Tag Archives: sarasota

Candidate who Faked her Diploma Dropped Out of Congressional Race

howard

Melissa Howard

Melissa Howard, who was embarrassingly caught in a series of lies about her education after the diploma she posed with turned out to be fabricated, dropped out of her congressional race in Sarasota. After getting caught in her lie, she doubled down, only to relent and admit that she did not graduate from Miami University in Oxford, OH. However, last Tuesday she changed course and withdrew from the race. It would have been interesting has she stayed in the primary, as many absentee ballots would have already been mailed in. Zac Anderson provides a good top-to-bottom rundown of the bizarre saga, and it sounds like political pressure finally convinced Howard to drop out. Ironically, it probably would not have mattered much if she had just fessed up in the beginning. The cover-up is almost always worse than the original crime.

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A Sarasota Congressional Candidate Apparently Fabricated her College Degree

howard2.jpg

Melissa Howard

In a contentious Republican primary in Sarasota, there have been several accusations of dishonesty against candidate Melissa Howard. The latest was that she had not graduated with a degree from her undergrad, Miami University in Ohio. [Full disclosure, that’s where I went to undergrad.] Howard disputed the claim, and called it false news, and provided an alleged photo from graduation. Of note, her campaign changed the date of her supposed graduation from 1994 to 1996. She proceeded to claim a few days later that she had flown to her parents home to collect her diploma that she says her mother had been keeping in a storage unit. To finally convince everyone that she had graduated, she posted a picture of herself with a Miami University diploma from 1996, declaring that Melissa Marie Fox, her maiden name, had received a degree in marketing. FlaNews took down their report, and she called on her opponent to ‘stop the lies‘. But the story didn’t stop there.

 

howardThe Howard campaign took some of the graduation claims down from her web page on Friday, and FlaNews continued to dig. The University confirmed that Howard had not received a degree in ’94 or ’96, and that the diploma did not appear legitimate. FlaNews reposted their story with more… Miami University does not have a degree in marketing: had she majored in marketing, it would have been a bachelor’s of science in business. Also, the dean whose signature appears on the diploma is not the correct dean, suggesting that the diploma had been fabricated.

Howard has been silent since the latest story was posted, and her campaign adviser says she is dealing with a medical issue with her husband. At this point, it’s hard to even take her word for that. I did not know her from my time at Miami, but I was several years behind, and it’s a bigger school than most realize. Her time there also likely overlapped with House Speaker Paul Ryan, who graduated in 1992. Fortunately for her party, this all came out before the primary, and the other candidate will likely get to ride the truth into the general election.

***UPDATE***

I found a LinkedIn profile that appears to be hers, where she indicates she studied at Miami from 1990-94, and then took a job in Chicago after 1994. It’s possible she was just a credit short, and earned a credit to fix it up while she was working as a merchandiser in Chicago… but, it’s suspicious to say the least. I bet she comes out with a statement this week withdrawing, and apologizing saying she was really close but never finished the graduation requirements…

melissa howard

Friday Fun from Florida: Gator Stolen

gator-from-sarasota

The Stolen Gator

A Sarasota resident was surprised when an Alligator wandered into his yard. He didn’t need to be scared, because the gator’s mouth was already taped up. It appears the gator had recently been trapped, but that the gator had then been stolen. I guess the thief ended up with a little more than he bargained for!

via NBC-2

Watch for me on Fox4 News Tonight at 10 p.m.

North Port parents Joseph Walsh and Kristen Bury

North Port parents Joseph Walsh and Kristen Bury

I spoke with Fox4 News this afternoon for a story she is working on regarding the mysterious disappearance of a 9-week old baby from North Port. Specifically, we talked about how the challenges of the case, and how hard to prosecute the case if there is only circumstantial evidence… especially if the State decides to pursue homicide charges, though no body has been found at this time. So far, they have only been charged with child neglect, but that is very much subject to change as more evidence comes in, and the prosecutor reviews the case. It is a terrible tragic case that will likely be a major story for some time to come.

Here’s the Fox4 Website: http://www.scrippsmedia.com/fox4now

Man Falls Asleep While Burglarizing Sarasota Home

Timothy Bontrager

Timothy Bontrager

29-year-old Timothy Bontrager is the next in a new wave of crime, the sleeping burglar. He broke in a house, and the homeowner got up in the morning, and found him sleeping on the couch. It’s not a burglary to sleep on someone’s couch. Unfortunately Bontrager also took the victim’s wallet and some other items, so he’s facing felony charges.  This is the second publicized case of Sleep-Burgling in the last few months, both in Florida, natch.

I should clarify, it is still against the law to break into someone’s home, even if you are only going to sleep. The offense of Burglary includes the intent to commit another offense while in the home/structure/vehicle. This guys intent was pretty clear, since he walked off with the homeowner’s property!

Earlier: https://crimcourts.wordpress.com/2014/09/15/burglar-caught-sleeping-on-the-job-literally/

Dion Davis, another recent Sleep Burglar

Dion Davis, another recent Sleep Burglar

Burglar Caught Sleeping on the Job – Literally!

Dion Davis, the Sleeping Burglar

Dion Davis, the Sleeping Burglar

Dion Davis must have worn himself out breaking into a Nokomis, Florida, home. The cleaning lady found him sleeping, next to a bag of jewelry he had looted from the home, and called police. He was still out cold when deputies arrived, and they were able to take a picture of him asleep on the victim’s bed, booty lying next to him.

Dion Davis

Dion Davis

Sounds like he was high, probably on an opiate or other depressant. That’s not going to be a legal defense to the Burglary of a Dwelling and Theft charges he’ll be facing.

I recently questioned a local deputy who testified that there were no cameras available for him to take pictures when he was called out to investigate. It’s a shame, he could end up missing out on the best evidence photo, ever.

Fishermen Pull 10-foot Alligator Out of Gulf of Mexico

Don't Molest Gators!

Don’t Molest Gators!

Some men fishing from a Sarasota pier saw a gator in the surf, and pulled him out before authorities could get to the scene. They could be facing charges, it is illegal to take, feed, bother or otherwise molest a gator in Florida, even one in the ocean (it’s not unusual for gators to take a swim- they don’t mind the salt.)

Remember, if a nuisance alligator seems threatening, call FWC!

Captured Gator, via WFLA

via NBC-2 : http://www.nbc-2.com/story/26482685/10-foot-alligator-caught-in-gulf-waters-off-venice-charges-possible#.VA_UjfmwKRo