Jury Convicts Teen Of 2nd-Degree Murder In Stabbing
Published: Mar 12, 2002
TAMPA - Rejecting his claim of self-defense, a Hillsborough County jury Monday found a teenager guilty of second-degree murder in a stabbing.
Andrew Beltran, 19, of Tampa, faces life in prison when he is sentenced, possibly as soon as today.
Beltran looked at his family and shook his head after the verdict was read, then blew a kiss toward them before being led away in handcuffs.
Prosecutors said Beltran stabbed Rosendo Gomez Diaz once in the neck in the early morning of Sept. 16. Diaz, 20, died the next day in hospital.
On the witness stand, Beltran said he was surrounded by Diaz and several other men who had been partying next door to his sister's north Tampa apartment. Some of the men had attacked his younger brother and pushed his sister, Beltran said.
He said he pulled his pocketknife and lashed out when Diaz confronted him with a broken beer bottle.
``And I caught him. I stabbed him right around there,'' he said, pointing at his neck. ``I was just trying to get them away from me. My intention wasn't to kill anybody.''
But prosecutors hammered at Beltran's story, questioning how he was able to escape without injuries.
Beltran said before the stabbing that he was ``gonna kill me a Mexican,'' Assistant State Attorney Curt Allen told jurors. Diaz was of Mexican descent.
The six jurors deliberated more than four hours before finding Beltran guilty as charged.
Beltran was on probation on robbery charges at the time of the murder, Allen said, and recently was sentenced to 40 years in prison for violating that probation.
Helpful link.....Direct Tampa Police News Link!Failed Drug Test Returns Convict To Jail
Published: Mar 12, 2002
TAMPA - A Riverview man convicted of third-degree murder in his friend's heroin overdose is behind bars after violating probation.
James Rouleau, 22, was sentenced Monday to 180 days in the Hillsborough County jail. Rouleau failed a court-ordered drug test last month, only a few days after he completed his community control.
``I was disappointed,'' said Tampa lawyer John D. Hooker, who represents Rouleau. ``He did very well on [community control]. Then he had a little relapse.''
Rouleau was charged with first-degree murder in 1999, one of several people charged in unrelated drug-overdose deaths under a little-used narcotics law.
The 1970s law allows the prosecution of individuals who distribute drugs to people who then suffer fatal overdoses. Prosecutors dusted off the law as part of a crackdown on the county's growing heroin trade.
Rouleau and Richard Shouse, who were friends and restaurant co-workers, snorted heroin in April 1999. Shouse, 22, died hours later in his Valrico trailer. Prosecutors said Rouleau, known to friends as ``Ziggy,'' bought the heroin.
A jury found Rouleau guilty of third-degree murder in May 2000. He faced up to 15 years in prison, but Circuit Judge Cynthia Holloway sentenced him to two years of community control followed by four years of probation.
Rouleau was ordered to complete a residential drug- treatment program as part of his community control. Hooker said his client completed the program successfully and was allowed to end his community control early.
Hooker said Holloway warned his client Monday that she would consider sending him to prison if he violates probation again after he completes his 180-day jail term.
Helpful link.....Direct Tampa Police News Link!Man Charged With Abducting, Raping Teen
Published: Mar 8, 2002
TAMPA - A 16-year-old girl was raped Tuesday night after she gave a ride to a man who told her he was having car trouble, authorities said.
The girl's description of her attacker and quick detective work led to the arrest of black suspect Dwayne Kijuan Wilson, 44, of 14636 Geneva Road, less than 12 hours after the attack, authorities said.
The girl, from Odessa, was working at a food counter in a gas station near Gunn Highway and Tarpon Springs Road when a man came in about 10:30 p.m., said Hillsborough County sheriff's Lt. Rod Reder. The man asked for a ride to his car, which he said had broken down.
But when the girl gave him a ride, he pulled out a gun and forced her to drive to a long driveway surrounded by orange groves near Crescent and Blake roads. He raped her there and stole her jewelry, arrest records state. He then made her drive to Geneva Road in Pasco County, where he ripped the stereo out of her car, told her to leave and ran away, the records state.
The girl drove home and told her family. They called the sheriff's office about midnight.
``That was a very brave act in and of itself,'' Reder said, noting most rapes go unreported. She also gave detectives a detailed description of her attacker and where she was forced to drive.
Sheriff's Detectives Mike Willette and Christi Esquinaldo worked through the night. By 8:30 a.m. they had zeroed in on Geneva Road where the man ran from the car. Detectives suspected the attacker lived nearby and had made the girl leave him there because ``he didn't have transportation to get home,'' Reder said.
Neighbors led detectives to a nearby concrete block building. Wilson was standing outside. As detectives patted him down for possible weapons, he ran, Reder said. He was captured when Willette tackled him.
Detectives found the 16-year-old's jewelry in Wilson's pants pockets and could see more of her property through his open door, Reder said. The store's surveillance tape shows Wilson inside, Reder said.
Wilson is charged with armed sexual battery, armed robbery, armed kidnapping and resisting arrest. He was being held without bail Wednesday night in the Orient Road Jail.
Helpful link.....Direct Tampa Police News Link!Woman To Serve Time For Fraud
Published: Mar 6, 2002
TAMPA - A former Tampa public housing activist was sentenced Tuesday to 18 months in prison for defrauding an insurance company.
