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Tiger victim now fends off infection

An animal keeper who survived a mauling by a 400-pound Siberian tiger now must endure infection, nerve damage and circulation problems, doctors said Thursday.

Samuel Lee, 45, was in stable condition Thursday at Orlando Regional Medical Center, a day after a tiger at Savage Kingdom, a private breeding facility in Sumter County, crushed his left knee in its jaws. The animal was shot to death after attempts to tranquilize it failed.

Doctors who performed a seven-hour surgery on Lee said it was too early to tell whether the Webster man would have full recovery.

Lee floated in and out of consciousness Thursday, but his sister, Willie Mae Godfrey, said when she asked if he knew what happened he replied, "A tiger got me."

The tiger, named Nitchebo, escaped its den through an open sliding door while Lee was throwing chunks of beef into the cat's den, officials said.

Mothers arrested for children's truancy

JACKSONVILLE _ Three mothers who took part in an anti-truancy program were arrested Thursday and charged with failing to send their children to school.

Two of Denise Ann Payne's children have missed a total of 57 days of school this year and a third child never enrolled. Police charged Ms. Payne, 37, with failing to comply with state school attendance laws and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Two other single mothers, Joyce Ann Washington, 43, and Patricia Ann Morman, 42, were also charged.

The mothers were among some 200 parents who participated in a prosecutor's Truancy Arbitration Program. They failed to comply with a contract they had signed saying they would assure attendance of their children.

Bandit sentenced for truck heists

MIAMI _ The leader of a gang responsible for three armored truck robberies, including a $2-million heist that authorities think is the biggest in Florida history, was sentenced to 55 years in prison Thursday.

U.S. District Court Judge William Zloch sentenced Santos Acevedo for his role in the 1994 robberies. The heists were well-orchestrated attacks in public areas and the bandits were heavily armed. The total take was about $3.5-million.

In the first robbery, the gunmen took about $1-million from a Brinks truck in front of the state Health and Rehabilitative Services building in Hialeah in January, authorities said. In April, the gang stole about $550,000 from a Wells Fargo truck in Fort Lauderdale. In September the robbers took $2-million from a Brinks truck at an Outback Steakhouse in Coral Springs.

_ Compiled from wire reports.

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