5 Things to Know in Florida for Jan. 14

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

APPEALS COURT TAKES UP BLIND TRUST CASE

An appeals court is taking up a lawsuit challenging a law that lets elected officials place their assets in a blind trust. The 1st District Court of Appeal will hear arguments Wednesday in the lawsuit filed by a former aide of the late Gov. Reubin Askew. A circuit judge in late July ruled that the law that authorizes blind trusts is “reasonable.” The only public official who is using one is Gov. Rick Scott. Under the law Scott, a multi-millionaire, does not have to report each of his assets individually.

EX-BANK CHIEF SEEKS TO OVERTURN JURY VERDICT IN SEC FRAUD

The former chief executive officer of BankAtlantic Bancorp wants a judge to overturn a jury verdict or order a new trial in a Securities and Exchange Commission fraud case. The attorney for Alan Levan says in court documents that distortions and unsubstantiated argument by the SEC led jurors in December to incorrectly conclude that Levan misled investors about the bank’s financial health in 2007. Levan has insisted his statements to investors were accurate.

FLORIDA SEES INCREASE IN CALLS TO HUMAN TRAFFICKING HOTLINE

Florida child welfare officials say calls reporting suspected human trafficking in Florida have doubled since 2010. The hotline received nearly 1,000 calls last year, compared to 480 in 2011. The Department of Children and Families said Tuesday that the increase is a result of a successful awareness and education campaign about human trafficking. Secretary Mike Carroll says very few people are unaware of what human trafficking is, which was not true four years ago.

JAIL GUARD GUILTY OF STEALING INMATE IDS IN TAX SCHEME

A former corrections officer in northeast Florida has pleaded guilty to stealing the identities of jail inmates and filing false tax returns in their names. Harold Bush Walbey III, who worked at the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office for 20 years, faces 55 years in prison and up to $2 million in fines. Federal prosecutors say the 46-year-old Walbey used inmates’ Social Security numbers to open prepaid debit cards into which he funneled money from false tax returns.

ORLANDO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT TO START VALET SERVICE

Parking at Orlando International Airport is getting fancier. Airport officials said Tuesday that they will start offering valet service at the airport this week. The chairman of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority says travelers have been asking for valet service for some time. Travelers flying on participating airlines will be able to drive up to the departure level, drop off their car, have their luggage checked in through security and receive a boarding pass. The cost is $25 a day.

 

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