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Latest from Gene Wexler

    A faulty truck led to a brush fire on a Daytona Beach golf course. An employee for a private company was treating for mosquitoes at the LPGA Golf Course on Thursday when his truck got stuck in the mud near a lake on the 16th hole. While trying to free the truck, a fire started and eventually became 20 foot by 20 foot in size. Daytona Beach Firefighters were able to successfully extinguish the truck fire and contain the growing brush fire. Nobody was injured.
  • The City of St. Cloud in Osceola County is inviting people downtown on Saturday to raise money for five local families who have children battling cancer or other life altering diseases. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday in downtown St. Cloud. Click here for the public event page that can be shared on Facebook. The page describes the event with the following: This event is to raise money for (5) local families who have childen battling cancer or other life altering diseases. All net proceeds will be divided amongst these families. We have 1 yr old Kaden, 3 yr old Dani, 7 yr old Landon, 12 yr old Nate and 15 yr old Mya.There will be food, raffles, bake sale, event merchandise, music, live auction and a kids zone. And don't forget lots of MONSTER TRUCKS, MUSCLE CARS AND CLASSIC VEHICLES!
  • New body camera footage released appears to show a Baltimore police officer planting drugs in an alleyway back in January.  The video is now being investigated by Baltimore police and prosecutors, according to the Baltimore Sun which originally published the footage.. The video shows three officers standing in an alleyway before the one recording appears to place a plastic bag of pills on the ground.  He and the two officers return to the street where he switches on his camera and returns to the alley to “find” the drugs. According to the Sun, body cameras record and save 30 seconds of video before activation, which explains why we have footage of the officer allegedly planting evidence with no audio. The man charged as a result of the alleged drug planting has been held since January, unable to pay a $50 thousand bail. Reporter Justin Fenton also says the video could demonstrate a recreation of the drugs discovery. Fenton writes the Baltimore State’s Attorney offered the man a three-year plea deal after reviewing the video, and the case was eventually dropped.  WBFF in Baltimore also confirms the case was dropped.
  • A federal judge on Tuesday denied a request from lawyers of the Pulse nightclub shooter’s wife, Noor Salman, to dismiss an obstruction of justice charge. Salman’s attorneys argued the charge should be dismissed because it was charged in the wrong venue, the U.S District Court’s Middle District of Florida in Orlando.   The alleged obstruction happened while she was being interviewed by the FBI in St. Lucie and Fort Pierce right after the attack.   Those two towns are located in the U.S. District Court’s Southern District of Florida. U.S. District Judge Paul G. Byron noted the crime Salman was being asked about happened in the place where she's charged.  He ruled Orlando “is proper” as a venue. Federal investigators believe Salman knew about husband Omar Mateen’s plans and even traveled with him to the Orlando-area to scout possible locations.  They say she then stonewalled investigators after the attack. Salman’s trial is scheduled to begin March 2018.  She’s also charged with aiding and abetting Mateen in his support of a terrorist organization.
  • A Fort Myers man who once owned a dietary supplement company that sold a product marketed as a “safe alternative to Adderall” was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison.  That product, along with others, contained a federally-banned derivative of amphetamine. Derek Vest, 52, will also serve a year of supervised release following his sentence, which is part of a plea deal requiring him to testify in other cases.  He must also forfeit the $2.5 million he made off the drugs between 2013 and 2014, when he sold more than two million pills. According to court documents, Vest was the president of GenTech Pharmaceutical, located in Fort Myers.  He oversaw the manufacture, marketing and sale of AddTabz, PhenTabz and PhenTabz-Teen.  The product was sold over the Internet, in stores and at various kiosks. AddTabz was marketed as a mental focus and performance tablet that was a safe alternative to Adderall.  GenTech also advertised them as a designer non-prescription pharmacological alternative that would improve memory, learning and overall brain function instantly. PhenTabz and PhenTabz-Teen were advertised as weight loss tablets. Federal prosecutors say Vest authorized the use of amphetamine derivative DMAA in the manufacture of various products including AddTabz, PhenTabz and PhenTabz-Teen.  He did not disclose the presence of the substance on the product labeling. The case was investigated by the Food and Drug Administration.   Best pleaded guilty on March 29, 2017.
