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Friday, Feb 12, 2016

Elaine Silvestrini

Tribune Staff

Seminole man pleads guilty to making threatening calls to mosques

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TAMPA — A Seminole man pleaded guilty Friday to making threatening phone calls to Pinellas County mosques after the Paris terrorist attacks in November.

Judge rejects death sentence in Tampa murder case, cites Supreme Court ruling

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TAMPA — Prosecutors will not be allowed to seek a death sentence in a Tampa murder case, a judge ruled Tuesday, because the state has no constitutional death penalty law on the books.

Stripper files federal labor lawsuit against Baby Dolls in Clearwater

- Alexa Rohlsen says she danced at a strip club to pay her way through cosmetology school, but these days, it’s been a struggle.

Second TGH employee accused of identity theft, tax refund fraud

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TAMPA — A former Tampa General Hospital employee has been indicted on charges she disclosed patient information in connection with stolen identity tax refund fraud.

Man gets 31 months for smuggling guns from Florida to Middle East

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TAMPA — A Jordanian who told investigators he smuggled firearms from Florida to the Middle East to help the mujahideen was sentenced Friday to 31 months in federal prison.

Former TPD employee to plead guilty in tax refund fraud case

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TAMPA — A former Tampa Police civilian employee has agreed to plead guilty to federal charges in connection with a scheme to use police databases to get personal information for use in tax refund fraud.

Cortnee Brantley won’t face domestic violence charge

- Prosecutors said they will not move forward with a domestic violence case against Cortnee Brantley, who is set to begin a federal prison sentence for her actions after the slayings of two Tampa police officers.

Attorney Stephen Diaco permanently disbarred for role in DUI setup

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Stephen Diaco, one of three lawyers accused of setting up a rival’s DUI arrest, was permanently disbarred Thursday by the Florida Supreme Court.

ACLU report: Black motorists in Tampa more likely to get seat belt tickets

- Black motorists in Florida are nearly twice as likely as white drivers to receive tickets for seat belt violations, according to a report released by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Seminole man accused of threatening mosques accepts plea agreement

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TAMPA — A Seminole man charged with making threatening phone calls to Pinellas County mosques after the Paris terrorist attack has agreed to plead guilty to a federal offense, according to court filings.

Hillsborough Uber drivers file suit alleging labor law violations

- Four Hillsborough County Uber drivers are joining a growing number of their colleagues across the country, suing the ride-summoning company for what they allege are violations of their rights under federal labor laws.

‘Wolf of Wesley Chapel’ under fraud investigation by feds

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For about a year, Medicare and Tricare, the insurance program for military personnel, paid two local pharmacies more than $50 million, about half of which was given to a marketing firm now under federal criminal investig...

No prison time for ex-TPD corporal who stole fraudulent tax refund checks

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— Jeanette Hevel betrayed the public trust placed in police officers and tarnished her badge when she stole fraudulent tax refund checks from an evidence room.

Gasparilla revelers told to obey rules, including no drones

- Have fun, catch some beads and take in the sights at this year’s Gasparilla celebrations, officials say. But leave your drones at home, and if you’re underage, do not drink any alcohol.

Attorney: Tampa officer stole tax refund checks to fund divorce

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TAMPA — A former Tampa Police corporal says she stole checks from the department’s evidence locker to fund her escape from a bad marriage to another police officer.

Feds stop sharing forfeiture funds with local law enforcement

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Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco says he’s looking for $200,000 to spend on enhanced body armor for deputies now that the Justice Department has suspended a program that shares with local law enforcement money and proper...

Florida Supreme Court suspends Bubba lawyers

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While the state Supreme Court considers permanently disbarring them, three lawyers accused of orchestrating the DUI arrest of an adversary will be suspended from practice, the state’s highest court announced on Fr...

Hillsborough State Attorney faces challenger in ‘last’ election

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TAMPA — For the first time in 13 years, Hillsborough State Attorney Mark Ober is facing a challenger for his election.

Spring Hill woman says she struggles after 1988 assault by Bill Cosby

- Kaya Thompson says she felt shock and glee on hearing of Cosby’s arrest. She says she was 17 and an aspiring model when he took her under his wing in New York. Years later, she says, her experience with Cosby damaged...

USF sues Maine lab over genetically modified mice patent

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TAMPA — The University of South Florida has the rights to a better mouse — a mutant mouse for medical research.

With Dontae Morris’ murder charge dropped, family loses chance for justice

- There was more to Harold Wright than a footnote in the Dontae Morris legal saga, his family and loved ones say. A lot more.

Website helps Floridians navigate court system without lawyers

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TAMPA — Taking your problems to court might seem a daunting task, especially if you can’t afford an attorney and especially in the highfalutin halls of federal court.

Death penalty caseload overwhelming Hillsborough public defender’s office

- The pace of death penalty cases in courts is threatening to overwhelm the county public defender’s office, which may have to ask the courts to intervene, according to Public Defender Julianne Holt.

37-month sentence for man who smuggled guns from Tampa to Middle East

- Eyad Farah, 42, a car dealer from Richardson, Texas, pleaded guilty in September to federal conspiracy and gun export crimes.