Fort Pierce man charged in deaths of wife, unborn child after Brevard County crash

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James Amman and his pregnant wife Ariel Adams were involved in a car accident Dec. 26 in Brevard County, Florida. Adams later passed away.
LEAH VOSS/TREASURE COAST NEWSPAPERS

ST. LUCIE COUNTY — The Fort Pierce man who was driving an SUV involved in a fatal crash on Interstate 95 the day after Christmas has been charged in the deaths of his wife and their unborn child, according to an arrest report.

James Amman, 28, of the 1900 block of North Third Street, was arrested Aug. 11 by St. Lucie County sheriff’s deputies on a warrant out of Brevard County charging him with two counts of vehicular homicide, according to the report. His wife, Ariel Adams, was 26 weeks pregnant at the time of the crash.

The couple had been married only nine days and just celebrated their first Christmas in their new home in Fort Pierce with Adams’ children, 7-year-old Ben and 3-year-old Izzy, and Amman’s son, 9-year-old J.J.

Amman also was cited with improperly changing lanes by pulling out in front of a vehicle, following too closely and driving too fast for the conditions at the time, according to a Florida Highway Patrol crash investigation report completed May 31.

Although the traffic citations aren’t criminal, according to state law, the violations combined with the deaths are why he was criminally charged in the crash.

On July 28, the state filed the vehicular homicide charges against Amman, according to recently released court documents.

What happened

About 5:50 p.m. Dec. 26, Amman was driving a GMC SUV southbound on I-95 in the center lane just south of U.S. 192 with Adams in the front passenger seat. They were returning home after dropping off Izzy in Georgia with Adams’ ex-husband.

Amman changed lanes to the left lane, passed several vehicles in the center lane and “entered the inside edge line” of I-95, according to court documents. He then “took evasive action” to the right and returned to the center lane in the path of a Chevrolet truck.

A chain reaction followed. The SUV hit a Chevrolet truck, which hit a Ford truck hauling a boat on a trailer.

The SUV spun clockwise as it crossed the right outside traffic lane and went into the grass shoulder, overturned and hit fences and trees before it stopped, partially in northbound Brandywine Lane and partially on the grass shoulder of the road.

Adams, who wasn’t wearing a seat belt, was ejected while the SUV was turning over. She was found in the road southwest of where the vehicle stopped.

The Chevrolet truck spun counterclockwise and went airborne, hit fences and trees, then stopped in the grass near the SUV.

The Ford truck spun clockwise and counterclockwise as it went off the road and hit a light pole before stopping in grass. Its boat trailer disengaged, went south and came to a rest in the grass.

Adams was flown to Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne, where she and her fetus, which was determined by a medical examiner to be viable, were pronounced dead at 7:10 p.m., according to court documents. No one else was injured in the crash.

The investigation

Based on witness interviews and physical evidence, investigators found Amman was driving at an average speed of 82 mph, including when he was going around a curve in the road. The speed limit on I-95 is 70 mph.

They determined Amman was tailgating a vehicle and weaving in an attempt to pass a vehicle in the center lane, according to court documents.

When he passed the vehicle, he sped up quickly and cut to the right to pass another vehicle and then swerved to the left, investigators found.

The SUV went into the median before Amman lost control and hit two vehicles. All three went over an embankment.

Adams’ ex-husband, Zachary Shane Adams, said Amman called him the day after the crash. Amman said he heard a noise, then lost control of the vehicle. At a later date, the ex-husband told investigators, Amman said he hit something in the road, causing him to lose control.

Three days after the crash, Amman told TCPalm/Treasure Coast Newspapers he felt like the SUV took a hard right turn, but he didn’t know what happened next in the crash.

“Time just flew,” he said. “It’s hard to explain how it even happened.”

Amman was released from the St. Lucie County Jail the day after he was arrested on a $40,000 bail, according to sheriff’s officials.

He declined to comment on his arrest. It’s unknown when his next court date will be.

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Article source: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/crime/st-lucie-county/2017/08/18/st-lucie-county-fatal-crash-vehicular-homicide-brevard-county-arrest-interstate-95-pregnant-wife-die/579952001/

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Will Fort Pierce be the next Treasure Coast community to ban medical marijuana shops?

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Hazy about medical marijuana laws in Florida? TCPalm rolls out the basics for you. LISA BROADT/TCPALM
Wochit

FORT PIERCE — Two city commissioners want to follow Indian River County’s lead in banning medical marijuana dispensaries. 