Gussie Livingston, 55, had asked U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday for house arrest because of her age and chronic back and respiratory problems. But Merryday refused. He ordered her to report to prison in 100 days.
A jury convicted Livingston and her niece, Deanna Faison, 29, of defrauding Progressive Insurance Co. in 1997 and 1998 by billing for more than 150 phony windshield replacements. The women maintain their innocence.
``As I said before, I'm not guilty of all of those things they said I did,'' Livingston told the judge.
Livingston was longtime president of the residents council at College Hill Homes until she moved from public housing. Her One Stop Lawn Maintenance got contracts from the Tampa Housing Authority. She also owned GLL & Associates Inc. Those were the companies receiving checks for phony windshield claims, prosecutors said.
Faison cut the checks while working as a claims processor in Progressive's Brandon office. She testified that she believed she was framed by someone in the Progressive office.
Livingston admitted receiving checks for the windshield replacements but said she thought they were legitimate. She testified that she had delegated much of her work to a subcontractor.
The jury convicted both women of one count of conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and seven counts of wire fraud.
Faison is serving an 18-month sentence for the crimes.
The women must repay $152,000 to Progressive.
Helpful link.....Direct Tampa Police News Link!2 Men Shot, Robbed While Doing Laundry
Published: Mar 5, 2002
YBOR CITY (A historical district located in East Tampa) - Two men at a coin-operated laundry were robbed and shot Saturday.
Police said the men, both 24, were washing clothes on 34th Street at Eighth Avenue shortly before 11 p.m. when they were approached by two black punk gunmen. During a struggle, one victim was shot and a second bullet grazed the head of the second victim.
The robbers fled in a gray 1985 four-door Chevrolet Caprice, which belonged to one of the victims, with a tag number of HN559W.
Both attackers were black trash and in their late 20s, police said. One was about 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds. He wore a dark jersey, bluejeans and was armed with a large-caliber handgun. The second man was 5-foot-7 with a thin build.
Helpful link.....Direct Tampa Police News Link!2 Men Charged With Invading Home Twice
Published: Mar 5, 2002
TAMPA - Police arrested two dumbass men Sunday, accusing them of twice breaking into the same home.
The first home invasion occurred at 2 a.m. Sunday, police said, when two men armed with guns kicked open Kenethra Brockington's front door in the 8100 block of North 19th Street and threatened her and a teenage girl. The men each shot rounds into the ceiling, and one of the men bravely hit Brockington, 23, who is pregnant, and pushed her into a closet.
They fled empty-handed, police said.
Eight hours later, the men? returned, took a stereo and damaged the entertainment center. Officers later arrested Jim Douglas Seay, 20, 8310 N. 18th St., and Tory Brinson, 19, 8404 N. 18th St. Each was charged with two counts of home invasion and shooting into an occupied building. Brinson was charged with aggravated battery on a pregnant woman. (We use the term 'man' real loose here!) Seay was charged with resisting arrest without violence, criminal mischief, fleeing to elude a police officer and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Both remained in the Orient Road Jail on Sunday night.
Helpful link.....Direct Tampa Police News Link!Young Father Sent To Prison
Published: Mar 5, 2002
TAMPA - Evelyn Saez raised her right hand to swear to tell the whole truth Monday, a set of white rosary beads dangling from her wrist.
Her murderous boyfriend stood a few feet away in the corner of a jury box, awaiting his fate for killing their 23-day-old daughter, Yarine. Juan Ferrer rocked back and forth, lowered his head and interlocked his hands as if in prayer. A set of rosary beads hung around his neck, visible behind his jail-issue shirt. (Funny how they always find God when they think they are going to be locked up!)
``We've been through good and bad,'' Saez, 19, told Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Ronald Ficarrotta. ``We've stuck by each other no matter what.
``He loved [Yarine] so much,'' she said, begging Ficarrotta to show compassion. ``His whole life was in his hands.''
Ferrer, 19, faced up to life in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder and aggravated child abuse in Yarine's death in July. Police said Ferrer confessed to hurling Yarine against a dresser in rage after she threw up on him. He waited hours before seeking medical help.
Yarine died as a result of multiple lacerations to her liver and numerous rib fractures, an autopsy showed.
Ferrer's attorney said the death was the result of ``babies having babies.'' He called two psychologists to testify that Ferrer was evaluated for psychiatric problems before he was 5, suffered from depression and was overwhelmed by the stress of fatherhood.
Assistant Public Defender Ken Littman also said Yarine showed no other signs of neglect or abuse. Ferrer's family said he was a good person and called Yarine's death an accident.
Through sobs, Ferrer told Ficarrotta he wanted a child to compensate for his broken family and absent father.
``I loved my baby, your honor. I did not mean to do anything, and I'm sorry for what I did,'' he said. ``Please, I don't want my life to go to waste. I'm not a murderer. It was a mistake.''
But a prosecutor noted Ferrer had run afoul of the law before, including drug and domestic violence charges. A police detective said Ferrer initially denied wrongdoing and appeared cocky as doctors tried to save Yarine.
Ficarrotta, saying he believed Ferrer's remorse was heartfelt, called it a ``tragic, tragic case.''
