Category Archives: Breaking News

DeBary Burger King robber gets 12.5 years in prison

The felon who robbed the DeBary Burger King last year was recently sentenced to more than a decade in prison.

Mathew H. Juan, 33, flashed a gun while robbing two employees at the restaurant at 305 Sunrise Blvd. before noon June 21, according to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.

No one was hurt. The robber ran into the woods.

Minutes later, an Orange City police officer spotted his getaway vehicle – a silver Ford SUV – in the area of Saxon Boulevard and Threadgill Place in Orange City and conducted a traffic stop.

2 witnesses

Deputies responded to the scene with two witnesses who identified Juan as the suspect. Deputies said they think he was homeless.

“Deputies also recovered cash from the wooded area near the Burger King where the SUV had been parked,” the Sheriff’s Office report said. “At the scene of the traffic stop, deputies noticed a piece greenery stuck to the back of the vehicle, as if it had been recently parked amid some brush and vegetation.”

Juan entered no-contest pleas to charges of robbery with a firearm/deadly weapon and false imprisonment.

Volusia County Circuit Judge James R. Clayton recently found him guilty and sentenced him to 12.5 years in state prison.

Clayton on Jan. 12 also declared Juan a habitual violent felon, meaning he’ll have to serve at least 10 years of his sentence.

Violent past

Juan has a violent criminal past, both as a juvenile and an adult, records show.

Records show Juan served more than three years in state prison before he was released in December 2012.

He was adjudicated guilty in Volusia County in 2007 after pleading no contest to charges of aggravated battery and aggravated assault.

Juan was accused of attacking his wife’s brother with a baseball bat in Edgewater.

State prison

He was placed on probation in the 2007 case but was charged the following year for violating his probation for allegedly attacking his wife.

A judge sentenced Juan to five years in prison with credit for 153 days in jail and five years of probation.

He entered the state prison system in March 2009 and left in December 2012.

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DeBary declares emergency for Fort Florida Road

Emergency repairs on the worst sections of Fort Florida Road could be underway as soon as next week after the City Council declared a public emergency Wednesday.

The narrow roadway is crumbling along the edges because of dump-truck traffic, prompting some drivers to swerve into oncoming traffic to avoid going off Fort Florida Road, officials said.

The City Council voted unanimously for the emergency declaration, giving Interim City Manager Ron McLemore the power to waive purchasing policies and make repairs as quickly as possible.

Henin Group’s share

McLemore said the work will cost about $53,000 and Henin Group — the developer of two subdivision expansions – will pay 80 to 90 percent under a road-maintenance agreement with the city.

Dump trucks – possibly ones only approved for construction sites and not traditional roadways – are hauling dirt from Springview and to Riviera Bella, causing heavy damage.

“Those are not street-legal dump trucks,” DeBary resident Howard Gates told City Council members.

He commented on photos provided by another resident showing extremely large trucks on Fort Florida Road – equipment only allowed on construction sites.

City Council member Stephen Bacon said Henin should pay for all of the repairs.

“It’s his trucks that are doing it, especially these,” Bacon said, referring to Henin Group founder Jerome Henin.

Head-on crash threat

Kevin Hare, the city’s construction manager, the roadway is rapidly deteriorating and is a public-safety hazard.

The risk of head-on crashes is increased, he said, because drivers trying to avoid the crumbling edges of roadway are veering into the oppositive travel lane, he said.

Fort Florida RoadDeBary Mayor Bob Garcia said he recently witnessed the dangers.

“I was out there this weekend and I had a vehicle in front of me that hit one of those soft spots and they did lose control,” Garcia said. “It went to the left or right on it.”

Called the worst road in the city, Fort Florida connects U.S. Highway 17-92 to West Highbanks Road, running between two water bodies – the 1,100-acre Konomac Lake and the St. Johns River.

Road failures

Fort Florida Road was paved about eight years ago using temporary asphalt meant to last roughly five to seven years.

Last spring, the City Council approved a quick-fix resurfacing plan for $183,000 for the worst sections of Fort Florida Road.

