Sunday, January 21, 2018
News Roundup

Gumshoe Denis Quilligan faced down corruption, organized crime

ST. PETERSBURG — Because of his laid-back demeanor and drawl, colleagues sometimes compared Denis Quilligan to former NFL quarterback and wisecracking broadcaster Don Meredith. The people he helped put in prison might remember someone a bit less folksy.

During his 23 years with the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office, the last 19 as chief investigator, Mr. Quilligan did the legwork on some of the most high-profile cases in the area's history. Guilty parties included organized crime figures and three county commissioners convicted in a zoning payoff scandal.

He moonlighted with a trombone. In the 1950s, he formed the Jailhouse Seven, which consisted of his first wife, three cops, three newspaper reporters and the city's dog catcher.

Mr. Quilligan died March 29 in Blountville, Tenn. He was 89. The family announced his death in an obituary Sunday.

"He was not only the chief investigator, he was one of (then State Attorney) James Russell's closest confidantes," said lawyer George Tragos, a former assistant state attorney. "If Denny had an opinion, it really mattered."

At a lean 6 foot 5, with a cigar and a blazing stare, Mr. Quilligan looked the part of the G-man he might have become. He graduated from the FBI's National Academy in 1955.

People wanted to talk to him.

"As an investigator, the way you get information is to have the sort of personality where you can talk to them and they will give you the information voluntarily," said Allen Allweiss, a former assistant state attorney. "He had a way about him."

Allweiss first worked with Mr. Quilligan in the early 1970s, then against him after leaving the State Attorney's Office. When Allweiss' client, Pinellas County Commissioner George Brumfield, was convicted in 1974 of taking bribes, the two sides worked together as Brumfield agreed to wear a wire.

"That's when the house of cards began to fall," said Richard Mensh, former chief assistant state attorney. Commissioners A. Oliver McEachern and William Dockerty were convicted of corruption charges. Several officials in Clearwater, Largo and the beaches were also convicted.

Denis J. Quilligan was born in Granite City, Ill., in 1923. He joined the Merchant Marine during World War II and married Gloria Davis in 1945. They had two children.

He joined the St. Petersburg Police Department in 1947, was promoted to detective two years later, then to detective sergeant in 1956. He went to the State Attorney's Office a year later.

Mr. Quilligan took a leave in 1964 to run for sheriff, winning the Republican nomination but losing to incumbent Don Genung. He remained with the State Attorney's Office through 1980, then became a private investigator for 15 years.

Mr. Quilligan's second marriage, to the former Marilyn Oldridge, lasted 40 years, until her death in December.

He leaves behind a legacy as one of the best. "Most assistant state attorneys stay a few years," Mensh said. "I stayed year after year, with Denny as my role model — his loyalty, his dedication and his moxie."

Researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report.

Comments

Leonard Pitts Jr.: One year later.

And here we are, one year later.If you are groping for markers by which to measure how profoundly we have been changed since Inauguration Day, here’s one you might want to consider:In January of 1998, reports surfaced of a sexual affair between Presi...
Published: 01/21/18
Lightning falls to Wild, its fifth loss in seven games

Lightning falls to Wild, its fifth loss in seven games

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Lightning said all the right things about needing to look in the mirror and do some soul-searching during its recent funk. Veterans said they had to lead the way. Coach Jon Cooper believed this eight-game trip would "show us wha...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Florida wins big SEC showdown with Kentucky

Florida wins big SEC showdown with Kentucky

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Jalen Hudson came off the bench to score 17, and Chris Chiozza, Keith Stone and Kevarrius Hayes contributed clutch baskets down the stretch as Florida rallied to upset No. 18 Kentucky 66-64 Saturday night. "We were able to win it jus...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Shrine Game journal: USF players’ thoughts are with grieving QB Quinton Flowers

Shrine Game journal: USF players’ thoughts are with grieving QB Quinton Flowers

ST. PETERSBURG — USF had expected to have four former players in Saturday’s East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field, but QB Quinton Flowers had to miss the showcase game after learning that his grandmother had died late last week."I most definitely ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Late score gives West victory over East in Shrine Game

Late score gives West victory over East in Shrine Game

ST. PETERSBURG — With less than a week to install a playbook, offenses can have it tough in college showcase games.And for 58 minutes on Saturday in the East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field, the teams combined for just one offensive touchdown.But...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Tampa Bay jobs chief Ed Peachey making top dollar

Tampa Bay jobs chief Ed Peachey making top dollar

For years, Edward Peachey has bragged about the number of jobless people he has helped find work.As president and CEO of CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay, he’s in charge of the two main government agencies that provide training to the...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Diver from Dover dies in treacherous Eagle’s Nest cave

Diver from Dover dies in treacherous Eagle’s Nest cave

WEEKI WACHEE — The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office on Saturday investigated the death of a Hillsborough County man in the Eagle’s Nest, an underwater network of caves where at least 11 others have died since 1981.Even experienced divers have lost th...
Published: 01/20/18
More than 1,000 cold-stunned sea turtles rescued in Florida Panhandle

More than 1,000 cold-stunned sea turtles rescued in Florida Panhandle

Florida’s dip into frigid temperatures did more than just stun humans unused to such cold air. This month scientists and volunteers have rescued more than 1,000 cold-stunned sea turtles from a single bay in the Florida Panhandle.The U.S. Geological S...
Published: 01/20/18
Orchestra sets off fireworks in the brassy ‘Sinfonietta’

Orchestra sets off fireworks in the brassy ‘Sinfonietta’

TAMPA — Many times during Sinfonietta, Leoš Janácek’s notoriously difficult but joyous work, it was impossible for a regular patron of the Florida Orchestra to escape this observation: They have never sounded quite like this.This isn’t to say musicia...
Published: 01/20/18
The longer the shutdown lasts, the further the economic ripples will spread

The longer the shutdown lasts, the further the economic ripples will spread

The early days of the federal government shutdown won’t slow the U.S. economy much. No workers are missing paychecks yet, and because it is a weekend, few businesses expect to feel the effects of lost customers or suppliers.That could change, quickly...
Published: 01/20/18