Sentencing guidelines called for Ferrer to serve 23 years to life in prison. Ficarrotta sentenced him to 24 years on both counts, with the terms to run at the same time.
However, Ficarrotta suspended the sentence after 10 years, meaning Ferrer could be free in about 7 1/2 years. (This is the kind of JUSTICE we have to put up with in TAMPA!) He must serve 85 percent of his term before he is eligible for release and will receive credit for the more than 200 days he has served since his arrest.
Ficarrotta also sentenced Ferrer to 10 years of probation. If he violates probation, Ferrer could be required to serve his prison term in full.
Helpful link.....Direct Tampa Police News Link!3 Shots Kill Mother On Errand
Published: Mar 2, 2002
GIBSONTON (A Small town southeast of Tampa) - Jason Pospeschil fired the high-powered assault rifle twice into the early morning darkness - in the direction of someone he dumbassingly thought was stealing carpentry tools from his truck Friday, he told deputies.
A bullet from the rifle smashed through the back window of a red Ford Mustang convertible pulling away from the rural home on Bullfrog Creek Road.
In an instant, 19-year-old Crystal Stith lay dying, shot in the head. Beside her, unharmed, was her cousin, identified by relatives as Jessica Bruton.
The two had driven to the house to see whether Bruton's boyfriend - Pospeschil's brother - needed a ride to work, deputies said. Later that day, Stith, the mother of two, planned to get a marriage license from the courthouse, according to family members.
By daylight, those plans had vanished and Pospeschil was booked on a charge of second-degree murder. He was being held without bail.
As word of the shooting swept through the Pinewood Mobile Home Park on Symmes Road, where both young women lived, family and friends were dazed by the events that had unfolded.
They described Stith as a happy, joyous woman who was soon to marry Michael Smith, the father of her two children - son Mikey, 3, and daughter Destiny, 1.
``Crystal is the most fun person to be around,'' said David Allen, a relative who also lives at the mobile home park. ``It is real devastating. I don't know what could have brought this on.''
Pospeschil, 28, is a carpenter who frames new houses. Records show he was charged in 1998 with driving under the influence and in 2000 with driving while his license was suspended.
He was employed, almost on an alternating basis, by Rick James and Virgil Collins, both subcontractors for Greater Bay Enterprises.
His bosses described him as a responsible worker.
``He always seemed to be an all-right guy to me,'' James said. ``He seemed pretty mellow. It was very surprising when I heard about it.''
Collins, who referred to Pospeschil as ``Jay Bird,'' said he had known him for eight years.
``He's a good, down-to- earth kid,'' Collins said. ``He didn't have a hot temper. He wasn't one to jump to conclusions.''
Assistant State Attorney Curt Morgan was called to the scene after the 5:20 a.m. shooting at 12710 Bullfrog Creek Road, where a long driveway leads to a home hidden from the road.
The circumstances of the shooting will be reviewed by his office to determine whether Pospeschil will be formally charged with second-degree murder or some other charge related to the death, Morgan said. He would make no other comment about the case.
Stith and Bruton had made an earlier trip to Pospeschil's house, said Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Debbie Carter.
They left the first time because they didn't see any lights on, Carter said. They drove back at 5:20 a.m., still didn't see any lights, and were leaving again when shots were fired, she said. Carter would not identify Stith's cousin by name, saying she was a witness.
About 10:30 a.m., relatives and friends went to the shooting scene, trying to learn more from sheriff's detectives. Stith's fiance was told she had died.
Paula Vowell, one of Stith's friends, drove to the scene with her young children. She said Stith took care of her children from time to time. Vowell said Stith was friendly, outgoing and trustworthy.
``She was fun to be around,'' said Vowell, who wept and covered her face with her hands. ``She would make you laugh.''
Helpful link.....Direct Tampa Police News Link!Car Driver Charged In Fatal Bicycle Accident
Published: Mar 2, 2002
TAMPA - A 19-year-old suspected drunken driver struck and killed a bicyclist in Lake Magdalene early Friday.
Alcoholic Jenny Canan of 4601 Oak River Circle, Valrico, drove off the side of the road on westbound Fletcher Avenue about 5:45 a.m. and struck bicyclist Renaldo Cornejo, 34, Hillsborough County sheriff's officials said.
The driver then veered left into a Circle K parking lot on the southwest corner of Fletcher Avenue and North Boulevard and struck a tree.
Cornejo, whose left leg was severed, was flown to St. Joseph's Hospital, where he died several hours later.
Canan, charged with driving under the influence manslaughter, was as usual in these cases not injured.
Her blood alcohol level was almost three times the level where Florida law presumes a driver is intoxicated, sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said.
Canan's only previous driving offense was an Aug. 8 speeding ticket, where she was cited for going 68 mph in a 35 mph zone.
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Stabbing Victim In Fair Condition
Published: Feb 26, 2002
TAMPA - A man was in fair condition Monday after he was stabbed Saturday night.
Tampa police say Daryl Cunningham and Kevin Barry, 30, got into a fight about 9 p.m. at 601 Harbor Island Blvd. because of Barry's behavior toward Cunningham's girlfriend. Barry grabbed a hunting knife and stabbed Cunningham in the chest and neck, authorities say. Cunningham was taken to Tampa General Hospital.
Barry, of 1312 36th Ave. in St. Petersburg, was charged with attempted murder. He was being held without bail in the Orient Road Jail.
