Local News

Charles Murphy News 8/15

News Cast for August 15th:

Okeechobee commissioners supported a tax rate at the roll back rate of 8.8 mills

Thursday, they considered lowering the law enforcement budget from 8.8 that was requested to 7.1 million. The county would have a 1.7 million dollar shortfall at the roll back rate, which means collecting the same amount of property taxes this year. Sheriff Paul May says Okeechobee benefits from tourism, with over 1 thousand jobs that brings in over 17 million dollars annually.

An 89 year old Bristol, Tennessee man was injured Thursday after a single vehicle accident on US 27 in Glades County. Calvin Roark lost control of a north bound Dodge Ram near county road 733 and the vehicle landed in a water filled ditch.   He was treated at Florida hospital in Lake Placid.

Classrooms and hallways were filled once again as Okeechobee students and families attended open house last night. Most schools were filled to the brim with students. The first day of class is Monday.

Among arrests, 26 year old Kenny Spencer was charged with fleeing city police on an ATV in Deans Court on North West 8th Avenue, speeds reached 80 miles per hour.

Okeechobee deputies investigating a house that was shot on South East 30th Terrace. A white midsize sedan with a loud muffler or engine is sought in the incident reported at 2:50 AM Thursday. Three shots apparently entered the home and destroyed a television set, there were no injuries reported. Damage was estimated at 25 hundred dollars.

Arrest Report for 16 year old Assault

Sports Cast for August 15th:

Yearling Middle School volleyball coach Kellyann Campbell said she will miss her first squad, as many 8th graders move on to play high school volleyball this year.

Yearling lost just one match last year and Campbell said it was a success. Campbell said she hopes a new class of volleyball players enters the school and keeps the tradition of success going this year. Campbell said they might lower the roster size because other schools often don’t have enough girls to play two matches. Yearling also held a camp in July and had a good turnout of girls of all ages.

They hope to make it an annual camp for 6 to 14 year olds.

OYFL football travels to Haines City to take on the Rattlers on Saturday.

SFWMD Set to Begin Construction on Key Piece of St. Lucie Project

SFWMD Set to Begin Construction on Key Piece of St. Lucie Project

C-44 System Discharge will also provide for additional water retention

West Palm Beach, FL — The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board today awarded a contract to begin construction on a component of the C-44 Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area in Martin County. The overall project will help capture, store and clean local stormwater runoff before it reaches the St. Lucie River and Estuary.

“It was just last month that the Board approved an agreement for the District to participate in construction in order to expedite this important project,” said SFWMD Governing Board Chairman Daniel O’Keefe. “Today’s contact award sustains this momentum and moves us a step closer to significant water quality improvements for the St. Lucie.”

The contract is for construction of a spillway that will serve as the single point of water movement out of the entire C-44 project. The contract award successfully puts to work approximately $60 million in funding from the Governor and Florida Legislature to benefit the St. Lucie Estuary.

Strategically completing the spillway early in the construction timeline will allow the District to store additional water on the project, helping to reduce excess water flow to the estuary—even before the reservoir and stormwater treatment area are complete. This work will allow water managers to retain up to 5.7 additional feet of groundwater within the 7,000-acre project site in western Martin County.

The approximately $5.4 million investment in the spillway follows a July agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the District to begin construction on 6,300 acres of stormwater treatment area (STA) in October, with a completion date of 2017. That larger contract will be considered by the SFWMD Governing Board next month.


When the project is operational, water will be pumped into the STA, which is a treatment wetland containing plants such as cattails, pickerel weed and bulrush. This vegetation removes and stores nutrients, including phosphorus, from the water before it flows into the St. Lucie River and Estuary.