Commissioners Rufus Alexander and Reggie Sessions in July said they support banning the dispensaries because they fear owners of the facilities would place them in lower-income neighborhoods, which would derail the city’s effort to improve the area.

“I’m afraid the dispensaries will be popping up next to schools and our children,” Alexander said Friday. He and Sessions represent District 1, the lower-socioeconomic area of the city. “I’ll support it if they put them on the beachside.”

Sessions could not be reached for comment Friday.

But before a decision is made, the City Commission wants to hear from residents.­

A community workshop is scheduled at 6 p.m. Thursday in  Commission Chambers in City Hall.

Voters were clear on Nov. 8, when more than 65 percent of Fort Pierce and 70 percent of St. Lucie County voted yes on Amendment 2, which legalized the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

For Sessions and Alexander, their positions are based in a prejudice of “marijuana being a gateway drug,” said Michael Patterson, CEO of U.S. Cannabis and Pharmaceutical Research, whose company wants to open dispensaries in Brevard and St. Lucie counties.

“It’s not a gateway drug. It’s an exit drug. It takes people away from abusing opioids,” Patterson said.

Dispensary companies likely would build their facilities in highly-traveled commercial areas to make the product easily accessible and safe for patients, Patterson predicted.

“From a business standpoint, it would not make sense for me to place my business somewhere where my clients can’t find it or in a part of town where my clients don’t feel safe going,” Patterson said.

If Fort Pierce bans medical marijuana dispensaries, it would join Indian River County, whose commission banned the facilities on Tuesday  

Vero Beach is considering a ban. However, it has grandfathered a Trulieve dispensary approved for Commerce Avenue south of Police Department headquarters. 

In May, St. Lucie County passed regulations for medical-marijuana dispensaries. Soon after, Tallahassee-based Trulieve received approval to open a dispensary at 8613 U.S. 1, in the Crowne Plaza shopping center across from Savanna Club.

Trulieve officials initially planned for a July opening. However, they have yet to announce a new opening date. Trulieve officials could not be reached for comment on Friday.

Article source: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/shaping-our-future/growth/2017/08/18/fort-pierce-next-treasure-coast-community-ban-medical-marijuana-shops/581403001/

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Woman rescued in Fort Pierce apartment explosion thanks man who saved her

FORT PIERCE, Fla. —

An apartment building in Fort Pierce remains boarded up and condemned more than a month after a man plowed his car inside. A former resident thankful to a man who saved her. Bonnie-Leigh Henley recalls that fateful Fourth of July.

“It was a terrifying day. You know I did not know how bad the fire was and thank God I didn’t die,” said Henley.

Independence Day 2017 overshadowed when Henley and several others were trapped inside their apartment building on Palm Avenue. Fort Pierce police say Carl Philbert, now deceased, was mad at his ex and intentionally plowed his car filled with propane tanks into her first floor apartment.

Police say 911 calls immediately starting pouring in.

Operator: “Okay. Is the car on fire?”

Caller: “Yes. The car is on fire.”

Operator: “What part?”

Caller: “I don’t know he just drove the car through the house.”

A rogue decision by Philbert not only ended his life, but put dozens, including Henley’s, life at risk.

”I just thought it was no big deal, but then afterwards I noticed it was serious,” said Henley.

Operator: “How many people are missing?”

Caller: “I don’t know how many people was missing. I was upstairs sleep.”

Thankfully on that day, authorities said Pablo Toledo saved Henley.

St. Lucie County Fire Rescue held a ceremony Wednesday to recognize him for his bravery, but Toledo was not able to attend. Instead, his wife accepted the award in his honor.

Henley struggled to find the right words to say, but is thankful for Toledo’s heroism.

”Her husband came upstairs, went in, actually fought the fire you know. There was smoke. It was a mess. He saved me. He literally saved my life,” said Henley.

Police have closed the investigation into this case, but acknowledge Philbert had a history of domestic issues with his ex.

Article source: http://www.wpbf.com/article/woman-rescued-in-fort-pierce-apartment-explosion-thanks-man-who-saved-her/12023082

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Fort Pierce man facing 10 felony counts of possession of child pornography


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Martin Joseph Reilly


FORT PIERCE, Fla. — A Fort Pierce man has been charged with 10 felony counts of possession of child pornography.

