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Coalition appeals ruling on new map for Congress

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - A coalition challenging Florida's congressional districts is taking its legal challenge to an appeals court.

The groups - which include the League of Women Voters of Florida - filed their official appeal notice on Friday.

A Florida judge last week approved a new congressional map. The new map alters seven of the state's existing 27 districts, but the changes will not take effect this year.

Voters in 2010 passed the "Fair Districts" amendment that says legislators cannot draw up districts to favor incumbents or a political party. A circuit judge in July ruled that two districts were invalid so legislators changed them.

The coalition in its appeals notice said it plans to ask the appeals court to send it up the Florida Supreme Court to resolve it before the 2016 elections.


Rothstein Ex-CFO gets 5 years prison in fraud

MIAMI (AP) - The former chief financial officer of convicted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein's law firm has been sentenced to five years in prison for her role in the $1.2 billion fraud.

Irene Shannon was sentenced Friday after pleading guilty to a conspiracy charge. U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro gave the 50-year-old Shannon the maximum sentence.

Court documents show that Shannon oversaw much of the accounting and banking at the now-defunct Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler law firm and was well aware of the Ponzi scheme. Prosecutors say she was involved in money laundering and a check-kiting scheme to keep the scam afloat.

Rothstein is serving a 50-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to orchestrating the scam, which involved investments in fake legal settlements. More than 20 people have been convicted in the case.


SunRail service resumes after body found on tracks

SANFORD, Fla. (AP) - Authorities say a central Florida commuter train struck and killed a man.

Sunrail service was suspended early Friday after the body was found on the tracks in Sanford, but it resumed later in the morning.

Sanford police officials say a train conductor spotted the body early this morning and contacted police.

Few details were immediately available.

Sunrail service, which began earlier this year, was affected in Volusia, Seminole and Orange counties because of police activity.


Fla. Gov. Scott promises new tax cuts for 2nd term

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Florida Gov. Rick Scott is promising more tax cuts if he wins a second term.

Despite past resistance from the Republican-controlled Legislature Scott says he will push through more than $1 billion in tax cuts over the next two years.

Scott in 2010 promised deep property tax cuts and a substantial phase-out of the state's corporate income tax. Neither has happened.

The GOP incumbent plans to launch a two-week statewide bus tour Monday to tout the tax cuts.

Scott's new tax cut plan includes sales tax holidays for shoppers, a reduction in taxes paid on cellphone bills and the elimination of taxes paid on commercial rent.

The governor also says he will push a constitutional amendment that would shield homeowners from increased property taxes if their homes lose value.


Mastermind in $800M fraud gets 20 years prison

MIAMI (AP) - The mastermind of an $800 million insurance scam that stands as one of the largest fraud schemes in Florida history has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison.

A federal judge imposed the hearing Friday on Joel Steinger, former chief of Fort Lauderdale-based Mutual Benefits Corp. Steinger pleaded guilty in March to mail and wire fraud conspiracy charges. Steinger's lawyer had sought a more lenient penalty.

Prosecutors say Mutual Benefits was a massive fraud scheme in which investors lost about $830 million between 1994 and 2004. There were about 30,000 victims around the world.

The now-defunct company bought life insurance policies from people with AIDS, cancer and other chronic illnesses and sold them to investors. Prosecutors say the numbers were manipulated and investors misled.


Crocodile that bit 2 swimmers dies during capture

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) - An American crocodile suspected of biting two swimmers in a South Florida canal has died.

Wildlife officials say the croc named Pancho died Friday morning while fighting capture by two trappers.

Florida Fish and Wildlife spokesman Jorge Pino told the Miami Herald the 12-foot, 300 pound crocodile died on shore after being retained. Pino says the body was taken to a state facility for evaluation.

The hunt for Pancho attracted a half-dozen trappers.

He was suspected of biting two swimmers who jumped into the canal that runs through the Gables by the Sea community early Sunday. Neighbors had mixed feelings about the hunt for Pancho. Some had admiration for the croc, especially since he'd been relocated twice and found his way back. Others were scared of him.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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