  • A sinkhole that opened up in Pasco County is still making headlines in Florida a few days later.  It’s worth a reminder one of the many lakes in the Orlando-area began as a famous sinkhole. In May 1981, a giant crater opened up in Winter Park at the intersection of Fairbanks Ave and Denning Dr.  It eventually grew to a width of 350 ft and a depth of 75 ft, making it “the largest sinkhole event witnessed by man as a result of natural geological reasons or conditions,” according to geologist Jim Jammal, then Florida’s foremost expert on sinkholes according to The Guardian.  The sinkhole destroyed a car dealership and five Porsches, parts of two streets, an Olympic-dized swimming pool, and one three-bedroom house belonging to Mae Rose Owens. TV crews came from across the nation to film the sinkhole, which became a short-lived tourist attraction according to The Guardian.  People even sold “Sinkhole ‘81” T-shirts. Once the sinkhole stabilized it became a giant pond.  In 2005 it was named Lake Rose in honor of Owens who passed away.
  • A large sinkhole that swallowed one home and most of another on Friday morning in Pasco County is still growing. Officials in the Land O’ Lakes area estimate the hole to be 225-feet  wide and 50-feet deep.  A third home is now in danger of being swallowed as the hole continues expanding at a rate of two-feet per hour. Eleven other families who live nearby have been evacuated as a precaution.  The American Red Cross is helping them out. Officials set up a 200-foot-wide buffer around the hole as a safety precaution.  They said a sinkhole opened on the same property five years ago. Nobody was injured, and firefighters were able to rescue two dogs in the nick of time. (News 96.5 WDBO App users can click here to see video of the sinkhole.)
  • A search party in Daytona Beach is asking for volunteers to help them search for a missing Navy veteran on Saturday. Harold Cantrell has been missing since Wednesday, July 5th at 3:30 pm from the Indigo Palms Memory Care Facility (assisted-living).  His family says he served in the Korea War and now has Alzheimer’s disease. His family says they will be meeting with volunteers at Indigo Palms at 9 a.m., noon and 3 p.m. on Saturday to search the surrounding areas and canvass. Indigio Palms is located at 570 National HealthCare Drive in Daytona Beach. His family also hopes Cantrell still had the locator tile around his neck used at the assisted living facility. The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office is asking local residents to download the free TILE app and to keep it activated.  If anyone comes into range of Cantrell it will ping TILE and transmit his location.  TILE will contact the Sheriff’s Office automatically, so the family asks that people download the app and leave it activated until he’s found. For more details, volunteers can call coordinator Laura at (352) 502-9700. WFTV contributed to this report.
  • Krispy Kreme donuts are offering customers a dozen donuts for 80 cents on Friday.  The special offer is only for glazed donuts and requires customers to buy an initial order of a dozen donuts at the normal price. The company is celebrating its 80th birthday on Thursday and is pushing the celebration to Friday.  The first Krispy Kreme store opened its doors on July 13, 1937. An order of 12 Krispy Kreme donuts contains 2,280 calories, or 190 calories per donut.
  • A St. Cloud man could face the death penalty after he was found guilty on Thursday of murdering his 3 month-old son. Larry Perry was convicted of first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse.  The jury was unanimous. Investigators say he beat Ayden Perry at their home in February 2013, later leading to his death in the hospital.  Archie Guzman, Perry’s neighbor at the time, said in 2013 that the beating was so loud she could hear it from next door. Perry’s trial began Wednesday with the jury reaching a verdict by 2:30 p.m. on Thursday. One arrest report said Perry told investigators he harmed his son because he “couldn’t take it anymore.”  His defense team argued he has mental issues which should preclude him from the death penalty. The penalty phase begins on Monday with death a possibility. The case was one of 24 that Florida Gov. Rick Scott reassigned from State Attorney Aramis Ayala to State Attorney Brad King after she announced she wouldn't pursue the death penalty during her tenure. WFTV contributed to this report.