The National Center for Missing Exploited Children received a trip from Skype after the company detected a user had uploaded a pornographic image of a child.

The National Center confirmed the information was child pornography and the Skype user was based out of South Florida.

St. Lucie County Sheriff’s deputies served a search warrant on the home of 22-year-old Martin Joseph Reilly, located in the 6400 block of North U.S. 1 in Fort Pierce where they found 10 video files depicting various sex acts involving children.

Reilly was arrested and booked into the St. Lucie County Jail where he was held on a $37,500 bond.

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Article source: http://www.wptv.com/news/region-st-lucie-county/fort-pierce/fort-pierce-man-facing-10-felony-counts-of-possession-of-child-pornography

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Fort Pierce to review its relationship with FPUA, including transfers to the city

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Fort Pierce is one of more than 2,000 communities in the U.S. served by a community-owned electric utility. CHERYL MCCLOUD/TCPALM
Wochit

FORT PIERCE — About a month after the Fort Pierce Utilities Authority board hastily fired its executive director, the City Commission wants to review how the board operates.

It is launching a Charter Review Committee to study the relationship between the authority and the city and to examine the revenue FPUA transfers to the city.

Each city commissioner would appoint a Charter Review Committee member. The application deadline is Aug. 23. 

The City Commission would appoint two alternates by Sept. 5., with the first committee meeting held by Sept. 11, city officials said.

Charter Review recommendations would be submitted to City Commission for review, and if it agrees with proposed changes, charter amendments would be placed on the November 2018 ballot.

The charter has remained unchanged since it became effective April 24, 1972.

The city charter, a document that outlines the city’s operation, allows the City Commission to appoint FPUA board members every four years and requires the utility to transfer $6 million a year to the city.

The FPUA board, which sets utility rates, operates independently from the City Commission. The mayor serves on the board.

City Commissioner Reggie Sessions has said the transfer amount should be more than $6 million because the FPUA generates nearly $100 million in revenue.

However, Mayor Linda Hudson said the money FPUA makes should be reinvested in the utility. 

“That money wasn’t paid by the ratepayers to pay for roads but for the maintenance of the utility system,” she said. “That has to remain the utility authority’s first priority.”

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St. Lucie County Commissioner Cathy Townsend on Thursday pleaded with the Fort Pierce Utilities Authority not to fire its director Clay Lindstrom. KEONA GARDNER/TCPALM
Wochit

Last month, the FPUA board voted 3-2 to fire director Clay Lindstrom over a controversy of unpaid commercial utility deposits, despite supportive pleas from FPUA employees; residents, County Commissioner Cathy Townsend; state Rep. Larry Lee Jr., D-Port St. Lucie; and St. Lucie County Economic Development Council president Pete Tesch.

The board appointed Gas Operations and Energy Services Manager John Tompeck interim director.

Fast facts: Charter Review Committee

  • Members must be Fort Pierce residents or St. Lucie County residents and a FPUA ratepayer. Members must remain residents or ratepayers until the panel dissolves.
  • Any member who misses more than two consecutive meetings, and three overall, would be removed.
  • City Commission makes all appointments by Sept. 5.
  • First committee meeting by Sept 11.
  • Last committee meeting by mid-March.
  • Charter amendments go to voters November 2018.

Source: City of Fort Pierce

Article source: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/shaping-our-future/property-values/2017/08/14/fort-pierce-review-its-relationship-fpua-including-transfers-city/561332001/

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Pint-sized heroes honored in Fort Pierce

FORT PIERCE, Fla. —

The Morgan family of Fort Pierce was beaming with pride Wednesday afternoon as their their younger sons received certificates for being pint-size heroes.

Jeremiah, 11, and Malachi, 9, are now Honorary First Responders.

Fire Chief Buddy Emerson said on July 21 Jeremiah dialed 911 to report that his mother was having a seizure.

The dispatcher said Jeremiah was calm, answered important medical information and relayed instructions to his brother as they assisted and kept her safe until the Paramedics arrived.

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“We were getting ready for dinner and my mom started licking her lips which is one of the symptoms of her seizure so we acted fast and had sat her down and like our dad taught us so we just did everything he taught us.he taught us,” said Jeremiah.

Brother Malachi was by his side.

“At first I had to hold her down cause if she would have got up she would have fell,” said Malachi.

Their mother, Crystal Morgan is proud.

“I thank to lord every day for all of my children and my husband. They look out for me. They know exactly what to do in my time of need,” said Morgan.

