Saturday, October 29, 2016

Mercedes Ruckman Dies At 89

Mercedes G. Dzan Ruckman, age 89, of LaBelle, passed away October 27, 2016 in Fort Myers.

She was born July 6, 1927 in Punxsutawney, PA, to Alfred Earl and Mary Rita (Grescock) Edmondson. She married Charlie Dzan, he preceded her in death, she later married Sherwin Ruckman, and he also preceded her in death. 

She worked for 35 years as a nurse. Mercedes was a long time resident of Country Village in Port Labelle. Mercedes was a woman who prayed for others often, she was loving, kind and generous and had a great personality. She never met a stranger, she enjoyed talking to any and every one she met. She enjoyed to ski, Ice skate, roller skate and dance. She was a member of Women's Auxiliary for VFW and American Legion Ladies Auxiliary. She always had a smile on her face and was always happy.

Mercedes leaves behind her three daughters; Pamela Mirowitz, Paula Scott, and Timothea Dzan, loving and constant companion for many years; Bob "Helicopter Bob" Landis, seven grandchildren and one great grandchild and many close family friends.

Graveside service will be 10:00 a.m. Wednesday, November 2, 2016 in Fort Denaud Cemetery. Visitation will be 6-8 p.m. Tuesday at Akin-Davis Funeral Home – Labelle.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Cow Hunters Present Felda Program Oct, 27

FELDA, FL. -- LaBelle Heritage Museum presents it's October Program "Hunting Wild Cows ~ The Big Cypress and the Glades: 1900 - 1965" at the Felda Community Center tomorrow. 

The presentation was postponed because of Hurricane Matthew and has been rescheduled for presentation at the Felda Community Center on the corner of the North Felda Loop Road (CR-830) and North Willis Ranch Road tomorrow evening at 7 o'clock, October 27.
Jim Hull said he expects to start setting up his display for the program at 3 o'clock Thursday afternoon. This should be an excellent program because Jim, Kirby Williams and Ronnie Raulerson are all members of South West Florida pioneer families and all started hunting cows when they were knee high to a grasshopper.

The Felda Community Center will be set up for an audience of 100; so, bring your friends and neighbors and come enjoy a terrific program.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

FBI & U.S. Attorney Ready For Nov. 8 Election Complaints

Tampa, FL - Assistant United States Attorney Robert Mosakowski will lead the efforts of his Office in connection with the Justice Department’s nationwide Election Day Program for the upcoming November 8, 2016, general elections. He is responsible for overseeing the District’s handling of complaints of election fraud and voting rights abuses, in consultation with Justice Department Headquarters in Washington.

Federal law protects against such crimes as intimidating or bribing voters, buying and selling votes, impersonating voters, altering vote tallies, stuffing ballot boxes, and marking ballots for voters against their wishes or without their input. It also contains special protections for the rights of voters and provides that they can vote free from acts that intimidate or harass them. Such acts may include questioning, challenging, photographing, or videotaping voters at polling places, under the pretext of uncovering violations of federal voting rights laws. Further, federal law protects the right of voters to mark their own ballot or to be assisted by a person of their choice.

In order to respond to complaints of election fraud or voting rights abuses on November 8, 2016, and to ensure that such complaints are directed to the appropriate authorities, United States Attorney Bentley stated that Mosakowski will be on duty in this District while the polls are open. Public complaints may be reported to him at (813) 274-6129.

In addition, the FBI will have special agents available in each field office and resident agency throughout the country to receive allegations of election fraud and other election abuses on Election Day. Local FBI field offices can be reached by the public at either (813) 253-1000 (Tampa Division) or (904) 248-7000 (Jacksonville Division).

Complaints about possible violations of the federal voting rights laws also may be made directly to the Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section in Washington, DC either by phone at 1-800-253-3931 or (202) 307-2767, by fax at (202) 307-3961, by email to, or by complaint form at

United States Attorney Bentley said, “The Department of Justice will act promptly and aggressively to protect the integrity of the electoral process.”

Monday, October 24, 2016

Palmdale Cracker Store Destroyed By Fire

PALMDALE, FL. -- The Palmdale Cracker Store has been destroyed by fire after a blaze started on the second floor. Owner Larry Taylor had reopened the wood frame structure with a store and restaurant in 2015.

The Glades County Sherriff’s Office Dispatch was notified on October 21, 2016 at approximately 8:00 am that flames could be seen from the second story window of the Palmdale Cracker Store. 

Moore Haven Central District was paged out and arrived on scene soon after. It was discovered that the second floor of the building was fully engulfed.

EMS Station 3, Tanker 20, Buckhead Ridge Fire Department, Lake Port Fire Deparmtment, and Ortona Fire Department assisted. Mutual Aid was called with Clewiston Fire Department, LaBelle Fire Department, Felda Fire Department and Lake Placid Fire Department. 

Emergency Management was on scene to assist with responder relief and called in the American Red Cross to assist with a displaced tenant. The State Fire Marshall arrived on scene that afternoon but an official cause of the fire is still undetermined. 

No one was injured during the incident. The structure has been deemed a complete loss.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Fall Harvest Festival October 30

LABELLE, FL. -- On Sunday evening October 30th at 6 p.m. LaBelle Assembly of God is having a community wide Harvest Festival as an alternative to Halloween. This is a no charge event for the children and Adults of our community.

Harvest Fall Festival Carnival
October 30th Sunday 6:00 p.m.
LaBelle Assembly of God
123 Fraser Ave.
Across from the Edward Upthegrove Elementary School.

Free Hot Dogs, games, and lots of candy! Wear your favorite costume or not and enjoy an evening of family fun. Everyone welcome and everyone is a winner. The best games anywhere, 

The people of LaBelle Assembly of God are Sponsored by Disabled American Veterans 144 & T&M Tree Service, Todd Dye president.  This years Festival chairman is Richard Robinson Jr. He is looking for volunteers to run the games, as a labor of love! Everyone Welcome, See you there. For More information Call 675-0900

Friday, October 21, 2016

State Road 29 Four-Lane Project November 3

LABELLE, FL. -- The Florida Department of Transportation is hosting a Public Information Workshop as part of the Project Development and Environment (PD&E) study for proposed improvements to State Road (SR) 29 from CR 80A (Cowboy Way) to CR 731 (Whidden Road) in Hendry and Glades Counties, Florida.

