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Dog groomer accused of abuse caught on video shaking small dog, other incidents revealed

A Florida dog groomer is in hot water after a video surfaced that appears to show the owner violently shaking a dog.

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The video was posted on Nov. 10 by Facebook user Briana Brady who says that she used to work at the Happy Puppy Pet Spa near Sarasota, Florida. According to Brady, the woman in the video owns the spa and Brady said that the behavior captured in the clip is common. The clip has been shared over 1,800 times and racked up more than 384,000 views since it was posted.

Brady identified the woman as Phyllis Lucca and writes “this is what this horrible woman does every day to every dog. She even broke a dog’s jaw two weeks ago. She picked the dog up by the neck and shook it and slammed it on the table.”

Customers have complained about Lucca’s care for their dogs — former client Cynthia Crowe told the groomer, “I gave you a dog in good health and you give me a dog that has broken bones now.” She said that when she picked her toy poodle up from the Happy Puppy Pet Spa, the animal had blood on his mouth and bruises on his stomach. Crowe rushed her pet to veterinarian Gary Berkowitz, who told WFTX “The dog was doing fine, eating and drinking fine like normal, as soon as she gets home from the groomer, the dog shows all these signs and has a fractured jaw.”

>> Related: Florida dairy farm investigating graphic animal abuse seen in new undercover footage

Warning: The videos in this story contain footage some may find disturbing.

Crowe filed a police report against Lucca for animal cruelty, and the investigating detective wrote that the groomer admitted to the dog’s injuries. But when WFTX caught up with Lucca, she blamed her former employee Briana Brady, saying that she was the only one ever in the room alone with Crowe’s pet and, added, “If you see that video, I know it looks bad, but that’s not what I’m doing.”

“What the dog did was pass out and she faints, and what I did was hold her head and shake her. That’s all,” Lucca said.

Brady said she’s witnessed a disturbing pattern of abuse from Lucca, telling WFLA, “I’ve seen her choke out and slam a dog in the bathtub.”

>> Related: Dog mauled, killed by pit bull at PetSmart during grooming appointment

 Dog mauled, killed by pit bull at PetSmart during grooming appointment

“I’ve been crying nonstop. It just breaks my heart to see someone mistreat an animal like that,” she said.

Brady has hired an attorney and plans to file a civil suit against the groomer, but that suit has not yet been filed.

Since the video came out, the Google rating for Lucca’s spa has dropped to a dismal 1.8 stars. But even before Brady’s Facebook post, customers wrote reviews indicating abuse, one woman claimed that when she picked up her dog, she “noticed at least 3 very red areas where the clippers must have gotten too close.” Six years ago, one customer wrote that she was “horrified to walk in there and see a dog sitting in a pool of blood and whimpering from having its nails cut incorrectly.”

Top Florida state senator resigns in wake of affair

A Florida state senator, in line to become the Democratic leader in the Florida Senate next year, abruptly resigned Friday.

>> Read more trending news

State Sen. Jeff Clemens of Atlantis, made the announcement after Politico reported he had an extramarital affair with a lobbyist.

“I have made mistakes I (am) ashamed of, and for the past six months I have been focused on becoming a better person. But it is clear to me that task is impossible to finish while in elected office. The process won’t allow it, and the people of Florida deserve better. All women deserve respect, and by my actions, I feel I have failed that standard. I have to do better,” Clemens said in a statement.

He emailed a shorter statement to Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, saying “Please consider this email as my resignation from the Florida Senate.”

Clemens said his resignation was effective immediately. Under state law, Gov. Rick Scott must set the date for a special election to fill Clemens’ seat.

“It is clear to me Senator Clemens made a decision he feels is best for both his family and his constituents,” Negron said.

In his public statement, Clemens said, “Though they have been aware for some time now, I apologize again to my wife, my family and anyone and everyone that I have treated poorly in the past for putting you through this in such a public way. I will continue the therapy I began months ago, will seek to personally apologize to anyone I have wronged while seeking forgiveness, and will spend my time being a better husband and father.”

