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News at noon: Hillsborough Sheriff's Office sweep results in more than 80 arrests, one human trafficking charge; Marriott 'Tribute' hotel planned for St. Petersburg's Edge District; and more

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Published Jun. 24

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Hillsborough Sheriff's Office sweep results in more than 80 arrests, one human trafficking charge

More than 80 people have been arrested as part of a months-long, covert human trafficking sting, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister announced Monday. The sting focused on hotels, motels, spas, massage parlors, strip clubs, adult bookstores and other activities in Hillsborough County, Chronister said. Of the 85 arrests made during the investigation, only one person was identified as a sex trafficker, the sheriff said. Prostitutes were also arrested during the sting. Others face charges including possession of child pornography and voyeurism, among other things.

Republicans make noise in Miami as Democrats gather for debates

As Democrats converge on Miami this week for the first of the party's 2020 presidential debates, the Republican Party is trying to counter their efforts to unseat President Donald Trump by rolling out a counter-message intended to hammer the presidential hopefuls. Many prominent Republicans, chief among them Vice President Mike Pence, are expected to arrive in Miami this week to host fundraisers, launch the campaign's national Latino coalition and stage rallies outside the debate venue.

Marriott 'Tribute' hotel planned for St. Petersburg's Edge District

St. Petersburg's edgy Edge District is getting its first new hotel, a Marriott-managed lodging that will be a throwback to Florida of the 1950s and '60s. City permitting is underway for the 11-story hotel that will rise on what is now a parking lot on the southeast corner of First Avenue N and 11th Street. Construction is expected to begin by year's end, said developer Jonathan Daou, who owns the site and is working with Michigan-based DevMar Development. The hotel will be part of Marriott's Tribute Collection, a boutique brand that is managed by the giant hotel company but that allows for customization.

Port Richey's new mayor hopes to restore city's image

Port Richey mayor-elect Scott Tremblay was elected Tuesday to replace jailed former mayor Dale Massad after a five-person race for the seat. Tremblay, a former prosecutor with the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office and now a private defense attorney at his own firm, enters office with a shadow of ex-mayor chaos over the city, but with an optimistic outlook.

You now can forget that higher boat fee in Pasco

Pasco County Commissioner Jack Mariano has pulled the plug on raising boat registration fees in Pasco County. "It's really not much of a source (of money). To cause dissension around the county is not the way to go,'' Mariano told fellow commissioners in a June 18 meeting. His comments came two weeks after the commission debated, but reached no resolution, on Mariano's proposal to increase the cost of registering a boat in Pasco County with the extra revenue earmarked for dredging coastal canals in west Pasco.

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  1. Ricky Fitzgerald Hathorn, 50, was sentenced to life in prison on Friday for the 2015 murders of Tommy Skeens and Lara Kuchar. Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office
    A jury found Ricky Fitzgerald Hathorn guilty in the 2015 slayings of Tommy Skeens and Lara Kuchar. He will spend the rest of his life in prison.
  2. Travis Polk, 30, seen here in a public photo on his Facebook page, died on Nov. 16, 2019, six days after he was critically injured in a fight with his half brother Jose Vasquez, Jr. outside of Brandon Crossroads Bowl, authorities say. Vasquez was charged with manslaughter. Facebook
    Travis Polk, 30, died after his head hit the pavement multiple times while fighting with Jose Vasquez, Jr., who is now charged with manslaughter, records show.
  3. The New York Times newspaper on the shelf at the Citrus County Library Lakes Region at 1511 Druid Rd. on Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019 in Inverness. The Citrus County Commison was looking to eliminate the cost of the New York Times digital subscriptions because they say it is "Fake News." A former Mets GM has stepped up and wants to donate money to the Citrus County Libraries to cover the cost of the subscriptions. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    After Citrus commissioners voted down the digital subscription, library leaders say they cannot accept thousands of dollars from GoFundMe pages.
  4. In this Nov. 2, 2017, photo, Carter Page, a foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, speaks with reporters following a day of questions from the House Intelligence Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE  |  AP
    The finding is part of a Justice Department inspector general investigation into the FBI’s probe of ties between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election.
  5. President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House, Tuesday, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci) EVAN VUCCI  |  AP
    The President called in to “Fox & Friends” to say he was trying to root out corruption in the Eastern European nation when he withheld aid over the summer.
  6. An aerial view of Florida Ave. directly across from E. Kentucky Ave. where Zion Cemetery is once located.  Today, the property is owned by Richard Gonzmart. SANTANA, LUIS  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Richard Gonzmart says he previously misspoke. He expects to know for sure by the end of the year.
  7. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. Tampa Bay Times
    He was taken by helicopter to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg as a “trauma alert” with potentially life-threatening injuries
  8. Pinellas Pasco Circuit Court Judge William H. Burgess III, listens in court Friday during a hearing in the case against James Rybicki, 63. Burgess earlier this month wrote an excoriating order tossing out evidence collected in a search of Rybicki's home, saying prosecutors and detectives lied to obtain the warrant. SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Prosecutors did not drop charges against Rybicki at a Friday hearing, despite a judge’s order in which he excoriated investigators for lying to obtain a search warrant. The judge wrote the cause could...
  9. A Spirit Airlines plane before getting ready to push back and depart from one of their four gates at the Tampa International Airport on Tuesday. Spirit, a low-cost, Florida-based airline, has increased the number of cities it serves from Tampa 50 percent in two years. And in a recent 12-month period, Spirit's passengers accounted for 38 percent of the airport's total growth in passengers. Spirit is not only raising its profile in Tampa. It is pursuing rapid growth nationwide, with plans to move its corporate headquarters from Miramar to a new $250 million headquarters building in Dania Beach in Broward County. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    In 12 months, the number of passengers at Tampa International Airport has grown by about 1.1 million. Spirit Airlines accounts for 38 percent of those fliers.
  10. David Paul Wipperman, 61, of Largo, was arrested Thursday on charges of felony battery and burglary of an occupied vehicle. Pinellas County Sheriff's Office
    She rolled down her window to apologize but got a mouthful of food instead.