FDOT will hold the workshop from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, November 3, 2016 at the LaBelle Civic Center, 481 Highway 80 West (behind City Hall), LaBelle, Florida. The meeting will be in an informal, open house format. You may attend at any time during the open house to view project displays and speak with project team members. We will show a video slide show continuously during the workshop that will describe the project and the study process.

Please note the limits of this PD&E study have been shortened to only include the section of SR 29 from CR 80A (Cowboy Way) to Whidden Road. The study proposes adding two lanes to the existing SR 29 from County Road (CR) 80A (Cowboy Way) to CR 731 (Whidden Road) in Hendry and Glades Counties.

FDOT is sending this notice to all property owners whose property lies, in whole or in part, within 300 feet on either side of the center line of SR 29, Main Street and Bridge Street, from Cowboy Way to US 27 (even though they may not be directly affected). We encourage all interested people to attend and express their views regarding the project and information presented.

FDOT solicits public participation without regard to race, color, national origin, age, sex, religion, disability, or family status. People who require special accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act or who require translation services (free of charge) should contact Shelly Smith, District One Title VI Coordinator, (863) 519-2671, e-mail at least seven days prior to the workshop.

For more information about the SR 29 study, please contact FDOT project manager Gwen Pipkin at863-519-2375 or e-mail at or visit the project website

Walking Through Osceola County, Florida - Bob Kranich

Excerpts from A Walk Across Florida by Bob Kranich

You can continue to see just how much fun I have had with the people I met on my hike. They are still coming on, each day brings another discovery!

Pulled over by a Osceola County Sheriff’s Deputy....and I was only going 2 1/2 miles per hour!

I made Narcoosee by 2:30 PM. By the distance I had traveled I calculated that I was traveling 2 1/2 miles per hour. When I got to 441 in Aston, I headed west towards St. Cloud. It was there that I met a couple of young boys on bicycles. They were astonished to see a real backpacker with a great big red pack. They wanted to talk and we did as we moved along. I saw them off by giving them some of the strawberry licorice I used for a treat as I hiked.

I guessed I made a hit in town. Everyone looked, and I in turn, waved. I must have startled a blonde girl in a truck at a stop light, because after her initial surprise, she laughed. A girl in a drug store waved and that is where I finally got the last three rolls of film I needed.

I headed South. Once I got out of town a couple of miles, I started seeing a lot of scratch-off black tire marks on this deserted two-lane road. I figured it was a place for the local hot rodders to try out their cars, and then match off to see who was the fastest. I myself was a hot rodder once. In the late 60’s and early 70’s, I had a 1936 Ford 5 window coupe, channeled 4 inches, with motorcycle front fenders and a hundred horse flathead engine with a 3/4 cam. I never drag raced on the street, only on the strip. I am however guilty of scratching off and leaving black tire marks a few times.

It was late afternoon and I was tired. I stopped along the side of the road and just lay down in the sand and grass and put my head on my pack. While I was lying there I heard a car go by. It was the first one all afternoon.

This sure was a quiet road I thought as I got back up and was off again. Guess what, just a few miles farther I noticed a car pulling off on the other side a short distance ahead of me. A man got out and put on his hat and I could see that he was a county sheriff’s deputy. As I got closer to him he motioned for me to come over.

Oh Oh! I hope I don’t get pulled over for speeding, I thought as I looked both ways and crossed over. I was hiking on the left side facing traffic.

Hi, son. Where you going? What you do’n?”

“ I’m backpacking from Georgia to Key West. I started the first of this month. I don’t usually get out on the highway. Most of the time it’s dirt roads, trails and railroad grades.”

“Got any ID?” he questioned.

“Yes sir, but I have to put this pack down. It’s in the side pocket, can’t hike with a wallet in your back pocket and carry a pack,” I explained.

I sat down and slipped off my pack, kneeled down, zipped open my small lower side pocket and came out with my wallet. I stood up.

“There it is sir.” As I gave my driver’s license, he took a long look and gave it back to me.

“Ok Bob, it looks fine to me. The reason I came by is because someone reported seeing a person lying along the highway, thought they might be hurt.”

“I bet that was me sir. You see, sometimes when I’m tired and need a rest I just stop and sit down, sometimes I lay my head on my pack.”

“Where you headed for tonight, Bob?

“There is a campground about three miles ahead according to my map.”

He introduced himself, we shook hands, and he said, “I could take you there if you want?”

“No thank you, sir, because I have to hike it all.”

We got to talking. This guy was A-ok, a real fine law enforcement officer. Seems he had also been in Korea, in the U. S. Army, just like I had been. We had a lot to talk about.

“Well, I’ve got to go now. But here Bob, is my card, if anyone stops you have them give me a call.”

“Thanks a lot.” I looked at his card, it said Sheriff’s Deputy, Osceola County, Florida.

“Take care now,” he said as he headed back to his car.

I kneeled down and put my wallet back in my pack. I sat down, slipped my arms into the straps, leaned forward and stood up. The Deputy’s car turned around. He waved as he passed by, and then fast disappeared in a roar of rich black gas smoke as he sped down the road. I wondered if he ever came out to Canoe Creek road to try out the cruiser?

About the Author: After getting out of the Army Bob Kranich backpacked from the Georgia border to Key West in a 40 day adventure walk across Florida. His recently published book A Walk Across Florida is available from his website or

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Trail Meeting Oct 27

LABELLE, FL. -- Everyone is invited to attend the Fisheating Creek Florida Trail Association (FEC/FTA) Sub-Chapter meeting on Thursday October 27 at 6 pm at the Carlson United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall located at 3110 Campbell Street in LaBelle (west of Upthergrove School). 

 The program will feature an interactive discussion, “Ten Essentials of Hiking”, led by hiking enthusiast “Deanna Filkins. Deanna has logged numerous miles hiking trails throughout the United States including all the Florida National Scenic Trail.

Don’t miss your opportunity to learn about upcoming hiking or paddling activities and receive a $5 discount if you renew or join FEC/FTA at the meeting or chapter sponsored events.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Obituaries - Jay Spann, John Peacock

Jay B. Spann, age 91, of LaBelle, passed away October 16, 2016 in LaBelle. He was born Feb. 25, 1925 in Lauderdale County, Alabama. 