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Two blaze path of fear in Tampa
published February 24, 2002
TAMPA -- Two men who drove around the city terrorizing residents during a crime wave Friday were arrested when officers spotted them walking along the Hillsborough River, Tampa police said.
Authorities said this is how the day unfolded:
Early Friday, the men stole a 1984 Chevrolet Camaro at 13720 N Nebraska Ave. They found a fully loaded .45-caliber semiautomatic weapon with an extra clip inside the car.
About 11:05 a.m., they crashed into a car at Sligh Avenue and North Boulevard. When the driver of the other car got out to inspect his vehicle, one of the suspects pointed the gun at the driver before they drove away.
About 15 minutes later, the suspects drove through the Versailles Apartments at 5202 North Blvd. and saw a maintenance man walking along the sidewalk. They pointed the gun at him and threatened him. He ran away.
Then shortly after noon, they drove into the parking lot at Pete and Shorty's restaurant on N Dale Mabry. One of the suspects, wearing a ski mask and holding the gun, forced several customers who were standing in the parking lot to lie on the ground. The suspects then drove off.
About 2:30 p.m., police found the car abandoned near the 6000 block of River Terrace Boulevard. The stereo had been ripped out. A half-hour later, a police officer saw the men walking along the river just south of Hillsborough Avenue.
One of the suspects, identified as William Ridge, 27, threw the gun down in the grass by the riverbank, and the other suspect, Michael Majesky, 28, jumped into the river. Officers said he hid something under his shirt. Both men were arrested.
Officers found the gun and confiscated the gun magazine and a ski mask. Police divers searched the river for firearms and stereo equipment but did not find anything because the water was so murky, police said.
Authorities described both men as "career criminals" and said Majesky had just been released from prison under an early release program.
They face charges of auto theft, aggravated assault and grand theft auto.
Helpful link.....Direct Tampa Police News Link!Man Stabbed Stepson And Fled, Police Say
Published: Feb 24, 2002
TAMPA - The Tampa Police Department is looking for a man who allegedly stabbed his stepson Friday night.
Gustavo Miranda, of 4210 W. Ohio Ave. is wanted for attempted murder. He stabbed his stepson Joseph Mark Vardon twice in the upper abdomen. Vardon, 20, is at Tampa General Hospital in critical condition.
According to police, Miranda was intoxicated when he arrived at his home at 11:50 p.m. Friday. He got in a fight with his stepsons, armed himself with a knife and stabbed Vardon.
Miranda fled and remains at large, police said.
Helpful link.....Direct Tampa Police News Link!Tampa Police Jail Deputy On Sex Charge
Published: Feb 24, 2002
TAMPA - Tampa police detectives arrested a nine-year member of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office on Friday, charging him with two counts of lewd and lascivious acts on a 15-year-old boy and possession of marijuana.
Charles David Odell, 40, was arrested at 11 p.m. at his home, 3601 Edna Court. According to arrest records, Odell had a sexual relationship with a teenager on two occasions. The offenses occurred in January and February, police records said. The victim identified Odell by name and address, police records said. Police also recovered notebooks and diaries as evidence. Odell is being held at Orient Road Jail with no bail set, officials said.
The sheriff's office placed Odell on unpaid administrative leave and will begin an internal affairs investigation Monday, sheriff's Major Jose Docobo said.
Tampa police notified the sheriff's office Friday night, Docobo said. Deputies assisted in securing the arrest, but Tampa police handled the criminal investigation, Docobo said.
``Certainly the allegations are extremely disturbing,'' Docobo said. ``We will have to wait until the case runs its course in criminal court.''
Still, the sheriff's office can make its own ruling in its independent investigation, Docobo said.
Odell works as a patrol deputy for the sheriff's District III office, which covers the northwest portion of the county.
Neighbors said he has lived at the home on Edna Court for 10 years or more. He lives alone and is not married. They described him as a good person and a good neighbor.
In 1992, Odell, who was then a volunteer reserve deputy, was beaten up, dragged from his car and stuffed in its trunk by unknown assailants. He escaped after unlocking the trunk from the inside and jumping out. He suffered cuts, bruises and a badly injured eye.
Helpful link.....Direct Tampa Police News Link! Jury Says Life For 2-Time Killer
Published: Feb 23, 2002
TAMPA - Seated in the back row of a Hillsborough County courtroom Friday, Eddy Gordon rested his face in his hand and watched the defense lawyers hug and smile.
Gordon raised his eyebrows. A jury had just recommended that Christopher Todd Bachmann spend his life in prison for fatally stabbing and beating Gordon's ``intimate friend,'' Thomas Pacimeo.
``I thought they were going to give him the death penalty,'' Gordon said. ``I really did.''
Bachmann, 39, lowered his head to a courtroom table and cried after the 12 jurors called for a life sentence.
Three days before, the jury convicted him of murder and robbery with a deadly weapon in Pacimeo's death. It was the second murder conviction for Bachmann, who spent time behind bars for killing his brother.
Jurors learned of Bachmann's prior murder conviction after finding him guilty of Pacimeo's slaying, but it didn't sway a majority of them to recommend death. The vote tally wasn't released.
``It's going to send a bad message [that] you can go out and kill again and not get the death penalty,'' Gordon said. ``That's a bad message.''
