Woman accused of embezzling $57K from elementary school


MIDDLEBURG, Fla. -- An elementary school employee is facing charges of schemes to defraud, grand theft and uttering forged instrument following an investigation by the Clay County School Board.

Julie Herringdine, 37, is accused of reimbursing herself for items paid for using a Clay County School Board Credit Card, according to a police report from the Clay County Sheriff's Office.

School Board officials were notified the J.L. Wilkinson Elementary School account was in overdraft in September 2013 and launched an investigation into the school's financial records.

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Caught on camera: Auto burglar takes $18 from unlocked SUV

MIDDLEBURG, Fla. -- Deputies are seeking an auto burglar who took $18 out of an unlocked GMC SUV on November 27 of last year.

The subject, described as 5'10" to 6' tall and wearing white sneakers, dark pants, dark baseball cap and a camouflage jacket, was seen on the homeowner's surveillance video between 3 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. Nov. 27.

According to a release from CCSO spokesperson Mary Justino, the subject took $18 out of the unlocked SUV and left the door open.

Anyone who has any information about the identity of the subject is asked to call CCSO Det. Mark Maertz at (904) 264-6512.

Clay County Fire Rescue gets FEMA grant

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. -- The Clay County Fire Rescue Department is one of five Florida departments seeing part of a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant. 

The grant is designed to make sure communities have enough protection from fire. Clay will get about $2 million.

The money will be used to hire 21 firefighters. They'll be spread through seven departments across the county.

However, it will be several months before they start work. The extra staff means, according to fire chief Lorin Mack, a quicker response time and less of a need to shuffle staff and equipment when there's an emergency.

Get a free, sober ride home tonight

JACKSONVILLE, FLA-- We want you to get the new year started off safely so put this number in your phone, 885-286-9246.

855-286-9246 is the phone number to AAA's Tow-To-Go program.  You don't have to be a AAA member to use the service, it just gets you a safe, free ride home and saves you from driving intoxicated.

"New Year's Eve is the busiest night of the year for the Tow to Go program because so many motorists seem to be more inclined to use a designated driver but don't always have someone willing to be one in their own party during the biggest celebration of the year," said Gerry Gutowski, Sr. Vice President, Automotive Services, AAA–The Auto Club Group. "We prepare our call center teams and tow truck service providers for weeks in advance, so we can manage the increased call volume that's typical of this time of year."

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Local high schools receive their new grades

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Nearly half of Florida's high schools are getting an A grade for the 2012-13 school year.

The grades released Wednesday by the Florida Department of Education show a slight increase in the number of A graded schools.

But the number of D and F rated schools also went up. There were eight high schools that received F grades as opposed to just three in 2012.

Water mold killing off popular Christmas trees

MIDDLEBURG, Fla. -- It might soon cost you more to deck the halls.
This year, a water mold is attacking and in some cases killing off a popular Christmas tree.

The Fraser Fir is native to mountainous regions like North Carolina and Oregon.

But at some tree farms, it is not exactly the most wonderful time of year.

The firs are turning from green to brown because of a water mold called phytophtora.

Heavy rains during the growing season have caused the mold to flourish and spread quickly.

It's a threat because it kills the tree's root system, which keeps water from being absorbed.

Jeff Pollard is a North Carolina-based Christmas tree farmer, who told NBC News he might lose a quarter of his crop.

"Didn't expect it to be quite this severe this fast," he said.
The Christmas tree industry stands to lose several million dollars because of the loss in crop.

Middleburg man sentenced for receiving child porn

MIDDLEBURG, Fla. -- A Middleburg man was sentenced Monday to five years in federal prison on child pornography charges, authorities said.

Robert Hohman, 65, was indicted Oct. 18 on a felony charge of receipt of child pornography after pleading guilty to the offense Aug. 6, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Prosecutors said an investigation launched in December 2010 found that Hohman was using an internet message board to distribute large volumes of child pornography.

During an interview with FBI agents, Hohman confessed to using the forum, prosecutors said. He also allegedly admitted to downloading child pornography for many years.

Prosecutors said during a search of Hohman's home computer, FBI agents found dozens of videos and hundreds of images of children as young as toddlers being sexually abused by adults.