  • Gene Wexler

    Anchor

    Gene spent his youth in upstate New York before making the pilgrimage down to the sunshine state. After spending a few years reporting, anchoring, and hosting at our sister station WOKV in Jacksonville, Gene was asked to bring his talents to Orlando at News 96.5 WDBO

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The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • GOP leaders in the U.S. Senate seem ready to push ahead with a showdown procedural vote on a bill to overhaul the Obama health law, even without any assurance that they have enough votes to simply start debate, and without a final decision on what changes Senate Republicans might offer to a health care bill narrowly approved by the House in early May. While most of the attention this week will be on the machinations involving health care legislation in the Senate, the House will take the first steps on spending bills for next year’s budget, and vote on a revised plan for new sanctions against Russia, as the House gets ready to head home for an extended summer break. Here’s the latest from Capitol Hill: 1. Senate GOP bill on health care still in limbo. GOP leaders are still vowing to press ahead this week on a procedural vote that would begin debate on a House-passed bill to overhaul the Obama health law, but it’s not clear that Republicans have enough votes to take that first step. The absence of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) – diagnosed last week with brain cancer – is a big deal, since the White House needs every vote possible. Some still wonder if Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) might be convinced to at least vote to start debate – though he has made clear he is against the options that have been floated so far by top Republicans on health care legislation. As for Democrats, they’re still worried about a late rush to victory by the GOP. We saw what happened in the House of Representatives. They passed a bill after everyone thought it was dead. We can’t let that happen again. — Sen Dianne Feinstein (@SenFeinstein) July 23, 2017 2. Senate Parliamentarian knocks some holes in GOP plan. Because Republicans chose to use the expedited procedure known as budget reconciliation, the Senate rules play a much larger than normal role, and that has resulted in problems for a series of provisions in the bill. On Friday, the Parliamentarian said a dozen pieces of the Senate bill could be subjected to parliamentary points of order, which could only be overridden by a 60 vote super majority, something the GOP does not have. That includes provisions designed to block any federal dollars from going through the Medicaid program to Planned Parenthood. And the bill may have more holes poked in it on Monday, when the Parliamentarian goes over four other provisions. 3. Trump keeps pressing GOP on health care. While President Trump again pushed GOP Senators over the weekend to act on health care, his call for action doesn’t seem to be making Republicans in the Congress tremble at the thought of being the target of his ire – and for now, the votes aren’t there to get this Senate health care bill over the finish line. As I type this, it’s not even clear what the GOP might be voting on in the Senate as early as this week – if enough Senators decide to begin debate on the Senate floor. It’s a big week for Republican leaders in the Congress on health care – watch to see what the President says in public about the process, as well as GOP holdouts, and what he does behind the scenes to twist some arms of GOP Senators. Don’t count him out just yet. The Republican Senators must step up to the plate and, after 7 years, vote to Repeal and Replace. Next, Tax Reform and Infrastructure. WIN! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2017 4. House to pass Russia sanctions bill. After sitting on the measure for a few weeks, Republicans in the House will approve a plan that steps up sanctions on Iran and Russia – it was approved on a vote of 98-2 in the Senate. The House though, will add provisions dealing with North Korea, and send that back to the Senate for further action. It’s expected to be approved swiftly there. Behind the scenes, the White House has expressed frustration about the sanctions bill, because it would not allow President Trump to unilaterally roll back economic sanctions against Moscow. The vote comes as there has been more talk that the Trump Administration wants to give two compounds back to Russia, which were confiscated by the Obama Administration last December, in the first punishment for election interference in 2016. The only thing Republicans have fought Trump on are Russian sanctions… is he that upset that the GOP isn't protecting Trump through Putin? https://t.co/Ufvo9pqXDc — Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) July 23, 2017 5. House will leave town without passing all 12 funding bills. For weeks, House GOP leaders and rank-in-file