book confused with steamy 'fifty Shades'
The Florida-based author of a book called Shades of Gray says her work is repeatedly being confused with that of a chart-topping erotic fiction writer. Susanne Jacoby Hale says she has received e-mail, Facebook messages and phone calls from people thinking she wrote Fifty Shades of Grey. The latter book, by British author E.L. James, has sold millions of copies and become a sensation among women drawn to the sadomasochistic romance between a college student and a wealthy entrepreneur. Hale's book is about a dropout prevention teacher. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported that even Hale's family members are being approached. Her husband, a medical sales representative, said doctors regularly approach him wanting to talk about the book. Teachers and fellow students have asked their children about it also.
Farmers markets to handle food aid
Farmers markets in Florida will soon be able to begin accepting food assistance cards, even if they lack telephone lines or electricity. The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday announced it was giving the state nearly $79,000 to help farmers markets purchase wireless equipment so they can handle purchases made with the electronic cards that have replaced food stamps. The funding is being funneled through the state Department of Children and Families, which oversees welfare programs in Florida. Department Secretary David Wilkins said the grant money will give recipients access to local, healthy fresh food as well as provide more customers for small businesses.
Corrections officer accused of ID theft
A Miami corrections officer has been arrested after authorities say he was found during a traffic stop in Alachua County with tax refund debit cards, a large amount of cash in a rubber band and a detailed ledger containing the personal information of 323 people. The Gainesville Sun reported Daniel Maldonado, 28, of North Miami Beach was charged Thursday night with possession of counterfeit credit cards, dealing in the credit cards of others, making false statements to obtain credit cards and 323 counts of criminal use of ID info. He is being held at the Alachua County jail in lieu of bail of almost $350,000. It's unclear whether he's retained an attorney. A spokesman for the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice said Maldonado is a juvenile detention officer.
WEST PALM BEACH
Federal agency looks at schools
An official from the U.S. Department of Justice has visited eight schools in Palm Beach County as part of an investigation into the treatment of English-language learners. The Palm Beach Post reported that the department is investigating whether the district is too slow to arrange special education services for English learners. The department's civil rights division is also investigating the suspension of English learner students, and how the district enrolls students who are illegal immigrants. Barbara Briggs, an attorney with the Legal Aid Society, said she alerted the Justice Department about a student who has been suspended multiple times in part because he was never told the classroom rules in his native language. She also filed a complaint about district policies to register students not legally in the United States.