Monday, January 22, 2018
News Roundup

Feds file tax charges against former Port Richey mayor

The U.S. Attorney's Office has filed criminal charges against former Port Richey mayor Richard Rober and his wife, Averill, alleging the couple conspired to defraud the federal government by hiding income from the IRS.

The charges came as no surprise: Rober announced his resignation March 28, citing the intensifying inquiry into his unpaid taxes. The couple's attorney said then he expected charges within a few weeks.

In documents filed Friday and released Monday, the U.S. Attorney's Office said the Robers diverted money from the water testing and treatment company they used to own, Gator Water and Wastewater Management Inc., into a separate account at SunTrust Bank. The couple under-reported more than $239,000 from 2005 to 2007, with unpaid taxes exceeding $55,000.

"They both used these proceeds for personal purposes and purposely failed to inform the accountants who prepared their tax returns of these monies," the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a press release.

The alleged scheme first came to light in 2009, when a lawsuit was filed between the Robers and Florida Utility Group, the company that bought Gator Water. Florida Utility Group accused the Robers of siphoning company money into a personal fund and spending it on family finances, the couple's Hummer and repairs for their boat. The lawsuit is still pending.

Douglas de Vlaming, the Clearwater attorney representing the Robers, said the couple agreed not to fight the criminal charges. In exchange, prosecutors waived the indictment process, instead filing charges without taking the Robers into custody.

The couple will report to court for their first hearing in about two weeks and plan to plead guilty then, de Vlaming said.

"Both Mr. and Mrs. Rober are taking full responsibility for their actions," de Vlaming said Monday.

Rober, 52, declined to comment on Monday.

Once the Robers enter their plea, authorities will conduct a pre-sentencing investigation to recommend a punishment, a process that could take a couple of months, de Vlaming said.

The charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Comments

Police: 2 IEDs detonated at a Florida mall, no injuries

LAKE WALES — Police say two improvised explosive devices ignited inside a mall in central Florida on Sunday do not appear to be an act of terrorism.Lake Wales police Deputy Chief Troy Schulze tells news outlets that at 5:22 p.m., the Lake Wales Fire ...
Updated: 19 minutes ago

The Daystarter: Women’s March returns to St. Petersburg; PolitiFact Florida analyzes prison costs; Free dental clinic services in high demand; Arrrrr you ready for Gasparilla?

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.• We’ll have a mild and sunny start to the week, with highs in the upper 70s, according to 10Weather WTSP. A weak cold front brings a chance of rain on Tuesday and slightly coo...
Updated: 9 hours ago
PolitiFact Florida: Claims about prison price-gouging decry $17 soup, $18 tampons

PolitiFact Florida: Claims about prison price-gouging decry $17 soup, $18 tampons

Advocates of Florida prisoners protested outside of the Florida Department of Corrections in Tallahassee on Tuesday, demanding answers to questions of alleged price-gouging in prisons across the state.Protesters from dozens of grass roots organizatio...
Updated: 10 hours ago

Hooper: Deal with sea-level rise or prepare to be inundated

When fans again flock to Tampa’s Bayshore Boulevard for the annual Gasparilla Festival on Saturday, I hope they ask a question: Will the floats need flotation devices in 2035?Erika Spanger-Siegfried, Astrid Caldas and Kate Cell, members of the Union ...
Published: 01/22/18
Add swagger to Lightning’s loss column

Add swagger to Lightning’s loss column

CHICAGO — It didn’t take the sound of a door slamming in the visitor’s dressing room Saturday night to sense this Lightning team is frustrated.Tampa Bay believed it had worked hard against the Wild — at least, harder than it did in Thursday’s letharg...
Updated: 6 hours ago

nationResearchers work to avoid another 1918 super-flu The descriptions are haunting. Some victims felt fine in the morning and were dead by night. Faces turned blue as patients coughed up blood. Stacked bodies outnumbered coffins. A century after on...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Hillsborough diver who died in Eagle’s Nest Cave was adventurous but experienced

Davin Brannon was a pilot, a spearfisherman, an avid cave and open-water diver and an experienced all-around adventurer, said those close to him ."I guess you could say he died doing what he loved," his cousin Pam Kirven said. "But I also know he’d n...
Updated: 7 hours ago
‘Three Billboards’ sweeps female-focused SAG Awards

‘Three Billboards’ sweeps female-focused SAG Awards

LOS ANGELES — The Western-inspired revenge tale Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri swept the female-focused and led Screen Actors Guild Awards Sunday with wins for best ensemble, best actress for Frances McDormand and best supporting actor for...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Shutdown opens week

Shutdown opens week

Associated PressWASHINGTON — The government shutdown will extend into the workweek as the Senate appeared to inch closer to ending a partisan stalemate late Sunday but fell short of agreement. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his Democratic...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Record number of inmates died in Florida prisons last year. And they died younger than past years.

Record number of inmates died in Florida prisons last year. And they died younger than past years.

More inmates died in Florida prisons last year than in any other year on record, leaving the state scrambling to identify causes and find solutions. The tally, 428 inmate deaths in 2017, was released late Friday by the Florida Department of Correctio...
Updated: 8 hours ago