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What do you mean this is a judge's house?

Two burglary suspects see a waterfront home as easy pickings. But while toting off loot, they realize the error of their ways.

By TAMARA LUSH

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 20, 2001


Peter Doucette and David Nicholson obviously didn't put a lot of thought into burglarizing a Port Richey home overlooking the gulf, police said.

They kicked in the back door on April 7 and were in the middle of carting off $34,000 worth of jewelry, electronic equipment and the homeowner's safe, when, police said, the pair realized who the homeowner was: Pasco County Judge Marc H. Salton.

"It just tells you that it can happen to anybody," said Port Richey Detective John Seidler. "I really thought it was stupid. Imagine hitting a judge's house."

Salton declined to comment on the case.

Doucette and Nicholson were charged Tuesday with several counts of burglary. Authorities said the two men were responsible for a break-in spree in March and April that netted $50,000 worth of items, including the things taken from Salton's home.

Some of Salton's neighbors were key witnesses in the case, Seidler said.

About 7 p.m. on April 7, two burglars parked their maroon Camaro on Salton's street, Seidler said. They determined that no one was home -- Salton was at a dinner party -- and stole the items. The Times is withholding Salton's address because he is a judge.

Salton reported the theft when he arrived home. His neighbors reported seeing the maroon Camaro.

Almost simultaneously, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office put out an all-points bulletin for a maroon Camaro, whose occupants were wanted in a March 19 home invasion.

On April 8, Pasco sheriff's Deputy Travis Vail arrested Doucette and Nicholson at the scene of another burglary. They were charged with robbery, kidnapping and impersonating a police officer, stemming from the March home invasion in New Port Richey.

Deputies and Port Richey Police continued to investigate the case and discovered the stolen goods in the suspects' homes, and in storage facilities and vehicles.

Guns, computers and stereos were among the items taken, and according to one report, Deputy Vail found a stolen detective badge in Doucette's home -- the badge was stolen from a vehicle. Detective Seidler said a safe from Salton's home containing Beanie Babies and personal papers also was recovered.

Doucette, 23, of 6100 Madison St., New Port Richey, is being held without bail on 20 charges. Nicholson, 25, of 9251 Bourbon St., New Port Richey, is also being held without bail, on 18 charges.

According to state corrections records, Doucette is on probation for several forgery charges and Nicholson is on probation for forgery, grand theft and cocaine possession charges.

- Tamara Lush is the police reporter in Pasco County. She can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6245 or (800) 333-7505, ext. 6245. Her e-mail address is lush@sptimes.com.

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