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Young man's bid for fresh start in sunny Florida cut short by arrest

ST. PETERSBURG — Daniel Marinko arrived at a St. Petersburg bus station with love by his side and hope for a fresh start.

His plans were cut short Wednesday when he was arrested for violating his probation in Wisconsin, where he left behind a charge of simple assault.

The St. Petersburg Times profiled 20-year-old Marinko and his 18-year-old girlfriend, Jenna Solterman, who left their Wendy's jobs in Wisconsin and took a bus to sunny Florida in late April. A reporter and photographer, who happened to be on their bus, documented the couple as they arrived in the Sunshine State for the first time and marveled at the palm trees, the heat and the sandy beaches.

The story also disclosed Marinko's past in Wisconsin: He was kicked out of high school for carrying a pocketknife and stole a convertible whose owner left keys in the ignition. While in jail serving time for fleeing an arrest, he got in a fight. For that, Marinko was serving probation and wasn't supposed to leave the state.

But on May 10, weeks before the May 31 story was published, a warrant for his arrest was issued by the Wisconsin Department of Corrections. It's unclear what exactly triggered the warrant. His probation officer, K.J. Dickman, did not express concern for Marinko's Florida trip when the Times spoke to him before May 10. Dickman was not available to comment Thursday.

St. Petersburg police spokesman Mike Puetz said a "local probation specialist," Mario Ditroia, saw the May 31 story about Marinko and Solterman and alerted police of Marinko's whereabouts. Ditroia was unavailable to comment Thursday.

St. Petersburg police were able to figure out where Marinko was by finding his aunt, identified as "Aunt Helen" in the story.

Marinko was arrested at 2:45 p.m. Wednesday in Seminole and was being held in the Pinellas County Jail without bond. Puetz said he believed Marinko would be sent to Wisconsin.

When reached by phone, Solterman declined to comment and threatened to contact a lawyer if the Times published any more stories about her or her boyfriend.

Emily Nipps can be reached at nipps@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8452.

Young man's bid for fresh start in sunny Florida cut short by arrest 06/02/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 13, 2011 2:50pm]
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