The resignation came less than 24 hours after Clemens sent an email apologizing to Senate Democrats on Thursday night as Politico was preparing to report that Clemens had an affair with lobbyist Devon West. West worked for the Martin County government and now works for Broward County’s lobbying office. Efforts to reach her on Friday were unsuccessful.

“I take full responsibility for my behavior, and I apologize for bringing any embarrassment to the Caucus,” Clemens said in the Thursday night email to his colleagues. “I have spent much of the past six months going to therapy, strengthening my relationship with my wife and my kids, and trying to be a better human being. I still have quite a ways to go. But I am unwavering in my resolve to get there.”

Rep. Betty Price says comments about quarantining HIV patients 'taken out of context'

A Georgia lawmaker now says she does not support quarantining HIV patients after she seemed to ask if it was legal to do so during a House study committee meeting last week.

>> Read more trending news

“I do not support a quarantine in this public health challenge and dilemma of undertreated HIV patients,” Georgia state Rep. Betty Price (R-Roswell) wrote in a statement.

Price, the wife of former Health and Human Services Secretary and Georgia Congressman Tom Price, was at a meeting of a House study committee last week when she asked a state health official about HIV patients.“What are we legally able to do?” Price asked during the meeting. “I don’t want to say the quarantine word, but I guess I just said it. Is there an ability since, I would guess that public dollars are expended heavily in prophylaxes and treatment of this condition. So we have a public interest in curtailing the spread. What would you advise? Or are there any methods, you know, that we could do that would curtail the spread?”

>> Previous story: Georgia Rep. Betty Price suggests ‘quarantine’ for HIV patients

Price said in the statement that her comments were “provocative and rhetorical” and “part of a free-flowing conversation which has been taken completely out of context.”

“I do not support a quarantine in this public health challenge,” she said.

Metro Atlanta’s LGBTQ community was quick to condemn the original statements.“The comments from Rep. Price were incredibly disturbing,” said Jeff Graham, executive director of LGBT organization Georgia Equality. “In this day and age, to be even mentioning quarantine around people living with HIV, there just really is no excuse for it. I was heartened to see that she made some recognition of this with the statement that she made over the weekend. I think that is a good start, but clearly, we need to go further than that.”

4 Michigan city council members take knee during Pledge of Allegiance

Four members of the 11-member city council in Ann Arbor, Michigan, took a knee during the Pledge of Allegiance before Monday night’s meeting, MLive reported.

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Sumi Kailasapathy, a third-term council member, took a page out of NFL players’ playbooks and decided to make a statement protesting social injustice.

Kailasapathy asked several City Council members to join her in the protest and Chip Smith, Jason Frenzel and Chuck Warpehoski agreed. MLive reported."People tell me to go back to my country and I don't know how to tell them that this is my country, this is my home, and I work very hard to take care of and support my community. If I leave, where am I going to go? " Kailasapathy told CNN.

In a blog post, Warpehoski wrote, "I can't speak to what is in each person's heart, but for me to 'take a knee' is an act of attention, of concern, and of respect," MLive reported. He also said he didn't mean to offend anyone by his actions, let alone dishonor those who have sacrificed for this country.Kailasapathy said she believes kneeling is not disrespectful."If you are someone who works hard to make your community and country a better place, you have the right to be treated with respect," she said.Kailasapathy said she does not plan on kneeling again at a meeting anytime soon, saying she just wanted to get her point across.

Since being elected to the City Council in 2012, normally stands silent during the Pledge of Allegiance , often with her head down, MLive reported. She does not recite the Pledge of Allegiance and said in March that she had no plans to do so in the future, stressing that no disrespect was intended.

Relatively shocking: Bernie Sanders, Larry David are distant cousins

For Bernie Sanders and Larry David, it’s all relative.

Sanders, the U.S. senator from Vermont, and David, the man who lampooned him on “Saturday Night Live” during the 2016 election campaign, found out they were distant cousins.

