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Police find photos, charge man with having child pornography

By Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 13, 2000

ST. PETERSBURG -- A 48-year-old St. Petersburg man has been arrested and charged with four counts of possessing child pornography.

Thomas Lee David of 6975 19th Way N was arrested Thursday after detectives found in his home photos of children in sexual poses or being fondled, police said.

The investigation began after a witness found photos in David's bedroom and brought some to police headquarters, police said.

The children in the photographs are between 2 and 12, police said. Some of the photos were taken inside David's home.

David, a construction worker, is booked in the Pinellas County Jail in lieu of $80,000 bail.

Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Lori Dunn at (727) 892-5964.

Judge reduces sentence for man convicted of Medicaid fraud

TAMPA -- Andrew R. Siegel, founder of the controversial Future Steps drug rehab program for pregnant cocaine addicts, won a reduction in sentence Friday for his 1996 Medicaid fraud conviction.

Siegel had been sentenced to 24 months in prison for approving $250-a-head payments to two state workers who steered 18 addicts to his Pinellas Park clinic.

Siegel appealed, but the decision backfired. The 11th District Court of Appeals not only declined to overturn the conviction but ordered U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday to resentence Siegel under stiffer guidelines.

Under an appellate mandate that the $250 fees be regarded not as referral fees but as bribes, Merryday sentenced Siegel to 41/4 years in prison in January 1999.

Siegel's attorney, James E. Felman, appealed again. This time, the appellate court said the sentence could be reconsidered on the basis of the amount of loss to the U.S. Government as a result of Future Steps' paying the $250 referral fees.

"The final finding was was that there was no loss to the government," Felman said. "The government paid for 18 pregnant women to get treatment for cocaine addiction. They got that treatment, and thank God they did."

Friday, Merryday reduced Siegel's sentence to 24 months. Felman said Siegel could be released to a halfway house some time this summer.

Group's legal challenge may stall water treatment plant

CLEARWATER -- A challenge to the region's planned new water treatment plant could delay its completion by at least eight months.

Jerry Maxwell, general manager of Tampa Bay Water, will tell his board Monday that a request for an administrative hearing on permits for the plant could force the utility to continue current pumping levels at overused well fields beyond Dec. 31, 2002, the deadline for cutbacks.

The challenge comes from a group called Save Our Bay and Canals.

SOBAC has been fighting the location of a seawater desalination plant near Apollo Beach, as well as plans to siphon some high-water flows from the Hillsborough and Alafia Rivers and the Tampa Bypass Canal. The surface water would be treated to drinking water standards at the new treatment plant.

The challenge would have no impact on the desal plant, since Tampa Bay Water has the capacity to blend the 20-million gallons a day produced there with water pumped from two other Hillsborough well fields, one of them a new field planned for Brandon.

But it means Tampa Bay Water must keep relying on old well fields, said Michelle Klase-Robinson, TBW spokesman.

Opportunity Commission to hold information session in Tampa

The Occupational Access and Opportunity Commission, a state organization designed to promote occupational access and opportunities to Floridians with disabilities, is holding informational, question-and-answer sessions around Florida. The Tampa Bay area meeting will be held at 3 p.m. Monday at the Doubletree Hotel at Tampa Airport, Banyan Room, 4500 W Cypress St., Tampa. For information, call the commission, (800) 451-4327.

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