1. Pinellas

Hulk Hogan's son. A tragic crash. Murder-for-hire. The latest on Tampa Bay's strangest saga.

In the late 2000s the Graziano family endured several tragedies when their lives intertwined with the family of wrestling celebrity Terry “Hulk Hogan” Bollea, who were Tampa Bay’s biggest reality TV stars at the time. Clockwise from top left: The wrestler’s son, Nick Bollea crashed while speeding through downtown Clearwater in 2007, leaving Iraq war veteran and Marine John Graziano (top right, with mother Debra Graziano) with catastrophic injuries. Then in 2009, father Edward Graziano (bottom right) was arrested for hiring a fixer to arrange the death of his wife (it was actually an undercover deputy.) Hogan (bottom left) settled a lawsuit with the Graziano family, which received $1.5 million after legal fees to care for John Graziano, was left in a minimally conscious state and requires a lifetime of care. [Times files] The murder-for-hire plot was just one chapter from the Graziano family’s brush with fame and tragedy in the late 2000s. Their lives became intertwined with the family of wrestling celebrity Terry “Hulk Hogan,” Bollea at a time when he and his family starred in their own reality TV show.
Published Jul. 9

Debra Graziano answered her phone and heard a voice from the past.

It was her ex-husband, she told deputies. The man who went to prison for trying to arrange her murder a decade ago.

On the phone, Edward Graziano, 63, told his ex-wife he had some things he wanted to talk to her about, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Debra Graziano hung up.

"She is scared to death," said her attorney, George Tragos.

That April 22 phone call landed Edward Graziano back in jail, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. He was arrested June 29 on a charge of violating his probation for allegedly contacting his ex-wife.

FROM 2012: Michael Graziano, younger brother of John Graziano, dies of injuries from crash

The murder-for-hire plot was just one chapter from the Graziano family's brush with tragedy and infamy in the late 2000s. Their lives became intertwined with the family of wrestling celebrity Terry "Hulk Hogan" Bollea at a time when they were Tampa Bay's biggest reality TV stars.

The fourth season of Hogan Knows Best had finished taping in 2007 when son John Graziano was critically injured while riding in a sports car driven by the wrestler's then 17-year-old son, Nick Bollea. The yellow Toyota Supra was seen racing through downtown Clearwater before it jumped a curb and slammed into a palm tree.

John Graziano, then a 22-year-old Iraq War veteran, was not wearing his seat belt and suffered catastrophic injuries. He was left in a minimally conscious state and spent two years undergoing treatment at the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa before being released to his family in 2009.

That was also the year Edward Graziano tried to orchestrate his estranged wife's death. He gave a fixer $1,100 in cash, a $1,000 personal check and a Westshore Pizza gift card with $13.06 left on it to arrange for the murder of his wife — and make it look like a car accident.

The fixer turned out to be an undercover deputy. Debra Graziano had accused her estranged husband of brutality and domestic violence years before his 2009 arrest, records show.

"I am not guilty of what they're accusing me of, and I'm confident that I'll be fully acquitted," Edward Graziano told the then-St. Petersburg Times in a jailhouse interview.

He later pleaded no contest to the charges and was sentenced to 10 years in prison, followed by 10 years of probation.

Debra Graziano settled a civil lawsuit against the Bolleas in 2010, receiving $1.5 million after legal fees to help her care for her son.

While the father was in prison, the Graziano family lost a son. Michael Graziano, 23, was killed in 2012 when the impaired driver he was riding with crashed into the back of a dump truck on Ulmerton Road, authorities said.

Debra Graziano's lawyer said the April 22 phone call wasn't the only time Edward Graziano violated the judge's no-contact order since he got out of prison in 2017.

He sometimes tried to visit their son during therapy appointments without prior approval, Tragos said, even though he wasn't supposed to be there when his ex-wife was.

"He just showed up and didn't leave," the attorney said.

Edward Graziano is being held without bail in the Pinellas County jail.

Contact Kavitha Surana at or (737) 893-9149. Follow @ksurana6.


  1. Reynaldo Figueroa-Sanabria, accused of stabbing and killing John Travlos and Germana Morin aboard their houseboat in 2013, testified on his own behalf at his murder trial in Pinellas County this week. MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE  |  Times
    It took the jury about four hours to find Reynaldo Figueroa-Sanabria guilty. Next they must decide whether to send him to Florida’s death row.
  2. Casey Cane has resigned as chair of Pinellas County’s Housing Finance Authority in the wake of a Tampa Bay Times story about his failure to disclose an arrest for a financial felony when he was 19. He also serves as a Palm Harbor fire commissioner. Casey Cane
    Casey Cane failed to disclose his arrest for a financial felony in 2006. He said he didn’t think he had to reveal that information.
  3. A federal judge gas stayed the Nov. 7 execution of death row inmate James Dailey, 73, for the 1985 murder of 14-year-old Shelly Boggio. Left: Dailey at his 1987 trial, where he was convicted and sentenced to death. Middle: Dailey in 1993, when he was again sentenced to die. Right: The most current photo of Dailey on Florida's Death Row. Tampa Bay Times
    Dailey was set to be put to death Nov. 7. A judge ordered his execution to be postponed to give his attorneys time to present their claims. But the state can appeal.
  4. In this undated photo from the Tampa Bay Times archives, Betty Jean Miller sits at her desk in the newsroom. Mrs. Miller was a columnist and staff writer for the Evening Independent and the St. Petersburg Times for nearly 30 years. Tampa Bay Times
    A lifelong St. Petersburg resident, she reported on community events in her hometown. Mrs. Miller died last week at age 88.
  5. Herman Lindsey, a former death row inmate who was exonerated, holds a letter that he and other wrongfully convicted men delivered Tuesday to the office of Gov. Ron DeSantis, asking him to stop the execution of James Dailey. Witness to Innocence
    Former death row inmates delivered a letter to the governor’s office Tuesday asking him to stay the execution of James Dailey over questions of innocence. DeSantis won’t budge.
  6. Pat and Harvey Partridge visit Waiheke Island in New Zealand in April. Courtesy of David Partridge
    The husband-and-wife team that founded St. Petersburg’s Partridge Animal Hospital were known for their compassion and kindness to all creatures great and small.
  7. Reynaldo Figueroa-Sanabria, charged with murder in the stabbing deaths of John Travlos and Germana Morin aboard Travlos' houseboat in 2013, takes the stand in his own defense Tuesday. MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE  |  Times
    Reynaldo Figueroa-Sanabria, accused of killing two aboard a houseboat in 2013, told a different version of the same story his girlfriend told. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
  8. Adjunct faculty at St. Petersburg College voted to unionize Tuesday, joining thousands of other adjuncts across Florida who are fighting for better working conditions and pay. [Times]
    The employees are the seventh group in Florida to join Service Employees International Union in recent yeas as it pushes for investment in the state’s higher education institutions.
  9. The Florida Supreme Court building in Tallahassee. SCOTT KEELER  |  Times
    The Tampa Bay Partnership, Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and Tampa-Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. filed a brief in the Florida Supreme Court.
  10. Tech Data's headquarters in Largo. TD AGENCY  |  Courtesy of Tech Data
    Largo’s Tech Data would be the fourth in as many years, though the potential sale seems far from a done deal.