5 Things to Know in Florida for Dec. 16

Your daily look at news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today.

GUILTY PLEA SET IN SMUGGLING OF DODGERS’ PUIG

A guilty plea is scheduled for a South Florida businessman accused of helping finance the smuggling of Los Angeles Dodgers star Yasiel Puig out of Cuba. U.S. District Judge Robert Scola set a Tuesday plea change hearing for 40-year-old Gilberto Suarez, who had previously pleaded not guilty to an alien smuggling conspiracy charge. The charge carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence.

MOTHER WHO DROVE KIDS INTO OCEAN TO LEARN FATE

A South Carolina mother who drove her three children into the ocean off Daytona Beach will learn her fate during a court hearing on her mental health. During Tuesday’s hearing in Daytona Beach, psychologists who treated 33-year-old Ebony Wilkerson will offer their opinion on whether she needs to be forcibly hospitalized for treatment. A judge ruled last week that Wilkerson was not guilty by reason of insanity to child abuse. Prosecutors, in turn, dropped three attempted murder counts.

US SEEKS HALF-OFF PRISON TERM FOR ROTHSTEIN FIGURE

Federal prosecutors are asking a judge to cut in half the prison term imposed on a woman deeply involved in ex-lawyer Scott Rothstein’s $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme because of her extensive cooperation. Court documents filed Monday seek to reduce Debra Villegas’ sentence from 10 to five years. Villegas was chief operating officer at the now-defunct Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler firm in Fort Lauderdale and worked closely with Rothstein on the Ponzi scheme.

BODY OF MISSING MAN FOUND IN MARION COUNTY RIVER

A body found in the Ocklawaha River has been identified as a man who disappeared last week after going on a walk and never returning. The Marion County Sheriff’s Office reports that the body of 33-year-old Franklin Wayne Silcox Jr. was discovered by a boater in the river north of County Road 316 on Sunday. The Medical Examiner’s Office on Monday called the death an accidental drowning.

BLACK BEARS ON THE MOVE LOOKING FOR FOOD

Dropping temperatures in Florida has the state’s black bears on the move. State wildlife officials say the bears need to eat 20,000 calories a day during the winter and that causes them to come into areas where humans live. That can put people and bears in danger. Thirty bears have been euthanized this year because they posed a danger.

 

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