Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Man charged in Tampa terrorism case fires attorneys

TAMPA — A Pinellas Park man accused of plotting terror attacks in Tampa was allowed to fire his two criminal defense attorneys after a brief hearing on Friday.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Anthony E. Porcelli warned defendant Sami Osmakac that his case was on the August trial calendar and would not necessarily be postponed because of new attorneys.

Osmakac told Porcelli his family is attempting to raise money to hire a new lawyer, including the possibility of selling a house in Kosovo. Osmakac is a naturalized U.S. citizen who is a native of what is now Kosovo.

He said his family has spoken to two local attorneys, Ralph Fernandez and Todd Foster. But neither has yet been retained, court records show.

Attorneys Charles Vaughn and Paul Militello, who both have offices in Inverness, were allowed to withdraw from the case. The pair said Osmakac had lost faith in them and no longer spoke with them. Vaughn also said in a motion that the defendant's family has threatened him.

A different judge had earlier refused Osmakac's request to fire them, saying he hadn't shown a good enough reason.

Vaughn said he had spoken to Osmakac, who is being held without bail at the Pinellas County Jail, four or five times and discussions broke down after the attorney mentioned the possibility of a plea deal. He said Osmakac became angry and demanded to go to trial.

"He's not qualified for this case," Osmakac told Porcelli.

Osmakac also recounted a complicated story about how his family had paid a German attorney up to $12,000 in euros to work with Vaughn. But Osmakac said the German attorney misrepresented himself and later told him that he could not take the case.

"He was making lies and excuses," Osmakac told the judge.

Vaughn said he didn't know the German attorney and has not worked with him.

Osmakac is charged with trying to use weapons of mass destruction and possessing an unregistered machine gun. He is accused of plotting to bomb targets that included a Sheriff's Office operations center in Tampa. He faces life in prison if convicted.

William R. Levesque can be reached at or (813) 226-3432.

Man charged in Tampa terrorism case fires attorneys 07/06/12 [Last modified: Friday, July 6, 2012 11:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bill Nelson Video: Talk to this Florida mom before you call Obamacare a failure


    Sen. Bill Nelson spoke on the senate floor about the health care reform debate, sharing the story of a single Florida mother trying to keep alive her daughter, kindergarten teacher Megan Geller, who died at age 28 in 2015 after a two-year battle with leukemia.


  2. Five ideas for party foods to bring to your potluck


    What's in a name? That which we call a casserole by any other name is still, well, a casserole. Generally a go-to for potlucks, casseroles are quick and easy to transfer, and they can feed a lot of people. But take a look at your next potluck table and count how many casseroles there are. You can change the game …

  3. Florida education news: School budgets, hiring freeze, new schools and more


    IN THE BOOKS: Gov. Rick Scott signs a new Florida Education Funding Program and several other education-related bills into Florida law. This year's new education laws …

    Gov. Rick Scott signed HB 7069 earlier in June, and on Monday added seven more education-related bills to Florida law.
  4. Palm Harbor bicyclist dies from injuries sustained in Bayside Bridge crash


    CLEARWATER — A Palm Harbor bicyclist died from injuries sustained last week when he was struck on the Bayside Bridge, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

  5. Kremlin dismisses U.S. warning of chemical attack in Syria (w/video)


    MOSCOW — The Kremlin on Tuesday dismissed the White House's warning that the Syrian government is preparing a new chemical attack and that President Bashar Assad and his military "will pay a heavy price" if it goes ahead.

    In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad, third right, prays on the first day of Eid al-Fitr, that marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, at the Nouri Mosque in Hama, Syria, Sunday, June 25, 2017. [SANA via AP]