Curtis Krueger, Times Staff Writer

Curtis Krueger

Curtis Krueger is the Pinellas courts reporter for the Tampa Bay Times, and has written for the Times since 1987. He also covers a variety of other issues, including space and science.

Phone: (727) 893-8232

Email: ckrueger@tampabay.com

Twitter: @CKruegerTimes

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  1. Clearwater man serving life in child sex case gets new trial

    Criminal

    CLEARWATER — Henry Keith Cavaliere has been accused repeatedly of sex crimes against children and seems to have nine lives in the legal system.

    The 50-year-old former Clearwater contractor was arrested four times between 1995 and 2009, accused of sexual battery, lewd assault, sexual performance by a minor and other crimes. Twice he faced charges that could have given him a life sentence. Yet he had never been to prison, or included on state sex offender databases....

    Henry Keith Cavaliere, 50, will remain in prison until his case is retried.
  2. St. Petersburg teen who killed at age 14 is found guilty of first-degree murder

    Criminal

    ST. PETERSBURG — A St. Petersburg teenager was found guilty on Thursday of murdering 20-year-old Jeremy Mayers, a St. Petersburg College student.

    Franco Harris Thomas, who was 14 at the time of the killing and is 16 now, is set to be sentenced Nov. 25. He faces a possible life sentence.

    Mayers was found in 2012, dead on the lawn of a home in the Coquina Key neighborhood of St. Petersburg. Police said two other teens participated in a scheme to lure Mayers to the home and rob him. Thomas and one of the other teenagers were going to kill Mayers by shooting him with the shotgun, but they forgot ammunition, so they beat him with it instead, authorities said....

  3. Clearwater condo fraud case leads to federal indictments

    Criminal

    CLEARWATER — Back when everybody seemed to be making money in real estate, Fred Davis Clark and Cristal Clark helped to assemble multimillion dollar development plans that stretched from Clearwater to the Florida Keys, Las Vegas and the Caribbean.

    But a new federal indictment claims the Clarks were making their money the old-fashioned way: with a Ponzi scheme.

    The Clarks helped build "a $300 million fraud scheme involving the sale of vacation rental units to approximately 1,400 investors," according to a statement this week from the U.S. Attorney's Office for Florida's Southern District. They have been charged with bank fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud....

  4. In Pinellas, House District 68 candidates say Duke needs to shape up

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG — State Rep. Dwight Dudley says comparing Duke Energy to a flock of vultures just wouldn't be fair — to the vultures.

    "Vultures have the common courtesy to fly off when the bones are cleaned, unlike Duke," said Dudley, who in two years has arguably become the Florida Legislature's leading critic of big utilities

    Dudley, D-St. Petersburg, has blasted Duke for a series of well-publicized messes that include botched repairs, charging customers for plants that were never built and changing billing cycles. But he now faces a challenge of his own....

    Speaking to the media in January, state Rep. Dwight Dudley, backed by supporters, calls for a repeal of a tax that charges customers for energy they are not receiving.
  5. Bill Young's big get: NASCAR driver Kurt Busch

    Blog

    Republican Bill Young has a big endorsement this morning: NASCAR driver Kurt Busch.

    Busch appears in a brief video touting Young, who is battling Democratic Rep. Dwight Dudley in the state House District 68 race: "Hi, I'm NASCAR champign Kurt Busch. I'm endorsing Bill Young for Florida state House. I knew his father very well, and he did a lot for our military, and I know that Bill will not let us down. Vote for Bill Young."...

  6. Dramatic home invasion video of a 'case built on tattoos'

    Criminal

    CLEARWATER — The three robbers burst in like commandos, with masks covering their faces and gloves on their hands, as they waved guns and ransacked the home.

    They ripped down surveillance cameras. They pointed their weapons at peoples' heads. They stole cash, televisions, video games and a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun.

    And then they disappeared, without ever showing their faces or leaving a fingerprint....

  7. Will three Pinellas 'Young Guns' become a new GOP machine?

    Elections

    To anyone with a long memory in Pinellas County politics, there's a question worth asking about three young Republican state House candidates.

    Could the trio — Chris Latvala, Chris Sprowls and Bill Young — be the start of a new "ICY machine?"

    The nickname doesn't resonate much today, but in the 1960s, three men — Jack Insco, William C. Cramer, and Young's father, U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young — led Pinellas County Republicans to unprecedented victories in this formerly Democratic stronghold. Because their last names started with I, C and Y, this group of Republican insurgents became known as ICY....

