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Cutting through smoke of Florida’s vaping laws

November 21, 2019 in Florida


TAMPA (WFLA) – The FDA is in charge of regulating e-cigarettes, liquid flavors, and related products. However, trying to cut through the smoke when it comes to vaping laws in Florida can be tricky because they’re inconsistent and changing.

If you want to vape in Florida, go ahead and puff away if you are outside a workplace and you are old enough. In Florida, if you are under 18 years of age, Attorney General Ashley Moody says you should not have a vaping device. Nor should you be vaping.

If you are in Hillsborough County or Alachua County or Fort Lauderdale, the vaping age has been raised to 21.

8 On Your Side is keeping watch on several other communities in the Sunshine State still wrestling with vaping laws.

“The reason you are seeing both the local jurisdictions and state lawmakers and governors stepping up and taking active steps is because we haven’t seen that being done federally,” said Attorney General Moody.

That could be be changing. In September, President Donald Trump suggested a nationwide age limit of 21. A ban on the sale of candy, dessert, and fruity flavors is also being considered. Right now, the penalties are wide ranging including community service and fines depending upon the statute.

The Florida Attorney General has recommended that the legislature streamline the penalties and include an education component. She also has a recommendation for vaping companies: Don’t market to our children. Her office is now investigating 22 vaping companies doing business in Florida to see if they are playing by the rules. “If in fact there have been violations of law or deceptive marketing, people need to be held accountable,” said Moody.

The
Attorney General calls teen vaping a growing epidemic. In part, because teens
and parents don’t understand vaping products contain nicotine. That’s why she
wants lawmakers to approve spending money on a state-wide marketing campaign to
get that message out.

The President’s call to raise the vaping age limit to 21 is currently on hold, but not off the table. He plans to meet with vaping industry executives and public health advocates on Friday to discuss that topic and the federal ban on flavored e-cigarettes.



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8th-grader threatens to shoot FL school over homework

November 21, 2019 in Florida


Having too much school work is a common complaint by students. One Pasco County eighth grader decided to take matters into his own hands and find a way to get less work. It landed him in handcuffs.

On Wednesday afternoon, the 13-year-old student at Dayspring Academy Secondary school opened his Snapchat and posted two snaps, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said.

The first was a black background with text that read, “I gonna f—— shoot the damn school it’s full of n—- f—— (homosexual slur).”

The second photo said, “murder on my mind,” which is a popular lyric from the rap song “Murder on Mind” by YNW Melly.

The two posts were seen by parents and students who were riding home on a school bus, deputies said. Parents called the school, who then called authorities.

When deputies spoke to the boy, they say he told them he was hoping it would get him expelled from school because “he did not enjoy going to his new school, due to the increased amount of homework.”

He felt school was stupid, deputies said.

The teen also told them that the second picture was from a YouTube rap video he was watching.

Deputies arrested the student took him to a juvenile assessment center.

Miami Herald Real Time Reporter Devoun Cetoute covers breaking news, Florida theme parks and general assignment. He attends the University of Florida and grew up in Miami. Theme parks are on his mind in and out of the office.





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Man grips 3-month-old baby’s face, causes bruises, cops say

November 21, 2019 in Florida


Pasco County Sheriff’s Office arrested Jonathon Rodriguez, 29, who gripped a 3-month-old baby girl’s face so hard it cause bruises.

Pasco County Sheriff’s Office arrested Jonathon Rodriguez, 29, who gripped a 3-month-old baby girl’s face so hard it cause bruises.

Pasco County Sheriff’s Office

A mother left her 3-month-old baby girl with a man for six hours. When she got her baby back she had bruises on her face. Deputies say the man is to blame.

Jonathon Rodriguez, 29, was alone with the baby, who was inconsolable and crying for the almost entirety of the six hours they were together on Oct. 24, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said.

Deputies did not disclose the relationship between Rodriguez and the baby.

When Mom picked up the baby, saw the bruises and confronted Rodriguez. He denied causing them. The mom then took the baby to the hospital for several medical tests, which all came back negative for any significant injuries, deputies said.

She then took the girl to Pasco Kid’s First Protection Team, who confirmed that the baby was neglected and abused.

