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Agency worker charged with falsifying records



Published: Sat, July 13, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Agency worker chargedwith falsifying records

LAKELAND, Fla. -- In another blow to Florida's child-welfare agency, a department investigator was charged Friday with falsifying records in the case of a 2-year-old boy who was beaten to death reportedly by his baby sitter for soiling his pants.

Erica Jones, who investigated child-abuse allegations for the state Department of Children & amp; Families, allegedly reported in her files that she visited the toddler July 1 -- the day police say the child was slain. The boy, Alfredo Montez, was found dead on the side of a road Thursday.

Jones, who had been at the agency for less than a year, turned herself in Friday and was released on $1,000 bond. Jones was fired, said DCF Secretary Kathleen Kearney.

Her attorney, Anthony LaSpada, said he could not comment on the charges against his client, who is pregnant. No one answered the telephone at her Land O'Lakes home.

The department is already under fire over the recent disclosure that it had lost track of 5-year-old Rilya Wilson of Miami while she was under state protection. Her disappearance went unnoticed for at least 15 months. She is still missing.

Restaurant diner dies;authorities seek cause

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- A man who was among at least 180 diners who became ill last month after eating at a Red Lobster restaurant has died, health officials said Friday.

The diner contracted salmonella poisoning, a food-borne illness caused by bacteria. Authorities were working to determine whether the illness, which is not often fatal, was the cause of his death.

Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department spokeswoman Judy Frank said there are 34 other confirmed cases of salmonella poisoning. Tests were pending in other cases.

At least 181 people reported becoming sick, suffering from vomiting, fever and diarrhea, and at least six were hospitalized after dining at the Red Lobster restaurant in Chattanooga on June 21 or 22, health officials said.

Army believes remainsare of WWII airman

FRANKFURT, Germany -- U.S. Army forensics experts have recovered several parts of a fighter plane, a piece of a life preserver and human remains they believe to be bone fragments of a missing pilot shot down over Germany during World War II.

Speaking from the heavily wooded site in the Thuringia Forest, members of the U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii said Friday they believed the remains were those of 2nd Lt. William Lewis, Jr.

Lewis, a member of the 8th Air Force's 55th Fighter Group, was shot down Sept. 11, 1944 in an infamous air battle over eastern Germany.

"Most of what we've got is aircraft wreckage," said Dr. Mark Leney, an anthropologist working at the site, adding they had also found part of a Mae West-style life preserver, a piece of leather that could be from a flight jacket or helmet and a survival compass.

"We also have fragments that are possible human remains. They will be repatriated to Hawaii for further analysis," Leney said.

Normally, the Army is not allowed to release the name of the serviceman they believe they have found until after the formal identification process, for fear of creating false hopes among family members. But Lewis' daughter knows about the recovery efforts and visited the site last month. Her identity was not released.

Ban on gay marriages

TORONTO -- An Ontario court ruled Friday that Canada's policy of refusing legal recognition of gay and lesbian marriages was unconstitutional.

The ruling by a three-judge panel of the Ontario Superior Court is a major step toward the formal recognition of homosexual marriages in Canada.

Under existing laws, marriage certificates are issued only to heterosexual couples, though gay and lesbian couples can get similar rights and privileges as licensed marriages.

Justice Heather Smith suspended Friday's ruling for two years to give the federal Parliament time to redefine the term marriage in Canadian law.

The case decided Friday involved two couples -- one gay and one lesbian -- married in 2001 using a Christian tradition of reading banns, or asking in church on three Sundays if anyone objects to a couple's marriage.

After the ceremony at the Metropolitan Community Church in downtown Toronto, the couples were given marriage certificates from the Rev. Brent Hawke. When they tried to have the marriages registered, provincial officials refused.

Associated Press




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