<![CDATA[NBC 6 South Florida - Top Stories]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcmiami.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC+6+LOGO+GOOGLE.png NBC 6 South Florida http://www.nbcmiami.com en-us Fri, 31 Oct 2014 16:07:54 -0400 Fri, 31 Oct 2014 16:07:54 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Judge Upholds Guilty Verdict for Ex-Homestead Mayor]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 12:07:04 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/tlmd_stevebateman2.jpg

Former Homestead Mayor Steve Bateman's guilty verdict on corruption charges was upheld by a judge Thursday.

Last month, a jury found Bateman guilty on two counts of unlawful compensation, unregistered lobbying, exploitation of his position and acquiring financial interests related to a secret consulting job with a Florida health clinic company.

On Thursday, the judge struck down one of the unlawful compensation charges.

Prosecutors said Bateman was a consultant with a Florida health care company, CHI, and pressed other local leaders, such as Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, for work while on the job.

Bateman was elected Homestead's mayor in 2009 and won re-election in 2011. He served as the city's vice mayor and councilman and was the chairman of the city's planning and zoning board. He lost the mayoral primary last October, finishing in third.

Bateman faces anywhere from probation to 15 years in prison at sentencing in December.

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<![CDATA[1 Dead in SpaceShipTwo Crash]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 16:03:17 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/214*120/10-31-2014-spaceshiptwo-debris-3.jpg

One person is dead and another has suffered a "major injury" after Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo rocket plane, designed for suborbital commercial flights above the Earth, went down Friday during a test flight over the Mojave Desert in Southern California.

The test flight, conducted in preparation for suborbital journeys high above Earth, involved two crew members who lost contact with ground controllers shortly after the space tourism plane separated from a mothership that carries it to a height of about 50,000 feet, according to a Federal Aviation Administration statement. The California Highway Patrol confirmed one fatality and one "major injury" after what the company called an "in-flight anomaly."

"During the test, the vehicle suffered a serious anomaly resulting in the loss of SpaceShipTwo," according to Virgin Galactic.

Kern County Fire Department officials said emergency crews were headed to a location in the Mojave Desert after a report of a plane down. California Highway Patrol Officer Darlena Dotson told The Associated Press the agency is responding to a report of a crash in the Cantil area, about 25 miles northeast of Mojave Air and Space Port.

The "anomaly" occurred as the plane fired its rocket engine in flight, according to NBCNews.com. A tweet posted by Virgin Galactic's account Friday morning said, "#SpaceShipTwo has experienced an in-flight anomaly."

The tweet was posted just minutes after the plane, carried to 50,000 feet by a mothership called WhiteKnightTwo, began flying under rocket power, something the hybrid-rocket engine plane had not done in more than nine months, according to NBCNews.com. WhiteKnightTwo landed safety, according to Virgin Galactic.

Virgin Galactic had switched the plane's fuel mixture since the last powered flight, NBCNews.com reported.

A witness told The Associated Press the space tourism plane exploded over the desert after its rocket motor ignited. Aerial video showed what appeared to be piece of aircraft debris marked with the Virgin Galactic logo in the area.

Details regarding the problem were not immediately available. A 2 p.m. news conference was scheduled at Mojave Air and Space Port, about 90 miles north of downtown Los Angeles.

Billionaire Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic's founder, had planned to be among those on the plane's first commercial voyage. Branson's company is considered a front-runner in the space tourism industry and more than 700 customers have already paid up to $250,000 for a trip on the plane.



Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Consumer Reports: The Most and Least Reliable Cars]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 15:38:02 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/cars_del_phones.jpg

Consumer Reports has just released this year’s ratings of the most and least reliable new cars and carmakers. There are some big changes this year, with Infiniti dropping most dramatically in the ranks.

The most reliable new car you can buy is the Scion xB. That’s according to Consumer Reports’ reliability survey, which shows data on over a million vehicles. And there’s data on 28 brands as well.

Once again the most reliable brands are dominated by the Japanese, with Lexus, Toyota, and Mazda taking the top three spots. Honda came in at number four.

The four least reliable brands are Dodge, Ram, Jeep, and Fiat, all owned by Chrysler.
Consumer Reports says Chrysler has traditionally had more than its fair share of trouble, and with the addition of Fiat in the mix, it really has not helped. In fact the new Fiat 500L is ranked the least reliable car out of the 248 that Consumer Reports rated.

Some American brands did well. Lincoln shot up 12 spots this year, and Buick made it into the Top 10 list of reliable brands. It is the only American car to do so. GM has been one of the better domestic brands in terms of reliability. And Buick has often been its top brand.

The most reliable SUVs are the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, the Subaru Forester, the Toyota Highlander, and the Lexus RX.

A few first-year cars, such as the Mazda6 and Kia Cadenza, got high marks for reliability. But most didn’t. So if you’re looking for a reliable car, Consumer Reports says that it’s really not best to buy a car that’s in its first year of the redesign. Wait a year or two until they work out some of those bugs. Case in point, the redesigned Chevrolet Silverado, which Consumer Reports’ research shows had lots of problems in its first year.



Photo Credit: NBC10 Philadephia]]>
<![CDATA[Drivers Scoop up Armored Truck Cash]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 15:57:47 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/police-lights-shutterstock_542372564.jpg

An armored truck lost an unknown amount of money on a Maryland interstate Friday morning -- and numerous drivers quickly scooped up the money, police said.

Maryland State Police are now "reminding" the drivers to that they are "welcome to turn in the money at the local barrack."

The incident happened shortly before 8 a.m. in the northbound lanes of I-270 near Route 80.

According to a preliminary investigation, a door lock on the armored truck malfunctioned, causing a side door to open. A bag of cash fell into the left lane of I-270, scattering cash into the air and across the highway, police said.

The truck driver pulled over to the shoulder and saw multiple vehicles had also stopped, with drivers picking up the cash. When a fire department official arrived at the scene, the drivers quickly left.

Maryland State Police, assisted by a K-9 team, recovered just over $200 from the scene.

Authorities have issued a warning to the drivers who grabbed the cash, telling them they can turn in the money at Maryland State Police's Frederick barrack. Those who don't return the cash could face theft charges if police learn their identities, authorities said.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[South Florida Nail Salon Dangers]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 15:12:29 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/pedicure_investigates.jpg

Picking out that perfect polish at the nail salon was a favorite ritual for Tilwanda Bivens. But now the Miami mom says her mani-pedi days are over because of a staph infection she believes she got from a Miami salon.