Both boys credit their father and older brother for teaching them what to do in case there was ever an emergency.

The fire chief encouraged the young men to apply for the fire academy when they graduate.

+Like Angela on Facebook | Follow Angela on Twitter

Article source: http://www.wpbf.com/article/pint-sized-heroes-honored-in-fort-pierce/12021946

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Fort Pierce man facing 10 felony counts of possession of child …


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Martin Joseph Reilly


FORT PIERCE, Fla. — A Fort Pierce man has been charged with 10 felony counts of possession of child pornography.

The National Center for Missing Exploited Children received a trip from Skype after the company detected a user had uploaded a pornographic image of a child.

The National Center confirmed the information was child pornography and the Skype user was based out of South Florida.

St. Lucie County Sheriff’s deputies served a search warrant on the home of 22-year-old Martin Joseph Reilly, located in the 6400 block of North U.S. 1 in Fort Pierce where they found 10 video files depicting various sex acts involving children.

Reilly was arrested and booked into the St. Lucie County Jail where he was held on a $37,500 bond.

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Article source: http://www.wptv.com/news/region-st-lucie-county/fort-pierce/fort-pierce-man-facing-10-felony-counts-of-possession-of-child-pornography

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Jennifer Trefelner: Fort Pierce Main Street’s Reverse Raffle features James Bond theme

One of my favorite parties of the year is Saturday.

 Fort Pierce Main Street’s annual Reverse Raffle is so fun because you have the chance to see hundreds of community members, socialize with friends, meet new people, dance to the latest songs and bid on a variety of auction items.

This year marks the event’s 23rd anniversary and features a James Bond theme. As in year’s past, the party will begin at 6 p.m. at the Pelican Yacht Club, 1120 Seaway Drive in Fort Pierce.

Inside each ticket is a secret password, and you must say the secret code to enter the venue. New additions are blackjack tables, where players can win tickets for prizes. If you like to smoke cigars, Rizzo’s Tabacco Emporium will be on site and a tarot card reader will be available, too.

There will be a photo booth and DJ Jeff Brown will entertain the crowd with today’s dance music. The suggested dress this year is cocktail attire, suitable for a James Bond film.

I always find something wonderful in the silent auction at the Reverse Raffle. It begins at 8:30 p.m. and will feature items including a Disney family vacation, a Reverse Raffle committee dinner, mosaic by Anita Prentice and an original paintings by Collen Nash Becht and Lisa Jill Allison.

The Reverse Raffle drawing begins at 6:30 p.m. with a set amount of numbers. The first number pulled wins $100 and then every 25th number called after that wins $50. The last 10 numbers called win money starting at $100 and ending with the grand prize of $2,000.

Tickets are $100 per couple and entitle the ticket holder to one number in the Reverse Raffle, light appetizers, live and silent auctions, music and dancing. To buy tickets, call 772-466-3880. The event usually sells out.

Happy Friday!

Jennifer M. Trefelner writes about St. Lucie County for #TCPalmSocial. Email her at jmtrefelner@gmail.com.

Article source: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/entertainment/tcpalmsocial/2017/08/15/jennifer-trefelner-fort-pierce-main-streets-reverse-raffle-features-james-bond-theme/561411001/

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St. Lucie OKs incentives for Maverick boats to stay in county, create 100 jobs

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St. Lucie County Commissioner Chris Dzadovsky explains the need to keep Maverick Boats in St. Lucie County. KEONA GARDNER/TCPALM
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FORT PIERCE — Maverick Boat Group Inc. could get $210,000 from the county if it creates 100 full-time jobs in the next two years.

The County Commission on Tuesday unanimously approved the incentive grant to the 32-year-old boat manufacturer in hopes of keeping the company here. 

Maverick is expanding with a $6.7 million facility on the south side of St. Lucie Boulevard, east of Hammond Road. The manufacturing plant, 4551 St. Lucie Blvd., would employ workers with an average $16.82 hourly wage, according to county records.

Maverick already employs 273 people at 3207 Industrial 29th St., near Treasure Coast International Airport.

“We want to stay here and be competitive (with other boat manufacturers),” said owner Scott Deal.

More: Fort Pierce to review its relationship with FPUA, including transfers to the city

Maverick wouldn’t get the money all at once, said County Administrator Howard Tipton.

