Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Man accused of impersonating firefighter to get free stuff

Robert Louis Spalla

[Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]

Robert Louis Spalla

ST. PETERSBURG — Authorities aren't sure how Robert Louis Spalla got his hands on an official fire department T-shirt. But they believe the Clearwater man got a lot of use out of it.

Police said Spalla, 22, who has never been a firefighter in Florida, spent six months wearing the T-shirt to get freebies from Pinellas County businesses.

Police, who arrested Spalla Wednesday on charges of impersonating a firefighter, said he got free meals, drinks and gas cards.

The ruse angered officials.

"We don't want the image that firefighters are going around asking for free stuff," said Lt. Joel Granata, a spokesman for St. Petersburg Fire & Rescue. "We're not. We don't do that. We're more professional than that."

It was unclear Wednesday how Spalla got the clothes.

"If he wanted to be a firefighter so bad," Granata said, "he should have just went to school and became one."

Spalla was in the Pinellas County Jail on Wednesday night in lieu of $5,000 bail.

Man accused of impersonating firefighter to get free stuff 02/27/13 [Last modified: Thursday, February 28, 2013 10:08am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Lightning's Steven Stamkos looks close to top form in first game since November

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning captain Steven Stamkos was curious how he would feel — and perform — in Friday's exhibition against Nashville, his first game since mid-November knee surgery.

    The Lightning’s Alex Killorn, left, makes his preseason debut and has an assist in a 3-1 win against the Predators at Amalie Arena.
  2. Steven Souza Jr. vindicating big trade for Rays

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — There was a time when the three-team, 11-player transaction the Rays orchestrated to get Steven Souza Jr. from the Nationals looked liked a bad deal.

    The Rays’ Steven Souza Jr. has 30 home runs while improving his defense and baserunning.
  3. Fennelly: Lightning's Manon Rheaume made history 25 years ago Saturday

    Lightning Strikes

    The name is part of Lightning history, hockey history, sports history.

    Lightning goalie Manon Rheaume became the first woman to play in an NHL game 25 years ago today.
  4. Investigators reviewing HHS chief's private charter flights

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — Federal investigators are examining Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price's recent use of costly charter flights on the taxpayers' dime for official business.

  5. FSU gives president John Thrasher a pay bump as its academic standing rises

    College

    TALLAHASSEE — With Florida State University moving closer to becoming a top-25 public university, the school's trustees on Friday bumped up President John Thrasher's salary by 7 percent and awarded him a $200,000 bonus.

    Florida State University President John Thrasher, center, is surrounded by lawmakers in 2016 as he visits the Florida Senate. Thrasher on Friday received a pay increase to go with the university's increased academic standing, including in the latest U.S. News & World Report ranking of public universities. FSU ranks 33rd this year, and is aiming for a top-25 spot. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]