Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Victim's father takes solace in sentence for different crime

BROOKSVILLE — From the back of the courtroom Friday, Ken Sanford watched silently as Benjamin Jablon received a nine-year prison sentence.

He didn't know the elderly Spring Hill couple Jablon assaulted last year after burglarizing their home. But he took solace in the 22-year-old's conviction and his fate in a way few in the courtroom understood.

Not long ago, Sanford, 50, watched Jablon leave the courthouse as a free man. Sanford returned to feel closure, the amorphous perspective that victims yearn to find in the justice system.

"I wanted to hear the part where (the judge) says 'incarcerated for nine years in the Department of Corrections,'" Sanford said.

This eluded him the first time after a jury acquitted Jablon in March 2007. In that case, Jablon faced attempted murder charges for an attack that left a Pizza Hut delivery man near death.

The delivery man was Sanford's 21-year-old son, Russell.

"I still remember them putting my son in the helicopter with his head all mashed in," Sanford said. "I didn't even recognize him."

Two men attacked Russell Sanford as he delivered several pizzas to a house on Crescent Road. They beat him with a metal baseball bat, fracturing his skull twice and leaving him in a pool of blood as they took cash, the pizzas and his car.

Jablon and Devin Politis were subsequently charged in that attack. Politis pleaded guilty and received 15 years in prison. He testified against his friend, but Jablon's defense attorneys convinced a jury their client was not involved.

Russell Sanford doesn't remember much about what happened, which has helped him move on with his life and make a recovery. He's in his second year of college in New York state studying information technology.

But his father took longer. "I didn't (move on) because I knew (Jablon) is a predator and I knew … that it was going to happen again," Ken Sanford said.

Four months after his acquittal, Jablon was arrested after he broke into a Spring Hill home July 17, 2007. He stole about $300 in cash and jewelry and roughed up the elderly homeowners as he fled.

Confronted by authorities, he confessed. As he was being taken to jail, Jablon told the deputies, "You … are just pissed off 'cause I beat that Pizza Hut rap."

Jablon's defense attorney, public defender Alan Fanter, tried to get the statements and evidence suppressed because he maintains his client was "induced into making statements," but a judge disagreed.

In an unusual move, Assistant State Attorney Don Barbee, the Brooksville office's top prosecutor, handled the case himself.

He said Jablon fancied himself as a gang leader and felt above the law. "That's the problem when someone wins at trial," Barbee said. "They feel bulletproof."

The elder Sanford first read of the new arrest in the newspaper. "I thought, 'Unbelievable,' " he recalled Friday.

The self-employed business owner took off work to attend Jablon's first court hearing and kept in touch with deputies. When he heard about the plea deal, he didn't want to miss it.

It took a year and a half, but in the end, he said, "This is closure for me."

John Frank can be reached at or (352) 754-6114.

Victim's father takes solace in sentence for different crime 10/03/08 [Last modified: Monday, October 6, 2008 1:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 'Cavern' closes westbound lanes on E Fletcher Avenue in Hillsborough County


    Westbound lanes of E Fletcher Avenue are closed near the Hillsborough River to repair what the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office terms a "cavern" that formed under the roadway.

  2. Joss Whedon's ex-wife accuses him of cheating, being 'hypocrite preaching feminist ideals'


    Joss Whedon made his name directing cult television shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and big-budget action movies, which often featured women in empowering roles. Many applauded him for being a champion of women, a feminist in an industry accused of misogyny and sexism.

    Joss Whedon at the screening of "Much Ado About Nothing" in 2014. Whedon's ex-wife Kai Cole alleged in an essay published by The Wrap on Sunday that Whedon had multiple affairs during their 16-year marriage. (Associated Press)
  3. Pasco school's parents, principal seek compromise on behavior plan


    Leaders of a Pasco County elementary school that has come under criticism for its new behavior plan have offered an alternative model that sticks to its goals while also better considering younger children who might not understand the original terminology.

    This is the revised discipline chart that Deer Park Elementary is working on.
  4. Jon Gruden, Rex Ryan meet with Jameis Winston on 'Hard Knocks'


    One of the interesting guest stars on HBO's "Hard Knocks", which covers every minute of the Bucs' training camp and preseason, has been Jon Gruden. The legendary former Tampa Bay coach has popped up from time …

    In a teaser clip from episode 3 of "Hard Knocks", Jon Gruden and fellow former coach Rex Ryan meet with Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston to discuss his past and future in the NFL. [HBO/NFL FILMS]
  5. German police seize thousands of 'Trump' ecstasy tablets


    BERLIN — German police say they have seized thousands of tablets of the party drug ecstasy in the shape of Donald Trump's head, a haul with an estimated street value of 39,000 euros ($45,900.)

    This undated  picture provided by Polizeiinspektion Osnabrueck police shows an ecstasy pill. German police say they have seized thousands of ecstasy pills in the shape of President Donald Trump's head, a haul  with an estimated street value of 39,000 euros ($45,900). Police in Osnabrueck, in northwestern Germany, say they found the drugs during a check Saturday evening on an Austrian-registered car on the A30 highway. [Police Osnabrueck via AP]