By TIMES WIRES
Published March 24, 2007
STORE FILTERED $48-MILLION, DEPUTIES SAY
Pasco County authorities have arrested the owner of Del Carmen Mexican Store, where $48-million in migrant worker's checks and money transfers passed through the hands of Jose Frias in 2 1/2 years. The Sheriff's Office says Frias overcharged migrant workers to cash checks, and there was fraud involved in sending money transfers to Mexico. During their Thursday morning raid, detectives found $80,000 in cash piled in Del Carmen and another $210,000 in Frias' residences and La Onda, a nightclub he owns. The $48-million, the Sheriff's Office says, was filtered through Frias in checks he cashed for migrant farmworkers, money transfers sent back to Mexico and other laundering methods as part of some kind of criminal enterprise. Frias was arrested Thursday on charges of illegal check cashing and racketeering. He is being held at the Land O'Lakes jail in lieu of $150,000 bail.
Man arrested in chain of wrecks
A Hudson man was charged with a dozen DUI-related offenses after authorities say he initiated a series of collisions on U.S. 19 with a bottle of vodka in his pants. Here's what happened, according to a report from the Florida Highway Patrol: About 2:55 p.m. Monday, Stephen J. Hulgin, 41, was driving his Cadillac sedan south on U.S. 19 near Little Road when he rear-ended a Mitsubishi sport utility vehicle driven by Maria Guy. A chain reaction ensued. Guy's SUV hit a Ford van driven by Pamela Sessa. Sessa's van hit a Mercury sedan driven by Pedron Gomez, while Guy's SUV spun around and hit Barbara Staley's Dodge van. Guy and Hulgin were hospitalized and released, the report said, while others had minor injuries. Hulgin's license was permanently revoked. He is being held in lieu of $70,500 bail at the Land O'Lakes Detention Center.
Man arrested on child porn charge
Pinellas sheriff's detectives arrested a Clearwater man on 11 counts of possessing child pornography Friday. Brian A. Humphries, 35, who works at an animal hospital in St. Petersburg, was being held in the Pinellas County Jail in lieu of $110,000. Federal authorities learned that Humphries had subscribed to a Web site promoting child pornography and seized his computer in March 2006, officials said
This was no small bump in the night
Paul and Barbara Bertolino were asleep at 2 a.m. Friday when a pickup crashed into the side of their garage. Bertolino pointed to tire marks in the grassy empty lot next door that show that the black Ford had been headed toward his bedroom before swerving. The driver, 22-year-old Brian Skeslock of Spring Hill, was flown to Tampa General Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition Friday evening. The conditions of two unidentified passengers were not known. Charges are pending, state Trooper Larry Coggins said.