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Mistrial declared in fraud trial of Tampa shrimp firm

TAMPA - After two days of deliberations, jurors deadlocked Thursday in the federal fraud trial of a Tampa shrimp company and the judge declared a mistrial. Two fishing boats owned by Salvatore J. Versaggi and the Versaggi Shrimp Co. were seized in Brazil in 1984 and 1985 after Brazilians claimed that the fishermen had violated several regulations. Under federal law, fishermen can appeal to the U.S. government for compensation when their boats are seized. The government indicted Versaggi and his company in September, claiming that Versaggi had tried to get a bigger compensation by inflating thenumber of fish caught. Prosecutors alleged that $256,000 of the $1.7-million Versaggi received was because of altered records. No date was set Thursday for the new trial.

City, landowners to discuss financing of parking garage ST. PETERSBURG - Officials decided Thursday to meet with downtown landowners about a new parking garage near City Hall. Studies by the city and the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce predict a severe parking shortage in the "mid-downtown" area within four years. The Chamber study suggested a 400-space parking garage near Central Avenue and Fifth Street. City officials say one way to finance the garage would be a tax on property owners who would benefit from the garage.

But officials said they need to meet with the owners before advancing the idea.