Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Clearwater woman who housed exotic animals charged with illegal possession of alligator

CLEARWATER — A Clearwater woman who investigators said illegally housed birds, turtles, a pot-bellied pig and a 4-foot alligator was arrested Monday, five months after authorities seized her family's exotic menagerie.

Julie Linh Vu, 43, was charged with the illegal possession of an alligator, a felony in Florida, according to a Pinellas County Sheriff's Office arrest report. She was released Monday from the Pinellas County Jail after posting bail of $2,000.

Vu did not return a call Tuesday from the Tampa Bay Times.

She and her husband, Victor, kept the animals —22 birds, 21 turtles, a pot-bellied pig and an American alligator — in the yard of their two-story house south of Curlew Road.

Clearwater police, accompanied by officials from SPCA Tampa Bay, Pinellas County Animal Services and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, discovered and confiscated the animals in January. They were being kept in unsanitary conditions, without proper access to water, Clearwater police said. The American alligator was caged in violation of state law, which prohibits unauthorized possession of the species. The turtles swam in the pool.

Investigators referred charges of animal abuse and illegal possession of an alligator in January to the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office, Clearwater police said. The Vus also were accused of multiple city ordinance violations.

It was unclear Tuesday why authorities decided to press charges five months after the animals were seized, and why only Vu, and not her husband, was arrested.

Neighbor complaints about animal noises and smells led to the end of the Vus' animal kingdom on their grassy property at 2606 Brewton Court.

"Honestly, we love animals," Vu told the Tampa Bay Times in January. "We didn't know that the neighbors had a problem."

Vu had no previous criminal record in Florida, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Victor Vu bought the house in 2005, property records show.

Staff Writer Peter Jamison contributed to this report.

Clearwater woman who housed exotic animals charged with illegal possession of alligator 06/04/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 4, 2013 11:31pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 'Me too': Alyssa Milano urged assault victims to tweet in solidarity. The response was massive.

    Human Interest

    Actor Alyssa Milano took to Twitter on Sunday with an idea, suggested by a friend, she said.

    Within hours of Alyssa Milano’s tweet, tweets with the words “me too” began appearing. By 3 a.m. Monday, almost 200,000 metoo tweets were published by Twitter’s count.
  2. Tampa tax shelter schemer too fat for his prison term, attorney says


    TAMPA — A federal judge sentenced two Bay area men to prison terms last week for peddling an offshore tax shelter scheme that cost the IRS an estimated $10 million.

    Duane Crithfield and Stephen Donaldson Sr. were sentenced to prison after marketing a fraudulent offshore tax strategy known as a "Business Protection Plan" to medical practices, offering doctors and others coverage against unlikely events such as a kidnapping.

  3. Weinstein Co., overwhelmed by backlash, may be up for sale


    NEW YORK — The Weinstein Co., besieged by sexual harassment allegations against its namesake and co-founder, may be putting itself up for sale.

  4. Trial begins in 2014 death of 19-month-old Tampa girl


    TAMPA — Even before his trial officially began, Deandre Gilmore had planted his gaze on the floor of Judge Samantha Ward's courtroom Monday, taking a deep breath and shifting in his seat as a pool of 60 potential jurors learned of his charges.

  5. Rick Pitino officially fired by Louisville amid federal corruption probe


    In an expected move, the University of Louisville Athletic Association's Board of Directors on Monday voted unanimously to fire men's basketball coach Rick Pitino. The decision came 19 days after Louisville acknowledged that its men's basketball program was being investigated as part of a federal corruption probe and …

    In this Oct. 20, 2016, file photo, Louisville head basketball coach Rick Pitino reacts to a question during a press conference in Louisville, Ky. Louisville's Athletic Association on Monday officially fired Pitino, nearly three weeks after the school acknowledged that its men's basketball program is being investigated as part of a federal corruption probe. [AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File]