Circuit Judge Barbara Fleischer must give the jury recommendation great weight when she sentences Bachmann. Fleischer indicated Friday that she will impose a life sentence. Prosecutors said they won't ask her to override the recommendation.
The bloodied body of Pacimeo, a 34-year-old lawn care business owner from New Port Richey, was found in mangroves off the Courtney Campbell Parkway in 1998. From the pattern of his wounds, investigators concluded Pacimeo fought for his life.
Bachmann was arrested after police traced the use of Pacimeo's stolen debit card. Blood on Bachmann's golf shirt contained Pacimeo's DNA, investigators said.
Prosecutors said Bachmann, who hung drywall and lived in a Plant City mobile home, killed for money to buy drugs.
Bachmann fatally stabbed his brother, Timothy, in 1987 following an argument about money. He pleaded no contest to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 17 years in prison. He served only three years, getting an early release under a now-defunct program to ease prison crowding.
During this week's penalty phase, defense witnesses described Bachmann as a model jail trusty who helped minister to other inmates, some of whom called him ``Pastor Chris.'' Jurors also were shown photographs of Bachmann's young daughter.
Gordon, who lived with Pacimeo, was unimpressed by the portrait of Bachmann painted by the defense.
``If he can be good in a church or a jail, why can't he be good out in society?'' he said. ``That bothered me a lot.''
Helpful link.....Direct Tampa Police News Link!Deputies Sweep School For Gun
Published: Feb 23, 2002
NEW TAMPA - Wharton High School students were kept in their classrooms for more than four hours Friday as law enforcement officials searched the campus for a weapon.
None was found.
The high school went into a lockdown at 9:24 a.m. after a student reported to a teacher seeing the handle of a handgun in the waistband of another student's pants, school district spokesman Mark Hart said.
Authorities later issued a warrant for the arrest of a person whose name was not released. That person is not a student and was considered a trespasser on the Wharton campus, said David Friedberg, head of security for the Hillsborough County school system.
Deputies from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office and six school resource officers began searching the campus for a weapon while students remained in classrooms, Hart said. The search was completed at 2:15 p.m.
Although no weapon turned up, Hart said officials found students in possession of small amounts of marijuana and a box cutter. Disciplinary action in those cases hadn't been determined, he said.
Friedberg said campus lockdowns are part of the school district's emergency management plan. The procedure is used often but usually takes place as a precautionary measure, such as when a crime occurs in a neighborhood near a school.
Lockdowns spurred by reports of on-campus threats, such as the one Friday at Wharton, are rare, he said.
During the procedure deputies used five metal-detecting wands to search every Wharton student. They also checked lockers and hand-carried items, Friedberg said.
Wharton Principal Mitch Muley said students were escorted to restrooms on an ``as- needed basis.'' He praised their cooperation.
``The kids and the staff and the faculty were great,'' Muley said. ``Not one kid out of 2,600 refused to be wanded.''
Helpful link.....Direct Tampa Police News Link!Robbery Suspect Shot In Tampa Parking Lot
Published: Feb 23, 2002
TAMPA - Gunfire erupted in a busy shopping center parking lot Thursday morning when three Tampa police detectives fired at a man after he rammed their cars with a stolen minivan.
Robert Haly, 22, was hit in the head and left arm while behind the wheel of a white Dodge Caravan, police said. With the driver shot, the van crashed into a tree. Haly was in critical condition at St. Joseph's Hospital on Thursday night.
Police said Haly is responsible for two bank robberies last year. He also is wanted for failure to appear in court on charges he assaulted a Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy.
Thursday's gunfire startled shoppers and workers at the shopping center at Florida and Waters avenues. Dollar General cashier Katherine Hill was walking toward her cash register about 10 a.m. when she saw the van heading toward the stores. Then it crashed into the tree.
``It was really fast,'' Hill said. ``All of a sudden you heard this pop, pop, pop, pop and then this boom.''
Tampa police had been looking for stolen Dodge Caravans believed to be used in several bank robberies. Officer Terry Goff spotted an empty one at the shopping center, confirmed it was stolen and called for detectives.
As the detectives secretly watched the minivan, they spotted a man matching the description of a wanted bank robber walking east on Waters. The man got inside the Dodge, said police spokesman Joe Durkin.
Detectives in unmarked cars converged on the minivan, blocking it in.
That's when the driver started smashing into their cars, Durkin said. Detective Chris Fox, who was in a car behind the van, hit his head when the van smashed into his car. Detectives Jeanette Hevel and Larry Figueiredo jumped out of their car in front of the van, and the van drove toward them, Durkin said.
Hevel, Figueiredo and Detective Gary Roo opened fire.
``He's driving a stolen van; they all identified themselves as police officers. He decided to start smashing cars to try to get away,'' Durkin said. ``They fired to stop this guy from possibly hurting them.''
Witnesses recalled hearing six to 20 shots. Police would not say how many bullets the detectives fired.
David Koval had come out of the Magic Mall flea market and was in the parking lot when he heard the gunshots. He drove toward the commotion and saw the detectives trying to get the suspect out of the locked van. The detectives reached inside the shot-out rear passenger window and unlocked the door.
They then pulled him out of the front passenger-side door.
``They pulled him out as hard and fast as they could,'' Koval said.
