05/21/13 Public Safety
CLEARWATER — Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri on Tuesday announced plans to strictly enforce a county law mandating background checks for all customers at gun shows, asserting local control in an area that has stubbornly resisted state and federal regulation.
Gualtieri's initiative comes in response to a Tampa Bay Times story last month on the ineffectiveness of local laws closing the so-called gun show loophole. The Times reported that while seven of Florida's most populous counties — including Pinellas and Hillsborough — have ordinances requiring background checks for all sales at gun shows, the laws are largely ignored....
05/17/13 Public Safety
CLEARWATER — Internal investigators say a Clearwater police commander used a law enforcement database more than 100 times during a two-year period for "questionable" purposes, inappropriately looking up personal information about individuals including his ex-wife's boyfriend, a television news reporter and the wives of other police officers.
A summary of the internal investigation, obtained by the Tampa Bay Times, shows that Lt. Richard Crean, 46, of the Clearwater Police Department searched the Florida Driver and Vehicle Information Database, commonly called DAVID, to obtain information about 54 people without an obvious connection to law enforcement work. ...
'I was never a choir boy': Ex-wrestler says criminal record won't prevent charity work with amputees05/14/13 Human Interest
CLEARWATER — Representatives of the Seminole-based charity 50 Legs in 50 Days said Tuesday that they are working to comply with state regulations and that Steve Chamberland, the organization's outspoken founder, can continue in his leadership position despite his criminal record.
At a hastily convened press conference in Clearwater, Chamberland and 50 Legs in 50 Days board members said the nonprofit, formed in 2011 to provide prosthetic limbs for needy amputees, will not falter despite legal issues first described in a Saturday Tampa Bay Times story. ...
BY PETER JAMISON
Times Staff Writer
LARGO — It has been 18 years since Henry Keith Cavaliere was first accused of inappropriately touching a young girl. During that time he ran a Clearwater contracting business, was divorced and remarried and divorced again, and avoided spending time in prison despite five arrests on suspicion of sex crimes involving children.
The next 18 years, and whatever life remains after that for Cavaliere, will be different....
SEMINOLE — State regulators say they are scrutinizing the charitable activities of Steve Chamberland, the gregarious ex-wrestler from Seminole whose work on behalf of young amputees has gained widespread publicity over the past month.
Chamberland's 50 Legs in 50 Days nonprofit, founded in 2011 to provide prosthetics to needy patients, had not until this week applied for state registration as a charity. Officials reviewing the organization now say its iconic front man cannot personally solicit donations because he has a criminal record....
LARGO — A Largo man admitted slamming a toddler against a wall and a chair, police said, and was arrested Sunday on a charge that he killed the baby girl.
Joel Adrian Cruz, 27, faces a first-degree murder charge after he and his girlfriend brought the mortally injured 2-year-old early Sunday to All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, police said.
Cruz initially was arrested about 3 a.m. Sunday by the Largo Police Department on a felony charge of aggravated child abuse....
05/04/13 Human Interest
Past the children's playroom painted in the soft blue hues of an aquarium, down the hallway silent but for the whispers of worried parents, a girl without legs wearing a golden gown was waiting to go home. • Ireland Nugent, a 2-year-old from Palm Harbor, had been in the hospital since the night of April 11, when her father, on a riding lawn mower, accidentally backed over her in the family's driveway. After screams and disbelief, 911 calls and panicked help from neighbors, she was flown by helicopter to Tampa General Hospital, one hand sliced open, both of her legs severed at mid-calf. • Seven surgeries followed in three weeks. Doctors mended the stumps of the girl's legs below the knee joint. There were three skin grafts for Ireland, and countless late-night bouts of guilt and fear for her parents. On Saturday morning, most of that was past, just like the accident. Ireland was going home....
05/02/13 Human Interest
The Palm Harbor toddler whose legs were severed in a lawn-mower accident last month is preparing to return home this weekend after almost three weeks of treatment at Tampa General Hospital, a family spokesman said Thursday.
Ireland Nugent, 2, has undergone multiple surgeries to clean her wounds and place skin grafts on her legs, both amputated at mid-calf when her father accidentally backed into her on a riding lawn mower April 11. She had suffered a setback last week, when doctors discovered dead tissue on one of her legs, requiring another skin graft....
BY PETER JAMISON
The wake for Coleen Ellis' terrier-schnauzer mix was well attended. Mico had been a small but strong-willed animal, displaying the noblest traits of a blended ancestry. Her terrier's air of authority was enhanced by the schnauzer's characteristic beard, white and wiry like that of a kung fu master.
Even in death, the dog seemed to command the attention of humans. Almost 40 people filed through Ellis' living room to gaze upon Mico, in an open casket with a blanket, squeaking snowman and gerbil toy. Memories were shared, along with some good belly laughs and honest tears. That night, the lifeless Mico stayed with Ellis and her husband in their bedroom....
05/01/13 Human Interest
Ireland Nugent's parents have tried explaining to their 2-year-old daughter that her legs have been amputated. So far, it is not working.
"We were playing with Mr. Potato Head yesterday and taking the feet on and off," Nicole Nugent said Wednesday. "And I said, 'This is going to be like you, Ireland. We're going to take your feet on and off.' She doesn't really understand. She's honestly so little that I don't really think she gets that."...
CLEARWATER — A St. Petersburg woman has been charged with attempted murder and aggravated battery after she told police she deliberately caused a car crash to kill herself and a 2-year-old boy, authorities said.
Tiffany Drake, 39, drove her vehicle into the back of a Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority vehicle — not a bus, but a Chevy Malibu — at about 10:30 a.m. Monday, according to the Clearwater Police Department....
LARGO — Prostitutes have started asking Largo's police officers to do naughty things.
It could be an otherwise routine sting, an undercover cop picking up one of the women, or sometimes men, who sell their bodies along Clearwater-Largo Road. But when the time comes to strike a deal, agreeing to exchange money for a sex act, would-be suspects have begun asking for demonstrations that their customers are not police....
Ireland Nugent, toddler with legs severed in mower accident, suffers setback as doctors discover infection04/23/13Accidents
TAMPA — Ireland Nugent, the Palm Harbor toddler whose legs were severed below the knee in a lawn-mower accident earlier this month, suffered a setback in her ongoing medical treatment Tuesday when doctors found that one of her legs is infected, a family spokesman said.
The discovery interrupted what had been a relatively seamless recovery for the 2-year-old girl since the accident almost two weeks ago. It led to an unexpected surgery Tuesday and set the stage for two more surgeries in the coming week, said the Nugents' pastor, Dennis Reid of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Clearwater....
TARPON SPRINGS — Like some other students at Tarpon Springs High School, Ashley Robertson thinks the 15-year-old girl who accused Jared Alissandratos of rape this week is lying.
But there are moments, when she hears people talk about making "Free Jared" T-shirts or challenging the girl to a fight that Robertson pauses to reconsider her mistrust.
"I feel bad," Robertson said. "If it happened to me, and a lot of people said I was lying and stuff, I'd be devastated."...
TARPON SPRINGS — A Tarpon Springs High School student who was a winner of the 2012 cross dive during the city's iconic Greek Orthodox Epiphany celebration has been arrested on suspicion of sexually battering an intoxicated 15-year-old girl during a house party last week, police said.
Tarpon police said Jared Alissandratos, 17, has been charged with the sexual battery of a physically incapacitated girl, a first-degree felony that carries a sentence of up to 30 years in prison if he is convicted....