It must create 50 jobs each year for the next two years. Then the money would be paid at about 20 percent a year from 2019 to 2023.

The company must submit quarterly reports showing jobs created and the pay, said Peter Jones, county business navigator, who worked on the deal with the Economic Development Council of St. Lucie County.

If Maverick fails to create or retain the required number of jobs, or if the average annual salary drops below $35,000 in any year, the company would forfeit the grant for that year. 

Opinion: Anthony Westbury: VGTI will be a tough sell for Port St. Lucie

The $15,000 of incentives is to encourage Maverick to hire St. Lucie County residents as employees and local contractors for the new building.

Maverick could receive a $7,500 bonus if 90 percent of employees are St. Lucie residents and if it hires contractors licensed in St Lucie with offices here, according to the contract.

Giving cash to a business to create jobs is a change for the county, which has preferred business-tax credits or property-tax abatement.

County Commissioner Chris Dzadovsky said the county wanted to show it was serious about helping existing businesses expand in the county.

“This is a reimbursement grant,” Dzadovsky said. “They have to provide the jobs and provide the salaries and report that. This is a reimbursement, not a gift.”

More: Treasure Coast jobless rate increases slightly, but still better than a year ago

Attracting and retaining manufacturing jobs to northern St. Lucie has been a goal of Tipton since the county hired him almost three years ago.

“This is exciting for us to help keep existing businesses,” Tipton said.

Maverick jobs

Apply at Maverick’s human resources office, 3207 Industrial 29th St., Fort Pierce, or at www.maverickboatgroup.com/landing/contacts.php.

Article source: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/shaping-our-future/growth/2017/08/15/maverick-boats-creates-100-jobs-fort-pierce/567001001/

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Fort Pierce to review its relationship with FPUA, including transfers …

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Fort Pierce is one of more than 2,000 communities in the U.S. served by a community-owned electric utility. CHERYL MCCLOUD/TCPALM
Wochit

FORT PIERCE — About a month after the Fort Pierce Utilities Authority board hastily fired its executive director, the City Commission wants to review how the board operates.

It is launching a Charter Review Committee to study the relationship between the authority and the city and to examine the revenue FPUA transfers to the city.

Each city commissioner would appoint a Charter Review Committee member. The application deadline is Aug. 23. 

The City Commission would appoint two alternates by Sept. 5., with the first committee meeting held by Sept. 11, city officials said.

Charter Review recommendations would be submitted to City Commission for review, and if it agrees with proposed changes, charter amendments would be placed on the November 2018 ballot.

The charter has remained unchanged since it became effective April 24, 1972.

The city charter, a document that outlines the city’s operation, allows the City Commission to appoint FPUA board members every four years and requires the utility to transfer $6 million a year to the city.

The FPUA board, which sets utility rates, operates independently from the City Commission. The mayor serves on the board.

City Commissioner Reggie Sessions has said the transfer amount should be more than $6 million because the FPUA generates nearly $100 million in revenue.

However, Mayor Linda Hudson said the money FPUA makes should be reinvested in the utility. 

“That money wasn’t paid by the ratepayers to pay for roads but for the maintenance of the utility system,” she said. “That has to remain the utility authority’s first priority.”

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St. Lucie County Commissioner Cathy Townsend on Thursday pleaded with the Fort Pierce Utilities Authority not to fire its director Clay Lindstrom. KEONA GARDNER/TCPALM
Wochit

Last month, the FPUA board voted 3-2 to fire director Clay Lindstrom over a controversy of unpaid commercial utility deposits, despite supportive pleas from FPUA employees; residents, County Commissioner Cathy Townsend; state Rep. Larry Lee Jr., D-Port St. Lucie; and St. Lucie County Economic Development Council president Pete Tesch.

The board appointed Gas Operations and Energy Services Manager John Tompeck interim director.

Fast facts: Charter Review Committee

  • Members must be Fort Pierce residents or St. Lucie County residents and a FPUA ratepayer. Members must remain residents or ratepayers until the panel dissolves.
  • Any member who misses more than two consecutive meetings, and three overall, would be removed.
  • City Commission makes all appointments by Sept. 5.
  • First committee meeting by Sept 11.
  • Last committee meeting by mid-March.
  • Charter amendments go to voters November 2018.

Source: City of Fort Pierce

Article source: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/shaping-our-future/property-values/2017/08/14/fort-pierce-review-its-relationship-fpua-including-transfers-city/561332001/

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