The STA is critical component of the overall C-44 Reservoir Project, which will also include:

  • A 3,400-acre reservoir capable of storing about 16 billion gallons of water
  • A pump station capable of moving 1,100 cubic feet per second (cfs) of water, or about 717 million gallons a day, into the C-44 Reservoir

To date, the SFWMD has completed land acquisition and design for the STA treatment cells and the system discharge components. The Corps initiated the first phase of construction, which includes the project intake canal and access road, and will build the reservoir component. When the entire C-44 Reservoir and STA project is complete, stormwater runoff from the C-44 basin will be stored and cleaned before flowing into the river.

The St. Lucie River and Estuary is part of the larger Indian River Lagoon system, the most diverse estuarine environment in North America. It is home to more than 4,000 plant and animal species, including manatees, oysters, dolphins, sea turtles and seahorses.

For More Information:

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Arrests Tampa Man on Charges of Grand Theft, Telemarketing Violations

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Arrests Tampa Man on Charges of Grand Theft, Telemarketing Violations

Arrest Also Made on Illegal Charity Activity, One Still Wanted      

Tallahassee, FL – Officers with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services arrested Dean Sherwood of Tampa on Wednesday and charged him with 40 counts, including grand theft, unlicensed activity and organized scheme to defraud consumers.

“Thanks to the thorough investigation and swift action taken by our officers, there’s one less scammer stealing thousands of dollars from Floridians,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam.

Last year, the department was notified of alleged illegal activity by Executive Transfer and Recovery LLC, operated by Dean John Sherwood (DOB 2/5/65), of 6711 North 78th St. in Tampa. The business would conduct unsolicited cold calls to consumers who owned time shares and deceive these victims by promising the times shares had been sold.

Executive Transfer would then instruct the victims to send money to the business for closing costs and other fees to execute the sale, then sever all forms of communication with the victims. Investigators identified suspected financial theft of $272,737 from 13 victims, which had been deposited in several different bank accounts associated with the company.

Sherwood was arrested and booked into Hillsborough County Jail without bond. He was charged with one count of Organized Scheme to Defraud (first-degree felony), four counts of Grand Theft of the Second Degree (second-degree felony), nine counts of Grand Theft of the Third Degree (third-degree felony), 13 counts of Unlicensed Telephone Solicitation (third-degree felony), and 13 counts of Unlicensed Real Estate Activity (third-degree felony).

In addition, warrants were issued Wednesday for two men in connection with illegal charitable activities. In 2013, a former employee of Florida Veterans Assistance Corp alerted the department to the charity’s questionable activities, including soliciting funds without being registered as required by state law and spending those funds on activities not related to the charitable cause.

Gul Moryani (DOB 1/14/63) of 14840 SW 54th St. in Miramar, was arrested Wednesday and charged with seven violations of the Solicitation of Funds statute, all third-degree felonies. Dan Soat (DOB 8/13/58) of 817 S. Palmetto Ave. in Daytona Beach, has absconded from his address and is still wanted.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is the state’s clearinghouse for consumer complaints, protection and information. Consumers who believe fraud has taken place can contact the department’s consumer protection and information hotline at 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352) or, for Spanish speakers, 1-800-FL-AYUDA (352-9832).

For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit www.FreshFromFlorida.com.

Florida Man Admits Role In International Murder Conspiracy And Sale And Smuggling Of Deadly Toxins

Florida Man Admits Role In International Murder Conspiracy And Sale And Smuggling Of Deadly Toxins

TRENTON, N.J. – A Florida man today admitted producing and selling potentially deadly toxins ricin and abrin for use as weapons and conspiring to kill a woman in the United Kingdom, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Jesse William Korff, 19, of LaBelle, Florida, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Peter G. Sheridan in Trenton federal court to an information charging him with five counts of developing, producing, transferring and possessing toxins, five counts of smuggling toxins and one count of conspiring to kill a person in a foreign country.

Korff was arrested in Florida on Jan. 18, 2014, following a joint investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) and the FBI.