“This is a non-accidental inflicted injury and represents physical abuse … the history is concerning in that the child was truck or grabbed with such force that bruises were left to the area,” the team said.

When deputies went to speak to Rodriguez, he again denied causing the injuries to the baby and that they appeared within a few hours of him getting her.

After arresting on Wednesday, deputies said Rodriguez admitted to causing the bruises and said, “I have never been so frustrated in my life.”

He said he grabbed the baby by the face and held her for about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes before letting go and saying ,“Please just stop, just stop!”

The baby continued to cry for about 20 minutes before eventually calming down.

Rodriguez was charged with child abuse.

Miami Herald Real Time Reporter Devoun Cetoute covers breaking news, Florida theme parks and general assignment. He attends the University of Florida and grew up in Miami. Theme parks are on his mind in and out of the office.





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Florida college sent football offers without having a team

November 21, 2019 in Florida


Over 100 student-athletes received offers to play football at Florida Gulf Coast University. The thing is, the school doesn’t have a football team.

Located near Fort Myers, FGCU is a Division I program with a variety of varsity sports including basketball, beach volleyball and cross-country. The only way to play football is at the non-scholarship, club level.

The school, which gained national attention under the name “Dunk City” in 2013, issued a statement Wednesday afternoon.

“A non-employee, volunteer with the football sport club has extended “offers” to come to FGCU to and play football to more than 100 individuals across the country,” the statement read. “This has been done without FGCU’s knowledge or sanction, and has caused a great deal of confusion.”

One player, a senior linebacker from Georgia named Brendan Jackson, took to Twitter to express his excitement after receiving an “offer.”

Jackson tagged the team’s coach Kevin VanDuser, who maintains he only offered roster spots, in the tweet as well. Since news of the faux offers became public, numerous people have shared their support of VanDuser via Twitter.

“There is a wealth of misinformation happening,” VanDuser tweeted Wednesday night. “… We offered kids we liked roster spots for next year and nothing else.”

C. Isaiah Smalls II is a reporter covering breaking and trending news for the Miami Herald. Previously, he worked for ESPN’s The Undefeated as part of their inaugural class of Rhoden Fellows. He is a graduate of both Columbia University and Morehouse College.





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Man with pellet gun sends 6 schools into lockdown

November 21, 2019 in Florida


A man with a pellet gun reportedly sent six Palm Beach County schools into a code red lockdown, including the one Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis was scheduled to speak at.

The schools were placed on lockdown early Thursday.

Police were searching for a man who had been spotted behind a garbage bin with a pellet gun near Hypoluxo Road and Military Trail, just west of Lantana, according to CBS12.

One of the lockdown schools was Freedom Shores Elementary, 3400 Hypoluxo Rd in Boynton Beach, which was awaiting a visit from DeSantis.

The first lady was going to speak about 10,000 reading scholarships that are available to students, but she had to postpone her visit because of the lockdowns, said a spokeswoman for the Governor’s Office.

“Out of deference for the situation that affected the local schools in the Boynton Beach area, we needed to postpone my visit to these schools,” First Lady Casey DeSantis said in a statement to the Miami Herald. “I have asked that we quickly reschedule these visits in the near future as I want to ensure that families are aware of reading scholarships that are available for their children, who I would enjoy meeting.“

The other schools that went on lockdown were Santaluces High, Citrus Cove Elementary, Hidden Oaks Elementary, Royal Palm School and Franklin Academy, a charter school.

The man, who never entered any of the schools, was arrested by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, the Sun Sentinel reports.

The schools have since reopened.

Related stories from Miami Herald

Real Time/Breaking News Reporter. There’s never a dull moment in Florida — and I cover it. Graduated with honors from Florida International University. Find me on Twitter @TweetMichelleM





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Florida police arrest men with loaded guns, ski masks during traffic stop

November 21, 2019 in Florida


Crime

Florida police arrest men with loaded guns, ski masks during traffic stop

Police in Deltona, Florida pulled over a vehicle with multiple bullet holes after the driver ran a red light. After searching the car they arrested two Orlando men who had loaded guns and ski masks.



