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Special Agent in Charge for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Dominick Pape explains how Grant Morse is being charged with racketeering. PHOTO BY BRIAN MCMILLAN
Palm Coast Thursday, Jul. 14, 2011 8 years ago

NEWS BRIEFS 7.14.2011

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by: Mike Cavaliere Multimedia Director

+ Organized crime ring busted in Flagler County
A crime ring led by Grant V. Morse has been broken, thanks to a joint effort of law enforcement agencies, including the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office.

Morse, along with Patrick M. Giovine, Ryan T. Giovine, Dave R. Downs, Ethan D. Gaboury and James M. O’Brien have been arrested from 2008 to as recently as July 6.

That afternoon, Flagler County Sheriff Donald Fleming, State Attorney R.J. Larizza and Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Special Agent in Charge Dominick Pape declared that they believe they have solved what has become known as Operation Morse Code has been solved.

According to a press release, Morse was the ringleader and is being held in federal prison on other charges. With the help of the others involved, however, Morse committed burglaries, narcotics sales, ATM thefts, vehicle and motorcycle thefts and more in Palm Coast and other locations around the state.

The ring stole 48,000 dosages of prescription medications and stole or destroyed $365,000 worth of private property from more than 100 victims.

Investigators said Morse assigned the other suspects with certain tasks and coordinated the use of tools to accomplish the tasks, including breaking into a building through the ceiling.

Pape praised the cooperative effort of the agencies, saying, “They could have handled it as a simple theft”; instead, thanks to Flagler County’s Crime Suppression Team, a wider net was cast, and enough evidence was gathered to make Larizza confident that his office will be able to convict the suspects of racketeering, which bears a maximum penalty of 30 years per case.

Officials said no one was injured in the crimes committed.

+ Two Palm Coast brothers charged in bank robbery
Michael and Shawn Cona, two Palm Coast brothers, have been charged with the June 22 robbery of the Hancock Bank on Palm Coast Parkway.

Michael Cona, 28, was arrested Friday at 48 Fischer Lane. His brother, Shawn, 30, was served with an arrest warrant inside the Flagler County Inmate Facility, where he has been since June 24, when he was arrested on drug charges.

Detectives from the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office said Shawn Cona drove the getaway car, after Michael walked into the bank shortly before 3 p.m. June 22 and demanded money. He brandished a gun and threatened to shoot bank tellers and customers, according to witnesses.

Michael Cona is being held on a charge of robbery with a firearm with a $100,000 bond. Shawn Cona is charged with robbery with a firearm and felony driving with a suspended driver’s license in addition to drug charges. His total bond is $116,500.

+ Five residents appointed to Lehigh Trail Committee
By unanimous decision, the Flagler County Board of County Commissioners appointed Clinton F. Smith (local private property owner), Jason DeLorenzo (soil and water conservation district representative), Walter Mahler (conservation organization representative), Frank Barbuti (representative of the lead land management agency) and Bunnell Mayor Catherine Robinson (elected official) to the Lehigh Trail Management Plan Update Advisory Committee.

The county is required to submit an updated land management plan for the Lehigh Trail at least every 10 years to the Division of State Lands. The original management plan will reach its 10-year mark in March 2012.

+ Friends of A1A release promotional travelogue
At the Florida Scenic Highways state conference, the weekend of June 10, more than 80 scenic highway leaders saw the premiere viewing of the new promotional video “A1A Scenic & Historic Coastal Byway: A Road That Takes You Everywhere — Always An Adventure.”

The video is now posted on the Florida Scenic Highways website, www.FloridaScenicHighways.com, and the A1A website, www.scenica1a.org.

+ Corrections
Tate Underberg plays for the Phantom Phenoms.

Mary Lou Baiata is the owner of Nature Scapes, in Bunnell.

+ Public Meetings
Palm Coast City Council — the next workshop is 9 a.m. Tuesday, July 19, at the Community Center.

Flagler County Board of County Commissioners — the next regular meeting is 5 p.m. Wednesday, July 18, at the Government Services Building.

Flagler County School Board — the next workshop is 5 p.m. Tuesday, July 19, at the Government Services Building.

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