“I told my sister—I say the pain hurts so bad I feel like chopping off my arm,” Bivens told Team 6 Investigators.

Bivens says the manicurist cut her while doing her nails last fall. The nick healed, but Bivens says the pain persists.

“Sometimes I can’t even wash my back,” said Bivens.

Bivens sued the salon. By phone, the salon owner insisted Bivens "…didn’t get any cuts that day” and said “…we’ve been here 15 years and never had any problem.” Team 6 Investigators checked state records for the last five years and found no citations at the salon.

But Jason Chalik, Bivens’ attorney says state inspections --- conducted every two years -- aren't sufficient to catch health hazards. He says many salon owners are more concerned with fast customer turnover than careful attention to cleanliness.

"You’re being paid per job. You’re not being paid for that extra time to set up or to clean up,” said Chalik.

The state has reprimanded more than 1100 salons in Miami-Dade and Broward since 2010 for offenses ranging from unlicensed employees to dirty spa filters to not using hospital-grade disinfectants.

Jennifer Schnipper says she's still dealing with what happened to her during a pedicure in Boca Raton eight years ago.

“It’s numb. I don’t have any feeling,” said Schnipper pointing to a scar near her shin.
Schnipper says it all started with what looked like a pimple on her leg that developed shortly after a pedicure. Despite medication, the infection got worse.

“I was in excruciating pain,” said Schnipper, “…I could not bear weight on my right leg.”

She saw an infectious disease specialist.

“The second that she saw my leg she asked me how often do you get pedicures. And I thought what does that have to do with anything. And she said ’I guarantee this is a microbacterium infection from a pedicure spa bath’,” said Schnipper.

Emergency surgery left an open wound on her shin. Doctors had to do a skin graft, using tissue from her arm. She sued then salon owner, Thach Nguyen, who settled out of court, she says, for more than 350-thousand dollars.

“What my salon did not do is use the proper anti-germicidal solution,” said Schnipper. She also says she didn’t realize she shouldn’t shave right before a pedicure.

Health experts recommend waiting at least 24 hours after shaving or waxing to allow the tiny tears they cause to heal.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2000 blamed improperly cleaned foot spas for infections in more than 100 pedicure customers in California. The study also found that shaving the legs with a razor was “a risk factor.”

Still podiatrist Gary Wallach says the most critical issue is making sure salon tools are clean.

“If they don’t come from a sterilized package that’s a red flag,” said Wallach.

Wallach says so many patients were coming into his practice with infections from pedicures he opened a pedicure salon in his medical office, Coral Ridge Podiatry. He says consumers need to carefully watch how salon employees clean their stations.

“They are not being cognizant of the fact that they are doing surgical procedures, although we don’t think of it as surgery. Because the minute you cut that flesh, the moment you cut that flesh open, germs have the chance to get in, said Wallach.

The Team 6 Investigators visited a salon with zero citations and zero lawsuits to find out what they are doing right. At Something Perfect Nails in Miami Beach, the owner uses a 3-step cleaning process for all tools and schedules ten minutes between clients to ensure thorough cleaning of work stations. Schnipper believes all salon owners need to take cleanliness very seriously.

“It’s their job to keep consumers safe. And by taking short cuts they put everyone that enters the salon at risk,” said Schnipper.

Team 6 Investigators’ attempts to talk to salon owner Thach Nguyen were unsuccessful.

To check to see if your salon has been reprimanded by the state, Team 6 has created a searchable database for salons in Miami-Dade and Broward.

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<![CDATA[1 Dead, 22 Injured in Hayride Flip]]> Sun, 12 Oct 2014 22:42:42 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*120/pumpkinland+maine.jpg

A hayride flipped over at a Halloween attraction in Mechanic Falls, Maine, on Saturday, killing one teen and injuring 22 others.

The Maine Sate Fire Marshal's office confirms one person, a 17-year-old girl, died as a result of her injuries.

They say that two others, including the driver and a teenage boy, were seriously injured; however, they are expected to survive.

In addition, 15 people were taken to Central Maine Medical Center, seven were taken to St. Mary's in Lewiston, and one person was taken to Maine Medical Center, according to the State Fire Marshal. One child was later sent to a Boston hospital for treatment, according to WCSH.

Scott Lansley, a Harvest Hill spokesperson, says the two most serious injuries were sustained by employees. 

Authorities say a small jeep pulling a flatbed trailer missed a turn on a steep dirt road and jack-knifed. The jeep went off the road and the trailer hit a tree, sending riders tumbling to the ground. 

Investigators say a mechanical problem with the jeep may have caused the driver to lose control. State Police will inspect the vehicle.

The Maine State Fire Marshal is required to inspect and license mechanical amusement rides in the state, but hayrides do not require such licensing.

Lansley said Sunday morning that the operator is an experienced truck driver.

Harvest Hill Farms/Pumpkin Land posted the following message on its Facebook page around 10 p.m. Saturday night:

"Emergency crews are on-site now at our Gauntlet Night Ride as there was an accident with one of the wagons. We will keep you posted."

Around 11 p.m., the farm posted the following update:

"Emergency crews are on site and Life Flight was called in to transport those needing urgent care. The accident occurred at the Gauntlet Haunted Night ride, a separate venue from Pumpkin Land, our daytime Family Fall venue. However Pumpkin Land will be closed Sunday while authorities investigate the accident. Our thoughts and prayers are with the injured."

Several people who were at the Halloween attraction or had loved ones there on Saturday night posted messages as well. 

"My bestie and our lil girls were a few rides before this tractor. So sad," said Alexis Caron.

"My family was minutes away from this...a couple tractors ahead," said Patty Ann Keene. Thinking of everyone involved."

"My son and his pregnant girlfriend and a bunch of their friends were on that ride," said Penny Peare. "Thank God they are okay."

The Portland Fire Department posted the following message on Twitter on Saturday night:

"Thoughts and prayers with the victims, their families, and the emergency crews operating at a MCI in Mechanic Falls, ME"

Mechanic Falls is about 30 miles north of Portland. 

Check back for updates.



Photo Credit: NECN]]>
<![CDATA["Grim Reaper" Stabs Woman: Deputies]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 15:46:39 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/grimreaperstabbing2.jpg

A woman was stabbed multiple times early Halloween morning by someone dressed as the Grim Reaper, San Diego County officials said.