Ron McLemoreThe work authorized Wednesday will fix other sections, mainly ones between Barwick Road and  Riviera Bella, McLemore said.

“We think we can be at work next week if the weather will be reasonable,” McLemore said. “At 50 degrees and below, you don’t get asphalt. You have to wait until it warms up.”

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Clint Johnson lawsuit settled by DeBary’s insurance company

The city’s insurance company resolved a lawsuit filed against Clint Johnson, meaning City Council members didn’t have to vote on a proposed $2,000 settlement.

Interim City Manager Ron McLemore announced the settlement Wednesday during the City Council meeting.

Additional details were not immediately available.

The agenda originally called for City Council members to vote on a $2,000  settlement to resolve a lawsuit filed by DeBary resident Colette Rowley against then mayor Johnson for an alleged verbal assault in 2015.

Rowley accused Johnson of a verbal assault and slander from an alleged confrontation June 24, 2015 at City Hall.

Rowley’s suit alleged Johnson told her to leave because she spreads lies about him on the internet.

Clint Johnson

As others watched at City Hall,  the suit alleges, Johnson moved close to Rowley while telling her to go away.

The case was set for trial in February.

A majority on the City Council removed Johnson from office in August 2016, saying he violated the charter by telling staffers what to do.

Johnson unsuccessfully challenged his removal by filing a lawsuit against the city.

Details of the alleged conflict between Rowley and Johnson are outlined in the court document below:

Colette Rowley vs Clint Johnson

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DeBary OKs $70,000 for auto-plate readers to fight crime

DeBary City Council members approved $70,000 on Wednesday to help pay for license-plate reading cameras aimed at curbing crime in the River City.

Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood told council members the devices will help battle a spike in car burglaries and other crimes.

Overall, crime is down in DeBary, Chitwood said. He said the spike is largely a result of criminals from Seminole County.

Tag readers automatically scan plates and immediately trigger alerts when they spot stolen automobiles.

Chitwood originally asked for the money in June. But city council members delayed a decision at the time because of budget concerns.

The Sheriff’s Office used the devices to help make an arrest in Deltona after a boy was captured on video taking a package off a front step.

“The quick arrest would not have happened without modern technology,” Andrew Gant, a Sheriff’s Office spokesman said in a statement earlier Wednesday.

Santana Lindsey, 20, was arrested.  She is accused of driving the kindergartner ran to the front door of the house on Tamerlane Street.

Home security video, detective work and license-plate reader technology led deputies to Lindsey.

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DeBary’s Fort Florida Road: Emergency declaration proposed

City officials are poised to take “decisive action” this week on something Fort Florida Road drivers have known a long time: The road is a mess and a public-safety threat.

Ron McLemore
Ron McLemore

Fort Florida Road  – narrow, crumbling and scarred with potholes – serves the fastest-growing part of DeBary.

Roughly 1,000 homes worth an estimated $300 million are approved but not yet built along the patched together, poorly drained roadway, city records say.

Interim City Manager Ron McLemore is asking the City Council to declare an emergency because of unsafe conditions on some sections of the nearly 5-mile-long road.

Fort Flordia Road threat

The rare move, if approved Wednesday, would allow city officials to waive purchasing policies and authorize McLemore to make repairs as quickly as possible.

“This emergency request is needed at this time to protect the safety of the public utilizing Fort Florida Road,” a city memo to the City Council says. Plans for repairs are already in the pipeline.

“In the interim, the City needs to take decisive action to make repairs to the hazardous sections,” the memo urges.

DeBary’s worst road

How much the manager needs for emergency repairs wasn’t immediately known.

Fort Florida RoadStaffers are getting quotes and should have an estimate at Wednesday’s meeting.

Called the worst road in the city, Fort Florida connects U.S. Highway 17-92 to West Highbanks Road, running between two water bodies – the 1,100-acre Konomac Lake and the St. Johns River.

It’s the only road along that route, serving existing and planned high-end subdivisions, and it links to the SunRail station at the southern end in DeBary’s Transit Oriented Development (TOD) high-value growth zone.

