Jon Silman, Times Staff Writer

Jon Silman

Jon Silman covers crime and courts in West Pasco County.

He was born in California, grew up overseas, and graduated from the University of Florida. Before he joined the Times in 2013, he was the cops reporter for the Gainesville Sun.

Phone: (727) 869-6229


  1. Incumbent judge and several lawyers win Pinellas-Pasco judgeships


    There were no real surprises or upsets in the Sixth Circuit judicial election results on Tuesday night, but one three-way race will not be going to a runoff.

    Alicia Polk, 36, won her race against private attorney Ken Lark, 55, and lawyer Alan Rosenthal, 43, outright, with about 52 percent of the vote. Lark came in second with about 30 percent, and Rosenthal came in a distant third with about 17 percent....

  2. Circuit Judge, Group 2


    Circuit Judge | Group 2

    Three candidates are competing for the nonpartisan Sixth Circuit Group 2 vacancy. The winner will replace departing Judge Raymond Gross. If no candidate gets a majority, one will be eliminated and the remaining two will face off in November.

    Ken Lark, 55

    Private attorney

    Alicia Polk, 36

    Private attorney

    Alan Scott Rosenthal, 43...

    Ken Lark
  3. Group 2 candidates vying for judge have varying levels of experience


    The three candidates campaigning to replace retiring Circuit Judge Raymond Gross in the Group 2 judicial election for Pinellas and Pasco all work in private practice but bring widely different life experiences.

    Ken Lark, 55, worked in the medical field for many years before going to law school in his 30s. Alicia Polk, 36, worked briefly as a prosecutor before moving into private practice, where she handles civil, family and personal injury and criminal defense law. Alan Rosenthal, 43, is an avid musician and a black belt in tae kwon do, and has his own practice where he concentrates on marital and family law ...

    Ken Lark was in the medical field before becoming a lawyer.
  4. After almost a decade behind bars, Holiday man gets chance at freedom


    NEW PORT RICHEY — A 62-year-old man who is eight years into a 20-year sentence for shooting at Pasco sheriff's deputies he mistook for hurricane looters won a chance at freedom Friday when a judge agreed to set bail ahead of his new trial.

    But J.J. Daiak, a former attorney with no previous criminal history, won't be leaving jail any time soon.

    Circuit Judge William Webb set bail at $400,000, much too high for Daiak's elderly mother or his long-time girlfriend Donna Vaillancourt to afford....

    J.J. Daiak was granted a new trial last month after a judge cited errors by his attorney.
  5. Agency housing immigrant boys settles with Pasco

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County officials say a nonprofit agency housing immigrant children violated the terms of a federal grant when it closed a group home for elderly disabled adults two years ago.

    County attorneys learned about the closure two weeks ago when reviewing the county's financial arrangement with Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services. On Wednesday, Gulf Coast paid the county $167,762 to settle the matter....

  6. Child dies in DUI accident, authorities say, and misdemeanor DUI is only charge


    HUDSON — Last year, Cathy Jo Ivancsits was drunk when she ran over her 4-year-old daughter in front of the family's townhouse, authorities say.

    The girl was dragged 16 feet underneath the SUV and died.

    Ivancsits won't face a felony charge — not vehicular homicide, not manslaughter.


    "The fault was on the 4-year-old child, Michelle," Assistant State Attorney Mike Halkitis said Thursday. "The child walked into the path of the vehicle."...

    Michelle Jackie Ivancsits was killed in October 2013 in a drunk driving accident when her mother Cathy Jo accidentally ran over her outside the family's home in Hudson.
  7. Mother describes day she lost her 4-year-old daughter


    She lives alone now. Not in the house where it happened, but in a new one, far removed from the memory and regret.

    At least, Cathy Jo Ivancsits says, she still has her young son Ryne. Even though he's with his grandmother now, the 38-year-old mother lives on the hope she'll get him back. Maybe then they can be a family again.

    She swears she never saw her 4-year-old daughter, Michelle, scoot in front of her car that October day last year. The SUV sits so high, she said, and Michelle was so short....

