as politically motivated and will cause traffic problems in Fort Lee and beyond for decades. Somehow, though, the actual policies made by policymakers aren’t seen as scandal material. They’re just the stuff that affects people’s lives.

There’s a new Democratic pseudo-scandal, too: Bruce Braley’s mockery of the idea that an Iowa farmer could chair the Senate Judiciary Committee, the kind of mockery you don’t want caught on tape when you’re running for Senate in Iowa. Braley should probably join Mike Fernandez for some rural sensitivity training, but if you’re an Iowa farmer, you probably care less about his views on your fitness to run the Judiciary Committee than his views on agriculture policy, which, judging from his website, seem as absurdly farm-friendly as any other Iowa politician’s.

Republicans are having a field day with Braley’s gaffe, but in recent years, the GOP has focused less on pseudo-scandals, things that happened but aren’t really scandals, than fake scandals, things that never happened, like the president using the IRS to go after his enemies, or whatever the latest conspiracy theory is about Benghazi. Peddling fake scandals is certainly less ethical than peddling pseudo-scandals, but it’s arguably less insulting to voters. You can’t expect Kentuckians to care whether McConnell’s online advertising staff inadvertently used stock footage of the wrong basketball team unless you really do think they’re country bumpkins.

But making stuff up and hyping stuff up are both the kind of things parties do when they have no confidence in their ideas. This makes sense for the Republican Party, which currently believes all kind of wrong and unpopular things about the role of government in American life. It’s more interesting that Democrats are so unwilling to stand behind the accomplishments of the Obama era, and so unable to persuade voters that Republican efforts to cut off unemployment benefits, block immigration reform, deny global warming are truly scandalous. Instead, they’re trashing Bill Cassidy, the Republican Senate candidate in Louisiana, for suggesting that the uninsured are “less educated” than Americans with health insurance. Which was absolutely true.

Maybe Mike Fernandez can help them out now that he’s got some time on his hands. The Democrats could surely use someone who isn’t stupid and can sell.

TIME Crime

Life Sentence for Man Charged With Murdering Parents Then Throwing Party in Their House

Parents Killed Party
This photo provided by the St. Lucie County Sheriff's office on Monday, July 18, 2011, shows Tyler Hadley, then 17, of Port St. Lucie, Fla. St. Lucie County Sheriffs Office—AP

Tyler Hadley allegedly killed his parents Mary Jo and Blake Hadley in July 2011 when he was 17, and then invited about 60 friends over to their Florida home for a party while his parents lay dead in their bedroom

A judge sentenced a Florida man charged with killing his parents before hosting a party at their house to life in prison without possibility of parole Thursday.

Judge Robert R. Makemson technically ordered two life sentences for Tyler Hadley and said the killings were brutal, heinous and premeditated, the Associated Press reports.

Hadley allegedly killed his parents Mary Jo and Blake Hadley in July 2011 when he was 17-years-old. He then invited about 60 friends over to their Fort Pierce home for a party, while his parents lay dead in their bedroom.

Police said Hadley told a friend about the killings the night of the party and then showed his friend the bodies. The friend notified police and Hadley was arrested the next day.

Evidence suggests Hadley may have mental problems, but the judge determined he lied about hearing voices. His brother Ryan Hadley called him a “pathological liar.”

Hadley pleaded no contest to the first-degree murder charges in February.

[AP]

TIME Antitrust

Comcast-Time Warner Cable Deal Faces Scrutiny From States

Cable Giant Comcast To Acquire Time Warner Cable
Brian Hunt, Director Engineering, South Florida, stands among the cables and routers at a Comcast distribution center where the Comcast regional video, high speed data and voice are piped out to customers on February 13, 2014 in Miramar, Fla. Joe Raedle—Getty Images

More than two dozen state governments are working with the Justice Department to make sure Comcast's $45 billion offer to snatch up Time Warner Cable doesn't violate antitrust laws, as critics warn of increasing media consolidation

More than two dozen states including California, Florida and Connecticut are working with the Justice Department to determine if Comcast’s $45 billion offer to buy Time Warner Cable runs afoul of antitrust laws, sources confirmed to TIME on Wednesday.