lawmakers have told reporters that they were certainly going to have action on all twelve funding bills for the federal government. Reporters tried not to laugh out loud, knowing full well that was not likely. After this week, the House will be gone from Washington until Labor Day, and the plan is to jam four of the twelve funding bills into one package, and pass them in what’s known as a ‘minibus’ (the smaller version of the omnibus). Funding bills for the military, VA, energy and water programs, and the Legislative Branch (Congress) will be in that plan – but eight other bills will not voted on this week. And yet, the House will go home for five weeks. As you can see, a lot of budget work has not been done in both the House and Senate. Unfortunately, that has become standard procedure no matter which party is in charge. How many spending bills each chamber has passed — House got the last of its bills through cmte yesterday. 2.5 months until govt $$ runs out pic.twitter.com/TlwXVgspWa — Sean McMinn (@shmcminn) July 20, 2017 6. One odd provision in the minibus. One interesting choice made by Republicans this week is that the House will vote on money to build the border wall backed by President Trump – but not the underlying bill that funds the Department of Homeland Security. A provision for $1.6 billion to start work on the wall along the border with Mexico is part of the “Make America Secure” minibus appropriations bill – but the plan to actually fund Homeland Security operations won’t be voted on by the House – until after Labor Day. You can see the House schedule – a rare five day legislative work week is scheduled this week for the House, and then lawmakers head back home for five weeks. 7. Democrats look to force votes on Trump hotels. It wouldn’t be a debate on spending bills without some nettlesome votes being forced by the minority. This week, Democrats have asked for amendments that would prohibit government workers from staying at hotels owned or operated by President Trump’s family. One amendment gives the Defense Secretary the right to waive that on national security grounds; another amendment from Rep. Don Beyer (R-VA) gives a list of 40 different Trump hotels that would be off limits for federal government official business. Just one of the votes to look forward to this week in the ‘minibus.’ Democrats in the House try to stop federal workers from staying at Trump hotel properties https://t.co/ASJrKVr51q — Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) July 23, 2017 8. Not on the schedule – the GOP budget blueprint. While the House Budget Committee last week was finally able to approve a budget outline for 2018, that budget resolution won’t be on the House floor this week. Why? Because it doesn’t have the votes to pass at this point in time. That means any talk you hear from GOP leaders and/or President Trump about action on tax reform needs to be taken with a grain of salt, because that budget blueprint has to be approved by both the House and Senate before any votes on can take place on a tax bill – and since the House isn’t going to be back until after Labor Day, that means tax reform remains on hold in the Congress. So what’s next? Three important agenda items now loom –tax reform, debt ceiling and budget resolution. Path to each is somewhat unclear. — Charlie_Commodities (@lfucha) July 22, 2017 9. Tax reform must be ‘budget neutral.’ One story that didn’t get much play last week because of the GOP troubles on health care is a wonky type of detail from the GOP budget resolution – but it has a big impact on tax reform plans for Republicans. At issue is a provision that says any tax bill must be budget neutral; in other words, if you cut taxes – and therefore raise the deficit by cutting revenue – then you must offset that lost revenue. That most likely would mean getting rid of tax deductions and tax breaks, a plan that sounds great in theory, but is difficult in practice to get through the Congress. Eliminate or cut back on the mortgage interest deduction? Make health care benefits through your job into taxable income? Get rid of the business interest deduction? Lots of difficult choices. If you think health care is hard, tax reform will be even more difficult. 'Budget neutral' tax reform could mean some difficult choices for Republicans in the Congress https://t.co/BcWNLAIlPo — Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) July 22, 2017 10. Infrastructure – the missing Trump agenda item. Along with tax reform, there has been talk for months by the President, top Administration officials, and GOP lawmakers in Congress about voting for a bill to spur the construction of new roads and bridges. Mr. Trump has talked repeatedly about a $1 trillion public-private plan, but no proposal has been sent to the Congress, and none is expected until after Labor Day. Some thought the President should have started with this idea, since increased infrastructure spending is something that Democrats favor – but for a number of Republicans, that wasn’t a good idea, as they repeatedly opposed plans from the Obama Administration for more highway dollars. For now, this is going nowhere fast. Nobody knew infrastructure could be so complicated, complains President Trump https://t.co/QKpBhPMIhL pic.twitter.com/TMXjDW44xy — David Frum (@davidfrum) July 23, 2017
