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Judge refuses to let Hulk Hogan's son off probation early, but probably will next year

Nick Bollea, 21, appears in court Friday. He flew in from California for the hearing. 

Curtis Krueger | Times

Nick Bollea, 21, appears in court Friday. He flew in from California for the hearing. 

A judge refused to release Nick Bollea early from his five-year probation sentence for reckless driving, but said he probably would grant the request less than a year from now.

Bollea, son of professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, received widespread publicity after a 2007 accident in which he crashed his Toyota Supra into a palm tree during a street race in Clearwater. John Graziano, Bollea's friend and passenger, suffered severe brain injuries.

Bollea in 2008 pleaded no contest to reckless driving with serious bodily injury, and judgment was withheld, meaning he would not be a felon if he successfully completed all of the terms of his sentence.

Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Philip Federico sentenced him at the time to eight months in the Pinellas County Jail, plus five years of probation, 500 hours of community service and court costs.

He also said that Bollea's driver's license should be revoked for three years.

But judges often release defendants early from probation if they have served more than half of their term, remained crime-free and satisfied other requirements of their sentence.

That's the type of request Bollea made on Friday through his attorney, Kevin Hayslett.

Bollea, now 21, flew in from California for the hearing. So did an official of the National Wave, a charity Bollea has volunteered with. Bollea has completed more than 600 hours of community service and has paid the court costs, Hayslett said.

But Assistant State Attorney Scott Rosenwasser objected. Bollea got his driver's license in California about a year and a half after the accident, which allowed him to drive despite his Florida record. While this did not technically violate the terms of his probation, Rosenwasser said it showed that Bollea "really didn't honor the spirit of his probation."

Hayslett said Bollea did not apply for a "hardship license" in Florida, even though he could have, and got the California driver's license only so that he could go to and from work and also visit his mother.

Federico on Friday said Bollea had not formally violated the terms of his probation, but he said the prosecutor had a point.

"I'm not sure that's entirely within the spirit of what was intended," Federico said.

If Bollea had waited a full three years to drive, "I probably would be granting the motion for early termination," he said. But Federico said he would be inclined to grant a similar motion when Bollea has successfully completed four full years of probation, or 80 percent of his term.

After the hearing, Hayslett said he was pleased that Federico appeared ready to grant an early release from probation, even if it was not as early as his client had requested. Bollea declined to comment.

Judge refuses to let Hulk Hogan's son off probation early, but probably will next year 09/09/11 [Last modified: Friday, September 9, 2011 10:14pm]
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