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LEADER OF DRUG RING GETS 16 YEARS

BROOKSVILLE

Spencer John Bennett, considered to be the ringleader of a massive narcotics operation in Hernando County that included at least seven other people, has accepted a plea deal that allowed him to consolidate numerous charges into a single charge of continuing a criminal enterprise involving a controlled substance.

Bennett, 37, of Weeki Wachee was sentenced Thursday to 16 years in prison by Hernando Circuit Judge Daniel B. Merritt Jr. He had been arrested by Hernando County sheriff's deputies in a December 2012 drug sweep. Deputies seized 11 firearms, including rifles and a shotgun.

Assistant State Attorney Rob Lewis said that if convicted of all of the charges against him, Bennett would have faced significant prison time, given his extensive criminal history.

"It's a good resolution," Lewis said.

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BROOKSVILLE

18 years for trying to set two people afire

Sylvester Francis Kulaga, who was found guilty on two counts of attempted murder after authorities said he attempted to set his sleeping ex-girlfriend and her boyfriend on fire in June, has been sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Hernando County Circuit Judge Daniel B. Merritt Jr. accepted a plea deal Thursday that also included drug offender probation for 12 years after Kulaga is released from prison.

Authorities said Kulaga, 53, broke into the Brooksville home of his former girlfriend, Lisa Massey, while she and her boyfriend, James Mullis, were asleep and doused them with charcoal lighter fluid. He then used a spray paint can to try to set them on fire. A housemate, Martin Harvey, heard the altercation and intervened, and the three forced Kulaga out of the home. Authorities arrested him a short time later. Neither Massey nor Mullis required medical treatment.

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