Conditions worsened

Last spring, the City Council approved a quick-fix resurfacing plan for $183,000 for the worst sections of Fort Florida Road. The move came after sections of the road fell apart in places and a vehicle got snagged in a giant pothole.

Conditions have worsened in recent months, DeBary resident Karen Chasez said during a recent City Council meeting.

“There’s a liability to the city from these potholes, which are getting worse,” she said.

She cited construction traffic from expansions at two subdivisions – Riviera Bella and Springview – as well as Florida Power & Light’s work at the utility’s Konomac Lake – as key contributors to the problem.

Developer impact

Matt Boerger, growth management director, told City Council members DeBary staffers are constantly monitoring conditions on Fort Florida Road under a maintenance agreement with developer Jerome Henin.

A 195-home expansion is underway at Springview.

Discussions are also underway for reimbursing the city

Matt Boerger
Matt Boerger

for impacts caused by development on Fort Florida Road, Boerger said.

“We access that almost daily,’ Boerger said.

At a meeting last year, Henin told council members he’s already spent $2.1 million on certain segments of Fort Florida Road to serve Riviera Bella.

“This is a very, very large investment,” Henin said at the time.

Approved, unbuilt homes

The waterfront subdivision, originally approved for 415 single family homes, got the green light from the City Council in 2016 for an additional 293 homes.

That’s a combined total of 708 single-family homes on the east and west sides of Fort Florida Road.

At least two other subdivisions are approved for that area.

Riverbend on the St. Johns River, also known as Estates at River Bend, has 330 acres along the St. Johns River and approved plans for 250 homes.

Fort Florida Commons, owned by DeLand-based Empire Cattle Co., is proposing roughly 700 units on 278 acres south of Fort Florida Road and west of Barwick Road.

That subdivision, supported by landowner representative Steve Costa, is being called an “agrihood” because residents can grow their own vegetables in a community garden.

City-county partnership

Fort Florida Road was paved about eight years ago using temporary asphalt meant to last roughly five to seven years.

The area is flat and the roadway lacks adequate drainage, allowing water to build up and soften the road’s base, undermining the foundation, the City Council was told last year.

The City Council took action earlier this month to fix a half-mile section of Fort Florida Road between U.S. 17-92 and Barwick Road under a unique partnership with Volusia County.

The county provides potable water, sanitary sewer and reclaimed water in DeBary.

Economic incentive

The city and county will equally share the cost of design – $180,000 plus a $40,000 contingency – with DeBary’s share coming from its economic incentive fund, the City Council decided Jan. 3.

Construction costs are estimated at $2 million. The county would cover half of that for utilities, with a combination of city and developer funds paying for the other half, records say.

Normally, the developer picks up all of those costs. But that policy has hampered the development of this area in the past, according to city officials.

The new city and county partnership is intended to expedite development, road improvements and utility upgrades in that area.

“Word of this agreement has already attracted a quality developer to the Costa property located on Ft. Florida Road,”  a city memo said.

Sustainable growth

At the Jan. 3 meeting, Costa praised city and county staffers for developing the cost-sharing agreement.

In the past, potential developers of Fort Florida Commons have been scared away by the upfront infrastructure costs.

Now, with the new agreement in place, Costa expects to worth with a new developer to move the project forward.

“I can tell you that the plans that we’re putting together are going to be phenomenal. It’s going to be something that everybody in the city of DeBary will be proud of,” Costa said. “It is putting the citizens first.”

Mort Culligan
Mort Culligan

DeBary critic Mort Culligan called the partnership a “$110,000 shakedown.”

“It benefits – to a large degree – developers,” he said.

McLemore defended the agreement, saying it would lure the kind of high-end development that would provide long-term and substantial growth of the tax base.

“You can work together to make things happen or you can just let happen what will,” McLemore said. “We’re not after growth. We’re after sustainable growth. We don’t want the low-hanging fruit…”

Ron McLemore
Ron McLemore

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DeBary, Florida faces cold front, thunderstorms today

 

 

 

 

Get ready for a messy commute home this afternoon.