Hevel, a 16-year veteran, and Figueiredo, a 3-year veteran, were treated for minor back and ankle injuries at Memorial Hospital. They, along with Roo, a 32-year veteran, are on administrative leave while police and the state attorney's office investigate the shooting.
Police said Haly, of 3603 W. Idlewild Ave., also goes by Roberto Haley and several other names. He is the man they have been looking for in connection with two robberies in February of last year: one at South Exchange bank on Columbus Drive and another at Wachovia Bank on South Dale Mabry Highway.
Twice last year - in January and July - authorities said they chased Haly as he drove stolen Hondas. Both times he crashed, once into a Hillsborough sheriff's cruiser, officials said. And both times he got out of jail, either on bail or under a judge's order.
Haly's criminal record includes convictions for stealing cars, theft and operating a chop shop. He served four years in prison before being released in November 2000.
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Former Yankees Pitcher & Repeat Offender Dwight Gooden Charged With DUI, again.
Published: Feb 21, 2002
TAMPA - After he failed a field sobriety test and refused a breath test, Tampa police arrested former superstar pitcher and current New York Yankees assistant Dwight Gooden and charged him with driving under the influence of alcohol.
Just before 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, police reported they saw Gooden, 37, weaving in the outside lane as he drove east on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway. Gooden slowed the black Cadillac Escalade sport utility vehicle to less than 40 mph as police approached.
``This is obviously a tough day to see him in jail,'' former teammate David Cone said Wednesday. ``Deep down he's a good guy. The first thing I do is worry. I'm worried about a friend. I'm always going to be behind him.''
After pulling Gooden over at the North 50th Street exit, police saw an open Michelob Light in the center console of the car, said Joe Durkin, a police spokesman. He told police he was going to pick up his son and take him to a game.
Police said Gooden's speech was slurred and his eyes were red and watery. Because he refused to take the breath test, Gooden's driver's license could be suspended for one year, Durkin said.
Gooden, of St. Petersburg, also was cited for driving with a suspended license and having an open container of alcohol. Records show his license was suspended earlier this month when he failed to pay a traffic fine. Gooden told police he didn't know his license was suspended, Durkin said.
Gooden's driving record shows he has been ticketed five times for speeding and once for failing to obey a traffic sign.
In the 1994 Major League Baseball season, he tested positive for cocaine and was suspended for 60 days. On suspension, he tested positive again for cocaine and was suspended for the 1995 season.
He joined the Yankees in 1996 and pitched a no-hitter.
The Yankees said Gooden will not be coming back to the team's spring training camp at Legends Field for an undetermined period so he can focus on the situation and his family.
Gooden has been working as an assistant to Yankee owner George Steinbrenner.
``Of course, we are disappointed in this occurrence and are taking it very seriously, and Dwight is as well,'' Steinbrenner said. ``While we don't have all the facts at this time, we're monitoring the situation very closely.''
Gooden was released Wednesday after posting $500 bail.
Helpful link.....Direct Tampa Police News Link!Fleeing Suspects Drag Deputy Behind Truck Before Chase
Published: Feb 21, 2002
TAMPA - A sheriff's deputy was dragged several feet Wednesday morning when a suspect backed into him with a truck, authorities said.
Two burglary suspects then led deputies on a half-hour chase through Brandon before crashing in east Tampa.
Benson Price, 31, and Calvin Stephenson, 21, were arrested and charged with aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, criminal mischief, possession of burglary tools and possession of drug paraphernalia.
The chase began after Hillsborough County sheriff's Cpl. Howard Wooden was called to Winn-Dixie at 179 E. Bloomingdale Ave., where two men were seen breaking in to vending machines. When the men saw the deputy, they ran to a 1997 Ford pickup. Wooden stood behind the truck pointing his gun. Price put the truck in reverse, deputies say.
The truck hit Wooden and dragged him five to 10 feet before speeding away, sheriff's Lt. Rod Reder said. Several other deputies chased the truck west on Bloomingdale, north on U.S. 41, east on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway, north on Interstate 75 and west on U.S. 92.
Near Hillsborough Avenue and 40th Street, the truck made several turns and it hit a tire-flattening device deputies placed on the road. With the right front tire flat, the truck crashed into a ditch on Hanna Avenue near 53rd Street.
Deputies found Stephenson in the truck and chased Price on foot until he was caught.
During the chase, a deputy crashed into a Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority bus on Hillsborough Avenue. The bus changed lanes in front of the deputy, who had his car's lights and siren on. The bus had passengers, but no one was injured.
Deputies determined the license plate on the truck was stolen and the ignition on the truck had been tampered with.
Wooden, 40, a 17-year veteran, suffered minor injuries from the dragging but did not require medical attention.
Price, of Wesley Chapel, was charged with aggravated fleeing and eluding and driving with a suspended license. He also was charged with violating his probation on trafficking in stolen property, burglary, grand theft and giving false information to a pawnbroker.
Helpful link.....Direct Tampa Police News Link!Police Officer Pleads Guilty To Drug Crime
Published: Feb 20, 2002
TAMPA - A Tampa police officer has agreed to plead guilty to ecstasy charges and help federal agents as they investigate another Tampa officer.
Matthew R. Campbell, 26, faces a likely prison term. He admits to conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute the drug ecstasy, in a plea agreement filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court.
