1. Archive

Appeals court gains new judge

Gov. Lawton Chiles said Thursday he has appointed Circuit Judge Philip J. Padovano to the 1st District Court of Appeal.

Padovano now serves as chief judge of the state's second judicial circuit, which covers the capital county of Leon and five neighboring counties.

The 1st DCA, one of five state appellate courts between trial courts and the state Supreme Court, covers 32 counties stretching across the Panhandle and North Florida.

Padovano, 49, received his law degree from Stetson University in 1973 and was elected to the bench in 1988. He fills the unexpired term of Judge Earle Zehmer, who died in May. The term ends in January 1988.

Bradenton HRS office cited

BRADENTON _ Supervisors in the Bradenton office of the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services behaved unprofessionally and verbally abused workers, the Inspector General's Office has found.

In a 38-page report released Wednesday, investigators found that one administrator verbally abused and humiliated employees in front of other workers and clients. Another supervisor often hugged and touched another worker, and spent long periods of time behind locked doors with him, the investigators said.

The inquiry was prompted by an anonymous letter March 26 that made allegations ranging from mismanagement and harassment to sexual misconduct at the office.

The letter writer said children were at "grave risk" from short staffing, which was linked to turnover caused by the mismanagement. But investigators said they found nothing to indicate that children were in danger.

Arrest follows disappearing act

TAVARES _ A man who disappeared off his boat five months ago in Lake County has turned up at a Brevard County marina as a salesman of machine guns and silencers, federal agents say.

Harry Martin Parrott, 29, a lawn worker wanted on a burglary charge, disappeared while fixing a boat motor on Lake Eustis. Police found the craft floating in weeds. On board, a box of tools lay open. Blood was found near the stern.

Investigators said it appeared Parrott fell overboard while working on the motor.

In March, someone called federal agents and said a man named Shawn had automatic weapons, silencers and antitank rockets for sale.

An undercover deputy met with "Shawn Montgomery" on May 15 on Merritt Island and ordered a silencer for a Uzi machine pistol. Over two months, the agent met with the man several times and bought weapons and silencers.

Shawn, identified as Parrott, was arrested along with Charles Wilburn, 36, of Leesburg, on Wednesday. Philip Dufrain, 81, of Tavares, also will be charged in the case, said federal prosecutor Angela Williams.

Wheelchair user attacked by men

CASSELBERRY _ Two men broke into a house, knocked a woman out of her wheelchair, dragged her by the hair, and slashed her with a razor in a robbery attempt Wednesday.

Kathy Walters, 35, was treated at Winter Park Hospital after the attack by the two men, who had solicited money from her earlier Wednesday, said Seminole County sheriff's spokesman Ed McDonough.

Ms. Walters, who has multiple sclerosis, said the two men, purportedly collecting for a charity, knocked on her door early in the day. About four hours later, the same men forced their way in, looking for cash, she said. They found none.

Court revives murder charges

CARSON CITY, Nev. _ Two murder charges against a former Miami police officer, dismissed last month in Reno, were revived Thursday by the Nevada Supreme Court.

The high court's unanimous, 11-page order reinstates the charges against David S. Middleton in the killings of Reno elementary school teacher Katherine Powell, 45, and Sparks casino worker Thelma Davila, 42.

In this case, justices said, "the circumstances of the disappearances of the women, the discoveries of their bodies in remote locations, tied with rope, wrapped in garbage bags, bitten severely, clearly creates a reasonable inference of their deaths by criminal agency."