A gigantic cold front will sweep through Central Florida between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. today, bringing thunderstorms and lightning. Twenty to 30-mph gusts are possible.

Saturday’s high will be in the 50s.

The front will drop temperatures into the mid-30s Saturday night into Sunday morning, according to the National Weather Service in Melbourne.

Saturday’s high will be 60.


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DeBary may pay $2K to settle suit against ex-Mayor Clint Johnson

A $2,000 settlement is being proposed to resolve a lawsuit filed by DeBary resident Colette Rowley against former Mayor Clint Johnson for an alleged verbal assault in 2015.

“On June 24, 2015 the plaintiff and Mayor Johnson got into an altercation that resulted [in the] plaintiff filing a suit against Mayor Johnson alleging ‘assault’ and ‘slander’ and the plaintiff demanding damages in the amount of $15,000.00,” a DeBary city staff report says.Clint Johnson

As others watched at City Hall, Johnson moved close to Rowley while telling her loudly she couldn’t attend a meeting because she spreads lies about him online, records allege.

The case is set for trial in February. DeBary staffers are recommending approval of the settlement. A message to Johnson wasn’t immediately returned.

The City Council is expected to act on the proposal Wednesday, Jan. 17.

A majority on the City Council removed Johnson from office in August 2016, saying he violated the charter by telling staffers what to do.

Johnson unsuccessfully challenged his removal by filing a lawsuit against the city.

Details of the alleged conflict between Rowley and Johnson are outlined in the court document below:

Colette Rowley vs Clint Johnson

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DeBary Mayor Bob Garcia: I’m not running again

This year’s election season just took a surprise turn after Mayor Bob Garcia announced his political retirement.

Bob Garcia
Bob Garcia

During Wednesday’ s City Council meeting — the first of the New Year — Garcia revealed he would not seek another term.

“It’s been wonderful serving you,” Garcia said. The move leaves only one officially declared candidate – Louis Sweet — though an open seat will likely draw more hopefuls with months before the election.

Garcia, 67, was most recently elected a year ago, defeating two other challengers for the vacancy created by Clint Johnson’s removal from office.

Johnson was removed after four other City Council members said he violated the charter by trying to direct staffers. Johnson lost an appeal to overturn the decision and return to office.

Garcia said he will serve the remainder of his term, which ends on Dec. 31.

Garcia previously served as mayor from 2009 to 2014.

He resigned effective June 2014 to run an unsuccessful bid for the state House.

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Mom in DeBary theft case must repay doctor $100K, judge says

seized

 

 

 

 

 

When she ran a DeBary doctor’s office, Tisha Krutsinger stole more than $100,000 from her boss for such expenses as tanning sessions, plane tickets and a maid for her house, records allege.

Now the former office manager is under orders to repay Dr. Humberto Dominguez at a rate of $1,000 per month.

But Krutsinger, 43, says she can’t afford to pay and is asking for the court to give her a break. She can’t make the payments, citing severe financial hardships and mounting health-care bills.

“I was clearly in the wrong committing this crime, and I know that my behavior was deserving a punishment,” Krutsinger wrote in a letter last month to a Volusia County judge. “I can offer no excuses, but instead state categorically that I am truly very sorry that I broke the law and it will never happen again.”

Her request for leniency and a lower monthly restitution payment was denied.

Tisha Kurtsinger

Circuit Court Judge James R. Clayton sentenced Krutsinger in June,  finding her guilty of grand theft over $100,000.

She entered a no-contest plea.

In July, Clayton put her on community control for 12 months followed by 108 months of probation. He also ordered the $1,000 per month payments to Dominguez.

“This is putting great strain on my family as well as my health,” Krutsinger wrote. “I will have to foreclose on my home, declare bankruptcy and forego any more medical treatment if this continues. At this time I am barely able to feed my family and I am truly concerned and very scared as to the future of myself and my children.”

Dominguez realized there was a problem with his finances after his credit card was declined in May 2014, around the same time Krutsinger was fired.

