News at noon: IMG Academy suspends director of college entrance exam preparation; how to escape the heavy spring break crowds; and more

Here are the top five latest headlines and updates on
Check for the latest breaking news and developments.
Check for the latest breaking news and developments.
Published March 13

Here are the top five latest headlines and updates on

IMG Academy suspends Mark Riddell after college admissions bribery scandal

Bradenton’s IMG Academy has suspended its director of college entrance exam preparation after the Palmetto man’s name surfaced in a college admissions bribery scandal. The employee, Mark Riddell, faces charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. Federal authorities allege that Riddell cheated on standardized tests by taking the SAT or ACT in place of children.

Film explores case of Tampa-born man who escaped ‘lynching’ in Georgia

In the 1960s, a team of civil rights attorneys helped rescue James Fair Jr. from the death sentence he received in the rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl. Still, one of those lawyers always considered Fair a victim in a decades-long series of lynchings that plagued rural Early County in southwest Georgia. Fair was freed after 26 months of imprisonment. Early County never apologized to him nor pursued the real killer of the African-American victim. Clennon King, a Boston filmmaker, hopes to see those wrongs righted through a new documentary about Fair.

Brutal winter brings spring breakers to St. Pete Beach and Clearwater in droves

March and the roughly six-week spring break season are always strong for Tampa Bay's tourism industry. But this March could mark the first time Pinellas County collects $10 million in bed taxes over any month. It’s poised to be the busiest spring break yet, with the area’s airports expecting to see 20,000 more people than on a typical day. We wondered: Is any beach safe? Does the steady stream of vacationers mean that we have to give up our own time in the sun? Where are we supposed to go on our staycations, if not the beach? We asked our readers to weigh in.

Leap of faith preceded USF men’s basketball team's vault to respectability

At Brian Gregory's first meeting as USF coach two springs ago, 11 players showed up. By the next meeting, four remained. The April signing period was roughly a month away. Gregory and his staff had to work, and fast. “We couldn’t be choosy during that time,” he said. But they could be strategic. Gregory wanted at least three graduate transfers to help with the present, three freshmen to help for the future, and three “best available” prospects. Now, the Bulls (19-12) find themselves one victory from the program’s fifth 20-win season.

Some of Florida’s strangest cases involving emotional support animals

For a time, it seemed that you couldn’t scroll through a social media feed or have a conversation with a friend without broaching the subject of emotional support animals. Now the topic has once again resurfaced, this time in the Florida Legislature, as State Sen. Manny Diaz (R-Hialeah) proposes legislation that looks to limit the use of emotional support animals as a way to dodge paying apartment pet deposits or to allow a pet in a building that doesn’t generally accept them. Bizarre support animal stories seem to be a part of the fabric that is living in Florida. Let’s take a look back at some of the most interesting tales.

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