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1. Marco Island ‘Creative Wraps’ program partners announce a call to artists

The Marco Island Beautification Advisory Committee (BAC) and Marco Island Center for the Arts (Art Center) are partnering in a newly approved program to cover 10 traffic control utility boxes with custom artwork.

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The “Creative Wraps” program is moving forward with a call to submit artwork that will run from Feb. 3 through March 29.

The selection committee is soliciting art submissions from a wide variety of mediums that can include depictions of local points of interest, wildlife, abstract, or inspirational.

Submissions will be evaluated by the selection committee and selected artwork will be unveiled at a celebration hosted at the Art Center May 7.

The “Creative Wraps” program is seeking to enrich the physical, economic social and cultural elements of Marco Island with Art.

Community support through donations to “Donation for Creative Wraps” are accepted during business hours at Marco Island Center for The Arts. All donors will be invited to be part of the celebration in May.

Artists interested in submitting work can obtain the call to artists information and rules at https://marcoislandart.org/marco-island-creative-wraps-program/ or by contacting the Art Center at 239-394-4221. Artists will receive compensation for their selected artwork.

2. Officials: Panther struck and killed by vehicle

An endangered Florida panther has died after being struck by a vehicle.

It’s the fifth panther death attributed to fatal collisions, out of six total deaths this year, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

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The remains of the 1-year-old male panther were found Monday in Collier County on a rural road northwest of Immokalee, wildlife officials said.

Florida panthers once roamed the entire Southeast, but now their habitat mostly is confined to a small region of Florida along the Gulf of Mexico. Up to 230 Florida panthers remain in the wild.

3. Collier tax preparer gets eight years in prison

A Collier County man has been sentenced to eight years and one month in federal prison for filing false claims and tax fraud and must pay $2,170,538 to the IRS.

Augustin Dalusma, 58, was found guilty by a federal jury on Nov. 1, 2019, after a week-long trial.

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According to evidence presented at trial, between 2012 and 2015, Dalusma, working as a tax preparer in Immokalee, falsified information on tax returns for at least 630 of his clients, fraudulently qualifying them for thousands of dollars in tax refunds that they were not lawfully entitled to collect.

Additionally, Dalusma falsified his own tax returns from 2012 through 2014, significantly underreporting his own income to evade more than $30,000 in personal income tax in each of those years.

This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Simon R. Eth and trial attorney Eyitayo St. Matthew-Daniel of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.

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