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    Tampa Bay briefs

    By Times staff and wire reports

    © St. Petersburg Times, published February 18, 2001


    Six arrested, charged with violating lap dance law

    TAMPA -- Police charged six nude dancers and customers early Saturday with violating the city's ban on lap dancing.

    The arrests came days after two judges upheld the city's lap dancing ordinance, which prevents dancers and customers from being within 6 feet of one another.

    Three people were arrested about 2 a.m. Saturday at Seven Seas, 3023 W Kennedy Blvd., and three others at Taboo Tampa, 5606 N Nebraska Ave.

    On Wednesday, Hillsborough County Judge James Dominguez said Tampa's controversial ordinance does not violate free speech protections. And on Friday, County Judge Mark Wolfe also upheld the ordinance. Other county judges are expected to issue their decisions soon in related cases.

    In addition to the six people arrested Friday, four were arrested Thursday at 2001 Odyssey, the Pink Pony and Gold Rush clubs.

    Man says car was taken by two men with guns

    TAMPA -- A 48-year-old Tampa man told police Friday that he was vacuuming a friend's car when two armed men walked up, demanded the car and drove off.

    Police said the man was cleaning a 1992, blue Chevy Caprice at 11 p.m. at a self-service car wash near Beach Street and Howard Avenue. The two men pointed guns at him, and he gave them the car. He was not injured.

    No arrests had been made Saturday.

    22-year-old arrested on 5 sexual battery counts

    TAMPA -- A 22-year-old Tampa man wanted by the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office and Tampa Police Department was arrested Saturday and charged with five counts of sexual battery.

    Michael Antonio McNeair of 4306 E 22nd Ave. was arrested about 12:30 a.m. Saturday after leading officers on a short chase through downtown in a stolen car, police said.

    Police found McNeair driving a maroon Mazda near Brorein and Tampa streets, according to reports. He led officers through downtown to Nebraska Avenue and Washington Street, where he jumped out of the car and was captured by two officers. The car had been reported stolen four days earlier.

    McNeair was being held in jail on $79,100 bond, and was charged with armed burglary, grand theft auto, resisting arrest and sexual battery.

    McNeair is accused of sexual attacks that occurred Oct. 10, 1999, and Dec. 11, 2000, near Sligh Avenue and 56th Street.

    Man tries to rape 63-year-old, then flees

    TAMPA -- Sheriff's officials said a man beat, robbed and tried to sexually assault a 63-year-old woman who had returned home from grocery shopping Friday morning.

    The woman was unloading groceries about 8:30 a.m. when she saw the man on her back porch in the Thonotosassa area.

    The man followed her into her home, demanded money and punched her in the face. He took the woman into a bedroom, took off her clothes and tried to rape her. He stabbed her in the neck, causing a minor wound, before running, officials said.

    Carbon monoxide buildup sends four to hospital

    PLANT CITY -- A buildup of carbon monoxide from a forklift being used inside a business sent three employees and one firefighter to the hospital Saturday, officials said.

    None of the injuries was considered serious.

    The victims were treated for symptoms including headaches and nausea, said Capt. Henry Smith, with Plant City Fire Rescue. In all, 13 people were sickened inside Mrs. Allison's Cookies, most of them factory workers treated at the scene.

    Smith said officials were called about 9 a.m. to the factory on E Highway 92.

    Fire officials determined the propane-operated forklift, used to move and stack pallets, caused the buildup. But by early afternoon, the factory had been ventilated and cleared of carbon monoxide.

    Company officials could not be reached for comment.

    ACLU outlines project to address voting issues

    MIAMI -- The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida announced the launch of a project Saturday aiming to prevent future irregularities in the state's elections.

    The Florida Equal Voting Rights Project will investigate alleged voting violations, push for the restoration of ex-felons' voting rights and monitor the implementation of a uniform election system.

    Punch card ballot machines must be replaced by a better system, said Howard Simon, ACLU of Florida's executive director.

    The project is a collaborative effort between the ACLU of Florida and two other nonprofit legal organizations, Florida Legal Services and the Florida Justice Institute. It will be staffed by a coordinator and three attorneys.

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