>> Read more trending news

The PBS show “Finding Your Roots” released a clip of its Season 4 premiere on Tuesday, capturing the moment when both Sanders and David discovered they were related, Mediaite reported.

“What the hell?!” yelled David, the co-creator of “Seinfeld” and the creator-star of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” 

“You’re kidding!” an equally surprised Sanders said. “This true?”

It was. On the show, which premieres Friday on PBS, series host Henry Louis Gates Jr. told both men that their DNA tests revealed they both had more than 97 percent Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry, Variety reported.

Gates and his researchers were able to determine that the family of David’s mother came from the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, with his grandparents having been born in the city of Tarnopol, Poland. In addition to information about David’s grandparents, Gates and his team also uncovered that David’s mother was also born in Poland, Variety reported.

Sanders learned that his family also had roots in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in a region known as Galicia, Variety reported. After World War I, Sanders’ relatives lived in what became part of what is now Poland. Most of the relatives of Sanders’ father remained in Europe and were killed by the Nazis during World War II, Variety reported. Sanders’ uncle was put to death for refusing to hand over a group of Jewish resistors.

Although it was supposed to be kept secret until the season premiere, David leaked the news that he was distantly related to Sanders over the summer, Mediaite reported. 

Reports: Florida GOP leader once beat female classmate with claw hammer until it broke

Florida GOP officials find themselves in an unusual position after they learned that a newly elected member of the Broward County executive board was once charged with attempted murder in connection with the brutal claw hammer attack of a female classmate at his California prep school.

Rupert Tarsey, 28, was elected secretary of the Broward County GOP chapter four months ago, according to the Miami Herald. His new position came into question after a fellow member made the discovery earlier this month. 

That member informed Broward County GOP chairman Bob Sutton about Tarsey’s past over the Labor Day weekend.

“We were blindsided,” Sutton told the Herald. “He’s a member of the Knights of Columbus, for Christ’s sake. And he came highly recommended by the former chair. We had no idea what his background is.

“We want him out, but he is refusing to resign. He deceived us. It looks like he even used a reputation management firm to make sure we wouldn’t find out who he is.”

Tarsey, who volunteered on President Donald Trump’s campaign, admitted that he has no intention of resigning his post. 

“Why should I resign?” Tarsey asked. “I did nothing wrong, and I was elected. This is just party politics.”

Sutton suspended Tarsey from party functions last week. 

Tarsey’s real name is Rupert Ditsworth, the Herald reported. He changed his name to Tarsey, his mother’s maiden name, when he moved to Fort Lauderdale two years after the 2007 incident, the newspaper said. 

Los Angeles Times story reported that Tarsey, then 17, was accused of attacking Elizabeth Barcay, an 18-year-old classmate at Harvard-Westlake School in L.A., on May 14, 2007, with a claw hammer, hitting her at least 40 times and splitting open her head. Barcay’s mother, Barbara Hayden, told the Times that her daughter also suffered a shattered leg and a broken nose in the attack. 

Tarsey’s parents admitted him to a psychiatric hospital immediately after the assault, the Times reported. He was initially charged as a juvenile with both attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon.

The juvenile case was dropped, and he was rearrested in June 2007, the day after his 18th birthday, so he could be tried as an adult.

Prosecutors at the time told the Chronicle, the online newspaper of Harvard-Westlake School, that Tarsey was tried as an adult because of the seriousness of the injuries suffered by the victim. If convicted of the charges, he faced a possible life sentence.

The Times reported that the attack started after Tarsey invited Barcay to ride with him to a juice bar after a big Advanced Placement exam at school. After drinking smoothies and returning to his Jaguar, he grabbed a backpack from the rear seat and placed it between his legs, according to Barcay.

Barcay told police that instead of returning to school, Tarsey parked in a residential neighborhood in Studio City, not far from campus. Appearing anxious, she said he told her he was contemplating suicide.

When she urged him to return to school to seek help from a counselor, she said he told her, “It isn’t going to happen that way,” the Times reported.