He was a contractor and the developer of Caloosa Cove in LaBelle. Before moving to LaBelle, he lived in Homestead, FL where he owned a hardware store and rental properties.

He is survived by his son Danny Spann of Okeechobee. He was preceded in death by his wife, Ruth Spann in 2012.
A graveside funeral service will be held Friday, October 21, 2016, 11:00 am at Fort Denaud Cemetery, LaBelle. Interment will follow in Fort Denaud Cemetery, LaBelle.

Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

John Aaron Peacock, Jr, age 79, of Clewiston passed away October 17, 2016 in Lehigh Acres. He was born Nov. 17, 1936 in to John Aaron and Millie Idela (Matthews) Peacock, Sr. 

Mr. Peacock married Carole Satterwhite. They have been married for over 30 years, they attended First United Methodist Church of Clewiston for many years. John was a heavy equipment operator for many years.

Survivors include his loving wife; Carole, two sons: John Aaron and Aaron Joe, and three daughters: Melinda, Tiffany and Johnnie Kaye, one brother: Harold E. Peacock (Patsi) and one sister: Joyce Humphrey (JL), seven grandchildren; three great grandchildren.

He was a loving husband, father and grandfather who will be greatly missed by his entire family.

John was preceded in death by his parents, brothers; Floyd D. Peacock, Bobby Franklin Peacock, Billy Joe Peacock, Alton J. Peacock, Wayne Bo Peacock.

Graveside service will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, October 20, 2016 in Ridgelawn Cemetery with Pastor Jeff Smith officiating.

Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Neighborhood Yard Sale Oct 22

PORT LABELLE, FL. -- The Laurel Oak neighborhood in Port LaBelle will be having their Fall Yard Sale, Saturday, October 22, 2016 from 8 a.m. until noon.

The community is on Springview Circle, east of Birchwood Parkway just north of State Route 80 in Port LaBelle.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Kiwanis Kid's Day Nov 5

LABELLE, FL. -- The Kiwanis Club of LaBelle will present their annual Kiwanis Kids’ Day Saturday, November 5th in Barron Park. The Kiwanis Club has sponsored this event for over 30 years. Please join Kiwanis for a fun-filled day for the whole family with entertainment throughout the day provided by children from the local community. The event starts at 10am and will end at 2pm.

Farce Of Nature Opens Oct. 28

LABELLE, FL. -- A witness hiding, a gangster looking for his wife, a wife looking for some romance, a cop looking for her bullets, and a desperate man trying to save his business...what could possibly go wrong? ...Something fishy is going on at a little lodge in the Ozarks...

The Farce of Nature at the Firehouse Theatre in LaBelle opening night is Friday, October 28th. The comedy will be directed by Deb Speckin and Cindy Shough and features a great cast.

The show runs Oct 28, 29, 30 and Nov 3, 4, 5, 6 (Note the second week has a Thursday night show)

Photo: Back Row left to right: Callie Burley, Trevor Battams. Front row left to right: Jeff Schmitt Brittany Hilton, Bob Speckin, Richelle Battams, Jack Webb and Brenda Barnes

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Obituaries-Elgin Shore, Betty Maloy, Mark Williams, Minnie Williams

Elgin Ann (Rimes) Shore died October 8, 2016, at age 85. Born to Adolphus and Tomsie K. (Howard) Rimes on December 27, 1930, in LaBelle, FL, she was the 9th of 12 children.

In August 1951, Elgin married Ivan M. Shore, Jr. During their married life, they lived in Immokalee, Naples, LaBelle and Clewiston, FL as well as Texas. After Ivan's death, she made Florida her permanent home. Elgin lived in Clewiston until 2015 when she moved to Lake Placid, FL. 

She had many interesting jobs over the years and retired from the Clewiston Chamber of Commerce in 2002. Elgin was a faithful member of the First Baptist Church of Clewiston and attended Faith Baptist Church of Lake Placid until she was unable due to her health. Over the years Elgin made many friends and she was loved by more than she probably ever knew. She loved her family and friends dearly.

Elgin is survived by two children, Donna (Lawrence) Worth and Richard D. (Judith) Shore, four grandchildren, Andrea (David) Summers, Hillary (Matt) Koester, Ryan (Joni) Shore and Brent (Michelle) Shore and five great grandchildren, Katherine and Sarah Beth Summers, Janie Koester and Jackson and Blain Shore, two sisters, Bobbie Jo (B.S.) Cline and Laura June (Buster) Wilson, two step children, Bill D. Shore and Vickey Courtless and numerous nieces and nephews.

Elgin was preceded in death by her husband, Ivan M. Shore, Jr. parents, Adolphus and Tomsie K. Rimes, brothers, Oran (Punk), Delmar, J.L. (Jaybird) and Mickey Rimes, sisters, Laverne Nordgren, Earnestine Guy, Janet Fussell, Evalee (Ted) Burke and Jean Murray.

Funeral services will be held Wednesday, October 12, 2016 at 11:00 am at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, LaBelle. Visitation will be Wednesday from 1 hour prior to service at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, LaBelle, FL. Interment will be in Fort Denaud Cemetery, LaBelle.

Betty Jo Maloy, age 83, of Moore Haven, passed away October 8, 2016 in Moore Haven.

She was born Feb. 14, 1933 in LaBelle, FL, to the late Charles F and the late Hattie E (Thigpen) Pascher. Betty Jo married Lynn Maloy. Betty Jo worked as a Road Inspector for the Department of Transportation of Florida for many years. 

Betty Jo was one of the youngest supervisors working at the Pentagon, she and three other young women from LaBelle were recruited by the Pentagon to go to Washington, D.C. to work for United States Military. Betty Jo was a loving wife, caring mother, affectionate grandmother and great grandmother, who will be greatly missed by her entire family.

Survivors include her husband: Lynn Maloy of Moore Haven, children; Roderick "Rick" Bennett, Ronald "Ronnie" Bennett, Sandra Bennett Smith, Russel Maloy, LaTrelle Maloy Smith, grandchildren; Jason Bennett, Ricky Bennett, Nicole Barnes, Brandon Maloy, Lyndsie Smith, Kristopher Smith, Wesley Allison, and Tyler Smith and eleven great grandchildren. Sisters; Dorothy Turner and Linda Hopper.

Betty Jo was preceded in death by her brothers; Clyde Pascher, Alton Pascher, Charles Pascher, sisters; Elizabeth Keechl, Annie Howard, Norma Jean Reed.

