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Dateline Florida

Published March 24, 2007



A security officer at the Sam M. Gibbons U.S. District Courthouse noticed a nylon suitcase on the sidewalk on the south side of the building about 8 a.m. Friday. The Tampa police bomb squad was called, and it used a robot to blow it up. Inside: socks and a toothbrush. Officials were reviewing security tapes to try to figure out who left it there. Security was heightened because six people were being arraigned on drug smuggling charges. The courthouse was never evacuated, but two blocks around it were cordoned off to give the bomb squad room.

Coral thief may not see sea for a while

A Miami man may be headed to federal prison for stealing hundreds of coral specimens from a marine sanctuary. The case started in the fall when two Germans were caught at the Miami airport attempting to smuggle coral home. They told investigators they helped Alexandre Alvarenga-Freire, 40, harvest it. Investigators put a tracking device on the Morgan sailboat he used, and its signals showed he was collecting the coral from the Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary. He was arrested at a marina with 400 specimens, and pleaded guilty Friday. The feds confiscated his 34-foot boat, and he could be sentenced to up to five years in prison.

When chefs compete, we all win

A Tampa cooking competition a la Iron Chef will raise money Sunday for a new neonatal unit at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg. Eleven local amateur chefs will compete for 300 guests who paid $85 each at the A La Carte Event Pavilion. Dishes prepared will run the gamut of world cuisine. Professional chefs will taste the dishes and offer their opinions. The event starts at 11:30 a.m.

Boy who was hit by speaker is home

Josiah Wineberger, the 3-year-old boy who was struck on the head by a falling speaker during a family outing to BayWalk in downtown St. Petersburg last month, finally got to go home Thursday. Josiah, who suffered serious brain injuries, will continue rehabilitation at All Children's Hospital, said his father, John Wineberger. He was being treated at Tampa General Hospital, but doctors told the family that being around his siblings in his St. Petersburg home might help Josiah's recovery. The blow cracked Josiah's skull and injured a part of his brain that deals with motor skills.


The last name of Salvador Dali Museum director Hank Hine was misspelled in a story Friday.

25 Years of Dali

DaliFest is today at the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg. Take a photo tour or enjoy an interactive look at the artist. Go to

[Last modified March 24, 2007, 01:17:12]

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