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Former prosecutor may seek public defender


A former assistant state attorney may be represented by a public defender against a charge that he extorted a bribe in a murder case. John S. Valenti has told the court that if he can't work out a fee arrangement with David Runyan of the national law firm of Foley & Lardner he will ask for a federal public defender. Valenti, 39, earned $66,000 a year as a 10-year veteran of the state attorney's office. He and lawyer Charles B. Corces, 34, were charged last year with soliciting $35,000 from another lawyer to arrange a 12-year sentence in a murder case. Neither Valenti nor the federal prosecutors handling his case were seen Wednesday at the federal grand jury, which had been expected to hear more about corruption.

74,000 gallon acid spill

brings $64,600 fine

TAMPA _ GATX Terminals Corp. has agreed to pay $64,600 in fines to the state and Hillsborough County in connection with a May 1989 chemical spill that dumped 74,000 gallons of phosphoric acid into Hillsborough Bay. Last week, GATX, the state Department of Environmental Regulation (DER) and the Hillsborough Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) came to the agreement over the spill. GATX agreed to new safety measures at its plant near the Port of Tampa. DER officials said the safety measures, which include reconstructing a dam around the chemical holding tanks and conducting a groundwater contamination survey, will bring the plant in line with state regulations. The plant had been exempt from the regulations because of its age, DER officials said. In May 1989, 131,549 gallons of a solution containing 53 percent phosphoric acid poured out of a hole in a tank at GATX's port facility, DER officials said. A dam surrounding the acid tank failed, releasing 74,366 gallons of the solution into the bay. The fines, $50,000 to the state and $14,600 to the county, do not include compensation for damage to the environment. County and state officials said they didn't know how much damage the spill caused to the environment, but they said the affected area was not considered environmentally sensitive.

Boat ban considered

in Cockroach Bay

TAMPA _ East Hillsborough residents will debate tonight the possible closing of Cockroach Bay to propeller-driven boats. The meeting is at 7:30 at East Bay High School. The debate pits commercial fishermen who use the bay against environmentalists who say boats destroy sea grasses, which are important to fostering aquatic life. Robin Lewis, an environmental consultant, will present a proposal for closing the bay to the Hillsborough Environmental Protection Commission on Feb. 26.

Contract extended for

Washington lobbyist

TAMPA _ A divided County Commission extended a contract for a Washington lobbyist on Wednesday. Alcade, Rousselot & Fay can make up to $75,000 lobbying for Hillsborough. The contract came without competitive bidding. The decision also prompted allegations that the commission was overestimating Alcade's influence. But County Administrator Fred Karl and some commissioners said Hillsborough might miss opportunities to get federal money if the commission waited to seek other bids. Hillsborough hired Alcade last year for $25,000 to lobby to get money to improve Interstate 4, one of Florida's deadliest roads. Congress eventually authorized $35-million for the project.


Man has say in court, now he'll do time

INVERNESS _ Marshall Vaughan stood quietly Wednesday as County Judge Gary Graham read the verdict: two years in the Citrus County Jail for nine counts of violating probation. Vaughan, 18, lifted his head and stared at Graham. "You're a dirty bastard, your honor," Vaughan said. He went on to call Graham a "dirty son of a bitch" and use at least a dozen more foul references. Vaughan said that if he was going to be held in contempt of court, he was going to say what was on his mind. Graham calmly listened. Then, as Vaughan had predicted, the judge sentenced him to five months, 15 days in jail for his outburst. Vaughan was the 15th man Graham has held in contempt during his five years on the bench.