A Graveside service will be held Thursday, October 13, 2016 at 11:00 am at Ortona Cemetery, Moore Haven with Rev. Dink Leon officiating. Interment will be Thursday October 14, 2016 in Ortona Cemetery, Moore Haven. Visitation was Tuesday from 6-8 p.m. at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, LaBelle, Florida

Mark Joel Williams, age 59, of LaBelle, passed away October 6, 2016 in LaBelle.

He was born July 11, 1957 in Arcadia, FL, to the late Jessie James and Mary Nadine (York) Williams. Mark married Diana Jane Huffman, she survives. Mark was a self-employed carpenter for many years.

Marks leaves behind his loving and caring wife; Diana Williams of LaBelle, fond mother; Mary Nadine Williams of LaBelle, loving children; Crystal Williams Corbitt and her husband Field of LaBelle, Brian Williams and his wife Ashley of Palmdale, Lisa Williams Chapman and her husband Blake of Fort Myers, siblings Gary Williams and his wife Rose and Ricky Williams and his wife Sue. Mark is also survived by eleven grandchildren.

A celebration of Life will be held Friday, October 14, 2016 at 5:00pm at Life Ministries Church, LaBelle, FL.

Cremation arrangements are being entrusted to Akin-Davis Funeral Home – LaBelle

Minnie F. Williams, age 85, of LaBelle, passed away October 5, 2016 in Lehigh Acres. She was born Oct. 6, 1930 in LaBelle, FL, to the late Arnold and the late Bessie (Guy) Fussell.

She was a lifelong resident of LaBelle and a member of Church of God-LaBelle.

Survivors include three sons: Elton Williams, Dale Williams and Wayne Williams, three daughters: Carolyn Mathis, Penny Davis and Barbara Goff, granddaughter and caregiver: Cindy Williams and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband: Finis Williams, son: Ray Williams and daughter: Mary Williams

Funeral services were held Monday, October 10, 2016 at 11:00 am at Church Of God-LaBelle, LaBelle with Rev. Cliff Gobble and Rev. Graham Chancey officiating. Visitation was Monday from 10:00-11:00 a.m at Church of God-LaBelle. Interment took place at Fort Denaud Cemetery, LaBelle.

Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Hunting Wild Cows At Museum October 27

LABELLE, FL. -- The regular LaBelle Heritage Museum 1st Thursday of the Month Program for October was cancelled because of Hurricane Matthew which, fortunately, was not a threat to LaBelle.

The program featuring Jim D. Hull, scion of a pioneer area ranching family, Kirby Lee Williams, also from an area pioneer family, and Immokalee's own Ronnie Raulerson has been rescheduled to the last Thursday in October (October 27th) at 7 p.m. at the Felda Community Center, one mile east of State Road 29 on the North Felda Loop (turn east at the Shell Station) at North Willis Ranch Road (turn left at the Felda Fire Station and the community center is the first building on the right).

Felda Community Center at 7 p.m. on Thursday, October 27th on "Hunting Wild Cows in the Big Cypress and the 'Glades: 1900 - 1965!"

Trail Hike Oct 15 At Fort Center

LABELLE, FL. -- Adults, Teens, and families are invited to join the Fisheating Creek Florida Trail Sub-Chapter for a hike at Ft. Center Wildlife Management Area on Saturday October 15. 

Meet at Ft. Center trailhead on Banana Grove Rd. approx. 8 miles north of US 27 off State Rd 78 and just south of Lakeport at 5 pm. (Carpool will meet at 4pm at Barron Park at foot of the LaBelle Bridge on the Caloosahatchee). Bring water, snacks, flashlight, and insect repellent. Wear closed toed sturdy shoes. Families, Adults and Teens welcome.

Rock And Water Features At Garden Club Oct 24

LABELLE, FL. -- The LaBelle Garden Club will meet Monday, October 24th 2016, at 7 p.m. at the Dallas B. Townsend Agricultural Center in LaBelle at 1085 Pratt Blvd. Labelle. Ralph von Frantzins will give a talk on rock and water feature in the yard. Refreshments served.

Invasive Plants and Animals At Audubon Oct 17

LABELLE, FL. -- The presentation “Combating Invasive Plants and Animals in Southwest Florida: an Introduction to Our Regional Efforts and Reporting Options” by Florida Forest Service Biologist, Dexter Sowell will be Monday October  17 at 7pm. This free program hosted by Hendry-Glades Audubon will be held at the Hendry County Extension Dallas Townsend Building at 1085 Pratt Blvd. In LaBelle. 

Dexter Sowell is a native of Florida, growing up in the Bay County/Panama City area in the panhandle of Florida.  He has a BS in Biology from Florida State University, a MS in Biology from Georgia Southern University, and a PhD in Biology from the University of Virginia, where an invasive plant species was the focus of his doctoral work.  Since finishing graduate school in 2010, he has been a biologist with the Florida Forest Service in southwest Florida.  

With the FFS, he documents rare plant and animal occurrences in the two local state forests, and provides broad oversight in to the management of invasive plants.  As an active member in the Southwest Florida Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (SWFL CISMA), he verifies new reports of invasive plant species occurrences in southwest Florida, and participates in numerous public outreach events to educate and inform the public of the harm that invasive plant and animal species can yield on our already stressed native species and ecosystems.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Bob Kranich - A Walk Across Florida

Excerpts from A Walk Across Florida by Bob Kranich
As I continued my trip, I started to realize just how many lakes there are in Florida! Actually I was now camping next to many of them. Again you will see in this episode the curiosity, help and befriending I got from the residents of Florida

I left the Atlantic Coast Line tracks and took a south-bound road out of what was left of Paole…..

My map informed me that by turning east here and then taking the next road south, the town of Lake Mary would be ahead. Hopefully I would find some place there to resupply…….

I turned onto the next road. Lake Mary was a great little community. It had two stores, two filling stations, a post office and a Laundromat. As I was buying some food at an open market, I met a boy called Butch and a couple of his friends. They asked me what I was doing and said if I wanted to camp at Lake Mary they would show me a great place on the lake.