    A memorial sits outside the Hudson residence where Cathy Jo Ivancsits drove over her 4-year-old daughter, Michelle, on Oct. 9, 2013. She isn’t charged with a felony.
  8. Pasco's new court computer system coming in October


    For 35 years, citizens and professionals in Pasco County have relied on a cumbersome and ungainly interface to look up court records.

    It's called the Consolidated Justice Information System, CJIS for short, and it was written in the COBOL programming language. To navigate, you can't use a mouse, and you need to know specific keyboard commands that are hard to remember.

    In October, it will finally be laid to rest. ...

  9. Pasco shelter director speaks out on behalf of immigrants


    NEW PORT RICHEY — Rochelle Tatrai-Ray has heard the complaints about the young immigrants being housed in her Pasco County shelter.

    That they are illegal immigrants with no business being in the United States. That they harbor communicable diseases. That they need to be sent back to their homes in Central and South America, and quickly.

    Those things are just not true, said Tatrai-Ray, CEO of Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services, which runs a 16-bed shelter here housing a handful of the refugees sparking national controversy....

  10. Holiday man serving 20-year sentence wins new trial


    NEW PORT RICHEY — One night 10 years ago, J.J. Daiak stood in his dark living room with a hurricane howling outside and a .357-caliber magnum in his hand. Hearing voices and thinking looters were about to break in, he fired two shots, hitting a sofa and a wall.

    But the voices outside his front door weren't looters. They were Pasco County deputies. Daiak was arrested and charged with aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer. He got 20 years. ...

    J.J. Daiak appears before Circuit Judge William Webb in New Port Richey on Thursday morning to set a trial date.
  11. Curtis Reeves will testify in movie theater shooting trial, attorney says


    The attorney for Curtis Reeves Jr., accused in a Pasco movie theater shooting in January, said his client will take the stand when he faces trial on a second-degree murder charge.

    In addition, Tampa attorney Richard Escobar said he plans to interview Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco and possibly call him as a witness.

    The reasoning: If Nocco's deputies can justifiably shoot and kill an unarmed suspect who threatened them during an undercover drug buy, as happened this month in Zephyrhills, why shouldn't Reeves be able to do the same?...

    Curtis Reeves Jr. is charged with second-degree murder in the Jan. 13 shooting of a 43-year-old man in a movie theater dispute.
  12. Pasco shelter seeks expansion to handle more kids coming across border illegally


    In the midst of a swirling national debate about undocumented immigrant children crossing illegally into the United States, a federally funded shelter in Pasco County is housing boys from Central and South America and asking the county to double its capacity to accommodate more.

    The children, according to the Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services shelter in Holiday off of U.S. 19, are between the ages of 8 and 18. The program is paid for by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement....

  13. State attorney: Pasco deputy justified in fatal shooting


    NEW PORT RICHEY — A Pasco sheriff's deputy was justified in the fatal shooting of a man who fired at deputies after setting fire to a car dealership, an investigation by the Pasco Pinellas State Attorney's Office determined.

    In a letter to Sheriff Chris Nocco on Thursday, State Attorney Bernie McCabe wrote that Patrick Tillery's death May 15 was the result of being shot by Sgt. Jeremy Colhouer "while in the performance of his legal duty and that the shooting was justifiable homicide."...

  14. PHSC responds to allegations about testing, instruction problems


    Pasco-Hernando State College acknowledged some problems at its law enforcement academy brought to light by a whistle-blower, including an allegation about incorrect scoring on firearms tests.

    However, in a response to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on Wednesday, the college said other allegations were relatively minor, quickly corrected and had a lot to do with turnover.

    The college identified the complaining employee as Patricia Maxwell in its letter....

  15. Mistrial declared after Pasco murder defendant attempts suicide


    NEW PORT RICHEY — A judge declared a mistrial in a first-degree murder case Thursday morning after the defendant attempted suicide at the Pasco County jail, officials said.

    Theodore Diller, 70, who was accused of shooting his wife in 2012, was being escorted to the showers at the detention center in Land O'Lakes about 4:20 a.m. He sprinted away from guards, ran up a flight of stairs and sat on the railing, according to an incident report....

    Theodore Diller and his wife were in the midst of a divorce when he killed her, authorities say.