St. Petersburg accountant is sentenced
A St. Petersburg accountant was sentenced Wednesday to five months in prison and five months of home detention for filing false tax returns for clients. Husam Abu-Dayeh, who pleaded guilty, was ordered to pay $79,070 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service. Prosecutors said that's how much money he secured in tax refunds by falsely reporting medical and job expenses and charitable deductions on clients' tax returns. He came to court Wednesday with a check for the total he owes the IRS and told Senior U.S. District Judge Susan C. Bucklew that he wanted an opportunity to show he has changed. But Bucklew was unmoved, telling Abu-Dayeh that what he did was done "out of greed, not out of need." "I'm going to send you to prison," the judge said.
New trial sought in 2003 fatalities
Prosecutors will ask a judge this week to set a new trial date in the case of Jean Claude Meus, a truck driver accused of killing two people after Florida Highway Patrol investigators say he fell asleep at the wheel. In 2003, a judge sentenced Meus to 15 years behind bars on vehicular homicide charges in the deaths of Nona Moore, 40, and her daughter Lindsay, 8, both of Wauchula. But a year ago, a Hardee County circuit judge threw out the verdict and set a new trial, finding that Meus' trial attorney erred when he failed to contact an important witness, Juan Otero, a volunteer firefighter and the first responder at the scene of the fatal 2001 crash. Meus, a Haitian immigrant, has gone to live in Tennessee with fiancee Rebecca Chenoweth since his pretrial release last year. John Trevena of Largo, the attorney representing Meus, said Wednesday he is stunned that the state refuses to drop charges. Meus has attracted many supporters since the circumstances of the May 11, 2001, incident came to light in television and newspaper reports. Among the staunchest: Nona Moore's family members, including her sister Dana Christenson, who pressed publicly for his prison release.
Man convicted of rape, robbery
A Pasco County jury took 45 minutes Wednesday to convict Bobby Lee Black III, 20, of raping a 66-year-old Zephyrhills woman during a home invasion robbery in 2007. Black showed no reaction when the verdict was read. His mother cried silently. His sentencing was delayed until next month, although his convictions carry only one possible sentence: life in prison. DNA evidence presented in the trial showed that the odds that the rape was committed by anyone other than Black were 1 in 330 trillion.
1-month-old suffers skull fractures
William B. Davenport, 29, of Dade City was arrested Wednesday on a charge of aggravated child abuse. Authorities say Davenport caused several injuries to a 1-month-old baby: several skull fractures, intracranial hemorrhaging, a fractured left clavicle, three fractured ribs, a fractured pelvis and internal injuries. The baby has been hospitalized and is in serious condition, said Kevin Doll, spokesman for the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.