Since the shooting death of Tampa police Officer Lois Marrero, mourners throughout the community have been trooping in to the Tampa Police Department with donations for the Gold Shield Foundation, a non-profit group that provides education for the families of fallen law enforcement officers and firefighters.
Some of the donors have specifically mentioned a desire to help Mickie Mashburn, Marrero's longtime significant other.
Perhaps they should know this: If they write Gold Shield on the check, none of it will go to Mashburn.
"Our bylaws say surviving spouse, and legally, that's not a surviving spouse," said Joe Voskerchian, executive director of the Gold Shield Foundation.
Shortly before Marrero's funeral service, the foundation presented a $5,000 check for expenses to Marrero's mother, Maria Marrero, Voskerchian said, but they have not given and do not plan to give any money to Mashburn.
"We just asked the police department who to give it to and they gave us Maria Marrero's name," he said.
In the wake of Marrero's death, the foundation has received about $7,100 in donations. But with several corporate fundraisers still pending, he expects the amount to exceed $40,000.
Neither Mashburn nor Marrero's family would qualify for any other benefits from the foundation other than the $5,000 in funeral expenses, Voskerchian said, because the fund covers education for spouses and dependent children only.
If anyone mentions they wanted to donate solely to Mashburn, he said, the foundation would offer to give them their money back.
LET THE DEPOSITIONS BEGIN: Perhaps it's wishful thinking on the part of some, but contrary to popular belief, former Tampa Police Deputy Chief Ken Taylor's whistleblower lawsuit against the city has not been dismissed.
Taylor, you'll recall, says he was forced to retire because he complained about questionable negotiations between soon-to-be-gone PBA president Jim Thompson and Chief Bennie Holder. They say no, it's because he lied about his education.
Anyway, the city's motion to dismiss Taylor's suit was denied.
We're looking forward to seeing the discovery.
PARENTAL DISCRETION NEEDED: It was hard to pick the most disturbing image on the "Road Kill Barbecue" video shot for radio personality Bubba the Love Sponge Clem. But we settled on this sight:
A young girl, who looked like she was about 10 years old, was standing in the front row in the Tampa parking lot of Clear Channel Communications, watching everything that took place.
We don't know who the girl was. We don't know why any parent would bring a child to such an event.
The videotape has now become evidence in the animal cruelty case against the Love Sponge and three others.
Besides watching a wild boar get castrated and slaughtered, there were plenty of other disgusting things that took place. Let's just say: Parental discretion should have been advised.
OBER-TIME: As the county's top law enforcement officer, State Attorney Mark Ober mainly works behind a desk. He makes decisions in cases, hires and fires prosecutors, and attends political functions, but he doesn't stand up in court often.
But that could change for one case.
Ober said it's a "possibility" that he will personally prosecute Paula Gutierrez, the woman accused of robbing a Bank of America branch in south Tampa and then participating in the fatal shooting of Tampa police officer Lois Marrero.
Ober, a former homicide prosecutor and defense lawyer, has been itching to get back into the courtroom since he took office. The Gutierrez murder could become a high-profile platform to showcase his lawyering skills. At least for now, it looks like a hard case for Ober to lose. The state has eyewitnesses, physical evidence and a sympathetic victim.
It's too early to make a decision about the case, Ober said. Gutierrez has not even been indicted by a grand jury on a charge of first-degree murder.
For now, a lawyer from the public defender's office will represent Gutierrez.
_ Got a tip? Call Amy Herdy at (813) 226-3386 or David Karp at (813) 226-3376.