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145 graves found under Florida high school

November 21, 2019 in Florida


Scott Purcell, a senior geophysicist with GeoView, left, and Mike Wightman, president of GeoView use ground penetrating radar technology to scan a portion of King High campus in search for Ridgewood Cemetery in Tampa, Florida on Wednesday, October 23, 2019. (Octavio Jones/Tampa Bay Times/TNS)

Scott Purcell, a senior geophysicist with GeoView, left, and Mike Wightman, president of GeoView use ground penetrating radar technology to scan a portion of King High campus in search for Ridgewood Cemetery in Tampa, Florida on Wednesday, October 23, 2019. (Octavio Jones/Tampa Bay Times/TNS)

Tampa Bay Times File

Ground penetrating radar has located 145 caskets at the southeast corner of the King High School campus.

The caskets, buried three to five feet deep, are part of a mid-20th century paupers burial ground known as Ridgewood Cemetery. Today, the one-acre site is open land with one small building, used for the school’s agricultural program.

“These appear to be coffins or voids in the soil where coffins have decayed over time,” school Superintendent Jeff Eakins said at a news conference Wednesday. The announcement came during a meeting of the district’s Historical Response Committee, set up in response to news King High may have been built on a cemetery.

This is the second time in less than three months that a forgotten cemetery has been found in the Tampa Bay area.

In August, in reaction to a Tampa Bay Times report, archaeologists went looking for and then found nearly 130 caskets from the all-black, segregation-era Zion Cemetery under a portion of the Robles Park Village housing projects in Tampa.

Records indicate that there were 250 to 268 burials at Ridgewood, Eakins said. Nearly all were African-American.

“I am sick of this,” Yvette Lewis, president of the Hillsborough County NAACP and a member of the Historical Response Committee, said Wednesday as she fought back tears. “This hurts deeply. It was hate toward people who looked like me. It deeply saddens me that people can hate you this much, that they can treat you less than.”

Tampa opened Ridgewood Cemetery in 1942.

The city sold a 40-acre plot that included the cemetery to a private company in 1957 and the company sold it to the school district in 1959.

The school district’s deed makes note of the cemetery but, over time, it was forgotten.

Hillsborough School Board chairwoman Tamara Shamburger called it a deliberate act.

“Certainly, back in that day, profits were put over people, especially people who look like me,” said Shamburger, who is black.

Then in October, cemetery researcher Ray Reed informed the school district of the possibility that Ridgewood graves may remain at the King High campus, 6815 North 56th St. at Sligh Avenue.

It was also Reed who tipped off the Times to historic records that led to the discovery of forgotten Zion Cemetery. The Times identified the location of the cemetery and found the names of 382 people buried there.

Since then, archaeologists have confirmed that nearly 800 people were buried in Zion between 1901 and 1929. They believe further investigation of the 2½-acre site will reveal more bodies.

The discovery of Zion emboldened Reed to call the school district, he said.

“This is one of those situations where being proven right is a no win,” Reed said. “You end up learning that this community was so twisted.”

Others have come forward with reports of lost cemeteries in the months since Zion was found.

Those who grew up in the former African-American community of Clearwater Heights believe unmarked graves from an early 20th century cemetery still lie beneath an empty lot that is now part of the FrankCrum Staffing campus, 100 S. Missouri Ave. in Clearwater.

In addition, historians believe that the lost College Hill Cemetery for Cubans and African-Americans occupies a vacant parcel of land that now is part of the Italian Club Cemetery on the outskirts of Ybor City.

The school district initially placed Ridgewood Cemetery at the southeast corner of the King High campus, based on appraisal surveys conducted before the district purchased the land in 1959. But the city of Tampa later provided records placing the cemetery at the northeast corner — now occupied by the school gym and the main parking area.

Superintendent Eakins said ground penetrating radar also was trained on the northeast corner and no graves were found.

“Every record we have found indicates all the burials were done in the same small area,” Eakins said.

As for why more than 100 graves are unaccounted for, Eakins offered five possible explanations: Ground penetrating radar is an imperfect technology and might have missed some caskets; some coffins may have decayed to the point they can no longer be detected; some remains might lie beneath the small agricultural workshop on the site or relocated to another cemetery; and coffins housing remains of children might be too small to register.