It was just before 2 a.m. Friday in a home on Thibido Road in Vista when deputies say the person dressed in costume attacked the woman while she was in the bathroom.

The attacker ran out of the home.

Deputies found the woman alive and searched the area with deputies and police dogs but did not find the assailant.

The victim was rushed to Palomar Hospital with what’s described as non-life threatening wounds.

She told deputies she could not identify her attacker's face but did hear the person's voice and described it as female.

It's not known how the suspect gained entry into the woman's home, officials said.

Check back for more on this developing story.
 

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<![CDATA[Armed Robbers Break Into Store Through Roof: BSO]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 11:39:38 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/robberycheckstore1031.PNG

Police are searching for armed robbers who broke into a Check Cashing Store in Dania Beach.

Two men broke into the store through the roof of the store, located at 112 S. Federal Highway in Dania Beach, according to the Broward Sheriff's Office. One female employee was inside at the time.

The employee did not have access to the store's safe. Deputies said the suspects pushed the employee to the ground and stole the victim's purse. They then fled through the back door.

BSO is asking anyone with information to call Broward Crime Stoppers at (954) 493-TIPS (8477).

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<![CDATA[Construction Worker Injured on Top of Brickell Building]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 10:50:11 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/210*120/00CC3F6F.jpg

A construction worker was injured when a wall of rebar collapsed on top of him Friday morning.

The accident happened on the 30th floor of the Brickell City Centre at 801 Brickell Avenue, prompting a daring rescue from the building's roof.

Firefighters stabilized the man in a Stokes basket before using a crane to lower him to the ground.

The man was then transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center, where he is listed in stable condition.

It is unclear what caused the rebar to collapse. 

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<![CDATA[Man Tries to Attack Officer With Ax]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 13:22:55 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/dc-police-ax.jpg

In a brazen attack, a man wielding an ax tried to hurt a D.C. police officer early Friday morning, striking his vehicle and getting into a struggle with the officer.

The officer wasn't struck by the ax, but he was injured in the altercation that followed as he tried to tackle the assailant.

The suspect got away, said D.C. police.

It happened shortly before 3:20 a.m. Friday, as an officer with the city's Fifth District was patrolling in a marked squad car in the 3800 block of 13th Street NE. The officer noticed what police called a suspicious person, who avoided the officer by entering an alley. The officer followed in his car, where he was ambushed by the man with the ax, police said.

The ax shattered the car's window, and the officer got out of his car and chased the man.

In a brief struggle that followed, the officer suffered a dislocated shoulder and injured knee. He was not injured by the ax.

The officer was taken to a local hospital and is expected to recover.

Police K-9 units tracked a suspect to the 1000 block of Perry Street NE, near Michigan Avenue, but have not found him.

Neighbors who usually describe the area as pretty quiet are horrified.

"Yeah, I did hear a yell. I heard a scream," said nearby resident Christopher Niosi. "I have a seven-car garage back year. I'm wondering if they tried to get in."

Niosi's backyard stretches to the alley where the officer got out of the cruiser and struggled with the suspect.

"Sadly, it's a comment on society today, you know?" Niosi said. "You're in the city, you know? Sad to hear it."

A motive in the attack remains unknown, D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said. She said in a release that authorities have been urging members of the police force to remain vigilant at all times.

"While we do not have any information at this point on the motivation surrounding today's attack, this situation underscores the need to always maintain a very high level of situational awareness while we are working," Lanier said in a release. "Recent incidents targeting uniformed law enforcement officers in Quebec, New York City, and now to one our own here in Washington, D.C. are reminders that we must always be ready for any eventuality."

Officers were going door- to-door in the area, searching for the suspect. The assailant will face felony assault charges once apprehended.

The incident comes just days after two NYPD officers were injured in an attack by a man with a hatchet in Queens, reported NBCNewYork.com.



Photo Credit: Courtesy of a law enforcement source
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<![CDATA[Body Found Outside Laundromat in Little Havana]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 15:56:27 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/212*120/laundromart.png

Police are investigating after a body was found Friday morning outside a laundromat in Little Havana.

A patron of the Laundromart at 1277 NW 7th Street called police around 7 a.m. to report a deceased male. Police started canvassing the area for witnesses.

Laundromart customers told NBC 6 that the victim was a homeless man in his mid to late 40s who lived under the 836 bridge near the courthouse. They said the man would come to the 24-hour laundromat once a month to get his social security check money from an ATM.

Miami Police Detective Frederica Burden said that, while it is still early in the investigation, there are signs of possible foul play. A cause of death was not immediately known.

"We do have signs of trauma, so we are investigating as we speak," Burden said.

Homicide investigators have no known motive at this time.

Police are asking anyone with information to call Miami Police Department's Homicide Unit at (305) 603-6350, or Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-TIPS (8477).



Photo Credit: NBC 6 South Florida]]>
<![CDATA[Body Found Floating in Water in Miami Beach]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 12:33:37 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/210*120/00CC4174.jpg

A body was found floating in the water near a yacht Friday morning.

Miami Beach Police responded to the scene near 47th Street and Collins Avenue around 9:30 a.m.

Chopper 6 was over the scene as detectives investigated a small area between a yacht and the dock.

No other information was immediately available.

Stay tuned to NBC 6 and NBC6.com for updates.

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<![CDATA[Share Your Halloween Photos!]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 12:24:37 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/halloween+pets+friday.jpg

Are you dressed up this Halloween? Share your spooky photos with NBC 6!

We want to see your scary, funny or interesting costumes.

Just tag your photos on Twitter and Instagram with the tag #NBC6 and we may repost your photo and share it on NBC6.com. You can always email your photos to ISEE@NBC6.com

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<![CDATA[Search Continues for Attempted Kidnapper in Hollywood]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 08:35:23 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/hwdkidnapsuspectsketches.PNG

Police have released a second sketch of a man suspected in three separate kidnapping attempts in Hollywood.

Hollywood Police have been patrolling the area where the man, said to be in his 20s, tried to abduct three girls. The new sketch is based on information from all three victims. Police said that although the two sketches differ, they believe it is the same person.

One father said that having this man still on the loose will prompt his family to make different trick-or-treating arrangements.

