Dateline Florida

By Times Wires
Published February 27, 2007

Jackson county assassin already had a bloody past

Lionel Sands, one of two men who last month gunned down the wife of Jackson County Sheriff John "Johnny Mac" McDaniel and a sheriff's deputy, was responsible for killing his wife, Gail, in 2001, a federal judge has declared. Sands wasn't charged in his wife's killing - she was found dead in a nearly empty swimming pool. But the sheriff said he was a prime suspect. A suit over $500,000 in insurance was supposed to go to trial the week Sands and handyman Daniel Brown ambushed Mellie McDaniel and Deputy Michael Altman, then died in a gunbattle with police.

Democrat may pay price for taking activist's big donation

The state has found probable cause that Adrien Helm's Pinellas Democrats PAC violated contribution limits in August by accepting $5,000 from local Democratic activist Frank Lupo. The political action committee mailed fliers endorsing candidates who were favorites of Ed Helm's, Adrien's husband and a former Pinellas Democratic chairman. PACs that back candidates can't take contributions over $500. She could be fined up to $16,000. Helm, who can contest the finding by the Florida Elections Commission, said Monday she had not decided what she will do.

Early voting opens on Penny for Pinellas

Early voting began Monday on the extension of the Penny for Pinellas sales tax. Early voting runs through March 10. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays at the County Building, 501 First Ave. N, St. Petersburg; the Election Service Center, 13001 Starkey Road, Largo; and the Pinellas County Courthouse, 315 Court St., Clearwater.