Telling her he wasn’t going to kill himself alone, he pulled a claw hammer from his backpack and attacked her, the newspaper said. 

A witness walking nearby saw the struggle inside the Jaguar and called 911, the newspaper said. 

Tarsey got out of the car, pulled open the passenger-side door and pulled Barcay out by her hair, the Times said. He continued hitting her with the hammer until the tool broke.

He then choked her until she bit his finger, the Times reported. That’s when Tarsey got back behind the wheel and drove off. 

>> Read more trending news

Tarsey ultimately claimed self-defense in the case.

“In the end, I pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor,” Tarsey told the Herald. “It’s not the charges that matter, it’s what happens in court.”

He argued that he did not change his name to hide who he was, but did so after his parents divorced. He said he is estranged from his father. 

After moving to Florida, Tarsey went to college and earned an MBA from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale. He is now married with two children and a third on the way.

Barcay, who went to prom and graduation in a wheelchair following the attack, went on to study at Williams College. Her alumni information shows that she went on to earn a master’s degree in education from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. 

She is now an elementary school teacher in the Boston area. 

Third organization joins charities leaving Mar-a-Lago

Three major philanthropic organizations said Thursday they are pulling their events from President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club, with one already in discussions to move its 2018 fundraiser to another A-list oceanfront setting.

>> Read more trending news 

Thursday afternoon, the Cleveland Clinic and American Cancer Society announced they were leaving the president’s Palm Beach estate.

» COMPLETE COVERAGE: Latest news, photos, videos on President Donald Trump

Late Thursday, the American Friends of Magen David Adom, an organization supporting Israel disaster relief programs, told The Palm Beach Post it is canceling a planned fund-raising gala at Mar-a-Lago, set for Sunday, Feb. 25.

“After considerable deliberation, AFMDA — an apolitical and humanitarian aid organization — will not hold its 2018 Palm Beach Celebration of Life Gala at Mar-a-Lago,” the brief statement said. Magen David Adom is Israel’s ambulance, blood services and disaster-relief organization.

Last season’s gala, held Feb. 26, featured more than 600 attendees who paid $650 per ticket.

Also Thursday, a prominent business leader in Palm Beach urged other charitable organizations sticking with Mar-a-Lago to reconsider their commitment to the president’s club. Laurel Baker, executive director of the Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce, told those groups and their deep-pocket donors to “have a conscience” and seek another venue for their events.

The decisions by the American Cancer Society, Cleveland Clinic and the AFMDA were three of the latest examples of pushback to Trump in the days since the president’s off-the-cuff, combative and controversial news conference on Tuesday at Trump Tower, where he renewed his statements that “both sides” were at fault in the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, sparked by marches by neo-Nazis and white supremacists last weekend.

“Our values and commitment to diversity are critical as we work to address the impact of cancer in every community,” the American Cancer Society said in announcing it would move two 2018 events, a dinner for sponsors and its 60th anniversary gala, from the president’s Palm Beach estate. “It has become increasingly clear that the challenge to those values is outweighing other business considerations.”

That announcement followed a decision by Cleveland Clinic, a leading research hospital in the United States with a location in West Palm Beach, to move its eventpossibly to the Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa.

» Palm Beach chamber head tells charities ‘have a conscience’ about Mar-a-Lago events

Nick Gold, the public relations director of the oceanfront Eau Palm Beach , said it is working with the hospital in hopes of hosting next year’s event.

“Their first call was to us,” Gold said. “We are talking to them. … We certainly want to work with The Cleveland Clinic.”

The American Cancer Society said it has not settled on a new location and is evaluating venue options. No further information was available about whether AFMDA would try to hold an event elsewhere in Palm Beach County during the season.

The Cleveland Clinic’s move follows previous assertions its event would go on at Trump’s Palm Beach estate as planned, despite protests and letters of concern from some who demanded the venue be changed.

The hospital has hosted the fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago for the past eight years, according to The Associated Press, raising anywhere from $700,000 to $1 million a year.