The proposed merger of the two largest cable companies in the United States has attracted criticism from public interest groups who say that the deal would concentrate too much market power in the hands of one company.

Along with the Justice Department, which will address antitrust concerns, the merger faces scrutiny from the Federal Communications Commission, which is charged with ensuring that the deal serves the public interest. Comcast maintains that the deal isn’t anticompetitive because the two companies don’t compete in the same markets, and says the merger will result in improved service for consumers.

Some 25 states are currently participating in the multistate group reviewing the proposed transaction, according to a person familiar with the probe.

Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen’s office is part of the group, a spokesperson for Jepsen confirmed to TIME. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office is also participating. “We are part of a multistate group reviewing the proposed transaction along with the U.S. DOJ Antitrust Division,” a spokesperson for Bondi said in an emailed statement.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris’s office is also part of the multistate review group, according to a person familiar with the matter. Harris’s office declined to comment. New York is not part of the multistate review group at this time, a spokesperson told TIME. A spokesperson for Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said he “cannot confirm nor deny the existence or non-existence of an investigation.”

Indiana officials are also examining the deal to determine “the potential impact in Indiana,” a spokesperson told Reuters, which first reported the states probes. Pennsylvania, where Comcast is headquartered, is “reviewing the case independently,” a spokesman for the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office told Reuters. A spokesperson for the Justice Department confirmed the federal antitrust probe, but declined to comment on the multistate review group.

Combining Comcast and Time Warner Cable would create a corporate giant with approximately 33 million pay-TV customers and about one-third of the U.S. broadband Internet market. Comcast already owns NBCUniversal, after buying the media company from industrial conglomerate General Electric. As part of the proposed Time Warner Cable deal, Comcast will extend the commitment it made during the NBCUniversal review to abide by open-Internet principles until 2018.

Major entertainment and content companies that sell programming to cable and satellite companies have expressed concern that the merger could create a powerful gatekeeper with unprecedented buying power in the market. This could give the combined company what economists call “monopsony” power, which is one buyer with many sellers, as opposed to “monopoly” power, which is one seller with many buyers.

Such monopsony power could have benefits for consumers, because the combined company would have increased leverage in contentious negotiations with the TV broadcasters over “retransmission consent fees,” which cable and satellite companies pay for the right to carry popular programming like prime-time shows and sports. That could mean downward pressure on prices for consumers, but only if the combined company chose to pass those savings on to them, which is by no means certain.

Retransmission consent fees were at the heart of last year’s dispute between CBS and Time Warner Cable, which led to an unprecedented, monthlong CBS blackout for more than 3 million Time Warner Cable subscribers in New York City, Los Angeles and Dallas.

Time Warner Cable, which was spun off from TIME parent Time Warner in 2009, is an attractive takeover target because of its major presence in several important markets, including New York City, Los Angeles and Dallas, as well as large portions of Ohio, North Carolina and Maine. In order to help assuage regulators, Comcast has said it’s willing to jettison as many as 3 million subscribers in order to make sure the new company does not exceed 30% of the cable market.

Comcast declined to comment on the state probes, but it’s worth noting that these state attorneys general reviews are typical for a proposed merger of this size, because the deal has the potential to affect millions of consumers across the country. During the review process for Comcast’s acquisition of NBCUniversal, some 14 states participated.

TIME Crime

Toddler Gets Ticketed While Driving Toy Car

Busted!

+ READ ARTICLE

Za’Dariyah Mishaw was cruising in her white convertible with the top down enjoying the Florida sun, when blue police sirens flashed and she had no choice but to quickly pull over in the parking lot of her condo building.