"I'll take them to a mall or something like that, or go in crowds," the man said. "The last thing we want to see is two or three kids out there by themselves."

Police are asking anyone with information to call Broward Crime Stoppers at (954) 493-TIPS (8477).

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<![CDATA[One Dead After Parking Lot Fight Leads to Shooting]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 11:56:20 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/220*120/1031shootingmd.PNG

One man has died after shots were fired in a shopping center parking lot in southwest Miami-Dade.

Miami-Dade Police responded to a Winn-Dixie parking lot in the area of US-1 and SW 104th Street just after 11 p.m. Thursday night.

Police said two drivers got in a verbal dispute in the parking lot. Juan Agriel, 67, got out of his Toyota Corolla with a tire iron in an attempt to assault the other driver, 48-year-old Eric Harris. This prompted Harris, the driver of a Toyota Camry, to shoot. Harris then called police and remained on the scene. Agriel was transported to a local hospital, but later died.

Harris and an unidentified woman were questioned at the scene before being released. They drove off in the Camry, but refused to speak to reporters. The Corolla was towed by police.

Police said all findings will be presented to the State Attorney's Office for review. Charges, if any, are pending.

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<![CDATA[Body Found Near Banyan Elementary: Police]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 06:19:33 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/police-tape-shutterstock_5628043312.jpg

Police are investigating after a body was found in a vehicle near an elementary school in Miami.

Miami-Dade School Police responded to a report of an abandoned SUV by Banyan Elementary School at SW 30th Street and SW 85th Avenue. Officers discovered the body of a deceased female inside. The Miami-Dade Police Department is investigating with the assistance of School Police.

The Miami-Dade County School Board released a statement to parents, saying, "At this time, this incident does not appear to be school-related in any way. The school will be open and in session as normal on Friday."



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Halloween Forecast: Cooler Trick-or-Treating Weather]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 05:35:44 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/B1Q38-NCIAEJvxV.png

A cold front will make its way through this afternoon, bringing with it a chance of showers for the commute home. The skies should clear in time for trick-or-treating, with temperatures reaching the mid-60s in the evening. Highs today will be in the mid-80s.

Download the NBC 6 Weather App

That cold front will give us fall-like temperatures for the weekend, with highs only reaching the 70s. Lows at night will be in the 50s. This weekend also marks the end of daylight savings time.

More Weather Content:

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<![CDATA[Police Arrest Alleged Serial Robber]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 21:13:27 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/andresgonzalezmugshot103014.jpg

Miami Police said they have arrested and charged a man connected with the robbery of a Subway restaurant in mid-October.

Police arrested 31-year-old Andres Raymond Gonzalez Thursday and charged with three counts of armed robbery with a firearm or deadly weapon.

In the Subway robbery, Gonzalez allegedly walked up to the counter, pulled a black pistol, and demanded money. Once he got the money, police said he left the scene in a white older model sedan.

Police are looking into whether Gonzalez may be involved in other robberies in the area.



Photo Credit: Miami-Dade Police]]>
<![CDATA[Dad of Boy Who Shot Pal Dead Pleads]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 20:44:14 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/anthony+senatore+guilty+plea.jpg

The father of a then-4-year-old New Jersey boy who fatally shot his 6-year-old neighbor with his father's unsecured gun has pleaded guilty to two counts of endangering the welfare of a child in exchange for less jail time, NBC 4 New York has learned.

Anthony Senatore of Toms River pleaded guilty Thursday to the charges in connection with the April 2013 shooting death of Brandon Holt. Senatore's young son shot Holt once in the head with Senatore's gun -- a .22-caliber rifle the father was accused of keeping loaded, unsecured in his bedroom.

Senatore's lawyer previously said his client was "deeply horrified over what took place and feels awful about it," but that the case should've been tried in civil, not criminal, court.

Last November, Senatore rejected a plea deal that would've required him to serve seven years in prison. In exchange for the guilty plea Thursday, Senatore will serve two three-year jail terms simultaneously when he is sentenced Feb. 5.

Senatore had originally faced six counts of child endangerment -- one for each of the five unsecured firearms investigators say they found accessible to his three children and one for endangering the welfare of Holt by leaving his gun in a place where his own child could get it. . 

The Holt family has filed a lawsuit against the Senatores accusing Senatore and his wife of recklessness that led to their son's death. .  



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Gore Still on Pole Days After Crash]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 20:27:41 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/214*120/human+remains+midtown.JPG

A Manhattan resident is frustrated by the runaround she says she's gotten from the city while trying to get gore removed from the scene of a gruesome midtown crash last week. 

Cassandra Dunn first contacted NBC 4 New York with photos of what appear to be small bits of remains spattered on a light pole at 33rd Street and Lexington Avenue.

Dunn said she believes the remains were left from a crash involving an SUV, taxi cab and several pedestrians last Thursday. The FDNY confirmed two pedestrians were hurt in the crash. 

She said the carnage included fat, blood and hair.

"It's pretty gross, definitely a major biohazard," she said. "People are walking by with their dogs, their children." 

Though the remains haven't been tested, biowaste worker Sal Pain of Bio Recovery Corporation said at the scene Wednesday he's positive they are human.

"You have human hair, all different types of fluids," said Pain, whose company has several high-profile contracts with the city, including for potential Ebola waste removal. 

Pain said the remains will likely "just sit there until someone decides to hose it down." 

Dunn has been on a mission to get the scene cleaned up since the accident, but can't find anyone to help. She called 311, who referred her to the NYPD, who referred her to the sanitation department. 

She then called the state health department, who referred her to the medical examiner -- who then referred her to the forensics department. 

She tried the CDC, who pointed her back to the state health department.

Dunn finally emailed the mayor's office, and she said she's still waiting for a response. 

"Basically, I've been run around and no one wants to help me with this," she said. 

NBC 4 New York's attempts to reach the same departments and agencies yielded the same results: each department referred questions to another. 

A spokeswoman at the city's sanitation department said it was their understanding that "NYPD generally calls a medical waste removal company to crime/accident senes to remove any potential medical waste." 

The NYPD did not respond to a message Wednesday. The FDNY said in certain instances, it hoses down accident scenes as a courtesy but they are not responsible for doing so. The department said it was not asked to do that in this case.

But the mayor's office said Thursday the FDNY typically does wash down the street in those situations and that it cleaned the scene the night of the accident, despite evidence of remains still there Wednesday night. A spokeswoman said a fire battalion went back after NBC 4 New York's report aired and washed it down a second time. 