He later learned Krutsinger had a credit card issued in her name that was linked to the doctor’s business, deputies say.

At the time, the doctor didn’t realize Krutsinger had been charging large sums of money and then paying them with funds from his personal bank account, a Sheriff’s Office spokesman said in 2014.

The doctor confronted her and she admitted making the personal purchases, saying she would repay him. He fired her on May 27 and called the Sheriff’s Office for help.

“Mere minutes after Krutsinger was escorted out of the office, the doctor learned that the mortgage payments on his office building hadn’t been paid for several months and foreclosure proceedings had been initiated,” the spokesman said.

The spokesman said detectives discovered that she issued an extra payroll check to herself and took cash advances on the doctor’s credit card.

She used the money to pay for her cellphone, auto insurance, car repairs, cable, orthodontic bills and a plane trip to Kansas City, deputies allege.

Records show the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office successfully seized the couple’s 2006 GMC Yukon and a 2004 Land Rover because they had both been linked to the crimes.

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TISHA to Judge

DeBary Golf & Country Club lost $6.5K to veteran-charity scammer, deputies say

DeBary Golf &  Country Club lost $6,500 as one of the alleged victims of a man who falsely claimed to be raising money for military veterans, deputies said Friday.

Christopher P. Blake, 46, of Ormond Beach is accused of ripping off supporters of his organization, Second Chance Veterans Foundation, according to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.

Anyone who thinks they were scammed by Blake or has information is urged to contact the Sheriff’s Office at 386-254-1537.

$6,500 check bounced

During an investigation, a detective learned that Blake’s $6,500 check for his Oct. 28 fundraiser at DeBary Golf &  Country Club bounced, said Andrew Gant, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office.

“The manager reported that Blake had about 40 people at the event, each of them paying Blake $100 to play golf and eat lunch,” Gant said in a statement.

The investigation began last week after the Sheriff’s Office got a complaint from a local business that provided Blake signs and banners for a fundraiser but was never paid.

No Harley donated nor displayed

Gant said the detective on the case quickly realized something was up.

“The detective found a promotion for a Memorial Day raffle of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle that was said to be donated by Bruce Rossmeyer’s Harley-Davidson and on display at Ace Café in Orlando,” Gant wrote. “However, Rossmeyer’s denied ever donating a Harley, and Ace said no Harley was on display for Blake or his organization.”

The detective went to Blake’s office, where the landlord said Blake had not paid for rent in six months.

Chitwood, Sheriff’s Office not affiliated

The case remains under investigation as other potential victims come forward, some prompted by seeing photos Blake has posted on Facebook featuring himself and various figures, including Sheriff Mike Chitwood. Neither Sheriff Chitwood nor the Sheriff’s Office were affiliated with Blake or his organization.

“The landlord was scheduled to meet with Blake at her office that morning, and she let the detective sit in on the meeting – introducing him to Blake as her friend,” Gant wrote.

At one point, Blake showed the “friend” videos of events like a fundraiser at DeBary Golf and Country Club.

“Blake also told the detective he could buy a raffle ticket for the Harley,” Gant added.

Orange City hotel scammed

The detective also discovered Blake’s tracks at a Holiday Inn in Orange City.

The hotel gave Blake a $100 donation to sponsor his golf tournament.  Blake also asked for four free hotel rooms. He got a discount instead.

“But Blake’s debit card used for payment was ultimately declined, and his bill of $956.30 was never paid,” Gant wrote.

Gerald Riggs lost $2,500

Gant said former NFL running back Gerald Riggs was a victim. Riggs was a celebrity guest at the golf tournament. He received a $2,500 check from Blake that bounced.

The Second Chance Veterans Foundation website is at secondchanceveteransfoundation.org.

“Help U.S. Veterans Keep a home, start a business, create jobs, and to more effectively reintegrate back into society by partnering with the Veteran Entrepreneur Center,” the website said.

Blake was taken to the Volusia County Branch Jail in Daytona Beach on Friday and held on $10,000 bail.

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