“We are now making plans to remove that building,” Eakins said.

As many as 77 of those buried at Ridgewood were infants or small children, according to records, Eakins said.

“We know that those parents were doing the best that they could,” said Bob Morrison, a member of the Historical Response Committee. “Those parents were left with little or no option other than trying to find a way to honor that young talent would never have the opportunity to reach its full potential.”

The school district has delivered its findings to the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office and the Florida State Archaeologist. Under state law, Eakins said, the agencies can take possession of the land or turn it back to the school district.

Eakins expects the agencies will take 30 days to review the report. Meantime, the response committee will discuss what it sees as the best future option for the cemetery property.

State statute allows remains to be moved to another cemetery.

Jeff Moates, a committee member and regional director for the Florida Public Archaeology Network, told the Times that state law also requires the property owner to provide access to descendants of those buried there if the land remains an active cemetery.

At Zion Cemetery, the Tampa Housing Authority — owner of about half the property — plans to remove five apartment buildings there and turn it into a memorial park.

Lewis of the NAACP wants to see the same approach for Ridgewood Cemetery.

“I don’t care what the dollar amount is,” she told the committee. “We have got to recognize the spirits and the souls, and the blood sweat and tears that those people have contributed to this city.”





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Millennials seeing faster decline in health than previous generations

November 21, 2019 in Florida


Study: Millennials seeing faster decline in health than previous generations


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ADRIAN: A NEW STUDY THAT ANALYZES INSURANCE DATA FOUND MILLENNIALS ARE SEEING A FASTER DECLINE IN HEALTH THAN PREVIOUS GENERATIONS. SO IT COULD MEAN A GREATER DEMAND FOR TREATMENT AND HEALTH CARE. WE BRING IN DR. BE. THANK YOU FOR BEING WITH US. THERE IS A LOT TO UNPACK. WHAT IS THE OVERARCHING CAUSE? DR. B.: IT TAKES A LOT OF FIGURE OUT IF YOU ARE A MILLENNIAL. THOSE WERE BORN IN 1986. THEY ARE SEEING THAT MILLENNIALS ARE SEEKING MORE HEALTH CARE. THEY FOUND 33% MORE USAGE OF HEALTH CARE BY THE MILLENNIAL GENERATION. WHY IS THAT? I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE BECAUSE WE ARE MUCH MORE TECHNICAL AND HAVE BETTER ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE AND ARE USING IT MORE. TURNS OUT, IT IS NOT THAT, IT IS MORE HIGH-RISK BEHAVIOR, INDIVIDUALS HAVE A MORE MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES, BURNOUT ISSUES, NOT HAVING TRUSTED RELATIONSHIPS WITH THEIR PHYSICIANS AND HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS. ADRIAN: WHAT SHOULD THEY BE DOING? ON THE SURFACE, YOU SAY, THEY ARE SEEKING HEALTH CARE, THAT IS GRAY, MAYBE SOME OF THE OTHER GENERATIONS WHO MAY HAVE HAD SOMETHING GOING ON AND JUST DISMISSED IT AND NOT WANTING TO PAY THE MONEY, OR WHATEVER. DR. B.: BECAUSE WE LIVE IN A TECHNICAL AID, A LOT OF ISSUES ARE THOSE WHERE PEOPLE JUST DON’T WANT TO SEE A DOCTOR. IT IS AN AGE WHERE WE HAVE HIGH-RISK BEHAVIOR. MILLENNIALS ARE WORKING FOR MORE THAN OUR GENERATION DID. THAT IS WHY THEY HAVE HIGHER RATES OF BURNOUT AND MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES. THEY SAID 57% OF MILLENNIALS ARE FACING MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES WITH DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY, SO IF YOU COMPOUND THAT WITH WHAT YOU ARE EATING AND HOW LESS YOU ARE MOVING, YOU HAVE THIS PERFECT STORM OF BAD HEALTH. ADRIAN: SO WHAT SHOULD THEY BE DOING? YOU KNOW? IF THEY ARE DEALING WITH SOME OF THESE ISSUES, ONE OF THE WAYS THEY CAN MAYBE START TO LESSON THAT NEED? DR. B.: YOU HAVE TO HAVE WORK-LIFE BALANCE BECAUSE THEY ARE SO DRIVEN A FINDING THAT NEW ENTREPRENEURIAL THING OUT THERE, THE GRIND, SO THEY FORGET THERE WAS MORE TO LIFE THAN HELPING THAT COMPANY. IT IS REALLY SIMPLE, EAT BETTER, COUNTER CALORIES AND HAVE A WELL-BALANCED DIET, EXERCISE. MILLENNIALS ARE COMING UP WITH THESE CRAZY FITNESS ROUTINES. ADRIAN: I WOULD THINK THEY WOULD BE — DR. B.: THEY ARE IN THE BACK TRAINING IT AND NOT DOING IT THEMSELVES. THE BEST THING MILLENNIALS HAVE DONE IS CREATED A GREATER DISCUSSION ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH AND THEY ARE MORE OPEN TO TALK ABOUT IT. ADRIAN: WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE HERE, WE ARE TALKING ABOUT A DECLINE IN HEALTH, BUT IT MAY BE THEY ARE JUST TALKING MORE ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH, WHICH IS SOMETHING MANY GENERATIONS DID NOT DO. DR. B.: BUT THAT IS STILL HEALTH, MAN. IF ONE IS OFF, THEY ALL GET AFFECTED. ADRIAN: DR. B, THANK YOU SO MUCH. AND EAT RIGHT AND EXERCISE AND GET OUT. DR. B.: AND WE ARE NOT MILLENNIALS. ADRIAN: RIGHT, WE ARE JUST UNDER. [LAUGHTER] ADRIAN: YOU CAN GET OUT