     The District 67 house seat is sure to be a busy race, with a primary in both parties. This week we look at GOP candidates Chris Latvala and Christopher Shepard.  Chris Latvala:  Facebook Photo  https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10200821203665994&set=pb.1040687016.-2207520000.1405203701.&type=3&theater
  8. Tarpon Springs man guilty in death of neighbor who was stabbed more than 100 times

    Criminal

    A 24-year-old Tarpon Springs man was found guilty Friday of killing his neighbor by stabbing him more than 100 times.

    Jeremy Dane Brown, 24, was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

    At the time of his arrest in 2011, police said Brown had stabbed Paul Wiggins, 48, more than 100 times at the Hillside Mobile Home Park in Tarpon Springs. Police said Brown thought Wiggins had been harassing his aunt....

  9. Army major charged with Clearwater murder released from jail

    Criminal

    CLEARWATER — An Army major accused of killing his wife's ex-husband was released on $1.5 million bail Thursday night, a rare case of a first-degree murder defendant being freed before trial.

    Roman Izzo, 36, will be required to return to court for an Oct. 13 pretrial hearing, for other hearings and for his murder trial, which has not yet been scheduled.

    Family members of Vincent Lee, the man Izzo is accused of killing, were not pleased....

    Izzo
  10. Another police action caught on video, this time in Largo

    Public Safety

    LARGO — Police were called to Joanna Rivera-Molina's apartment in July because her 14-year-old daughter was accused of acting out and hitting her.

    But when police arrived, Rivera-Molina, 41, questioned why one of the officers was searching her home. A Largo officer responded, "I'll be happy to leave and then you can deal with this s- - - by yourself."

    Shortly afterward, Rivera-Molina herself was arrested on a charge of domestic battery for lightly pushing her daughter as the teen tried to leave....

    This image, taken from a video, shows Largo police officers arresting Joanna Rivera-Molina.
  11. Pinellas House candidates trade jabs one day after primary victories

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG — Less than 24 hours after winning their Pinellas primary elections, candidates in two state House races came to a debate Wednesday and pledged to run civil campaigns.

    But before the hourlong debate was up, House District 67 candidate Steve Sarnoff questioned his opponent Chris Latvala's leadership ability. That prompted Latvala to jab back, saying Sarnoff had failed to stand up to questionable doings in his own party....

    Chris Latvala is a Republican candidate for state representative in House District 67.
  12. Republicans coast to victories in Pinellas legislative races

    Elections

    Republican Chris Latvala and Democrat Steve Sarnoff will face off on Nov. 4 for a Clearwater-Largo state House seat, after scoring victories Tuesday in the only Pinellas County legislative race that had contested primaries for both major parties.

    In most other Pinellas legislative races, candidates easily glided to primary victories, with wins by Republicans Chris Sprowls, Bill Young and Jack Latvala. The exception was House District 64, where votes were not even counted because of an ongoing lawsuit. The district covers Oldsmar, Safety Harbor and parts of Hillsborough County. ...

    Chris Latvala, left, Republican candidate for state House District 67, poses for a photo with Frank Walker, owner of the Walker Ford dealership, as Latvala celebrates his victory Tuesday.
  13. Things to know in Pinellas County for Election Day

    Elections

    The primary election is upon us, but for many Pinellas County voters all that's left to do is wait for the returns.

    By Sunday, the ninth and final day of early voting, 16.4 percent of the county's 617,925 registered voters had already cast a ballot by mail or at one of the Supervisor of Elections offices.

    In addition to the gubernatorial and attorney general primaries, the early birds made their choices in contests for the state House and Senate and the Pinellas County Commission, School Board and Circuit Court bench....

  14. Mistrial declared in Pinellas murder trial of man accused of burning girlfriend

    Criminal

    LARGO — A mistrial was declared in a murder case this week after a juror admitted to looking at a news story about the crime.

    The move means prosecutors, defense attorneys and a judge will need to try again to conduct a trial for Jeffrey Robert Grant, who is accused of murdering his girlfriend, Jennifer Guthrie, in 2010.

    "It is very frustrating," said Pinellas-Pasco Chief Judge Thomas McGrady. "There was a whole lot of time, effort and money spent to try this case, a very serious case."...

    Jeffrey Robert Grant is accused dousing his girlfriend with gas and setting her on fire.
  15. Pinellas House candidate Chris Latvala steps back from views in book he wrote as teen

    Elections

    Starting in high school, a young man in Jacksonville decided to explore some big moral issues — abortion, racism, violence, homosexuality — and write a book about them.

    The teenage author called for returning prayer to public schools, deemed homosexuality "a mistake someone makes," and said "abortion is wrong in all circumstances, except when the pregnancy could cause the mother's death."...

    Latvala’s book, published in 2001, offers views on racism, abortion and homosexuality.