-- John Chandler contributed to this report. 

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<![CDATA[Mother Forced Teen Daughter Into Prostitution: Police]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 19:17:51 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/103014+suzanne+calana+and+lawrence+martin.jpg

A South Florida mother was arrested after police say she forced her 16-year-old daughter into prostitution with a suspected drug dealer.

Suzanne Bobbie Calana, 37, was arrested Oct. 23 on charges of human trafficking of a person under 18, giving a controlled substance to a person under 18 and interference with custody, according to a Miami Police arrest report.

Also arrested was 43-year-old Lawrence Franklin Martin, who faces several related charges. Both Calana and Martin were being held without bond Thursday and it was unknown if they have attorneys.

Calana's daughter told police she had been using drugs with her mother since she was 12 years old and to support her drug addiction, she had prostituted herself, the report said.

“The concept that a mother could engage her 12-year-old daughter into the world of drugs, addiction, and prostitution, it’s just unfathomable,” said Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle.

The girl said she had recently moved in with Martin, who she said was a drug dealer, the report said. Martin, known as "Paper," forced the girl to prostitute herself with a $150 quota per day because he told her she had to "pay her way," the report said.

“Clearly the pimps took advantage, super advantage of this incredible vulnerability of a mother and a daughter caught in this disgusting web of life,” Rundle said.

Martin also had sex with the teen and gave her drugs, the report said. 



Photo Credit: Miami-Dade Corrections]]>
<![CDATA[Miami Cop Arrested for Assisting Drug Traffickers: SAO]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 12:00:02 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/cop+arrested+presser.jpg

A Miami Police officer was arrested for assisting drug traffickers, according to the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office.

Officer Jose Maldonado-Dick, a 7-year veteran who patrolled the Wynwood area, was charged with two counts each of armed cocaine trafficking, receiving compensation for unlawful behavior, official misconduct by a public servant and using a communication device unlawfully, according to an affidavit.

Maldonado-Dick allegedly used his uniform, gun and badge to protect drug dealers and make sure they were safe to conduct their transactions on the streets.

"Jose Maldonado has tarnished his badge," Chief of Police Manuel Orosa said in a statement. "I will move as swiftly as the process allows to terminate the employment of Mr. Maldonado."

According to the arrest affidavit, a confidential police informant called Maldonado-Dick to arrange two illegal drug transactions involving large amounts of cocaine. The informant told Maldonado he needed protection during the transactions, according to prosecutors.

Maldonado met with the informant several times and oversaw the two drug transactions conducted by the informant and an undercover officer, according to the affidavit. For one of the transactions, Maldonado-Dick suggested they use the McDonald's parking lot near his patrol area, the affidavit said. The officer allegedly arrived to each meeting in his marked City of Miami Police patrol car. He was dressed in full uniform and armed with his standard issue Glock handgun, the affidavit said.

"These acts are a breach of trust," said State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. "[It] deeply impacts, it hurts, every honest police officer."

At a Wednesday press conference, prosecutors presented photos that allegedly show Maldonado-Dick conducting the illegal transactions.

Maldonado-Dick allegedly made $1,900 for the two transactions. Because he was allegedly involved in an illegal drug deal while holding a firearm, prosecutors say Maldonado-Dick faces life in prison.

"Our good police officers are doing what they have to to clean our ranks of whatever corruption we may have in our police department," Orosa said.

The Fraternal Order of Police released a statement that read in part:

"Our community rightfully demands that we uphold the law as well as resist the temptation of abusing our position as law enforcement officers. If the charges are true against Officer Maldonado, we support that he is held accountable for his actions."

Maldonado-Dick is being held without bond. It is unclear if he has an attorney.

No further details were immediately available.

Stay with NBC6.com for updates on this breaking story.



Photo Credit: NBC 6 South Florida
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<![CDATA[UConn to Honor Jasper Howard with Memorial Statue]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 18:12:49 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/032511+jasper+howard.jpg

It’s been five years since University of Connecticut football player, and Miami native, Jasper Howard was murdered. The school will unveil a statue for Jasper Saturday after two football fans led a drive to help remember the fallen football star.

“He’s kinda emblematic of the entire UConn football program,” said UConn fan Dan Lowry.

Howard was described as a player who would never quit. In his final game, Howard recorded 11 tackles and a fumble recovery.

“Was he the biggest? Was he the fastest? No, but he probably had more heart than any other defensive back,” said Howard’s coach at UConn, Randy Edsall.

Jasper’s family said he dreamed of providing a better life for them and for his fiance’ His dream was cut short when he was stabbed to death during an on-campus fight that began over a girl. Jasper’s killer, John Lomax III, is serving an 18-year-prison sentence for Howard’s death.

While Howard’s life was cut short, his memory and what he stood for isn’t forgotten by those who knew him the best.

“He wanted to change lives for other children who grew up in the same place as him, who come from rough neighborhoods, who didn’t have much. He wanted to give back to that community,” said Howard’s fiancé, Daneisha Freeman.

Howard’s legacy will also live on through his four-year-old daughter Ja’Miya, who was born just months after her father was murdered.

“Her being able to walk up, when she can really understand what happened and to be able to see this tribute to him and say, ‘Ya know what, UConn loved my dad,’” Lowry said.

“He would have that big smile on his face and he’d be, you know, gleaming from ear to ear,” Edsall said Howard would have looked if he was there for the ceremony.

About thirty of Jasper’s former teammates will be at Saturday’s game for the halftime memorial ceremony. Jasper’s family and friends from Miami are also planning to travel to the game for the ceremony.

The UConn Huskies will play the University of Central Florida on Saturday with a noon kickoff. The game can be seen on the CBS Sports Network.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Arrested Cop Blasted by Bond Court Judge]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 19:17:29 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/jose+maldonado+dick.jpg

Miami Police Officer Jose Maldonado-Dick made his first court appearance Thursday after he was arrested for allegedly providing protection to drug traffickers and the bond court judge wasted no time blasting the defendant.

“Mr. Maldonado, counsel, all I can say that’s incredibly stupid for Mr. Maldonado to put himself in the position that allegedly he was,” Judge Jorge Rodriguez-Chomat said.