They said that there were at least four or five lakes around Lake Mary and that it was a very nice area. While we are talking about lakes, I noticed that anyone looking at maps of Florida could see that it is blessed with a surplus of lakes.* In fact, Florida has thousands of lakes. Approximately 7,800 of these are Natural Lakes of at least one acre. These lakes were formed by the limestone under the ground dissolving. This happened because the water above the limestone had an acid content. These Natural Lakes depend upon the ground water. There are usually no streams coming into or out of them. Some may be filled from underground springs. These lakes are mostly less than 45 feet deep. Even though these lakes are mostly permanent, very dry times will affect their water level. Some lakes are as old as 8,000 years. There are even a couple that are over 30,000 years old.

I set up camp near the lake. It was all nice white sand. I could see by my map that there were a lot of lakes in this area. Butch and one of his buddies came by in the evening and we sat around a small campfire and talked late into the evening. They were both in their early twenties and seemed like good country boys. They lived at home and did odd jobs to put together some funds either to go to college or trade school or just to find a permanent job. They had a lot of questions about my travels.

I had a good sleep that night, and the morning burst forth with a beautiful red sky and a mist rolling across the lake. Butch came by about 7:45 in the morning. It seemed he was the guy with the car. We said our good-byes, as he had to get to work. I then took the opportunity to sketch the lake. While I was doing that, two boys went out with a small motorboat leaving a faint wake and a hint of oil smoke. As I was leaving, I asked a man and a boy if they could spare any water and they appeared more than happy to oblige. I had good memories of Lake Mary. I reminisced as I continued on.

About the Author: After getting out of the Army Bob Kranich backpacked from the Georgia border to Key West in a 40 day adventure walk across Florida. His recently published book A Walk Across Florida is available from his website or

Pedestrian Aristidez Perez Killed In Hit And Run

LABELLE, FL. -- An unknown truck was southbound on Hull Street, south of Cowboy Way as 3:52 a.m. Saturday as a Aristidez Perez, 22 of LaBelle was afoot within the roadway of Hull Street. The front left portion of the vehicle stuck the pedestrian as the driver of the vehicle fled the scene.

Perez came to final rest in between the northbound and southbound lane of Hull Street. The crash remains under investigation. If anyone witnessed this crash or have any information regarding the identity of the driver please contact the Florida Highway Patrol at 239-938-1800.

UPDATE: 10/8/16 at 8:30 am: A possible description of unknown vehicle is a 1998 to 2003 Ford F-150 Harley Davidson Edition, if anyone has any information regarding a truck of this description with possible left front damage to contact the Florida Highway Patrol at 239-938-1800 or Crimestoppers.

Friday, October 07, 2016

6-Year Old Luis Francisco Dies In Crash

IMMOKALEE, FL. -- A six-year old boy was killed after he darted in front of a truck in Immokalee Friday morning.

Steven Salazar, 16 of Immakalee was driving a 2007 Chevy Sierra with 4 passengers while circling a roundabout on N 19th St just north of Immokalee Dr. in Collier county at 7:00 a.m. Friday.

6-year old Luis Reynoso Francisco was walking southbound on N 19th St approaching the roundabout when he darted out in front of of the Chevy truck and was struck in the roadway. He was transported to NCH Northeast where he passed away due to the injuries sustained in the crash.

The crash is under investigation by the FHP.

Estelle Walker Dies At 88

Estelle Walker, age 88, of Alva, passed away October 5, 2016. Estelle was born Aug. 30, 1928 in Collier County, Florida to Marson Albert and Lily (Forester) Smith. She was very much devoted member of Alva Church of God for many years.

Survivors include three sons: Kim Walker (Carol) of Alva, FL, Freddie Walker of Alva, FL and Rev. Norman Walker (Lorraine) of Alva, FL, and two daughters; Rita Mathis (Billy) of Nahunta, GA and Rebecca Johnson (Donnie) of Alva, FL; brother; Harvey Smith and sister; Reva Mayfield. Around 25 grandchildren and many great grandchildren also survive.

Estelle was a loving mother, grandmother, great grandmother, sister and friend who will be greatly missed by her entire family and her church family.

Celebration of Estelle's Life will be held Tuesday, October 11, 2016 at 11:00 am at Alva Church of God, Alva with Rev. Andrew Smith officiating. Interment will be Tuesday, October 11, 2016 in Alva Cemetery, Alva. Visitation will be Tuesday 1 hour prior to service at Alva Church of God, Alva, FL.

Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Fort Myers.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Hendry County Tropical Storm Update

LABELLE, FL. -- Squalls with Tropical Storm gusts are starting to push in from the Atlantic Coast and will continue through the night and into Friday morning. The "window of concern" is from 8:00pm tonight until 8:00am Friday.

If you have to venture outside, please be aware of flying debris. Expect power outages. Make sure your flashlights have batteries and you have safe cooking alternatives. There will potential rain related flooding in low-lying and flood prone areas. 

Please be aware of displaced wildlife and insects in flooded areas. Do not drive through flooded streets. If traffic lights are out, use extreme caution if you have to be out on the roads.

Please use generator safety guidelines. Operate in well ventilated areas only. All county emergency services are fully staffed and prepared. The shelters have security and there will be increased patrols through the night.

The Fort Denaud bridge will be locked down and closed to MARINE traffic once winds reach a sustained 45 mph. Ambulances also will not be dispatched with sustained high winds.

Lock S77 (Moore Haven) is closed and Lock S78 (Ortona) will close at 10:00 pm tonight on the Caloosahatchee River.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Glades County Storm Update: 30-40 MPH Winds, Gusts To 60 Possible

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- Hurricane Matthew current location 22.5N 75.7W and 400 miles from West Palm Beach moving NNW movement is NorthWest or 320 degrees at 12 mph with 120 mph sustained winds. 

Tropical Storm Warning has been issued. Eastern Glades County, Moore Haven, Seminole Tribe, Palmdale and Buckhead Ridge. Hurricane Matthew is forecast to move NNW through the central Bahamas during the day today, and then move very near or along the East Coast of FL Thursday and Friday. 

Conditions are expected to rapidly deteriorate across portions of South FL during sometime Thursday morning but outer rain bands could begin impacting the area tonight. Isolated tornadoes will be possible within these bands. Wind - 8am forecast: equivalent tropical storm force wind peak wind forecast 30-40 mph with gusts to 60 mph Thursday afternoon until Friday. Rain 1-3 inches.