“Jesse Korff admitted producing and selling potentially deadly toxins to strangers over the Internet,” U.S. Attorney Fishman said. “Working in the shadows of a secretive computer network favored by cybercriminals, he peddled his poison on a virtual black market of illegal and dangerous goods. Today he admitted he was in the midst of aiding an overseas customer in an attempted murder. Thankfully, an undercover law enforcement officer posing as a buyer was able get Korff off the street before he could conclude the transaction.”

“HSI has worked tirelessly with our law enforcement partners to shutter underground websites such as BMR and arrest those responsible for reckless and dangerous illegal activity,” Andrew McLees, special agent in charge of HSI Newark, said. “Anyone involved in the sale of toxins designed for use in chemical terrorism must be stopped, and this guilty plea shows HSI’s commitment to stopping individuals who show callous disregard for public safety in the interest of making a buck.”

“The overriding focus of the FBI’s WMD Directorate, and the primary focus of the FBI’s overall efforts is prevention,” Aaron T. Ford, Special Agent in Charge of FBI, Newark, said. “To keep the threat posed by Korff from becoming a reality, the FBI leveraged subject matter experts to include WMD coordinators, special agent bomb technicians, hazardous evidence response teams, surveillance and computer forensics personnel to disrupt the activities of Korff. The intensive three-day search, evidence collection, analysis and investigation uncovered an international nexus to Korff. Working through FBI legal attachés, information gleaned from the investigation was communicated to foreign law enforcement partners to disrupt international subjects.”

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

In April 2013 HSI special agents began investigating illicit sales activity on an underground Internet marketplace known as “Black Market Reloaded” (BMR). The website provided a platform for vendors and buyers to conduct anonymous online transactions involving biological agents, toxins, firearms, ammunition, explosives, narcotics and counterfeit items.

From August 2013 through January 2014 Korff maintained a seller’s profile on BMR under the screen name “Snowman840.” He advertised the sale of deadly toxins and provided his prospective purchasers with information about quantities necessary to kill a person of a given weight, along with instructions on how to secretly administer the toxin to avoid suspicion. Korff sold ricin and abrin to international purchasers in India, Austria, Denmark and England. He smuggled the toxins from Florida to the international purchasers by concealing the toxins in packages sent through the U.S. Postal Service.

In December 2013 Korff provided a quantity of abrin to a purchaser in London who claimed she intended to kill her mother. After the purchaser’s receipt and administration of the initial dose, which she claimed was ineffective, Korff agreed to provide a second quantity of the toxin in order to assist the purchaser in the implementation of the murder plot.

Before Korff had an opportunity to smuggle the second dose of abrin to the London purchaser, a federal undercover agent contacted Korff through BMR and negotiated the sale of two liquid doses of abrin. Korff told the buyer about his delivery methods – concealing vials in a carved-out and re-melted candle – and discussed how much abrin was needed to kill a person of a particular weight and how best to administer the toxin. Korff also assured the buyer that a victim’s death would appear to be similar to a bad case of the flu.

Following Korff’s arrest, FBI agents searched Korff’s property over three days and recovered several computers, castor beans, rosary peas, capsules, vials, jars, syringes, filters, respirators and other items commonly utilized in the manufacture, production, sale, packaging, and shipping of toxins and chemical substances. Among the items recovered was a liquid dose of abrin that Korff had intended to ship to the London purchaser.

The toxin and murder conspiracy charges to which Korff pleaded guilty carry a maximum potential penalty of life in prison and a $250,000 fine. The smuggling charges carry a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 21, 2014.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of HSI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge McLees in Newark, New Jersey; special agents of the FBI in Newark, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Ford; and FBI special agents under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Paul Wysopal, Tampa Division, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea. He also thanked HSI in Ft. Myers, Florida, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Susan McCormick, for their work. The U.S. Attorney also thanked the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, including the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Glades County, Henry County and Lee County, Florida, sheriff’s offices for their assistance. Vital support was provided by the Justice Department’s National Security Division Counterterrorism Section and FBI WMD Directorate in Washington, the FBI Laboratory Division, the DHS National Bioforensic Analysis Center; the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida; and the London Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), SO15 Counter Terrorism Command, under the direction of Commander Duncan Ball.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dennis C. Carletta of the U.S. Attorney’s Office National Security Unit in Newark.