Officer Maldonado, a seven-year veteran who patrolled the Wynwood area, faces two counts each of armed cocaine trafficking, receiving compensation for unlawful behavior, official misconduct by a public servant, and using a communication device unlawfully, according to an arrest affidavit.

“This is perhaps one of the most egregious breaches of trust, of public trust and narcotic trafficking event possible,” prosecutor Warren Eth said.

Maldonado-Dick allegedly used his uniform, gun and badge to protect drug dealers and make sure they were safe to conduct their transactions on the streets.

According to the arrest affidavit, a confidential police informant called Maldonado-Dick to arrange two illegal drug transactions involving large amounts of cocaine. The informant told Maldonado he needed protection during the transactions, according to prosecutors.

Maldonado met with the informant several times and oversaw the two drug transactions conducted by the informant and an undercover officer, according to the affidavit. For one of the transactions, Maldonado-Dick suggested they use the McDonald's parking lot near his patrol area, the affidavit said. The officer allegedly arrived to each meeting in his marked City of Miami Police patrol car. He was dressed in full uniform and armed with his standard issue Glock handgun, the affidavit said.

Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa said in a statement that he would be moving “as swiftly as the process allows to terminate the employment of Mr. Maldonado.”

Maldonado’s attorney, Steven Amster, said Maldonado has “faith in his innocence.”

“I do to, and obviously, right now, it’s a bit of a circus and when the dust settles and the evidence gets presented; I think my client will be exonerated,” Amster said.

Maldonado-Dick is being held without bond. If convicted of the armed cocaine trafficking charge, he could spend the rest of his life in jail. His next court appearance is scheduled for next month.

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<![CDATA[Man Put Acid Bombs in Ex's Car]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 21:29:02 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/bottle-bomb-083011.jpg

A 53-year-old Florida man will spend 10 years in prison after stalking an ex-girlfriend who lives in Stamford and planting bombs filled with hydrochloric acid in her car, severely burning her, prosecutors say.

"I don't know what possessed me to do what I did," Frank Mendoza wrote in a letter to the court just before he was sentenced Thursday, apologizing and saying he had intended only to "scare" his victim.

Mendoza was sentenced to 10 years followed by three years of supervised release, after he pleaded guilty to one count of interstate stalking in June. His plea deal had stipulated a sentence ranging from seven to 10 years.

Mendoza, formerly of Jacksonville, Florida, was arrested in Jacksonville on Aug. 17, 2012, almost two years after he is accused of having planted the bombs that left his ex-girlferiend with severe burns.

Prosecutors said Mendoza began dating the victim in 2008 and “became emotionally and psychologically abusive” toward her. The victim told authorities Mendoza had a lengthy criminal background and claimed to be part of a gang, and that she also noticed him carrying a gun.

The victim tried to break off the relationship and told Mendoza she was moving to Rhode Island for work-related training in September 2010, prosecutors said. In reality, she moved to Stamford.

A month later, Mendoza discovered her real address and began making harassing phone calls to the victim and her friends and colleagues, according to prosecutors. He allegedly traveled to Connecticut in November and showed up at her home and workplace, then returned home to Florida.

Mendoza returned on Dec. 8, 2010, when he flew into New York City and rented a car to drive to Connecticut, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. He drove to the victim’s home in Stamford and planted two bottle bombs in her car containing hydrochloric acid and aluminum foil wicks, according to prosecutors.

The victim went out to her car around 11 p.m. and noticed the interior was wet. She opened the driver’s side door and noticed a bottle on the floor, which began to “smoke and fizz” when she picked it up, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Prosecutors said the victim put it down, and the bottle exploded behind her as she ran away. Investigators learned that the first bottle had blown up before she arrived at her car. As a result, the victim “nearly suffered a horrible, disfiguring injury at [Mendoza’s] hands,” prosecutors said.



Photo Credit: YouTube]]>
<![CDATA[Consumer Reports: The Real Deal on Outlet Stores]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 19:16:34 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/161*120/livermore4.JPG

We’re spending more than ever at outlet malls. Sales are expected to top $42 billion this year, according to the trade publication Value Retail News. Consumer Reports has rated 53 of the biggest outlet stores for value and quality, based on a survey of almost 16,000 subscribers, and can help you bag the best bargains.

Most shoppers that Consumer Reports surveyed are happy with the outlet deals. Sixty-four percent say outlets offer great value. Those surveyed found superior value at Bon Worth, Haggar, OshKosh B’gosh, Izod, and L.L.Bean. But the ratings from subscribers were not as good for some other stores, including American Eagle Outfitters, Old Navy, Gap, Nike, and Levi’s.

These days most merchandise is made especially for the outlets. But is it the same quality? For example, two Coach bags: One from the Coach store for $378 and the other from the outlet for $150. The retail version is made of a nice, heavy, embossed leather. It has a rounded top, so it sits nicely, and a rounded handle, which is more comfortable. The outlet version is a fine bag, but it has a few less fine details and a flat handle.

There’s a big price difference between J.Crew’s outlet ballet flats ($42) and those from its retail store ($150). The shoes are very similar. But the retail version is made of leather in Italy, and the outlet version is made in China of polyurethane. And the retail version also has a heel, which will provide much better support.

Also be aware that not everything is cheaper at the outlets. Although a Corelle dinnerware set is identical to the one at the retail store, it actually costs more: $80 instead of $75. Same with a Revere Ware pot and pan set. It’s $70 at the retail store and $68 at the outlet.

Bottom line: Some outlets definitely offer bargains, but you have to shop carefully. Consumer Reports has more tips for outlet shoppers. Head to the back of the store first. You’ll find the biggest markdowns there. And if an item is damaged, always ask for an additional discount. Consumer Reports shoppers got at least 10 percent off, every time.



Photo Credit: Bob Redell]]>
<![CDATA[Suspect Arrested in Road Rage Death]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 16:21:13 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/th-perla-road-rage-16x9---00002804.jpg

Police have arrested the man they say gunned down an Oakland mother of four in a road rage shooting as she and her husband returned from grocery shopping Sunday.

Carlos Stephen Dubose, 20, of Oakland, was arrested Wednesday in Elk Grove on a murder charge, Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent said at a Thursday news conference.

"Perla's life mattered," Whent said. "All life matters in Oakland."

Not many details were released on why police suspect Dubose of being linked to the shooting death of Perla Avina, 30. She was shot on 98th Avenue as she and husband Mando Lopez had just bought breakfast ingredients near their home about 12:30 p.m. She died of her wounds shortly afterward.

