Troy Anthony Charles presented himself as a lifeline, a man who helped addicts battle their demons by welcoming them into his St. Petersburg anti-drug program, Back to Life Outreach Recovery Services.
But on April 2, 2012, Charles fired a bullet into Samuel Harper's head. Charles went on trial Monday, accused of murdering Harper, the boyfriend of a woman he was purportedly trying to help in his program....
A massage therapist accused of sexual battery on two clients has been sentenced to five years in prison, followed by five years of probation.
Ronald D. Bruinius, 36, pleaded guilty last week to two counts of sexual battery and will be designated as a sex offender, said Pinellas-Pasco Assistant State Attorney Doug Ellis. Bruinius also gave up his massage therapy license.
Bruinius was arrested by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office in December after a 53-year-old client said he touched her sexually during a massage at his Largo-area business, Ronnie's Body Work Massage. He later was accused of similar behavior on a 28-year-old client....
The owner of a St. Petersburg hotel that markets itself to gay and lesbian guests is suing Pinellas County's property appraiser, claiming its tax bill is too high because of discrimination.
Pinellas Property Appraiser Pam Dubov said Monday she had not seen the lawsuit, but she was familiar with a previous complaint from the hotelier, and sharply disagrees.
"I categorically deny that we have any intent toward discrimination against the gay and lesbian community," Dubov said....
ST. PETERSBURG — Marquice Anderson, wanted in connection with a fiery crash that killed three young women last week, turned himself in Monday at the Pinellas County Jail.
He had worried all weekend, aware he would likely be held without bail and nervous about the "retaliation factor," said Dyril Flanagan, his attorney. "He was worried about who could be a cousin of a cousin and who wants to retaliate."...
Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Thane Covert set bail at $100,000 Friday for Robert Tankel after a lengthy court hearing that provided more details about the lewd and lascivious molestation charge lodged against the prominent Pinellas attorney.
And late Friday, after three days in the Pinellas County Jail, Tankel was released in a case that defense attorney Todd Foster had labeled "more than a huge mistake."...
If you want proof that Patrick Caddell was a respected judge, consider this: Sixty current and retired judges came to his recent memorial service, all wearing their black robes.
If you want proof that Caddell had a unique personality and slightly skewed sense of humor, consider this: Many of those robes also carried stickers showing a winged pig.
The judge was known for saying "When pigs fly" and many other things, printable and otherwise....
06/25/14 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — City Council member Jim Kennedy, a lawyer by trade, will attend an "ethics school" after a client complained about his handling of her divorce case to the Florida Bar.
The step is not considered discipline against Kennedy, and it does not appear on the Florida Bar's website. The Bar said in a letter that the ethics class is "designed to enhance the respondent's ability to practice law and thereby allow future clients to receive more professional service."...
This fall's election could launch a new dynasty of leaders in Pinellas County, or stop one from forming.
It could transform local transportation — or bankrupt us, depending on your viewpoint.
It could show whether the unlikely issue of fluoride has finally dissolved from local politics — or not.
It's a little early for firm predictions in the Aug. 26 primary election and the Nov. 4 general election in Pinellas County, but here are five things to look for in the coming months:...
As state House and Senate candidates filed for office by Friday's deadline, Pinellas County shaped up as a political battlefield with some hotly contested, well-financed legislative races.
The players include three first-time House candidates who bear some of the county's most prominent names. Republican Chris Latvala, the son of state Sen. Jack Latvala, is seeking the open District 67 seat. Republican Bill Young II, the son of the late longtime U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, is challenging state Rep. Dwight Dudley for his District 68 seat....
06/19/14 Public Safety
Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri says he fired his supervisor of patrol operations Thursday morning after learning the man had been having an affair with the wife of a sergeant who worked under his command.
Gualtieri said he fired Maj. Tim Pelella about 10 a.m., less than two hours after he was informed of the situation.
"Having sexual relations with another cop's wife is egregious. ... I think it's ethically bankrupt," Gualtieri said in an interview. It's especially wrong because Pelella supervised the husband of the woman he was having an affair with, Gualtieri said. The woman also is a sheriff's employee, a civilian....
ST. PETERSBURG — Joe Mazzara, a 67-year-old Largo business owner, can hardly believe he is facing 12 criminal charges for posting bumper stickers around town.
To bring the charges, St. Petersburg detectives followed him and set up surveillance cameras to investigate him. They dusted bumper stickers for his fingerprints and tracked him through the city's red-light violations database to try to place him at the locations where the bumper stickers were clustered....
The judges of Pinellas and Pasco counties make countless decisions on a dizzying variety of cases — wrongful deaths and wrong-way turns, last wills and first appearances, living wills and death penalties.
But this week the judges themselves have come under scrutiny, thanks to a survey of local lawyers that is stirring plenty of comment and controversy.
A newly formed legal group recently polled lawyers to ask about the demeanor, professionalism and fairness of local judges. It posted the results on a blog, floridayoujudge.com....
LARGO — A judge has ruled that a Largo police officer was "not credible" when he said he searched a man because he detected "the heavy odor of marijuana."
It's the second time in a month that a Pinellas-Pasco Circuit judge did not believe a police officer who conducted a search based on his claims of smelling marijuana.
Officer Michael Vergenski and members of the "Problem Oriented Policing" unit were monitoring a room at the Suburban Lodge at 6500 Ulmerton Road in October, records show. Many people were coming in and out of the hotel room. Two men emerged from the room, and both smelled of marijuana, according to Vergenski....
A Largo man has been sentenced to 10 years of probation for a frightening incident in which he opened fire inside a Largo office building, apparently because he thought his wife was having an affair....
ST. PETERSBURG — The juror scam seems to be spreading.
A St. Petersburg woman gave $13,000 to scammers who convinced her she owed fines for missing jury duty, police said Monday.
It's one of a series of such calls that local authorities have reported lately. In some cases, callers tell people they need to purchase "Green Dot" prepaid cards to take care of fines they supposedly owe for missing jury duty. Sometimes, they claim the money will eventually be refunded, said Mike Puetz, St. Petersburg police spokesman. ...