Tampa Bay briefs
By Times staff writers
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 27, 2001
Army allowed to charge officer in fatal wreck
TAMPA -- Prosecutors will allow the Army to bring charges against Capt. Joseph Piotrowski, who ran a stop sign last week and killed a pregnant woman.
The State Attorney's Office ceded jurisdiction, Assistant State Attorney Pam Bondi said Thursday.
The night of April 18, Piotrowski drove his Jeep through the stop sign at Providence Road and Riverview Drive, hitting a Nissan driven by Angela Beasley, 24. She died at the scene. Piotrowski smelled strongly of alcohol and had an open container in his car, said Hillsborough sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter. Piotrowski, 43, was convicted in Hillsborough County in February of drunken driving, and his driver's license was suspended.
Piotrowski was stationed at MacDill Air Force Base and worked for the joint communications support element, which sets up communications and deployment centers overseas for the Central Command. The Army's investigation of Piotrowski will be conducted at Fort Stewart, Ga., spokesman Bob Close said.
Piotrowski could face court-martial, Close said.
U.S. attorney to join South Florida law firm
TAMPA -- U.S. Attorney Donna Bucella plans to join the Miami law firm of Steel Hector & Davis.
Bucella will focus on commercial and corporate compliance litigation, especially in the fields of health care, the Internet, consumer fraud and white-collar criminal defense, said Steve Cole, a spokesman for Bucella.
Bucella, who was appointed U.S. attorney in Tampa by President Clinton in 1999, plans to resign May 1. It was apparent after a Republican won the White House in November that a new U.S. attorney would replace her.
Before moving to Miami, she plans to complete an annual tour of duty with the Army's Judge Advocate General Corps, in which she is a lieutenant colonel. The JAG Corps provides legal help to soldiers. Then she'll vacation in Italy, Cole said.
Steel Hector & Davis has more than 200 lawyers in five Florida offices and abroad. Bucella's replacement has not been named.
Chiropractor licenses lost and relinquished
TAMPA -- The Florida Board of Chiropractic Medicine has revoked the license of one local chiropractor and accepted the voluntary relinquishment of a license from another.
John Kushmer, whose last known address was 6508 U.S. 41 N in Apollo Beach, gave up his Florida chiropractic license after the board found he had illegally prescribed medicine and failed to keep legibly written records to justify his treatment of patients.
He could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Michael Williams, of 2516 W Waters Ave., failed to return more than $2,500 of the $3,000 a patient paid him for treatment, the board said in a news release Thursday. The patient had stopped treatments because she saw no results, the board said.
In addition, the board said, Williams pressured the patient into taking out a loan for the treatment through a finance company and made misleading, deceptive, untrue or fraudulent statements. The board revoked his license.
He could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Cell phone-related fatality inquiry may take 45 days
TAMPA -- An investigation into a fatal traffic accident partially caused by cellular phone use could take as long as 45 days, Florida Highway Patrol officials said Thursday.
Richard J. McKeefery, 23, was changing his car tire Tuesday night when a Ford Explorer driven by Paul Martin, 26, struck and killed him.
Martin said he swerved into the emergency lane off the Howard Frankland Bridge as he was trying to answer his cellular phone, which had fallen on the floor of his truck. Martin, 26, has not been charged in the accident.
Middle schooler with paintball gun arrested
PLANT CITY -- A Tomlin Middle School student was arrested Thursday after officials confiscated a loaded paintball gun.
School officials found the gun when they searched the 14-year-old's book bag, officials said. The gun was loaded with a carbon dioxide cartridge and a paint ball.
Because the student had a gun, even one that shoots paint balls, he was arrested and charged with possessing a weapon on school property, a felony. The student, who is not being identified by the Times because of his age, was taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center.
Earlier this week, two teenage boys were charged with firing paintball guns at a group of students standing outside the same school. The middle school students were not hit by paint balls in the incident on Monday.
Police identify man wounded by TIA officer
TAMPA -- Police have confirmed the identity of the man shot and slightly wounded by a Tampa International Airport police detective as Denario Devonne Jones.
Detectives said Jones, 22, gave them a false name after being arrested Wednesday on charges of stealing an Isuzu Trooper from an airport car rental agency and using it to ram a TIA police officer's car during a pursuit that morning.
In addition to charges of grand theft, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest with violence, Jones will face a charge of giving a false name, said Tampa police spokesman Joe Durkin.
Tiger Bay Club honors ex-Gov. Bob Martinez
CLEARWATER -- Former Gov. Bob Martinez was honored Thursday for his public service by the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club, which presented him with its annual Benjamin Franklin Award.
The award is given to longtime public servants for achievements and for courageously tackling tough issues. Martinez also was drug czar under President George Bush.
Martinez is among a line of former gubernatorial recipients. Previous winners include former Govs. Reubin Askew, LeRoy Collins and Lawton Chiles.
The Tampa native is managing director of the government consulting group at Carlton Fields law firm and chairman of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.
Martinez, who also was the guest speaker, still tutors each week. "I kind of came back to where I started," he said.
"Is there life after being in public life? Yeah, if you don't retire," Martinez said.
Officials: Bomb threat matched student's writing
TAMPA -- At first, a 15-year-old student at Burnett Middle School seemed to be concerned about a bomb threat written on a restroom wall Thursday when he reported it to a school employee. But then teachers noticed that the student's handwriting in homework assignments matched the handwriting on the wall, officials said.
They questioned the student, and he admitted writing "There is a bomb in the school" on the restroom wall, officials said. The student, who is not being identified by the Times because of his age, was charged with threatening to place a destructive device, a felony. He was taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center.
N 30th Street accident kills elderly woman
TAMPA -- An elderly woman was killed Thursday night in a car accident on N 30th Street.
Tampa police had released few details about the crash late Thursday. The accident happened at N 30th Street and Bougainvillea Avenue shortly after 5:30 p.m. It took more than three hours to clear the scene of the accident.
City Council okays Grand Prix contract
ST. PETERSBURG -- The St. Petersburg City Council approved a contract Thursday to hold the St. Petersburg Grand Prix auto race on the streets around Tropicana Field five more times starting in 2002 -- if the would-be promoter can find a sanctioning body.
The agreement says businessman Tom Begley must show the city a signed agreement from an auto racing group by Dec. 31 this year and run the first race by Dec. 31, 2002, or the permission for future races is off. The Grand Prix was last run in St. Petersburg in 1997.
"Go forth and conquer," Council member Bill Foster said after the unanimous approval.
In other business Thursday, the council unanimously denied former council member Bob Kersteen's request on behalf of Verizon Wireless to reconsider the council's denial last week of permission to build a new antenna tower on M.L. King (Ninth) St. S. Neighborhood residents oppose the tower.
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