Lead investigator Leo Sanchez said he was limited in what he wanted to release about the "road rage" death, which is "still unfolding." Dubose was arrested in connection with a murder, but as of Thursday morning, he was not formally charged.

Sanchez said there are no other known suspects and would not comment on how many other people may or may not have been in Dubose's car at the time.

Police did confiscate a silver four-door Volvo and a firearm from Dubose. He added there was some type of "confrontation" involving Dubose, though he wasn't specific. Police credited "a significant amount" of surveillance video and community tips for the arrest.

Since Sunday, police had been looking for who fired bullets into Lopez's 1998 Toyota Camry in what police spokeswoman Johnna Watson said was likely related to some type of road rage.

Earlier this week, Lopez, whose full name is Luis Armando, told sister station Telemundo that he remembers a car tried to veer in front of him on the way back from the market, and "I guess I didn't let him go."

Avina and Lopez have four children, ages 1 to 14. She was a medical receptionist and, according to neighbor Dwyane Jackson, who performed CPR on Avina before she died, "the heart of the family."


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<![CDATA[Halloween Hazards and Your Pets]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 14:13:57 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/180*120/60621689230149ca818b9f9bfb67a1cc.JPG.jpg

No matter how old you are, or whether or not you have kids, Halloween is fun! But just like during other hectic holidays, fun and games need to be tempered with a little due diligence. Here are some tips to keep your fur kids safe this Halloween.

Keep candy away from pets

While cats are not generally drawn to candy, dogs will eat it with gusto. Chocolate contains theobromine, an alkaloid that is toxic to companion animals. Clinical signs of theobromine poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, and increased urination. These signs can to progress to irregular heartbeats, seizures, internal bleeding, cardiac arrest, and even death. While the amount of theobromine found in dark chocolate or baking chocolate is much higher than amounts found in milk chocolate, all chocolate candies can pose serious risks to your pet. The high fat and sugar contents can lead to gastrointestinal upset or life-threatening pancreatitis.

In addition to chocolate, nuts can pose problems for pets as well. Their shape, size, and texture make them difficult to digest, and in the worst case scenario, they can cause an obstruction that requires a surgical repair. Walnuts can contain toxins produced by fungi that can lead to neurological symptoms, and macadamia nuts have been linked to muscle tremors, hindquarter paralysis, high fever and rapid heart rate. As of this writing, veterinary researchers have not identified the substance that causes these symptoms. Raisins must also be kept away from pets. While scientists do not know why, raisins and grapes have been linked to kidney failure in dogs. And it only takes a small amount to make a dog seriously ill.

It is important to make sure children know about the doggie dangers in their trick-or-treat bags. Make sure they know that candy is never to be shared, and must be stored out of your pet's reach. Ask them to bring any unwanted candy to an adult so they will not be tempted to get rid of it by sharing it with your pet. If your pet has a habit of getting into the trash, try to find a creative solution for unwanted candy.

Remember that Halloween is scary

While many pets are happy to join in the fun, some find it absolutely terrifying. Constant ringing of doorbells, strangers at the door, loud noises, freaky costumes - all of these things can be frightening to dogs and cats. Since the front door is likely to opening and closing often, the best place for your cat may be in another room, behind a closed door, with access to food, water, and a litter box. If your dog is not having fun, it's okay to put her in her kennel. Frightened animals can bolt through open doors. Additionally, a frightened dog is statistically likely to bite. Keep a watchful eye on both dogs and children, and calmly remove dogs from situations that may trigger them to bite.

Clean up after crafts

If you are making Halloween costumes this year, clean up all crafting debris as soon as possible. Shiny needles and wispy threads are irresistible to cats. When swallowed, they present a life-threatening emergency. Ribbons and strings can cause problems as well, so keep your kitty away from the crafting supplies.

Keep pets inside

As Halloween approaches, our neighbors may decide to head out for a bit of mischief. Do not leave pets unattended outside where they can be teased, harassed, or frightened.
Most importantly - have fun! By taking a few simple precautions, we can save our pets from a scary Halloween trip to the vet!



Photo Credit: Mary Gales
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<![CDATA[Homestead Man Arrested for Battery of Disabled Adult]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 13:41:43 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/103014+carlos+cuzan.jpg

A South Florida hospital worker is facing an abuse of the elderly charge after he battered a disabled adult, authorities said.

Carlos Cuzan, 44, was arrested Thursday by the Florida Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the Miami-Dade Police Department, according to the Florida Attorney General's Office.

Cuzan was booked into the Miami-Dade Jail was was being held without bond Thursday. It was unknown if he has an attorney.

Authorities said a co-worker witnessed Cuzan punch the victim several times in the face while employed as a medical health technician at the South Florida Evaluation and Treatment Center in Hialeah.

The victim, who suffers from schizophrenia, was treated for a laceration to his lip, the Attorney General's office said.

Cuzan faces up to five years in prison.



Photo Credit: Miami-Dade Corrections]]>
<![CDATA[A Homecoming Fit for a King]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 13:52:02 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/457402746.jpg

Out in Cleveland they’re talking 70 wins and a championship for the Cavaliers.

Quick reminder I: Only one NBA team has ever won 70 games in a season, and the 1996-97 Chicago Bulls had a guy named Michael Jordan leading the way to a record 72 wins.

Quick reminder II: The Cavs are 0-for-44 in their all-time quest for an NBA championship.

But it’s easy to see why expectations are through the Quickens Loan Arena roof, just off the shores of Lake Erie: On Thursday night, LeBron James will put on a Cleveland uniform in a regular-season game for the first time since 2009-10. 

“This is my first home game,’’ he says in a new Sprite commercial, trumpeting his return to his hometown team.

The ad shows him getting a hero’s welcome as he walks into Akron’s Patterson Park, where he played as a youth. It’s as if he never left Cleveland back in July, 2010, to take “my talents to South Beach.’’ That night he became Public Enemy No. 1, with his once-adoring fans burning his wine-and gold No. 23 jersey and the Cavs’ owner, Dan Gilbert, emasculating the franchise’s all-time greatest player in a venomous email seen ‘round the world.

Now he’s back and the NBA has never seen a homecoming like this one.

The Cavs open the season Thursday at the New York Knicks at 8 p.m. He returns with a new baby in tow, having welcomed daughter Zhuri Nova with his wife last week. James also has two sons.