  • Tyler Swantek, 24, was already in custody on drug charges when police tacked on a first-degree murder charge. Police said he killed his father, Todd Swantek, and left the corpse on the couch for weeks. The Standard-Speaker reported that Swantek allegedly shot his father in the head with a rifle. >> Read more trending news Police reportedly were called to the scene in Frackville, Pennsylvania, in late May by a friend of Todd Swantek’s, who had not heard from the father for a month. When police entered the house, they found a gruesome scene: The badly decomposed body was on the couch, covered in blankets and a sleeping bag, the Standard-Speaker reported. Police said they searched the house and found the rifle, which they believe to be the murder weapon, in Tyler Swantek’s bedroom. There were a number of candles and air fresheners in the house, apparently put out in an attempt to mask the smell, the Standard-Speaker reported. Police said that when they interviewed Tyler Swantek about his father’s death, he showed no emotion. An autopsy report suggested that the body may have been on the couch for months before it was discovered. Swantek appeared in court where he asked for reduced bail for drug charges, but the judge didn’t agree to the deal. The judge reportedly said, “He’s a danger to himself and society.” Read more here.
  • As House Republicans move to consider the first bills to fund the operations of the United States government next year, Democrats are hoping to force votes on plans that would prohibit federal workers from staying at hotels and other properties in which President Donald Trump has a financial interest. The plans are being pushed by Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), a frequent critic of Mr. Trump, as Beyer hopes to bring them up for debate on four different funding bills that are scheduled to be voted on this week by the full House. The format is the familiar “funding limitation” amendment, in which ‘none of the funds’ can be used by the feds for certain purposes – in this case, staying at a hotel that is either owned or operated by the Trump family. The effort comes after press reports earlier this month, that the State Department spent over $15,000 to book rooms at the new Trump Hotel in Vancouver; the information was obtained by the Washington Post in a Freedom of Information Act request. For the bill that funds the operations of Congress, and programs of the Department of Veterans Affairs and Military Construction, the language spelled out above would block government workers from spending money to “pay or reimburse lodging expenses of a Federal employee or official in the course of official Government travel or business at any hotel or property in which the President maintains a financial interest.” For the spending bill that funds the operations of the Pentagon, Beyer’s plan would give the Secretary of Defense the power to waive those same prohibitions, “on a case-by-case basis,” on the grounds of national security. But in the funding bill for Energy and Water programs, Beyer’s amendment gets specific, listing over three dozen different Trump properties in the U.S. and around the world. It’s not clear if the plans will be considered during debate this week on these four funding bills, which are being grouped together into one ‘minibus’ funding measure, officially known as the “Make America Secure Appropriations Act.” The House Rules Committee will meet on Monday to sort through amendments proposed to the bill by lawmakers, and determine which ones should be debated.  
  • Multiple people were found dead early Sunday inside a semi-trailer in the parking lot of a San Antonio Walmart. >> Read more trending news >> Click here or scroll down for more
  • A 5-year-old Massachusetts boy whose story gained national attention when he learned he was getting a long-awaited heart transplant has died. Ari Schultz was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome and had to undergo two heart surgeries before he was even born. Earlier this year, after waiting nearly 200 days for a new heart, the family learned Ari would be getting one. >> Read more trending news On June 16, Ari came home from the hospital. On Thursday morning, the family posted on its Facebook page that Ari was taken to the emergency room for a seizure. After over a half-hour of CPR, he was placed on life support in the cardiac intensive care unit. The family posted on Friday evening that Ari passed away peacefully while listening to the Red Sox. Ari has two siblings, his sister Lexi and his brother Eli.