Sunday, April 22, 2018
News Roundup

Jail threats by Hudson gun hoarder confound sentencing hearing (NSFW audio)

TAMPA — For months, gun hoarder Paul Szaraz seethed inside the Citrus County jail, detained on federal charges. In calls home, he talked of hatred, anger and vengeance.

"This anger is never going to go away, never," he said. "This anger, I'm saving, believe me. I have a perfect reason for it, too."

He railed to his longtime girlfriend, Jackie Kubb, about neighbors he blamed for his arrest, calling them "human garbage" and "dirty rats."

Investigators listened and then, recently in U.S. District Court, offered up a disturbing theory about the 47-year-old Hudson tree trimmer who made no secret of his contempt for the government.

The theory: He wanted to have an FBI agent and a witness murdered, or maybe do it himself.

But was it all just bluster?

Psychologist Valerie R. McClain testified Thursday that Szaraz is delusional and constantly manic with poor impulse control. She said he views himself as a victim of a conspiracy. "He is mentally ill," she said. "Without treatment, those beliefs are going to continue and escalate."

She spoke at a sentencing hearing before U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday. Szaraz pleaded guilty in July to possessing six machine guns, found at his home in March along with eight semiautomatic assault rifles, pistols, another rifle and 17,000 rounds of ammunition. With a history of felony DUI and other offenses, he can't own guns.

FBI Special Agent Ronald Monaco testified that Szaraz offered a fellow inmate $10,000 and part of his tree-trimming business to kill two people he blamed for his arrest.

It was enough to make the U.S. Attorney's Office try to rescind a couple of the proposed deals in his plea agreement.

Federal prosecutor Donald Hansen petitioned Merryday last week to give Szaraz the maximum penalty, 10 years, because of the quantity of weapons found.

In jail calls, Szaraz still claimed a right to bear arms.

That wasn't all he claimed.

He said the government was going to kick in doors and drag everyone to FEMA camps. Disney World was part of New World Order. Mexicans were taking over the country. The Marines were corrupted by Satanists.

"I hate this system with all my guts," he told his girlfriend. "I just hate and hate and hate and hate."

In the end, Judge Merryday gave Szaraz five years and three months, not 10 years.

He was unconvinced that Szaraz intended to have anyone killed; still he called the case "bothersome."

Szaraz was entitled to hate, if he wanted, and he was entitled to entertain an "unjustified construction of the Second Amendment," if he chose, the judge said.

His order included mental health evaluation and treatment.

Defense attorney John Trevena put on witnesses who either accepted Szaraz's rants as quirks or agreed with some of his views.

Kubb, the girlfriend, said Szaraz isn't a "prepper," a Nazi, a Ku Klux Klan member or a sovereign citizen, just a hard-working man who put family first though he lost his own family as a young boy.

Szaraz spoke, too.

"I have a big obnoxious mouth, bottom line," he said.

Comments
4 dead in Nashville Waffle House shooting; suspect sought

4 dead in Nashville Waffle House shooting; suspect sought

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A gunman wearing nothing but a green jacket and brandishing an assault rifle stormed a Waffle House restaurant in Nashville and shot four people to death before dawn Sunday, according to police, who credited a customer with s...
Updated: 21 minutes ago
Andrei Vasilevskiy and the universal language of playoff hockey

Andrei Vasilevskiy and the universal language of playoff hockey

TAMPA — As usual, Andrei Vasilevskiy didn't speak in front of the cameras after the game. He has been like that since he hit the NHL. He still isn't comfortable with his English on TV.But Vasilevskiy spoke loudly and clearly in the first-round ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
How Baker Mayfield can benefit the Bucs

How Baker Mayfield can benefit the Bucs

TAMPA — The buzz at the top of this year's NFL draft is a class of talented quarterbacks deep enough to challenge the all-time record of six in the first round, set in 1983 with a group that included future Hall of Famers John Elway, Jim Kelly ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
It’s Earth Day. Here are 11 stories about how climate change affects Florida.

It’s Earth Day. Here are 11 stories about how climate change affects Florida.

Happy Earth Day, Florida!In the spirit of the holiday that recognizes our planet’s clean air, water and land, here are 11 stories the Tampa Bay Times has published about how climate change affects the Sunshine State.1. The Florida keys have to elevat...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Ex-NFL kicker Jay Feely apologizes for ‘joke’ gun photo

Ex-NFL kicker Jay Feely apologizes for ‘joke’ gun photo

Former NFL kicker Jay Feely, who was born in Odessa and starred at Tampa Jesuit, has apologized for a photo he intended as a joke, showing him holding a gun as he poses with his daughter and her prom date."Wishing my beautiful daughter and her date a...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Deputies: Florida man on LSD knocks out teen girl at RaceTrac while her parent pumps gas

Deputies: Florida man on LSD knocks out teen girl at RaceTrac while her parent pumps gas

ST. PETERSBURG — A man punched a 13-year-old girl inside a RaceTrac convenience store on Saturday, knocking her unconscious as her parent pumped gas outside, Pinellas deputies reported.Kolbe Wayne Smith, 27 and of St. Petersburg, now faces charges of...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Perspective: The Heartland to Headwaters Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition finds frustration and fear seeking a safe path for wildlife across Interstate 4

Perspective: The Heartland to Headwaters Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition finds frustration and fear seeking a safe path for wildlife across Interstate 4

The original Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition in 2012 was inspired by how the Florida black bear roamed — and the space it needed to do so successfully. In 2010, expedition team member Joe Guthrie conducted research through the University of Kent...
Updated: 3 hours ago
District softball schedules for Tampa Bay

District softball schedules for Tampa Bay

Class 9A-8 (higher seed hosts)Tuesday: No. 3 Alonso at No. 2 Palm Harbor University, 4; No. 4 Sarasota Riverview at No. 1 Newsome, 7Thursday: Final, 4 or 7 (depending on who hosts)Class 8A-4 at Strawberry Crest Tuesday: No. 1 Wharton vs. No. 4 Wiregr...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Teen killed in crash remembered as

Teen killed in crash remembered as "always smiling and laughing"

WEEKI WACHEE — Seth Leathers was on his way to play basketball at his church when he was killed Wednesday in a car crash on U.S. 19 in Spring Hill, according to family friend Laurie Pike.Leathers, 16, was the passenger in a car driven by his friend G...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Rays thoughts are with ex-teammate Danny Farquhar

Rays thoughts are with ex-teammate Danny Farquhar

Members of the Rays organization sent their thoughts and prayers to former teammate Danny Farquhar, who was hospitalized Saturday night in Chicago in stable but critical condition after suffering a brain hemorrhage caused by a ruptured aneurysm.Farqu...
Updated: 9 hours ago