“They all hated him for leaving, but now it’s a great story because he’s the hero again,’’ NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal said on Monday. “Villain one day, hero the next. Now all is forgiven. That just shows you how fickle fans can be.’’

O’Neal, who played two seasons in Cleveland with James, had an idea that James would be headed back home. It’s not just that LeBron always had it in the back of his mind to return to where he first became a legend, playing for St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. Shaq also saw some basketball logic in James’ decision to leave Miami Heat as a free agent, even after leading the Heat to two titles, in 2012 and 2013, and helping the Heat become only the third franchise in league history to go to four straight Finals.

“When a guy goes to four straight Finals, like LeBron did, you figure everything is good and he’ll be staying,’’ O’Neal said. “But what nobody is talking about is what happened to the Heat.’’

In last June’s Finals the Heat’s vaunted “Big Three’’ was reduced to James trying to go one-on-five and getting obliterated in five games by the San Antonio Spurs. With one-time Finals MVP Dwyane Wade looking calcified, and their top big man Chris Bosh largely ineffective, James found himself trying to outduel the Spurs by himself.

Turns out, he had every reason to head back to Northeast Ohio. But first, he had to hear a very big “I’m sorry’’ from Gilbert, the long-time meddling owner. The two met in secret in Florida before he decided to make the move. Gilbert apologized and James proved to be one forgiving soul.

“You hash it out and move on,’’ the four-time MVP said.

James signed a two-year deal for $42.1 million, with an option to rework his contract next summer. What he went back to was a far cry from what the Cavs have now, as they prepare to take the court for their season-opener against the New York Knicks.

“I didn't envision our team being like this right off the bat," James said during pre-season. “I felt like me coming, we could hopefully add some pieces. Obviously it happened quicker than I thought."

The Cavs have the makings of a championship contender. Kyrie Irving, who was once intent on returning home to the New York area to play for his beloved Knicks, opted to stay when the Cavs gave him the $90 million maximum salary, just before James announced his return. Then the Cavs used their third No. 1 overall pick in the draft in the last four years, Kansas prodigy Andrew Wiggins, and traded him to Minnesota for the Timberwolves' disgruntled All-Star power forward, Kevin Love.

Irving and Love have zero playoff appearances between them and have never had to perform under such lofty expectations, which is probably the reason James refuses to call his new set-up “the Big Three.’’ But they’re bound to benefit from playing with James, who will be seeking his sixth trip to the Finals since 2007 and his third ring. With the King back on his throne, the Cavs had an easy time adding the necessary fill-in pieces for a strong supporting cast. Players with championship pedigree like Shawn Marion, Mike Miller and James Jones ran to play with James. They might be shaky defensively, lacking a big man to protect the rim, but the Cavs should be an offensive juggernaut.

“I don’t see anybody in the East giving them problems,’’ O’Neal said. “Chicago needs to find another scorer to help Derrick Rose. He can’t do it by himself and he’s undersized. The only concern I have about Cleveland is their coach.’’

A veteran of coaching in Russia and Israel, David Blatt, a former Princeton player under legendary coach Pete Carril, has never coached a second in the NBA, not even as an assistant. But he now has the best player on the planet, who still doesn’t turn 30 until December, meaning this is a learning curve that should be relatively easy to negotiate.

Of course, there hasn’t been a champion in Cleveland since the Browns in 1964.

“For LeBron, winning one championship in Cleveland will be the equivalent of winning five titles in Miami,’’ said O’Neal’s TNT teammate, Charles Barkley. “Even if he doesn’t win it this season, you just have to love the fact that LeBron went back home. That’s what I was rooting for and what a lot of people were rooting for.’’

Nowhere more than out in LeBron’s old stomping grounds. He might not win 70 games this season, but no one will be surprised if sometime in June he’s out in front, leading a championship parade.

Longtime New York columnist Mitch Lawrence continues to write about pro basketball, as he’s done for the last 21 years. His columns for NBCNewYork.com on the Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and the NBA, along with other major sports, will appear twice weekly. Follow him on Twitter @Mitch _ Lawrence.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Serial Arsonist Torched Neighbors' Cars: Hialeah Police]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 19:16:57 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/103014+armando+hernandez.jpg

A serial arsonist who has been lighting his neighbors' vehicles on fire in Hialeah was arrested after torching his girlfriend's car, police said.

Armando Hernandez, 51, was arrested late Wednesday after undercover detectives spotted him lighting his girlfriend's Jaguar on fire, Hialeah Police officials said.

Hernandez faces eight felony arson charges. He was being booked into jail Thursday and it's unknown whether he has an attorney.

According to police, Hernandez has been terrorizing his neighborhood within the last few weeks, torching  seven vehicles and throwing an incendiary device into a neighbor's yard.

Hernandez has been living in the neighborhood for the past month with his girlfriend, who is a long time resident.

Police are still trying to determine a motive for the crimes.



Photo Credit: Hialeah Police]]>
<![CDATA[City's Site Hacked After Dog Shot]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 21:32:05 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Cleburne+TX+city+hall.jpg

The FBI is investigating a cyber attack on the city of Cleburne, Texas, that shut down the city’s website and appears to be motivated by a police officer’s controversial shooting of a dog, the mayor said Wednesday.

"We're under attack as we speak,” said Cleburne Mayor Scott Cain. "We consider an attack on the city an attack on the residents, and we're not going to put up with it."

Video showing a police officer shooting a dog has been viewed more than 200,000 times on YouTube. The officer was dispatched to a report of three vicious pit bulls and shot one of them.

The officer is on paid leave while an investigation is underway.

Hackers are using a “denial of service” attack to overwhelm the city’s servers, slowing emails and all but shutting down the city’s website, which residents use for everything from paying utility bills to reporting potholes.

"Our IT guys are working on it around the clock,” Cain said.

Cain promised a transparent investigation into the dog shooting.

"When the review is completed we are going to let the chips fall where they may,” he said.

Regardless of what happens with that, he said whoever is behind the hacking is picking on the wrong city.

"If somebody thinks that they are going to send a message to an officer or the city of Cleburne, don't mess with Cleburne, Texas,” he said. “We will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law. And we're not going to put up with it."

Katherine Chaumont, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Dallas office, confirmed the bureau is assisting Cleburne with the cyber-crime investigation.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>