Bribe convictions hold for LaBrakes

Published March 13, 2007


Former Tampa housing chief Steve LaBrake and his wife, Lynne, are still guilty of accepting bribes, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday. The court also affirmed the conviction of Tampa-Hillsborough Action Plan executive director Chester M. Luney, who was convicted of offering the LaBrakes a bribe. In their appeal, the defendants challenged the indictment, the district court's conduct of the trial and Steve LaBrake's sentence. But the court wasn't swayed. Steve LaBrake was sentenced in 2005 to five years, his wife received 41 months and Luney 33 months.


Husband sees wife's fatal crash

Safe in another vehicle, Donald Thomas saw his wife, Sheila, lose control of her Pontiac Firebird, hit a tree and fly from her car Monday morning. Thomas said he tried to give his wife CPR, but Sheila Thomas, 40, died. The crash happened at 11:30 a.m. at 1621 Thompson Road, less than a mile from the couple's home. Traffic backed up for half a mile on the rural stretch. Hillsborough sheriff's deputies are investigating.


Sulfuric acid burns employee

A 76-year-old employee at a North Tampa chemical plant was rushed to the hospital Monday after being burned on the face, arms and legs with sulfuric acid. Radisbel E. Cisneros, who has worked at Theochem Laboratories for 40 years, was conscious and alert when Tampa Fire Rescue arrived at the plant at 7373 Rowlett Park Drive. He was burned after a line broke between two containers of acid, spraying Cisneros, who managed to shut down the valve, fire officials said. He said he was wearing proper eye and skin protection. Cisneros was rushed to Tampa General Hospital with second-degree burns on 30 percent of his body. His injuries were not life-threatening, said Tampa Fire Rescue spokesman Capt. Bill Wade. Officials at Theochem declined to comment.


Distraught man holds off police

An armed man threatening to kill himself surrendered to police after a two-hour standoff Monday morning. Jeff Williams, 45, was depressed because he had recently stolen money from friends and family through identity theft, police said. Williams, who lived in various motels in the city, drove a Jeep Cherokee around the city until he ran out of gas about 8:22 a.m. near a warehouse in the 2100 block of 15th Circle N, police said. After two hours, Williams, who had been holding a handgun to his head, gave himself up. He was taken to a mental health treatment center under the Baker Act. He faces a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm and also has an outstanding arrest warrant from California on a charge of grand theft auto.


Eye clinic owner also is charged

The owner of an eye clinic has been charged with enabling a woman to practice without a license for 20 years. Larry Perich, owner of Perich Eye Clinic, turned himself in Monday. He was being held at the Land O'Lakes jail Monday in lieu of $5,000 bail. His employee, Paula Jean Russian, was charged last week with two counts of practicing without a medical license.