Defense counsel:  David Holman Esq., Newark

Korff, Jesse Information

Charles Murphy News 8/14

News Cast for August 14th:

A 48 year old Okeechobee man, Richard Holcker was critically injured last week in a three vehicle chain reaction crash at the intersection of US 441N and NW 240th Street. The sheriff’s office says Holcker ran a stop sign in a Dodge Dakota pickup and collided with a south bound Porsche driven by 57 year old Stephen Cooper of land O Lakes. Both vehicles then collided with a northbound Ford F 150 pickup driven by 60 year old Mark Harrison of Fort Pierce. Holcker was flown to Lawnwood regional. Cooper and his passenger, 15 year old Ryan Cooper were treated at Raulerson Hospital. Harrison was unhurt.

Okeechobee school teachers got an inspiring message from Florida teacher of the year for 2014, Dorina Sackman, Wednesday. She spoke on inspiration and how important a teacher’s role is in education and society as a hole.

Among arrests, 59 year old Casper Ellick of Canal Point was charged with aggravated battery after allegedly attacking his wife with a broom.

In the courts, 19 Jesse Korff of Labelle pled guilty this week to producitng and selling toins and conspiracy to kill a woman in the United Kingdom, he’ll be sentenced in November.

Sports Cast for August 14th:

Lonnie Pryor continues to work for a job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He saw some game action versus Jacksonville last week with one carry for a first down on third down, and also saw action on special teams. Pryor is listed second on the depth chart at fullback but is taking nothing for granted in his battle for a roster spot. Pryor says he thought joining the Bucs was a good decision because he wanted to play and didn’t want to miss an opportunity.

He lives in Tampa full time buying a home off Dale Mabry last year less than five minutes away from the stadium.

Pryor says he was happy when Florida State won the national championship but admits he would have liked to have been still with the Noles. He still cherishes the teams ACC championship and all the bowl games he got to play in.




~It Only Takes One Storm to Change the Landscape of a Community~
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Ten years ago today, Hurricane Charley made landfall near Port Charlotte in Southwest Florida as a Category 4 storm, making it the strongest storm since Hurricane Andrew to impact Florida. On the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Charley, Florida’s residents and visitors are reminded to have a family emergency plan and a disaster supply kit. It only takes one storm to significantly impact your family, business, and community.

“Hurricane Charley was the first of four hurricanes to impact Florida during the 2004 season. Florida’s State Emergency Response Team worked together to provide support during the response and recovery of the storm,” said FDEM Director Bryan W. Koon. “The 2004 hurricane season produced some of the most devastating hurricanes in Florida’s history and serves as a reminder that hurricanes can change the landscape of a community.”

Hurricane Charley’s impact was felt across the state as it made its way through the Central and Eastern counties before exiting the state near New Smyrna Beach. Charley left behind an estimated $15 billion in damage and was just the first of four hurricanes to impact Florida that year.

Floridians are encouraged to review and update their family and business emergency plans using the Get A Plan tool available at www.FLGetAPlan.com. It is also important to keep your disaster supply kit stocked with essentials, including canned food and water, to last you and your family for up to 7 days after a storm hits.

Case #14S14101Press Release

Case #14S14101

On August 8, 2014, at approximately 6:07 a.m., deputies responded to 531 NE 13 Avenue, Okeechobee, Florida in reference to a shooting. Upon arrival, victim William Curry, a personal trainer and MMA fighter, was found with gunshot wounds. He was transported to Raulerson Hospital, where he later succumbed to his injuries.