Study: Millennials seeing faster decline in health than previous generations

A new study that analyzed medical insurance data found millennials have a greater demand for treatment and health care than the generations that came before.Adrian Whitsett of WESH 2 News spoke with Dr. Jamin Brahmbhatt from Orlando Health, who explained what the research uncovered.

A new study that analyzed medical insurance data found millennials have a greater demand for treatment and health care than the generations that came before.

Adrian Whitsett of WESH 2 News spoke with Dr. Jamin Brahmbhatt from Orlando Health, who explained what the research uncovered.

WESH-TV



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Data, polls show how battleground-state voters feel about vaping bans

November 21, 2019 in Florida


TAMPA, Fla (WFLA) – A recent poll is showing how vape-users in swing states feel about a possible ban, and just how political of an issue it can be.

The poll, released in late October, shows political feelings of e-cigarette consumers in some of the country’s most intense battleground states, including Florida.

Conducted by a Trump campaign poll group, McLaughlin and Associates for the Vapor Technology Association, the poll took responses from 4,700 adult vape users across 17 states: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Of those responses, the poll found that four in five vapor consumers — or 83 percent — are likely to decide their vote based solely on a candidate’s position on nicotine vapor products and issues. Half of those surveyed are “very” likely to be single issue voters.

According to the poll, nearly all vapor consumers in battleground states ardently oppose “banning flavors in all nicotine vapor products” with 99 percent of respondents opposing a ban.

“Supporting a ban on flavors in all nicotine vapor products is a political liability,” the poll says. “Nearly all (96 percent) vapor consumers are less likely to vote for a candidate who supports a flavor ban.”

The nation is still waiting on President Trump’s ban on flavored vaping products, which announced in Septermber and expected last week. However some public health groups aren’t holding their breath, saying the president may be too concerned of losing votes next year.

E-cigarette and cigarette use in Florida

Below are the percentages of cigarette and e-cigarette users among Florida’s adult population in 2017. Hover over the bar to see the exact percentage number.

Source: Truth Initiative

Florida has been a focal point of the vaping conversation for months, having reported 78 vaping-related illnesses and one death through the Department of Health.

Just weeks ago, Hillsborough County commissioners voted unanimously to ban businesses from selling vape devices or products to anyone younger than 21.

But many argue that in Florida, having the option to vape is leading teens and adults away from smoking.