The policemen stepped out of their cruiser and patrol officer Christian Velasco issued Mishaw a ticket, later telling First Coast News about the incident: “She was going pretty fast. It took me a while to catch up to her, but we did, and she was cited.”

Her uncle’s take on the criminal incident? “It was a fun moment, brightened up the whole day.”

You see, Mishaw is just two years old and she was cruising the parking lot in her brand-new toy car. Getting pulled over by the cops just added to the fun.

“Everyone always has bad things to say about the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office,” her uncle Keyth Mishaw told First Coast News. “Well, I want to say BIG PROPS to these officers for making a memorable moment for my family.”

Now, Mishaw just needs to raise the cash to pay her $4 ticket.

MORE: WATCH: Hippos Rescue Gnu from Crocodile Attack

MORE: Arnold Schwarzenegger Will Ride in a Tank and Destroy Things for Charity

TIME corruption

Jailed Mayor of America’s Most Corrupt Town Resigns

Barry Moore, the mayor of Hampton, Fla., was arrested in November for allegedly selling pills to an undercover officer

It’s been a rough few months for Hampton, Fla., a town of 477 that made a name for itself as America’s worst speed trap and more recently as one of the most mismanaged towns in the country. On Tuesday, its mayor – who had been suspended by the governor and was in jail on charges he sold oxycodone to an undercover informant – resigned.

“I, Barry Layne Moore, being of sound mind and body, ask that you would please accept this letter as notification that I am leaving my position with the city of Hampton, effective immediately,” he wrote from jail.

Moore was arrested in November, just a month into his tenure, and suspended from his position as mayor by Gov. Rick Scott. Several months later, a state audit showed that Hampton violated two dozen city, state and federal laws and codes by keeping careless financial records, overpaying city employees and spending money without demonstrating public purposes, prompting Florida legislators to call for dissolving the town completely, selling its public assets and turning it into an unincorporated region within the county.

According to the Florida Times-Union, the town has until the end of the month to demonstrate that it has put its books in order or legislation will proceed to abolish it.

TIME Congress

Republican Jolly Wins Special Election in Florida

Candidate David Jolly arrives at the Indian Shores Town Hall to place his vote in the special election for Florida 13th Congressional District in Indian Shores, Fla., March 11, 2014.
Candidate David Jolly arrives at the Indian Shores Town Hall to place his vote in the special election for the Florida 13th Congressional District in Indian Shores, Fla., on March 11, 2014 Cherie Diez—The Tampa Bay Times / AP

Republican David Jolly, a former lobbyist, won a Florida special election after special-interest groups on both sides of the aisle poured money into a campaign that commentators widely viewed as a referendum on President Obama's sweeping health care reform

Correction appended: March 12, 2014, 9:50 p.m. E.T.

Former Republican lobbyist David Jolly will be laughing all the way to Washington after winning a special election on Tuesday to fill the congressional seat long occupied by Republican Representative Bill Young, his former boss who died in October.

Jolly’s victory ends one of the most expensive special elections in history: political parties and outside groups spent $9 million trying to win the evenly split district, which voted for President Obama in 2012, 50% to 49%. The victory gives Republicans at large momentum going into midterm elections to be held later this year.

Democrats recruited a great candidate for the Tampa-area district: Alex Sink, a former Florida chief financial officer who narrowly lost the state’s 2010 gubernatorial race against Republican Rick Scott — Sink won the district in that contest. Sink also outraised Jolly 3 to 1, or $1.2 million to Jolly’s $400,000, according to fourth quarter Federal Election Commission filings. Outside groups, weighted more Democratic than Republican, spent an astonishing $7 million-plus on television ads, mailings and get-out-the-vote efforts, making the race as expensive as a contested statewide senatorial campaign. Polls had Sink narrowly leading Jolly in the final stretch.

But the race took on an added dimension as Democrats and Republicans alike labeled it a referendum on the President’s health care overhaul — and, apparently, Obamacare is really that unpopular.

