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Former Hillsborough County Commissioner Brian Blair accused of punching his sons

Brian Blair

Brian Blair

TAMPA — Former Hillsborough County Commissioner Brian Blair spent Father's Day in jail after his arrest early Sunday on charges that he punched his two sons.

Blair, 52, was arrested shortly after 5 a.m. after an altercation at his family's home in the Forest Hills area of Tampa, sheriff's Deputy Larry McKinnon said. Blair and his wife, Toni, have two sons, Brett and Bradley, according to his campaign Web site.

Blair, a former professional wrestler who is 6 feet tall and weighs 235 pounds, pushed his older son Brett, 17, in the chest about 4 a.m., according to an arrest report.

The teen tried to walk away, but Blair grabbed him and punched him in the face with a closed fist, leaving a red mark and swelling, the arrest report said.

Blair then put the 17-year-old in a choke hold, causing him to have trouble breathing, according to the report.

Deputies said Blair then let go of his older son and grabbed his younger son by the throat. He punched the boy, leaving a bump on his head, the arrest report said. In the report, a deputy gave the younger son's age as 12, though Blair's campaign Web site said he is 13.

Both sons identified their father as the person who attacked them, deputies said.

Blair was booked into the Hillsborough County jail on two felony counts of child abuse. As is standard procedure for someone facing a charge involving domestic violence, he was being held without bail Sunday. He is scheduled to appear today before Hillsborough Circuit Judge Walter Heinrich.

A woman at Blair's home did not open the front door late Sunday afternoon, but said, "I don't talk to reporters. Thank you, though."

Blair, who was part of a tag-team wrestling duo known as the Killer Bees, was elected to the District 6 countywide seat on the County Commission in 2004.

Last November, Blair was defeated for re-election by financial planner Kevin Beckner. After the election, Blair sued Beckner, contending that Beckner's campaign attacks on him were so over the top that they amounted to libel.

Beckner's attorneys have responded that the statements in dispute were nothing more than typical campaigning. Beckner merely reprinted or summarized statements that had already been made by or about Blair during the political contest, they said.

In addition to wrestling and politics, Blair has previously owned several Gold's Gyms, but his booking report indicated he is currently unemployed.

This is not the first time Blair has faced an allegation that he punched someone close to him.

On Sept. 25, 1984, a woman he had dated told a Hillsborough sheriff's deputy that Blair beat her during an argument inside her apartment, according to the deputy's report.

She told the deputy Blair had been drinking, threw her over a sofa, punched her 10 to 12 times in the head and pulled out a clump of her hair, and hair was retrieved as evidence. The woman said Blair also took more than $2,000 worth of gifts he had given her during their relationship.

The report indicates Blair was slated to be charged with battery and grand theft after a deposition at the State Attorney's Office. The report notes that no attempt was made to pick him up because he was out of the country.

Blair was never questioned, arrested or charged, though he returned to the country a few days later. He was also in the country for more than a week after the alleged incident.

Blair has acknowledged there was an unpleasant breakup, but said he was never violent.

"The whole thing was fabricated," he told the Times in 2002. "I absolutely swear to that."

Times staff writer Bill Varian contributed to this report.

Former Hillsborough County Commissioner Brian Blair accused of punching his sons 06/21/09 [Last modified: Saturday, June 27, 2009 11:08am]
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