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News Brief Feb. 26-March 1


Australian police seized $800,000 worth of native lizards from smugglers attempting to ship them to Hong Kong. 

Three men, aged 54, 59 and 31, and one woman, aged 41, were arrested in Sydney as part of the investigation. The recovered reptiles, 257 in total, are worth over 1.2 million Australian dollars. Each lizard is valued at approximately $5,000 Australian dollars.  

The smuggling began in September of 2023 when nine packages containing a total of 59 live reptiles were shipped to Hong Kong. 

“The animals were kept in poor conditions and bound in small containers when they were packaged to be sent,” the police report said. 

Three snakes were also found in the investigation. All animals were taken to a local zoo to receive medical attention before their release back into the wild. 

Though police have not explicitly stated why these reptiles were smuggled, the desire for exotic pets is on the rise in China, which the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Hong Kong speculated was the purpose of the smuggling. 


A lawsuit against Disney has been filed accusing a restaurant at the park of negligence, leading to the wrongful death of a New York doctor. 

The lawsuit was filed by the doctor’s husband, Jeffrey Piccolo. He is seeking $50,000. His wife, Kanokporn Tangsuan, had severe allergies to nuts and dairy products. 

The couple engaged in several conversations with the waiter about these allergies. The waiter checked with the chef of the Raglan Road Irish Pub to ensure the dishes could be made to accommodate the allergies. 

When the food arrived, there were no “allergy free flags,” so the couple asked the waiter again if the food was prepared according to their needs. The waiter “guaranteed” the food was allergen free.  

Later in the evening, Tangsuan expressed difficulty breathing. She used a self-administered epi-pen before ultimately being taken to the hospital where she died. 

A medical examiner’s investigation determined she died as a result of “anaphylaxis due to elevated levels of dairy and nuts in her system,” the lawsuit said.


The Seminole County Sheriff’s Office misused tens of thousands of dollars according to a state audit report. 

“The money that went missing was from families of inmates at the Seminole County Jail. The families had donated the funds at a kiosk for the inmates to spend inside the jail’s commissary,” KOCO reported. 

A former officer manager was primarily responsible for the mishandling. 

“By her own admission, she was the only one that had access to the kiosk and was responsible for collecting the cash and depositing it in the bank,” State Auditor Cindy Byrd said. 

Funds from a nonprofit known as the Seminole County Deputy Fund are also under investigation for suspicious use.

“There were over $80,000 of expenditures made of the nonprofit that there was no documentation as to how those funds were spent,” Byrd said.

Only a few receipts were found pertaining to the non-profit, and they were for purchases such as an ice chest, a television and fishing tackle. 

“After the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office got involved, former Sheriff Shannon Smith resigned in August 2023. He paid back about $2,500,” KOCO reported. 

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