The court-martial of an Air Force pharmacist accused of misusing drugs during the Gulf War was postponed Thursday until July 8, to allow attorneys time to look for records about drug supply during Operation Desert Storm. George Tragos, attorney for Capt. Roger E. Mansfield, contends that voluminous documentation that could clear Mansfield has not been turned over by Air Force prosecutors. Mansfield, who is from St. Petersburg, is accused of stealing and using pharmaceuticals while in Saudi Arabia. He has asserted that he is being made a scapegoat to cover up widespread drug use by stressed and bored U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia.Lawyers accused in extortion
to be tried separately
AMPA _ A defense lawyer and a prosecutor accused of extorting a $35,000 bribe in a Hillsborough County murder case will stand trial separately, a judge ruled Thursday. Former Assistant State Attorney John S. Valenti is scheduled for trial June 24, but lawyer Charles B. Corces' case was separated and postponed until August. Special prosecutors want to use as evidence against Valenti some statements he made shortly after his arrest in January. Because the statements would be inadmissible in a joint trial involving Corces, Circuit Judge J. Rogers Padgett granted Corces' request for a separate trial. Padgett also ruled that the Florida Bar must provide to him records of complaints against Tampa lawyer Manual Machin, the state's main witness against Valenti and Corces. The judge will review the Bar records privately to determine if any of the information is relevant to either defendant's case. Tony Gonzalez, Corces' attorney, has alleged in court documents that prosecutors deliberately ignored instances of possible extortion and witness tampering by Machin in an effort to bolster his credibility as a witness in the Valenti and Corces cases.
Second man wanted
in killing surrenders
TAMPA _ The second man accused of stabbing a north Tampa businessman to death turned himself in to Charlotte, N.C., police Thursday, Hillsborough sheriff's officials said. Patrick J. Willis, 42, has been charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing of Nelson McLoughlin, 48, in McLoughlin's home June 2. Willis, a former employee of McLoughlin's, and John Henry Williams, 38, who worked for McLoughlin, entered the house at 15414 Morning Drive about 9 p.m., stabbed McLoughlin repeatedly and slashed his wife in the arm, sheriff's officials said. Willis was staying at a church shelter for homeless people in Charlotte when he talked to a minister or counselor about the crime, sheriff's spokesman Jack Espinosa said. Willis then turned himself in to police, he said. Willis has been charged with first-degree murder, armed burglary and aggravated battery. He has indicated that he will not fight extradition to Hillsborough, Espinosa said.
head injury of 3-month-old
TAMPA _ Hillsborough sheriff's detectives are trying to determine whether a 3-month-old girl's head injuries are accidental or the result of child abuse. "We're looking into an injury of a 3-month-old infant that was reported as an accident," said sheriff's spokesman Jack Espinosa. The girl, whose name is being withheld because she might be a child abuse victim, suffered a brain injury on Wednesday and was in serious but stable condition at Tampa General Hospital. Her father told detectives that he tripped on a rock as he was carrying the girl about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Brewer's Mobile Home Park in Gibsonton, Espinosa said. The father fell on top of the child, Espinosa said the father told investigators. No further details about the case were available.
City examines overpricing
charge in vehicle maintenance
TAMPA _ City auditors are reviewing the way Tampa's Fleet Maintenance Department fixes city vehicles after Police Department complaints of overpriced squad car repairs. "Given the current budget problem, we've decided to take another look," said Lou Prida, of Tampa's audit department. Tampa is looking for ways to cut $15-million in expenses for next year. Police spokesman Steve Cole said Thursday that the department has begun demanding that Fleet Maintenance clear every repair bill higher than $500 with police officials. "For example, they recently wanted to spend $2,500 to put a new engine in a car that had 105,000 miles. We said no, take an engine out of some other wrecked car." A 1989 audit of Fleet Maintenance revealed it was billing the Police Department as much as 10 times more than the typical cost at a private garage for such work as tune-ups, wheel balancing and paint jobs. "This new audit is to find out how many of those problems were fixed, and how to fix remaining problems," said John Dunn, spokesman for Tampa Mayor Sandy Freedman.