Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

USF student not guilty in traffic ticket-signing case

Francesca Fretta confers with defense attorney John Trevena in court Thursday.


Francesca Fretta confers with defense attorney John Trevena in court Thursday.

LARGO — A jury found college student Francesca Fretta not guilty Thursday of the little-prosecuted charge of refusing to sign a traffic ticket.

But another matter — whether a police officer left her shackled in a van for up to 45 minutes while on a lunch break — is still under investigation by the St. Petersburg Police Department.

Officer John Douglas cited Fretta for the misdemeanor charge on Oct. 17 after she was stopped for speeding on the Pinellas Bayway. Douglas says he told her that she could still fight the ticket in court, but she needed to sign it.

During Thursday's daylong trial, Fretta testified that she never refused to sign the ticket, she was simply pointing out to the officer that he had misidentified her car as a Hyundai. It's a Daewoo. In hindsight, she said she wished she had signed it.

Assistant State Attorney Ajay Pallegar said Douglas and Officer Sandra Minor gave Fretta several opportunities to sign the citation but "she chose not to sign it and that's the bottom line."

But defense attorney John Trevena hammered at what he called inconsistencies in the officers' accounts, and questioned why a "supplemental report" was written three months after the incident.

Fretta, a 21-year-old political science and pre-law student at the University of South Florida, was "ecstatic," with the verdict, Trevena said.

Fretta has said that while being transported to the Pinellas County Jail, the female officer left her shackled in the van alone, with the air on, for up to 45 minutes.

That did not come up during Thursday's trial because the charge she faced dealt only with whether she refused to sign the ticket.

Police Chief Chuck Harmon said his department's internal review of that matter is still ongoing, but expects it to be concluded soon.

USF student not guilty in traffic ticket-signing case 02/12/09 [Last modified: Thursday, February 12, 2009 10:54pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. PolitiFact Florida: How would Florida fare in Graham-Cassidy health care bill?


    Following a sharp rebuke by late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., hit the airwaves to defend his bill that would undo much of the Affordable Care Act.

    Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La.
  2. What ever happened to the Zika epidemic?


    Remember Zika?

    The last time Gov. Rick Scott warned Floridians about the potential threat of the mosquito-borne virus was in July, when he urged residents to still be vigilant against bug bites and standing water. At the time, doctors and researchers were bracing for what was supposed to be another active summer …

    Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are responsible for transmitting Zika. Cases of the virus are down dramatically in Florida.
  3. Pinellas licensing board needs cash. Will the county give it any?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– The grand jury that said Pinellas County should not take over the troubled construction licensing board also said the county should bail out the agency before it goes broke in 2018.

    Pinellas County Commission chair Janet Long isn't keen on the idea of the county loaning money to keep the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board afloat. The county has no say over the independent agency, which could run out of funding in 2018. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  4. Is the Bundt cake back? How retro baked goods are becoming trendy again


    Once there were grunts and slumps, buckles and brown betties. Oh, and pandowdies and sonkers. In the olden days, people routinely made angel food cakes, tomato soup cakes and hummingbird cakes. These were not Duncan Hines mixes, but rather confections made from scratch following yellowed and stained recipes in your …

    Nothing Bundt Cakes in Tampa offers a variety of options, from tiny “bundtinis” and 10-inch cakes that serve 18 to 20 people. Core flavors include lemon, marble, red velvet and chocolate-chocolate chip, with featured flavors like confetti.
  5. Craig Butz, executive director of Pepin Academies and former professional hockey player, died in a crash with a boat Saturday. His daughter Teagan, 4, remained in critical condition Sunday afternoon. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   TIMES, 2013]