Early this month, a Tobacco Free Florida report showed a dramatic decrease of Florida teens using tobacco products.

Smoking rates among high school students dropped from 3.5 to 2.1 percent over the past year.

Since 2007, smoking among teenagers has dropped 86 percent.

However, according to the Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida— which is part of the Department of Health— nearly 25 percent of Florida high school students reported they used vaping devices in 2018. That’s a 58 percent increase compared to 2017.

E-cigarette use

Check out the increase of E-cigarette use among Florida teens between 2016 and 2018. Hover over the bar to see the exact percentage number.

Source: Tobacco Free Florida

Last month, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody announced an investigation against more than 20 vaping companies, including a few in the Tampa Bay area, to find out if they are intentionally targeting minors.

“As a mother, I cannot sit on the sidelines while underage vaping skyrockets and our next generation becomes addicted to nicotine,” Moody said.

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Exec tied to Odebrecht’s ‘bribery division’ arrested at JFK

November 21, 2019 in Florida


The arrest of an ex-CEO of a Brazilian petrochemical company who was also a top executive at embattled engineering giant Odebrecht S.A. marks an important test of resolve in a complex international case.

The Justice Department late Wednesday afternoon announced the arrest of Jose Carlos Grubisich, who had once headed the quasi state-owned petrochemical company Braskem S.A.

More recently, Grubisich, 62, had also worked for the Brazilian engineering giant Odebrecht S.A., which had a controlling stake in Braskem, running Odebrecht’s ethanol company ETH Bioenergia.

A collaborative reporting project in June involving partners across the Americas — including the Miami Herald and the McClatchy Washington Bureau, under the umbrella of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists — spotlighted Odebrecht’s so-called bribery division.

jose-carlos-grubisich.jpg
Jose Carlos Grubisich was arrested at New York City’s JFK airport. Associated Press

Company executives, working in near anonymity in Miami, ran a parallel off-books accounting division called the Division of Structured Operations. Via a network of offshore shell companies, the division was used to bribe officials and/or win business in Brazil, Cuba, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and elsewhere for Odebrecht and Braskem.

Although several Odebrecht employees headed the division at times from Miami, directing transactions through offshore shells, no one had been charged in the United States.

“Anonymous [shell] companies are the getaway car for the criminal and corrupt and any sort of financial misdeed relies on the use of opaque corporate structures to mask the identity of those involved from those who would hold them accountable,” said Clark Gascoigne, deputy director of the Fact Coalition, a group advocating for greater disclosure of true owners of shell companies in the United States and abroad.

The prosecution comes as the House of Representatives in late October passed legislation supported by the Fact Coalition to effectively end anonymous incorporation in the United States. The Senate begins tackling the legislation in December.

The Odebrecht bribery division described in detail in the collaborative project factored into the indictment against Grubisich, which was revealed Wednesday but had actually been under Grand Jury seal since Feb. 27. It covered alleged activities from 2002 to 2012.

The division “effectively functioned as a stand-alone bribe department within Odebrecht,” prosecutors charged.

download (21)_fitted (1).jpeg
Clark Gascoigne, deputy director of the Fact Coalition, said anonymous shell corporations are the ‘getaway cars’ of corruption.

The indictment cites a Swiss intermediary, eight unidentified co-conspirators in Brazil and two foreign officials accused of corruption. One is described as an official in the Brazilian legislative branch, the other an executive and director of the Brazilian state oil company Petrobras.

Together, the indictment alleges, they all “engaged in a massive bribery scheme that resulted in the diversion of approximately $250 million of Braskem’s funds into a secret slush fund” used for bribes flowing through shell companies to win and retain business.

Grubisich was arrested at JFK International Airport and processed in the Eastern District of New York, where Odebrecht and Braskem together in December 2016 reached a record bribery settlement with U.S. prosecutors worth nearly $3.6 million.

While the settlement numbers looked good on paper, it was unclear how the scandal-ridden company could pay up, and until Wednesday nobody tied to Odebrecht faced criminal charges in the United States. Grubisich faces two charges of bribery and one of money laundering.

Kevin G. Hall: @KevinGHall, 202-383-6038.





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