Safety Message: Be careful of animals (domestic and wild) and insects that have been displaced by water. Watch out for fire ants that have taken refuge on dry items. Do not put your hands or feet in areas that you cannot see. Look up for danger from broken tree limbs and/or damaged power lines. Keep an eye on the weather. Conditions may change quickly. Be prepared to wash items that have been in contact with flood waters. Mosquito population is increasing, take appropriate precautions. Wash your hands often. Flooded areas will be restricted due to hazards.

Summary of current situation, operations, and directives: EOC at level 2 activation as of 0730 (PARTIAL ACTIVATION). Will go to a level 1 activation tomorrow at 7am.

Glades County BOCC met and declared a Local State of Emergency at the 9am Emergency Meeting today.

Glades County Government and Schools - will be closed Thursday and Friday all day. Shelters - will open at noon Thursday October 6, 2016. West Glades School will be Special Needs Shelter only and will open at 8pm on Oct. 5, 2016. Moore Haven Jr/Sr High School general population, VFW in BHR general population, Maple Grove Baptist Church in Lake Port general population. You will need to bring your own supplies, food, medicine, clothes, and sleeping supplies. GLADES COUNTY DOES NOT OFFER ANIMAL SHELTERS, NOR DO WE ALLOW ANIMALS IN THE SHELTERS OPEN.

Sandbags will be filled by Moore Haven Correctional Facility and you can pick up at the EOC 1097 Health Park Dr Moore Haven after 1pm starting October 5th.



The 211 Storm information hotline will be activated on Thursday Oct. 6, 2016 at 8a.m. and give up to date information on the storm, shelters and anything else needed for Glades County.

Al PerryTo Clewiston Citizens

CLEWISTON, FL. - - Al Perry, city manager of Clewiston sent out the following by phone message to the public Wednesday evening: 

"I have some updates for you on the hurricane Matthew and hurricane preparedness and your governmental facilities in the services that will be provided so I ask that you please listen up. There been some changes since this afternoon as far as the storm goes. We are still looking at a category four storm 120 mile an hour winds, the storm seems to be taking the same path. This was this morning. We are right on the edge of the tropical stormwinds so we encourage everybody to prepare for tropical storm winds it could be worse. It could bebetter the city. The city is going to be closed the next 2 days Thursday and Friday for sure, tomorrow, possibly Friday. So there will be no solid waste pick up tomorrow. It will be this is a change from this morning. It will be no solid waste pick up tomorrow. So please do not put your cans out, if your neighbors if out if you see you. Or neighbors can is out please encourage them to put it inside and get it secured. The Lake Okeechobee locks will be closed at 8 o'clock tonight for the boaters at 8 o'clock the locks will close. As far as the shelter tomorrow at 12 o'clock noon the shelter will open that will be the Clewiston Middle school and the Labelle middle school. There'll be a special needs shelter open at the West Glades elementary school. That's on the labelle side, the West Glades elementary school. Be the special needs shelter. No pets are allowed in the shelters except for service animals. School is closed on Thursday and Friday, and we encourage it. We are in the middle of campaign season, so we would like to encourage everybody to put their campaign signs inside if you have one in your yard, please remove its ecured inside and secure any flying objects that could be in your yard. Make sure everything's tied down bring everything inside, so we don't have projectile flying around is what the city is encouraging. Be safe. That's what we want you to do be safe. We're securing our buildings were hardening our buildings and shelters with boards. We encourage you to do the same thing if you feel led to leave the area, Please do so. What we're doing is we're going to prepare for the worst, but we're praying for the best. Please be safe, and we will provide any updates from here on out. Have a good night."

Hendry County Storm Closings

Closings for Hendry County, Fl.

Hendry County Schools will be closed Thursday and Friday
Hendry County government offices will be closed Thursday and Friday
City government offices in Clewiston - hours to be determined later today
City government offices in LaBelle open Thursday until 12:00 noon.

General Population Shelters will be open in the following locations (no pets allowed except service animals) The American Red Cross will be staffing the shelters with area volunteers beginning at 8:00 am Thursday.

Clewiston Middle School, 601 W. Osceola Ave, Clewiston, FL 33440
LaBelle Middle School, 8000 E. Cowboy Way, LaBelle, FL 33935

The Special Needs Shelter - West Glades School (pre-registration was required and applications are no longer being accepted for this storm event)

There may not be trash/garbage or recycle pickup in some areas of Hendry County, the City of LaBelle or Clewiston for Thursday, Oct 6th. Next scheduled pickup will be the regular pickup day. The Clewiston transfer station will be allowing unincorporated residents to bring their waste free of charge to the transfer station on Saturday, Oct. 8th from 8:00 am to 12:00 noon.

If you have any type of yard (political) sign in your yard, please pick it up and store it securely until after the storm.
Voluntary Evacuations are recommended for those living in low-lying areas prone to flooding and high-risk structures such as R.V.'s, mobile homes and manufactured homes. This not a mandatory evacuation at this time.

Glades County Advisory On Hurricane Matthew

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- Hurricane Matthew's current location is 21.5 N 74.9 W, which is 446 miles from Miami moving NNW at 10 mph with 115 mph sustained winds. Tropical Storm Warning has been issued for Hendry. Eastern Glades County, Moore Haven, Seminole Tribe, Palmdale and Buckhead Ridge. 

 Hurricane Matthew is forecast to move NNW through the central Bahamas during the day today, and then move very near or along the East Coast of FL Thursday and Friday. 

Conditions are expected to rapidly deteriorate across portions of South FL during sometime Thursday morning but outer rain bands could begin impacting the area tonight. 

Isolated tornadoes will be possible within these bands. Wind - 8am forecast: equivalent tropical storm force wind..peak wind forecast 30-40 mph with gusts to 60mph Thursday afternoon until Friday. Rain 1-3". 

Safety Message: Be careful of animals (domestic and wild) and insects that have been displaced by water. Watch out for fire ants that have taken refuge on dry items. Do not put your hands or feet in areas that you cannot see. Look up for danger from broken tree limbs and/or damaged power lines. Keep an eye on the weather. Conditions may change quickly. Be prepared to wash items that have been in contact with flood waters. Mosquito population is increasing, take appropriate precautions. Wash your hands often. Flooded areas will be restricted due to hazards.

