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Restaurant owner ruled incompetent for chop shop trial

Tim Walters, 66, faces racketeering charge after 2005 arrest.

Tim Walters, 66, faces racketeering charge after 2005 arrest.

ST. PETERSBURG — A well-known barbecue restaurant owner charged with racketeering has been found incompetent to stand trial because of symptoms he suffered after a stroke.

Timothy Walters, 66, owner of Big Tim's Bar B Q on 34th Street S was arrested in January 2005 on a racketeering charge. He was released from jail three months later after posting a $750,000 bond.

Pinellas Circuit Judge Timothy Peters found Walters incompetent last week because a stroke has left him unable to communicate with his lawyer, prosecutors said.

Walters opened his first barbecue restaurant after moving to St. Petersburg in 1964. His barbecue sauce has been widely acclaimed, and some consider it the area's best.

Prosecutors say that next to his restaurant Walters ran a chop shop, where he bought, repainted and sold stolen cars. He also frequently dealt in stolen construction equipment, court documents state.

Walters ran the operation with an iron fist. He told one man that if he stole anything from him, he had "killers out there who will (mess) you up, break your legs and arms," documents state.

Another witness told police that Walters "had made people disappear in the past," records state.

The racketeering charge also includes an accusation that Walters hired a man to commit a 1997 murder. A man arrested in that murder said he was hired to do it but would not reveal who hired him when he was sentenced to life in prison.

Restaurant owner ruled incompetent for chop shop trial 07/03/08 [Last modified: Friday, July 4, 2008 1:46pm]

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