» RELATED: Complaints aside, charities plan to stick with Mar-a-Lago

A representative for the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach said the nonprofit has no plans to move its fundraising event — The Palm Beach Wine Auction — which is scheduled to be held at Mar-a-Lago on Feb. 1. Tickets to the auction are $1,000 a person.

The Big Dog Ranch Rescue in Loxahatchee Groves also still plans to have one of its major fundraisers at Mar-a-Lago. The “Wine, Women and Shoes” event is scheduled for March 10, said Robin Friedman, Big Dog Ranch’s director of development.

» RELATED: Dana Farber, three other charities won’t return to Mar-a-Lago in 2018

“Most of our supporters know that we do what we do for our dogs, and that just happens to be the best venue,” Friedman said of Mar-a-Lago. “In fact, it’s one of the only venues where we can do an event of our size in the daytime.”

The president’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, is co-chairing the Big Dog Ranch Mar-a-Lago event with Georgina Bloomberg, daughter of billionaire Michael Bloomberg.

The animal-rescue group is expecting 600 attendees — up from 450 last year. The group raised $1.1 million at its Mar-a-Lago event last year, and Friedman said “we are definitely expecting more” for 2018.

» RELATED: Why the American Humane Association won’t return to Mar-a-Lago

Nonetheless, Palm Beach County event venues have made clear they would be receptive to discussing opportunities with charities considering a move.

The Eau, located on a 7-acre site with ocean views and lush tropical gardens in Manalapan, underwent a major transformation in 2013 — dropping the Ritz-Carlton name and rebranding itself as a beachfront getaway for out-of-town guests and locals looking for a beachfront retreat. The property consistently ranks among the best resorts in the state. This spring, Chinese President Xi Jinping stayed at the resort during his two-day summit with Trump at Mar-a-Lago.

Gold said the resort can accommodate as many as 500 guests for a seated dinner. In addition to the Cleveland Clinic, the Eau has received inquiries from other charities looking to move events away from Mar-a-Lago, Gold said.

“We do see a lot of charities that are checking spaces to see what can be done,” Gold said.

» RELATED: U.S.-China summit a boon for Palm Beach hotels

Dave Anderson, the general manager of the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, said the venue is also hearing from groups who may be interested in moving events previously held at Mar-a-Lago. The convention center can host groups of roughly 1,000 people.

“We have a beautiful ballroom,” Anderson said. “We have a fantastic chef. … It is a great venue for social events. The only thing I can’t provide is an ocean at my doorstep.”

One leader in Palm Beach’s business community urged the charitable groups to consider a change of venue.

The Palm Beach Chamber’s Baker minced no words Thursday about whether charities should abandon Mar-a-Lago this season.

“If you have a conscience, you’re really condoning bad behavior by continuing to be there,” Baker said. “Many say it’s the dollars (raised at the events) that count. Yes. But the integrity of any or organization rests on their sound decisions and stewardship.”

She added: “Personally, I do not feel that supporting him, directly or indirectly, speaks well of any organization.”

Baker’s comments are the strongest yet from Palm Beach County’s business community in the wake of Trump’s conflicting and, to many, polarizing statements made in the aftermath of the weekend violence.

Last Friday night, neo-Nazis and white supremacists marched through the northwestern Virginia town that is home to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. On Saturday, a suspected white supremacist rammed a car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one and injuring 19.

In response, Trump first blamed Saturday’s violence “on many sides,” but zeroed in on specific criticism of the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis two days later after a backlash to his initial statement.

However, Trump doubled down on his first set of comments during Tuesday’s volatile news conference — and then tweeted support for Confederate monuments on Thursday.

No one from the Palm Beach County business community had spoken out publicly — until Baker.

» RELATED: Inside Mar-a-Lago for a charity ball with Trump and Jeff Sessions

Baker also expressed no patience for charities that will try to keep a low profile during this turbulent period.

“I hope that people will not maintain their neutrality,” she said. “This is the best time ever for people to show their backbone.”

Baker encouraged all charities to re-examine their core purpose for guidance about how to react to Trump’s comments.