Summary of Glades County current situation, operations, and directives:

Emergency Operations Center is at level 2 activation as of 0730 (PARTIAL ACTIVATION). Will go to a level 1 activation tomorrow at 7am. Glades County BOCC met and declared a Local State of Emergency at the 9am Emergency Meeting today.

Glades County Government and Schools - will be closed Thursday and Friday all day.

Shelters - will open at noon Thursday October 6, 2016. West Glades School will be Special Needs Shelter only. Moore Haven Jr/Sr High School general population, VFW in Buckhead Ridge general population, Maple Grove Baptist Church in Lake Port general population. You will need to bring your own supplies, food, medicine, clothes, and sleeping supplies. GLADES COUNTY DOES NOT OFFER ANIMAL SHELTERS, NOR DO WE ALLOW ANIMALS IN THE SHELTERS OPEN.

Sandbags will be filled by Moore Haven Correctional Facility and you can pick up at the EOC 1097 Healthpark Dr Moore Haven after 1pm starting Wednesday, October 5th.



The 211 information hotline will be activated on Wed October 5, 2016. Will advise when active.

County Monitoring Hurricane - Tropical Storm Expected Here

LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry County issued a Local State of Emergency effective 6:00 am today. The Hendry County Emergency Operations Center is currently at a Level 2 (partial activation) and is monitoring Hurricane Matthew very closely. 

Governor Rick Scott advised all Floridians to prepare for a direct hit. At this time Hendry County is under a Tropical Storm Warning. A Tropical Storm Warning is an announcement that tropical-storm conditions are expected within a specified area. 

Because outside preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force (39-73 mph), warnings are issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.

Hope Connections at the L.J. Nobles Senior Center on Cowboy Way has announced they will be closed on Thursday and Friday.

Decisions regarding County government, City offices, and school closures, as well as shelter openings, will be made later today.

For residents living in low-lying or flood prone areas, there are two SELF-SERVE sandbag distribution locations open now at the Clewiston Health Department (field on the north side) located at 1100 S. Olympia Ave, Clewiston, FL. In LaBelle, the site is located the LaBelle Rodeo Grounds located at 100 Rodeo Dr./SR29 South. 

BRING YOUR OWN SHOVEL. There is no limit but please be courteous of others in need.

South Florida Wildlife Areas Closed For Weather

SOUTH BAY, Fl. -- Due to anticipated storm events, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has temporarily closed all activities and roads in the J.W. Corbett and Allapattah Flats Wildlife Management Areas, and the John C. and Mariana Jones/Hungryland and DuPuis Wildlife and Environmental Areas until further notice. 

All listed areas are closed to access, effective Oct. 5, at 12:00 a.m.

The closure applies to all vehicles and public access, and will remain in effect until further notice to ensure public safety and resource conservation during this extreme weather event.

Senior Center Closed Thursday And Friday As Precaution

LABELLE, Fl. -- Hope Connections (the L.J. Nobles Senior Center) on Cowboy Way will be closed Thursday and Friday as a precaution for any possible stormy weather. Tai Chi Quan classes and other activities will be cancelled for the two days.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Scam Alert - Hurricane Related Charities

As Hurricane Matthew continues to wreak havoc on the Caribbean leaving destruction in its path, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and GoFundMe are working to ensure donations meant to help victims of Matthew are actually going to those affected by the Hurricane and not to scammers.

“Hurricane Matthew has already claimed lives and destroyed communities in the Caribbean, and many good-hearted Floridians and others around the country want to help those affected by the storm. That is why we are working with GoFundMe, one of the primary crowdfunding platforms, to ensure donations go to those who truly need help and not to scammers using the disaster to prey on the good intentions of our citizens,” said Attorney General Bondi.

This week, and in the weeks following this disaster, the Florida Attorney General’s Office will be looking into charities promising relief to victims of the storm and working with GoFundMe to ensure any new accounts set up through the crowdfunding platform are used to assist victims and rebuild communities.

Before giving, donors can contact the Florida Attorney General’s Office to check if an organization has any complaints filed against it. Donors should also beware of new organizations using similar sounding names or logos as established charities. Scammers often use names and graphics that sound or look like the names and signs of legitimate, widely known charities.

Below are additional tips for anyone wishing to donate through a crowdfunding organization:
Consider giving to campaigns created by people you know and trust;
Report concerns to the Florida Attorney General’s Office and click the Report Campaign button on the GoFundMe campaign page, if information that raises suspicion is found, when researching a crowdfunding organizer;
Note that some pages may lack names of beneficiaries as campaign organizers could be in the process of adding beneficiaries directly to the page; and
Notify GoFundMe if a potential recipient does not want a campaign set up, or continued on their behalf, and the account will be closed.

Consumers who believe they have been a victim of a scam or other fraudulent activity may file a complaint by calling 1(866) 9-NO-SCAM or by visiting

Obituaries: James Fielder, Ruth McCarthy, Hubert O'Neal

James A Fielder, Jr, age 85, of Clewiston, passed away September 26, 2016 in Clewiston.

He was born July 1, 1931 in Newaygo, MI, to James A and Vivian Thelma (Hester) Fielder, Sr. James married Shirley Royals. He worked for United States Sugar Corporation as a Ranch Superintendent for many years, and then later he worked as an auxiliary Hendry County Sheriff Deputy for 25 years. He was a member of the Florida Cattleman's Association, VFW, Elks Lodge, and Glades Electric Charitable Board, served on the Southwest Florida Charity Commission.

James leaves behind his wife of over 28 years Shirley Fielder, children; Terrel, Lizann, Lynn, step-children; Ray, Sherry and Sandra, fourteen grandchildren and fourteen great grandchildren, and one sister; Letha Sparks.

James was preceded in death by his son; Robert Fielder.

Funeral services were held Saturday, October 1, 2016 at 11:00 am at First Baptist Church of Clewiston, Clewiston with Pastor Edward Green officiating. Interment was Saturday, October 1, 2016 in Ortona Cemetery, Moore Haven. Visitation was Friday from 6-8 p.m. at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, Clewiston, FL.

Ruth Claire Ottens McCarthy, age 93, of Clewiston, passed away September 29, 2016.

She was born Apr. 6, 1923 in St. Louis, MO, to Herman Henry and Clara (Mandeville) Ottens. She married Daniel Marion McCarthy; he preceded her in death on February 24, 2005. She was a parishioner of Saint Margaret Catholic Church for many years. She was a loving wife, caring mother, and adoring grandmother who will be greatly missed by everyone in her family.