Detectives interviewed witnesses at the scene and discovered that McBride had gone to Curry’s residence to purchase illegal drugs. Once it was determined that Curry did in fact have drugs, Spencer and Spivey then went to the house and attempted to rob Curry. Curry wrestled with both suspects and was able to take a weapon from one of the suspects. That gun was later found lying next to Curry. During the robbery, Curry was shot three times and Spivey was shot once. Seven spent shell casings were located inside victim’s home.

Information was received that two male subjects and one female were at Highlands Regional Medical Center for a gunshot wound to one of the male subjects. Okeechobee County detectives responded to Highlands Regional to interview these subjects, later identified as Travis Spencer, Terrance Spivey and Latisha McBride. McBride drove suspects to Highlands Regional Medical Center for treatment

A confidential informant provided information of another location where another gun could be found; a search was completed and a second gun was recovered; both Spencer and Spivey were armed during the robbery; both weapons were recovered.

A search warrant was obtained for the suspect truck, Ford F-150 white pick-up; search conducted 8/12/14; recovered items that will be processed for DNA.

A fourth subject, Curtis Hardy was arrested on unrelated charges to the homicide. Hardy was not involved in the homicide.

No further information to be released at this time.


Michele Bell

Public Information Officer

Charles Murphy News 8/13

News Cast for August 13th:

Jose Gamez

Jose Gamez

Accused killer, 25 year old Travis Spencer allegedly tried to commit suicide Monday night at the Okeechobee county jail. Spencer apparently cut his left wrist multiple times with a razor blade and was treated at Raulerson Hospital. He is accused of shooting 39 year old Will Curry in Douglas Park last Friday morning in an apparent attempted robbery of the victims apartment.

A 26 year old Okeechobee man, Jose Gamez was charged with leaving the scene of an accident with property damage for allegedly running over a bar patron in Ft. Pierce near the Guadalajara nightclub. Fort Pierce police caught up to Gamez before he left the city and the victim suffered a compound leg fracture and other injuries.

Gamez Arrest Report

Martin county deputies investigating an assault on 29 year old inmate, Milton Randolph at Martin Correctional near Indiantown, he was reportedly critically injured, perhaps battered by multiple inmates.

Okeechobee County is enthused about the support they’ve been able to muster for a possible natural gas power plant that could be developed in north east Okeechobee County.

Florida Power and Light spokesperson Pam Rauch said there will be no quick decision on where the company builds. She noted the economics aspect with business nearby is very appealing. The county has offered some tax breaks should the lucrative power plant decide to come to Okeechobee County.

Administrator Robbie Chartier says she feels the county has a shot at this.

Sports Cast for August 13th:

Joe Turbush took home the Brahman Award for Okeechobee wrestling this year. Turbush wrestled at 160 pounds and was a regional qualifier. He said the award was a complete surprise. Turbush had just one win as freshmen but earned 157 points this past year. He said former wrestlers helped him improve and he worked hard.

He expects the team to be competitive again this year. More than 3 dozen cheerleaders have come out to assist the Okeechobee Youth Football league this season.

Cheer coordinator Jennifer Lafferty said they did more recruiting of coaches and cheer leaders.

She said the girls are important to the overall football program.

Ages 4 to 13 are represented on the cheer leading squad.




Many of Florida’s children are returning to school this month on bike and by foot. Here are some helpful   safety tips:

  • Bicycle Safety
  • Make sure all equipment on the bicycle is in working order (brakes, gears, tires, etc.).
  • All bicycle riders and passengers under age 16 are required by Florida Law to wear a helmet.
  • Always wear a properly fitted helmet and securely fasten the strap.
  • Wear appropriate shoes (such as sneakers). Avoid wearing flip-flops or riding barefoot.
  • Be seen. Wear neon or fluorescent or bright colors when riding and wear something that reflects light (reflective shoes, reflective tape, etc.).
  • Avoid wearing headphones so that you can hear the traffic and pedestrians around you.
  • Ride in the same direction of traffic and stay as far to the right as possible. Use bike lanes whenever you can.
  • Obey all traffic laws when riding on the roadway. If crossing a roadway upon or along a crosswalk, abide by pedestrian crossing guidelines.
  • Always ride with your hands on the handlebars. Put items like books in a backpack or carrier.
  • Never attach yourself or your bike to any vehicle on a roadway.
  • When riding with other cyclists, ride single file.
  • Never text and ride.
  • Avoid riding at night. If riding between the hours of sunset and sunrise, Florida Law requires that the front of the bike be equipped with a lamp which exhibits a white light visible for 500 ft, and the rear of the bike be equipped with a lamp and reflector, both which exhibit a red light visible for 600 ft.
  • Cross at intersections and never pull out into the roadway from between parked cars.
  • If riding on the sidewalk or in a crosswalk, yield to pedestrians and give them an audible signal (such as, “passing on your left”) before overtaking and passing them.
  • Pedestrian Safety
  • Walk on the sidewalk if there is one. If no sidewalks are present, walk against the direction of traffic so that you can see oncoming vehicles.
  • Cross the roadway at corners or in crosswalks. Cross where pedestrians are expected.
  • Never enter the street from between parked cars. Always use a crosswalk.
  • If crossing mid-block cannot be avoided, pedestrians must yield right of way to vehicles on the roadway.
  • Be seen. Wear bright, reflective colors on clothes, shoes hats, and wristbands. Carry a flashlight when walking at night.
  • Pedestrians should move along the right half of the sidewalk whenever possible.
  • Do not text while walking.
  • Avoid wearing headphones so that you can hear the traffic and pedestrians around you.
  • Crosswalk Safety
  • Follow pedestrian signs and signals. Pedestrians should yield right of way to vehicles if the crosswalk signal is red or “Don’t Walk.”
  • Stop at the curb or the edge of the road if there is no curb. Stop and look left, then right, then left again for moving vehicles before you step into the street.
  • If a car is parked where you are crossing, look to make sure there is no driver and that the car is not running. Then walk to the edge of the car and look left-right-left to see if cars are coming.
  • When the crosswalk is clear (and signal indicates it is time to cross), walk—don’t run—across the roadway.
  • Always watch for traffic when crossing the street.
  • Never text or look at cell phone while crossing the street.

Charles Murphy News 8/12

News Cast for August 12th:

Wheeler, 18

Wheeler, 18

In the courts, 23 year old Laron McNeil was sentenced to 7 years in prison for trafficking of 22 grams of met amphetamine. The narcotics task force seized drugs and 57 hundred dollars in suspected drug cash last September 11th in the 5 hundred block of North East 17th Avenue. McNeil pled to cocaine and burglary charges.

Among arrests 18 year old Andrew Wheeler was charged with child abuse for allegedly assaulting a 16 year old, in an incident allegedly caught on video. City police say the teen was found lying in the 5 hundred block of South West 6th Street by a motorist Saturday morning. He was treated for a concussion and other injuries at Raulerson Hospital. City police say alcohol appeared to be involved along with underage drinking.

24 year old Pascual Ortiz is charged with lewd and lascivious battery on a 14 year old girl on Saturday, bond was 25 thousand dollars.

Dr. Barry Hummel spoke on the possible dangers of E cigarettes and also predicted medical marijuana in Florida will have impacts on the work place during a recent presentation to the Okeechobee community collaborative council. He noted a ballot amendment this year could have far reaching impacts because it will bring issues into the workplace and public places.

He said that will impact kids who see the use of marijuana and think that it is safe.

Sports Cast for August 12th:

Wildcats Jamboree

Wildcats Jamboree

Dylan Walker was named the Yearling award winner at the middle school soccer banquet. Walker had not been able to make the active roster for two years but kept trying to make the squad, finally making it last year as an eighth grader. Walker said it hurt when he didn’t make the team in sixth or seventh grader, but he got over the disappointment and became more determined. He said he felt on top of the world when he made this year’s roster.

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