By Times staff reports
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 16, 2001
Driver gets 4 years in DUI manslaughter
LARGO -- A drunken driver was sentenced to four years in prison Tuesday for killing a Clearwater man almost five years ago. Timothy J. Rizzuti, a 40-year-old construction worker who lives in Safety Harbor, pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of DUI manslaughter. In July 1996, he struck and killed Russell Simonson as Simonson was pushing himself in a wheelchair near the pavement along Whitney Road. Rizzuti will receive credit for the 15 months he has been jailed awaiting trial. The earliest he will be eligible for release is about July 2003, said his attorney, Walter "J.R." Grantham. Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Mark Shames also sentenced Rizzuti to five years of probation. He must pay more than $1,600 in fines and court costs and the judge permanently revoked his driver's license. After the accident, Rizzuti went to New York. He didn't return to face the charge until January 1998. Then legal motions and scheduling problems further delayed the case.
INDIAN SHORES -- Burglars made off with more than $25,000 in cash and jewelry from the Salt Rock Grill on Sunday morning, along with the restaurant's 150-pound safe. Police and Salt Rock Grill owner Frank Chivas would not say exactly how much was taken. But police Chief E. D. Williams said it was one of the largest theft cases in the town in at least the past 12 years. The burglars broke into the restaurant, 19325 Gulf Blvd., between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. Sunday and took the safe and gold jewelry from display cases at the restaurant. Williams said investigators have not determined how the burglars entered the restaurant. There were no signs of forced entry. Williams said the burglars left from the rear. A dive team from the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, which also has a detective investigating the break-in, scoured the water surrounding that area but found no evidence. Chivas is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the burglars.