``It's a shame. It's always a shame when one of them goes the other way,'' said Campbell's attorney, Norman Cannella. ``I'm sure he's not proud of the situation or enamored of it. He's embarrassed by it and regretful.''
Campbell helped a drug suspect retrieve about 1,000 doses of ecstasy that the man had hidden in his car before his arrest. Campbell agreed to retrieve the ecstasy in exchange for 10 bottles of the anabolic steroid ``Deca,'' according to court documents.
Campbell found the car in the police impound lot on Dec. 18, 2000. He cut the top of the soft-top Ford Mustang convertible to retrieve the drugs, the plea agreement states.
Campbell then met the drug suspect at a prearranged spot near North 50th Street and Columbus Drive. On duty and in full uniform, Campbell exchanged the ecstasy for the steroids, the agreement says.
Campbell brought along another police officer to ensure the drug exchange went ``smoothly.'' That officer, who has not been named in court documents, was also in uniform and on duty.
That officer, called a co-conspirator by federal prosecutors, also may be under investigation.
``It's an ongoing investigation,'' said Steve Cole, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office.
As part of his plea agreement, Campbell agreed to cooperate with the government. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison but likely will serve substantially less time.
Campbell began working for the department in August 1998. He first came under suspicion in November 2000, when a confidential source told police Campbell was thought to be involved with narcotics, police said.
The department turned that information over to a federal Drug Enforcement Administration task force. Campbell was suspended in May with pay as the investigation continued. A month later, he was suspended without pay.
Cannella said Campbell was fired last year. Tampa police spokeswoman Katie Hughes could not confirm that late Tuesday.
In addition to trading ecstasy for steroids, authorities also initially accused Campbell of helping an undercover DEA agent obtain ecstasy in May at the Groovy Mule Bottle Club.
That charge was not in Campbell's plea agreement.
Helpful link.....Direct Tampa Police News Link!Man Uses False ID To Get Hospital Care
Published: Feb 20, 2002
TAMPA - A man using a false name and a stolen Social Security number for 16 years has amassed more than $90,000 in medical bills from two Hillsborough County hospitals for treatments and operations on his right foot, detectives said Tuesday.
Deputies said they don't know the real identity of a man who speaks with a heavy French accent, goes by the fictitious name Steve Landry, and is missing part of his right foot. They say he moved here from a Northern state under that alias in 1986 and went undetected until someone called to report him, living at 908 E. 20th Ave., and said he had been the subject of a profile on the television show ``America's Most Wanted.''
Detectives were unable to determine if the man was featured on the show. But when looking into the case, they say they discovered he used the false name and stolen Social Security number to obtain care for his foot.
``We have no idea who we are dealing with other than a con man who had surgery on his foot,'' said Lt. Rod Reder, a Hillsborough County sheriff's spokesman.
Detectives with a search warrant went into the suspect's apartment, but he wasn't there. A photo of the man was recovered, Reder said.
A woman who said she is the landlord said the man known as Landry has rented the home for 15 months. She said nuns paid his rent.
She described the man as nice, approachable and a good tenant. She last spoke with him three days ago, she said.
The sheriff's office has issued warrants for theft of personal information and grand theft. The suspect is described as 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, with gray hair and a fair complexion.
Helpful link.....Direct Tampa Police News Link!Deputies: Robbers Left Wallet With ID On Counter
Published: Feb 20, 2002
TAMPA - The two bank robbers couldn't have made it easier for sheriff's deputies.
After the brothers robbed the GTE Federal Credit Union on Thursday, one left a wallet on the counter with his ID inside, authorities said.
Monday afternoon Antonio and Ricardo Fryson were arrested.
Thursday, two men went into the credit union at 7747 W. Hillsborough Ave. and demanded money. When the robbers left, there was a wallet on the counter, sheriff's Lt. Rod Reder said.
Monday, detectives stopped Ricardo Fryson, 24, as he pulled up to a friend's house. Antonio Fryson, 26, ran out of the house and was caught after a short chase.
Deputies say the men also robbed the Verizon store at 12400 N. Dale Mabry Highway on Jan. 15. The brothers, of 920 Otto Villa Place, were each charged with two counts of armed robbery and were being held without bail Tuesday.
Helpful link.....Direct Tampa Police News Link!Gunman Given 2 Life Sentences For Shooting
Published: Feb 20, 2002
TAMPA - Jeff Wolf stood before a judge Tuesday night and said he was looking for answers amid the confusion.
Wolf had just seen his son, Harold, found guilty of two counts of attempted murder and other charges, his latest convictions in a bloody spree in May 2000 that left one man dead and another critically injured.
But for a miraculous survival and a jammed handgun, Harold Wolf would have faced two counts of murder rather than attempted murder.
``All of a sudden ... the world changed for me,'' Jeff Wolf said of the day detectives arrived at his home to arrest his son. ``I'm just trying to make some sense of it.
``I don't know that I know who the individual sitting over there is anymore,'' he said, looking across the courtroom toward Harold Wolf.
``There is no sense to be made of it,'' said Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Daniel Perry. ``And I've been doing this for a long time.''
Perry then sentenced Harold Wolf, 28, to two terms of life in prison. The sentence will run consecutive to a life sentence Wolf is serving for murdering Eduardo Natal, a delivery man for Windy City Pizza, on May 12, 2000.
