Man sentenced to 4 years for baseball fraud
A Land O'Lakes man was sentenced to four years in prison on Friday for selling baseballs with phony Babe Ruth autographs. Marc A. Szakaly, 40, pleaded guilty to organized fraud for having sold or gotten pawnshop loans for the baseballs at dozens of locations throughout Florida. He also repaid the money. Szakaly pleaded guilty Friday without a plea bargain. Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Nancy Moate Ley said the deliberate, deceptive nature of the crime warranted the punishment. The case began with a Largo police investigation and was prosecuted by the Office of Statewide Prosecution. Szakaly used old baseballs and doctored certificates of authenticity to make the balls appear legitimate.
Court has 30 days to rule on maps
A day after lawmakers finished their legislative redistricting maps and sent them to Attorney General Pam Bondi, she swiftly turned them around and certified them to the Florida Supreme Court. The clock starts ticking now as the court has 30 days to get the maps back to lawmakers and either approve them or tell lawmakers to take another shot. That means the court will have until the last day of the session, March 9, to respond. That's enough of a window for lawmakers to extend and give themselves extra time if they need it to work on a redo.
Fire at jail quickly extinguished
A dryer in a laundry room at the Pinellas County Jail caught fire Friday morning, but the flames were quickly extinguished by deputies, and there were no injuries. An investigation is under way, but the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said an electrical problem appeared to be the source of the fire, which was in a small laundry room off the jail kitchen.
Death-row inmate asks for review
A man who was denied a stay of execution by the Florida Supreme Court now is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review his case. Robert Waterhouse filed legal papers on Friday in Washington, D.C. He is asking the court specifically to review the Florida court's decision on Wednesday not to give weight to his contention that destroyed physical evidence could have exonerated him through current DNA testing. The 65-year-old is set to be put to death Wednesday by lethal injection. He was convicted in the rape and murder of a woman in St. Petersburg 32 years ago.
Van hits woman in Arby's parking lot
A 78-year-old woman was hospitalized with serious injuries Friday evening after she was hit by a van in an Arby's restaurant parking lot. Nancy B. Livingston had just left the restaurant, 3900 Fourth St. N, about 6:50 p.m. and was walking to her car when a 2003 Dodge conversion van bumped her while making a left turn, police said. Livingston fell to the ground and hit her head on the pavement. She was taken to Bayfront Medical Center in life-threatening condition, police said. The van's driver, Brooke R. Taborsky, 26, did not see Livingston, police said. She was not charged in connection with the accident.