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Vacation promoter charged with telemarketing fraud

A Tampa man whose business promised Bahamas vacations to more than a dozen people nationwide has been charged with credit card and telemarketing offenses, the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office said. Scott Moore Crawford, 36, operated a number of entities, including ones based on N Florida Avenue named Aurora Tours and The Promotions Group/ National Worldwide Promotions, within the past two years, said a Sheriff's Office statement, which provided these additional details: Crawford and his staff obtained cards filled out by fairgoers and trade show visitors in the United States and Canada who thought they were entering a drawing for a vacation trip. Crawford's employees called the contestants and told every one they had won a trip, but that to claim it they needed to pay port taxes and promotional fees. A number of people paid the fees but never traveled, according to the Sheriff's Office. Crawford took the individuals' credit card numbers, and posted them through the accounts of other businesses. Crawford was charged with racketeering, grand theft and operating without a telemarketing license. He was released from jail Wednesday night on $1,000 bail.

Disease-causing bacteria found in shower head at jail

A shower head at the Pinellas County Detention Center that tested positive for bacteria that can cause Legionnaires' disease was replaced Wednesday, after county officials received the results of sampling tests taken in January. Bruce St. Denis, Pinellas' facilities director, said the tests show the bacteria were only in the shower head, and not the water supply at the jail. The tests also confirmed that there was only one other source of the bacteria, which were discovered in the Largo Criminal Courts Complex in January and resulted in the complex being shut down until Feb. 18. The other source of the bacteria was an air handler at the jail. That air conditioning unit was cleaned in late January, after the tests were taken. The rest of the complex and jail's air handling and water systems have tested negative, but were cleaned anyway, St. Denis said in a written statement Thursday.

TAMPA TRIBUNE PROMOTES EDITOR. Al Hutchison, associate editor of editorial pages for the Tampa Tribune, was promoted Thursday to deputy managing editor. As the newspaper's second-ranking news executive, Hutchison, 59, will be responsible for all daily operations of the news department and long-term planning of projects, among other duties. Hutchison was president and publisher from 1976 to 1991 at The Recorder in Greenfield, Mass. He was also managing editor, editor, general manager and executive vice president at the Clearwater Sun from 1972 to 1976.


DEPUTY CLEARED IN SHOOTING AT GUNMAN. A Hillsborough sheriff's lieutenant was justified in shooting at a man who killed his ex-girlfriend last month at the University of South Florida, the State Attorney's Office ruled Thursday. Lt. Kevin Fitzpatrick fired at 22-year-old Peter H. Howarth on Feb. 17 after Howarth shot and killed his ex-girlfriend, Heather Haupin, as she was leaving a concert at USF. Haupin, 19, died at the scene. Fitzpatrick and Deputy Michael Krohn responded to the call about 11:30 p.m., and encountered Howarth walking northbound on 42nd Street. He repeatedly was told to drop his weapon, but he refused, authorities said. Before Fitzpatrick fired, Howarth shot himself in head. He has remained in critical condition at Tampa General Hospital since the shooting.

PAINTINGS STOLEN: Dee Hood sits among her paintings. Sometime after 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, someone broke into her home on N Nebraska Avenue home in Tampa and stole more than 20 of her canvasses stored in the bedroom. The next day, Hood's boyfriend Chris Peattie, who is renovating the house, found a shattered window, a bloody print on the bedroom door, and large tread marks outside. Who would want to steal 16 of her massive, moody and almost unmarketable abstract paintings? "We're mystified, that's for sure," said David Audet, who shows Hood's distinctive work at his Still and Moving Gallery in Seminole Heights. "It's not pretty work, it's real gutsy. I sell her work occasionally, but it's very difficult work." Hood values the missing paintings at $11,750. The paintings, primitive abstracts depicting themes of feminism and censorship, were not insured, and Peattie did not have homeowner's insurance.