Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Former trooper found not guilty in traffic case

DADE CITY — A jury found former Florida Highway Patrol Capt. Greg LaMont not guilty Tuesday of the alleged crime that cost him his job with the FHP in the first place.

That should make the state of Florida think twice about trying to keep LaMont from reclaiming his job, said defense attorney George Angeliadis.

"He is very excited and looking forward to getting his job back," Angeliadis said. "This is just the first hurdle. We've got one more to go."

The jury of five women and one man took about 35 minutes to acquit LaMont of a misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief stemming from a 2006 traffic stop on a Pasco stretch of Interstate 75.

LaMont, 46, was accused of a road-rage-like behavior, of striking a motorist's car, denting it, and yelling at the driver "are you brain dead?"

The driver, who was stopped for speeding, pulled over halfway on the median, halfway on the roadway. More vehicles pulled over as a result of the traffic stop, jurors learned, and a rear-end crash resulted minutes later.

LaMont spent 26 years on the force and commanded troopers in Pasco, Hernando, Citrus and Sumter counties.

But he was fired last year after an internal investigation into that 2006 traffic stop. That also led the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office to file the misdemeanor charge, which carries up to a year in jail.

LaMont appealed his dismissal to the Public Employees Relations Commission. Two things could happen next, his attorney said.

LaMont could enter into negotiations with the state to let him get his job back, or he'll have to make his case in front of a hearing officer.

But Angeliadis said that at that hearing, the state would have to re-use evidence and witnesses that didn't sway the jury in the criminal case.

"I just hope they'll think twice before flying these witnesses back down at an administrative hearing," the lawyer said.

Angeliadis believed that the jury had the most trouble with the testimony of Hussein Atris, the Michigan motorist who said his car was struck.

The lawyer said Atris couldn't recall key details of that Sept. 3, 2006, day, like what color LaMont's undercover cruiser was (it was green) or even the color of LaMont's FHP uniform (it was beige).

Atris and his girlfriend told authorities they didn't realize his car had been damaged until they got to Georgia. But LaMont's lawyer noted that the couple had stopped at a Florida rest stop before crossing the state line.

"I think that gave them an opportunity to fabricate this whole situation," Angeliadis said.

In his closing, Assistant State Attorney Manny Garcia tried to convince jurors the victims hadn't concocted their story.

"Is this their way at getting back at Capt. LaMont for writing a traffic citation, which they paid?" the prosecutor asked jurors. "Folks, this would have to be a very elaborate conspiracy theory to pull this thing off."

Angeliadis, who did not want LaMont to comment after the verdict, questioned the resources the state poured into the case against his client.

Garcia is one of Pasco's most senior prosecutors, more used to murder cases than county court. The victims had to be flown in from Michigan. And half a dozen troopers spent two days waiting to take the stand.

"The state of Florida has cost taxpayers thousands of dollars prosecuting a misdemeanor," Angeliadis said. "It's just a complete waste of resources and taxpayer money."

Jamal Thalji can be reached at or (727)


Former trooper found not guilty in traffic case 03/25/08 [Last modified: Monday, March 31, 2008 2:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Observations from a liberal, gay, Latino, feminist Florida House freshman


    State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando,  rocked the Florida LGBTA Democratic Caucus dinner at Tallahassee's Hotel Duval Satursday night with his unabashedly liberal and passionate take on the myriad issues he said are key to LGBTQ Floridians. Among them: Access to guns, Reproductive rights, home …

    Carlos G. Smith
  2. Delta Sigma Theta honors outgoing national president

    Human Interest

    During her four years as national president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Paulette Walker said she always focused on the comma between "Sorority" and "Inc."

    Paulette Walker, the former director of undergraduate programs and internship in the College of Education at the University of South Florida, will be honored on Saturday for her leadership in the Delta Sigma Theta sorority.
  3. 10 sailors missing, 5 hurt in collision of USS John S. McCain

    SEOUL —Ten U.S. Navy sailors are missing and five have been injured after the USS John S. McCain destroyer collided with an oil tanker near Singapore early Monday morning.

    In this Jan. 22, 2017, photo provided by U.S. Navy, the USS John S. McCain patrols in the South China Sea while supporting security efforts in the region. The guided-missile destroyer collided with a merchant ship on Monday, Aug. 21, in waters east of Singapore and the Straits of Malacca. Ten sailors were missing, and five were injured, the Navy said. [James Vazquez/U.S. Navy via AP]
  4. Pasco County Fire Rescue fighting a two-alarm fire started by an explosion


    Two houses are on fire and one victim has been critically burned and taken to a trauma center following an explosion at a home at 8652 Velvet Dr, in Port Richey.

  5. Rays see the Blake Snell they've been waiting for in win over Mariners

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was a one-run game Sunday when the Mariners' Robinson Cano singled with one out in the seventh inning, bringing the dangerous Nelson Cruz to the plate.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) throwing in the third inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017.