“Democrats are in grave, grave danger. Tonight, [House minority leader] Nancy Pelosi’s most prized candidate in the entire country was brought down because of Obamacare, President Obama and the Democrats total mishandling of our economy,” said Daniel Scarpinato, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, which works to elect Republicans to the House. “If a challenger with a $1.5 million cash advantage can’t win in a district President Obama won twice, where can Democrats win?”

Pelosi, though, said she still believes Sink’s message will prove true for Democrats in November. Sink was a test case for the Democrats’ 2014 women’s economic platform as the party seeks to turn out more female voters who trend Democratic. She also road tested their Obamacare messaging — Sink’s line at its core was “I support the Affordable Care Act but I also support major fixes.”

“From the beginning of this race, Democrats knew this would be an uphill battle — in a district represented by a Republican for the last 58 years, in a race where Republicans’ outside allies poured millions into a steady barrage of false attacks,” Pelosi said in a statement. “Though she came up short at the ballot box today, there is no doubt that Alex’s message and passion will continue to serve the best interests of her community.”

After Jolly’s victory, Democrats need to win 17 seats in November to take back the House. Jolly will have to run again this fall to win a full term. No word yet on whether Sink will seek a rematch.

An earlier version of this article misstated the name of the organization Daniel Scarpinato is affiliated with. It is the National Republican Congressional Committee, not National Republican Campaign Committee.

An earlier version of this article misstated the ratio by which Sink outraised Jolly. It is 3 to 1, not 4 to 1.

TIME animals

Florida Men Plead Guilty To Jumping On Manatees

Do NOT jump on manatees

+ READ ARTICLE

It should be one of those things that goes without saying, but for the record: Do not jump on manatees.

Two Florida have plead guilty to harassing the endangered species after a video appeared on Facebook that showed the two young men luring manatees to a dock and then jumping on them, prosecutors said on Friday.

The video shows Taylor Blake Martin and Seth Andrew Stephenson, both 22, luring manatees in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Stephenson used a hose to attract a manatee and her calf to a boat dock. When the peaceful sea cows neared, Martin cannonballed them.

Now the two men face up to a year in prison and a $50,000 fine, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Orlando. A sentencing date has not been set, but one can only hope the judge will consider letting the manatees jump on the men as part of their punishment for their heartless crime.

MORE: Woman Photographed Riding A Manatee Turns Herself In

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TIME Crime

Bail Set At $1.2 Million For Mom Who Drove Kids Into Ocean

Ebony Wilkerson
Ebony Wilkerson, left, talks to her assistant public defender Nora Hall during her first appearance before a Volusia County Court Judge, Saturday, March 8, 2014, in Daytona Beach, Fla. Jim Tiller—AP

Ebony Wilkerson, a pregnant South Carolina woman, was charged with three counts of attempted murder and child abuse Friday after steering a minivan carrying her young children into the Florida surf Friday

A pregnant mother who drove a minivan into the Florida surf, carrying her young children with her into the waves, had bail set for $1.2 million on Saturday.

Ebony Wilkerson told her screaming kids to close their eyes and go to sleep as she steered the car at a dizzying speed into the ocean Friday, authorities said. On Friday, the South Carolina woman was charged with three counts of first-degree attempted murder and child abuse with great harm, the New York Daily News reports.

Authorities said Wilkerson battled her nine-year-old son for control of the wheel before driving into the ocean, and then fought off rescuers who arrived on the scene to save her screaming children.

“We almost drowned and she did that on purpose,” her 10-year-old daughter allegedly told investigators. Authorities said Wilkerson’s son said their mother was “acting like a lunatic” and “she was going to kill us all dead.”

Wilkerson is said to have left her home in South Carolina with her children last Sunday to stay with her sister in Florida after reporting to local police that she had been attacked by her husband.

[NY Daily News]

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