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Man accused of faking 911 calls _ again

(ran SS edition of METRO & STATE)

Warren E. Scudder has a habit of dialing his way into trouble.

Scudder, 31, was charged Monday night with making a false 911 call _ again.

It was the 14th time Scudder has faced the same charge since 1994, according to Pinellas County court records. He has spent much of the past three years behind bars for making bogus 911 calls.

"Oh, yes, we know him by name and we know him by sight," said Clearwater Deputy Fire Chief Gordon Yaudes. "He knows some of us by name. Almost all of us have been on calls involving him."

Clearwater officers arrested Scudder, 3575 Old Keystone Road in Tarpon Springs, about 8 p.m. Monday after a 911 call was made from a pay telephone in the 1300 block of Cleveland Street. He was held at the Pinellas County Jail on Tuesday in lieu of $500 bail.

Arrest records show Scudder called in and reported a medical emergency. When paramedics and fire rescue vehicles arrived, he had no illness or injury.

According to an affidavit, Scudder told officers he called because he wanted to see firetrucks and flashing lights even though he knew he should not call 911.

"He's a scary individual," Yaudes said. "When we run on even one call needlessly, it's not good. We've made runs on him medically numerous times when there is nothing wrong."

False 911 calls can hamper responses to real emergencies and cost about $300 a response. It is a first-degree misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Clearwater rescue officials are not the only ones familiar with Scudder. Tom Tarulli, Largo Fire Department's operations chief, said their problems with Scudder's bogus calls were referred to police.

Largo police arrested Scudder in February 1994 after he made four false 911 calls within several hours, despite warnings from officers. Records show he was sentenced to 60 days in jail for two false call convictions that year.

In 1995, Scudder was sentenced to 240 days in jail. He was convicted of seven counts of making bogus 911 calls.

Records show that in April 1995, he made four false 911 calls in Clearwater within an hour. First, he reported a three-car collision. Five months later, he used another pay phone a block away to report another three-car collision. He made two more similar calls and was arrested by an officer who watched him make the last one.

According to sheriff's reports, a Largo fire official called a deputy in October 1995 after Scudder dialed 911 for medical help but was not ill or injured. The deputy reported Scudder had called 911 about 40 times that year.

In 1996, he was convicted of four counts of making false 911 calls. He was sentenced to a year in jail.

Barry Mogil, the county's emergency medical services director, said some people call 911 so often they are familiar, although he did not recognize Scudder's name.

"We have what we call regulars," Mogil said. "These are people who get lonely, want someone to come move furniture or tell us people from Mars are after them. They are usually genuinely upset or scared so we at least direct them to the proper kind of assistance.

"Then we have unnecessary calls. Last Thanksgiving, a woman called up and wanted to know how to cook a 15-pound turkey."