In particular, she called out charities that advocate for social justice, the disabled, the poor and the sick.

“Look at your mission statement,” Baker said. “Are you living up to it?”

The Cleveland Clinic’s departure from Mar-a-Lago was no surprise after CEO Toby Cosgrove distanced himself from Trump following Tuesday’s comments. Cosgrove was one of a number of CEOs who stepped down from two White House business councils.

Trump later said he was disbanding that council and another after a rash of defections by other business industry leaders, including the CEOs of 3M, Campbell Soup Co. and United Technologies.

“Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both,” the president tweeted. “Thank you all!”

But the pressure for the Cleveland Clinic to move its event from Mar-a-Lago started this past spring, with petitions and backlash against the Ohio-based hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute as each planned lavish galas on the Palm Beach resort’s grounds during the first months of Trump’s presidency.

Driver of car that plowed into crowd protesting white nationalists identified

After violence caused authorities to stop a white nationalist rally before it began Saturday, a driver plowed his car into a crowd of protesters.

The driver has been identified as James Alex Fields, 20, of Ohio, according to CNN. He was arrested and charged with second degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and one count of failing to stop at an accident that resulted in a death, according to police.

Department of Justice officials opened a civil rights investigation Saturday into the deadly car attack, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia and the Richmond field office of the FBI said. 

“The violence and deaths in Charlottesville strike at the heart of American law and justice,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “When such actions arise from racial bigotry and hatred, they betray our core values and cannot be tolerated.”

A 32-year-old woman who was crossing the street was killed and 19 people were injured, the Associated Press confirmed with hospital officials. Altogether 35 people were treated for injuries.

The incident took place approximately two hours after violent clashes between white nationalists and counter-protesters caused authorities to declare the "Unite the Right" rally an unlawful assembly, The Associated Press reported. 

>> Read more trending news

The white nationalists were protesting the city of Charlottesville's decision to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The group carried torches at a rally Friday night.

Several hundred protesters were marching when the car appeared to deliberately drive into a group of them, The Associated Press reported. Virginia State Police said injuries ranged from life-threatening to minor.

The Associated Press reported that the driver has been arrested.

This is a developing story, return for updates.

Actress, beauty queen found dead in Texas home

Former beauty queen and TV actress Margaret Ann Garza, 31, was found dead Tuesday at her Texas home.  

Police were called at 6:31 a.m. to a home near Austin, Texas, about a woman who was not breathing, according to Angelique Myers, a spokeswoman for the Round Rock Police Department.  

>> Read more trending news

Firefighters and medics were already at the scene when police arrived. Her death is under investigation and an autopsy is pending, Myers said.

Garza was crowned Miss Texas Belleza Latina in 2007 and Miss Belleza Latina International in 2008, according to an online obituary.  

She recently appeared in the AMC television series “The Son,” as well as in the movie “Mercury Plains” with Scott Eastwood, the obituary said. She is also in the movie “Pizza Joint,” which will premiere this month, according to her obituary.

Police: Oklahoma teen likely killed in horseback riding accident

An Oklahoma teen is dead after he left his home on a horse and didn't return, investigators said.

Family members said 13-year-old Cash Lawrence, of Sapulpa, Oklahoma, rode off to round up a herd of horses on the family's property on Tuesday. When the horse returned without Lawrence, family members and authorities started to search for him.

Deputies said a family friend found the boy's body late Tuesday night, according to Fox23 News.

>> Read more trending news

A medical examiner is working to confirm a cause of death; investigators believe it was an accident.

Family members say they believe the boy's horse was provoked by other horses, and likely threw him from the saddle and dragged him.

Lawrence and his brother were set to compete in a youth rodeo Wednesday. Family members said he wanted to become a bull rider.

Family members said Lawrence competed in track and field, and even made a pole vault out of supplies he found on the family's small ranch. They said Lawrence loved the outdoors and was looking forward to joining the seventh-grade basketball team in Kellyville.

His funeral will be held Monday.

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