She leaves behind her loving and caring family; sons; Daniel M. McCarthy, Jr and his wife Karen, John David McCarthy and his wife Barbara, James Patrick McCarthy and his wife Flo, Dennis McCarthy and his wife Karen, Kevin McCarthy and his wife Debbie, Michael McCarthy and his wife Susan, daughters; Ruth Claire McCarthy and her husband Freddy, Marie McCarthy and her husband Tim, Monica Clark and her husband James, one sister; Dorothy Heller, twenty-four grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Wednesday, October 5, 2016 at Saint Margaret Catholic Church at 10 a.m., with Father Jiobani Batista and Father Thomas Foudy concelebrating mass. Visitation will be from 5-7 p.m. on Tuesday, October 4, 2016 in Akin-Davis Funeral Home, Clewiston. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to Saint Margaret Catholic Church in memory of Ruth.

Hubert Robert O'Neal, Jr., age 82, of Clewiston
, passed away October 1, 2016 in Clewiston.

He was born Sep. 28, 1934 in Houston, TX, to Hubert Robert and Gertrude (Fletcher) O'Neal, Sr. He married Donna L. Page, she preceded him in death on July 22, 2012. He proudly served his country in the United States Marine Corps for 19 years retiring as Master Gunnery Sergeant on March 31, 1972, then he worked for the United States Department of Agriculture as an Inspector for many years.

Hubert is survived by his son; Danny H. O'Neal, Sr and his wife Nancy of Alford, Florida, daughter; Jeannie C. DuBenion and her husband Benjamin of Clewiston, Florida, one sister; Beverly O'Neal of Texas, grandchildren; Shannon O'Neal, Christy O'Neal, Ryan O'Neal, DJ O'Neal, Jean-Pierre DuBenion and seven great grandchildren.

Hubert was a loving husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather who will be greatly missed by his entire family. Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston

Corps Of Engineers Responds To Hurricane Matthew

CLEWISTON, FL. -- As Hurricane Matthew makes its way through the Caribbean islands, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is preparing to respond as needed and providing information to boaters and campers on operational adjustments that will take place at navigation locks and recreation facilities.
The Jacksonville District activated its emergency operations center (EOC) at 7 a.m. today (Oct. 4). This action allows district staff to devote added attention to the response actions that might be necessary should Matthew cause impacts as it passes near Florida.

The Corps of Engineers is issuing the following guidance on its operations in south Florida:

* For boaters, the Corps has extended operating hours for its navigation locks on the Okeechobee Waterway; they will operate from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday (Oct. 4) and Wednesday (Oct. 5). Operating hours on Thursday will depend on the track of the storm. To ensure safety of lock operators, the Corps will suspend operations when lightning is in the area, or when winds exceed 35 mph.
* For campers and visitors to recreation sites, Jacksonville District park rangers will monitor conditions at Corps' campgrounds and recreation areas. If a county government issues an evacuation order for mobile homes or RV parks in an area where there is a Corps' campground or recreational facility, rangers will order an evacuation of the facility and advise on shelter locations. Visitors should move all campers, motor homes, tents, vessels, and trailers from facilities under evacuation orders.
* Today, field staff are conducting a pre-storm evaluation of the Herbert Hoover Dike surrounding Lake Okeechobee. The current lake stage is 15.78 feet. While no immediate threat exists, the Corps advises people living and working around the lake to be prepared to take action should conditions warrant.

Justin Schipansky Injured In Crash

ALVA, Fl. -- Justin Schipansky, 18 of Moore Haven suffered serious injuries along with seven others in a two vehicle crash Sunday evening at 8:47 in Lee county near Hickey Creek.

Schipansky, driving a 2007 Nissan Titan was traveling west on SR-80 (Palm Beach Boulevard) in the outside lane. A 2014 Chrysler driven by Donald Johnson 65, of Fort Myers was traveling east on SR-80 in the outside lane. Traffic in front of the Nissan came to a complete stop. The driver of the Nissan swerved towards the north shoulder. The driver over corrected.

Update: On Oct. 7, 2016 the FHP said a passenger in the Chrysler, Estelle Walker, 88 of Fort Myers has died.

The Nissan traveled southwest across both westbound lanes and into the grass median. The front left portion of the Nissan struck a tree. The Nissan continued to travel southwest across the inside eastbound lane and into the outside eastbound lane, traveling into the path of the Chrysler. The front portion of the Chrysler stuck the left side of the Nissan.

A passenger in the Nissan was seriously injured as were four other passengers in the Chrysler. All were taken to Lee Memorial Hospital. The crash is under investigation.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Sixth Fraudster Found Guilty In Insurance Scams

Fort Myers, Florida – A federal jury has found Nesly Loute (52, Naples) guilty of conspiracy to commit mail fraud. According to testimony during the six-day trial, Loute conspired with others to operate unlicensed chiropractic clinics and bill automobile insurance companies for PIP benefits.

He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. He was ordered detained pending sentencing on January 17, 2017. In addition, Loute must pay restitution to the victim automobile insurance companies and forfeit the proceeds of the offense. 

Five other individuals previously pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing as a result of Operation Fraudulent Pain. They are Wisler Cyrius (35, Naples), Anouce Toussaint (33, Naples), Garry Joseph (37, Naples), Maria Victoria Lopez (44, Moore Haven), and David Adamson (47, Bonita Springs). Each faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison and must make restitution to the automobile insurance companies. In addition, the United States will seek a forfeiture money judgment from each defendant equal to the amount of proceeds obtained as a result of each offense

Loute is the sixth individual to be convicted following the culmination of a two-year joint federal and state law enforcement investigation, dubbed Operation Fraudulent Pain. The investigation disrupted five unlicensed chiropractic clinics that had received more than $2 million in ill-gotten Personal Injury Protection (PIP) payments from automobile insurance companies.

Members of the conspiracy also paid patients to induce them to seek treatment at the unlicensed clinics so that the automobile insurance companies could be billed for their PIP benefits. In addition, members of the conspiracy participated in staged motor vehicle accidents and then submitted claims to automobile insurance companies for PIP benefits based on those fake accidents. More than $1 million in fraud proceeds were withdrawn from various bank accounts and through the use of a shell corporation.