Prosecutors said Wolf and alleged accomplice Earl J. Hinson III tried to rob The Loop Pizza Grill in Carrollwood on the morning of May 13, 2000. Both men had worked at the Loop.
Wolf confronted store co-owner and manager Mike Robie in his office and ordered him to open the safe, prosecutors said. Robie feigned a heart attack, hoping to scare off the gunman. Instead, Wolf opened fire with a semiautomatic, discharging seven bullets, each one striking Robie.
Hinson went into Robie's office and shot him twice more, prosecutors said.
The gunmen then confronted teenage Loop employee Ana Arrambide, who they earlier had forced into a cooler. Wolf pointed a gun at Arrambide's forehead and pulled the trigger. The gun didn't fire.
Robie, shot nine times, spent 11 days in intensive care.
From a witness stand Tuesday, he identified Wolf as one of the men who shot him. He said he will never forget Wolf's face.
Wolf's lawyers said they will appeal. They questioned how detectives obtained a confession from their client.
Hinson, 22, will stand trial Thursday for the attempted murder of Robie and other charges. He also is serving a life sentence in Natal's murder.
After the verdict, Robie and Arrambide shared a long hug in a courtroom hallway. Robie declined to comment until after Hinson's trial.
A few feet away, Jeff Wolf sat on a bench and waited for a bailiff to bring him the clothes his son wore during trial.
``It's the `Twilight Zone,' '' he said.
Murder Trial Jury Begins Deliberating
Published: Feb 19, 2002
TAMPA - A jury was sequestered Monday after final arguments in the first-degree murder trial of Christopher Todd Bachmann. He is accused of killing Thomas Pacimeo, 34, in a 1998 robbery.
Deliberations resume at 8:30 this morning.
Pacimeo's body was found in mangroves off Courtney Campbell Parkway
Helpful link.....Direct Tampa Police News Link! Cash, Car Stolen From Man At Gunpoint
Published: Feb 18, 2002
TAMPA - A 26-year-old man's car was taken at gunpoint early Sunday, police said.
About 2 a.m., the man pulled up to his 50th Street apartment and another car pulled up to him, Tampa police said.
Two men got out of the car and pointed a shotgun at the man.
After forcing the man to the ground, the sissies took his keys and cash.
One of the idiots drove away in the victim's 1996 Chevrolet, which has burgundy chrome rims.
The other robber drove away in the car the thieves (scum) arrived in.
No description was available.
Helpful link.....Direct Tampa Police News Link! Feb. 15th, 2002-----
TAMPA - Two robberies. Two suspects. Black wigs.
The similarities between the robberies of a convenience store and a restaurant within an hour of each other this weekend have Tampa police investigating a possible connection.
It's too early to tell whether the same men committed the robberies, but a suspect in both crimes sported a black, shoulder-length wig, said Katie Hughes, a police spokeswoman.
Police say two armed men entered the Good to Go Store at 10260 N. 30th St. at 11:05 p.m. Friday.
One jumped the counter and demanded the clerk give him money from the cash register. The other demanded money from the safe, police said.
The men left with $200 in cash and $175 in rolled coins.
Shortly after midnight, two black men came through the back door of the Salem Gyro & Submarine shop at 3322 E. Hillsborough Ave. The pair forced the employees to lie on the floor and took about $150 in cash and rolled coins, police said.
No one was injured in either robbery.
One store robber was black, thin, about 5 feet 10 inches tall and in his 20s, police said. He wore a navy hooded sweatshirt and black gloves and carried a small, silver-colored handgun. The second robber was also black, stocky, about 5 feet 6 inches tall and in his 20s. He wore a black T-shirt, black jeans and black gloves. He also wore a shoulder-length black wig that covered his face, police said.
Witnesses offer similar descriptions of the suspects in the sub shop robbery.
Reporter Jose Patino Girona can be reached at (813) 657-4534.
Helpful link.....Direct Tampa Police News Link! 2 Gunmen Rob GTE Credit Union
Published: Feb 15, 2002
TAMPA - Two men robbed a GTE Federal Credit Union at gunpoint Thursday afternoon.
The credit union is at 7747 W. Hillsborough Ave., said Hillsborough County sheriff's Lt. Rod Reder.
One robber had a semiautomatic gun and robbed a teller. The gunman was black, about 5 feet 10 inches tall, 200 pounds and of stocky build. He had a gold hoop earing. Deputies did not have a description of the second man.
Helpful link.....Direct Tampa Police News Link!Man Shot During Home Invasion
Published: Feb 15, 2002
TAMPA - A 31-year-old man was shot when two black men broke into his apartment.
Juan Herrera was in his apartment at 13810 N. 19th St. in the University of South Florida area about 1:13 a.m. Thursday when two men broke in, said Hillsborough County sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter.
One black idiot shot Herrera in the upper torso. Herrera was flown to Tampa General Hospital, where his condition was not released.
Deputies said one of the two men was black trash, in his mid-20s, 5 feet 10 inches tall, and was wearing long, baggy pants and a blue shirt. The other intruder was also black trash, about 5 feet 6 inches tall, and weighed 140 to 160 pounds. Finding these non-humans will be like finding a needle in a hay stack.