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  • School official on paid leave
  • From these 51 battles, a war called the election
  • 'He kept hitting me in the head with the gun,' rape victim says
  • Bay area becomes race's ground zero
  • Two life sentences, daughter's hatred
  • It's a badge & boredom in Belleair
  • Tampa Bay briefs
  • Killer tries again for new trial
  • TV stations not ready to pull Crist's anti-Castor ad
  • Just one family owns up to Pasco school vandalism
  • Teenager guilty of tile setter's murder
  • Church official admits to swindle

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    Tampa Bay briefs

    By Times staff writers

    © St. Petersburg Times, published November 3, 2000


    Pedestrian hit by car on Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard

    CLEARWATER -- A pedestrian was seriously injured when he was hit by a car Thursday night on Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard about a half-mile west of the Bayside Bridge, authorities said.

    The accident happened about 7:10 p.m. near 2951 Gulf-to-Bay, according to Pinellas County Emergency Medical Services. Police closed part of the street for several hours as they investigated.

    No one else was injured in the accident. The pedestrian was flown by helicopter to Bayfront Medical Center. His identity and medical condition were not immediately available.

    Absentee ballots available at elections offices

    Pinellas County residents who are registered to vote and are unable to make it to the polls for Tuesday's general election can request an absentee ballot at any county Supervisor of Elections office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, Saturday and Monday.

    The offices are at 315 Court St., Clearwater; 14255 49th St. N, Suite 202, Clearwater; and 501 First Ave. N, St. Petersburg. Requests can be made in person or by calling (727) 464-6788.

    For residents who will vote at their assigned polling location, a signed, picture identification card will be required, such as a Florida driver's license or an ID card. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.

    If you are unsure of where your assigned polling place is, call the election office at 464-3551, or visit their Web site at www.co.pinellas.fl.us/soe. Individuals who are hearing impaired can call (800) 955-8771 for assistance.

    Fishing line cleanup set to begin Saturday morning

    Tampa BayWatch and the National Audubon Society are sponsoring a monofilament fishing line cleanup in Tampa Bay beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday at Maximo Park in St. Petersburg.

    The groups are expecting about 150 volunteers to help clear wading and seabird rookery islands of the fishing line, which is among the leading causes of bird deaths in Florida.

    Volunteers will travel by boat to Little Bird Key for hands-on training and cleanup.

    Space is limited, and reservations are required. Call Peter Clark at 896-5320.

    Two large developments get initial okay in Pasco

    Pasco County took its first step Thursday toward approving another 2,400 homes in its fast-growing core between the Suncoast Parkway and Interstate 75.

    The county's Development Review Committee decided the 1,599-home Pasco Hills development on State Road 52 and the 800-home Cordoba development on State Road 54 jibed with Pasco's long-range growth plan.

    Next up for the two projects is consideration by the county's planning commission, followed by a deciding vote before the county commissioners.

    Man guilty in scam aimed at Christian investors

    TAMPA -- James R. Chambers on Thursday admitting bilking Christian investors out of more than $1-million, becoming the first of seven defendants to plead guilty to taking part in an elaborate swindle run by the Tampa-based church Greater Ministries International.

    Chambers, 68, of Altamonte Springs acknowledged marketing a scam originating in 1993 called "Double Your Money Gift Exchange Program," in which parishioners were told they could double cash investments within 17 months.

    Chambers and others claimed the improbable returns were made possible by shrewd investments in gold and platinum mines and overseas banks paying sky-high interest.

    Greater Ministries officials promised investment returns would be regarded as tax-free gifts from the church and represented that investments would generate profits used to feed the homeless, provide rehabilitation for addicts and support foreign missions.

    In fact, prosecutors say, the church merely operated a Ponzi scheme, in which payments to initial investors were made with funds forwarded by later waves of investors. Money actually spent on evangelical missions was "minuscule," and some church faithful lost their life savings.

    Murder trial opens, focuses on suspect's race

    TAMPA -- A murder trial stemming from an Ybor City bar fight focused in its opening day on whether the killer was black or white.

    A white man, Mike Fuqua of Lutz, is charged with second-degree murder, based chiefly on a videotape and statements from Fuqua's white friends.

    But in one of the investigation's most vivid interviews, a black bouncer at the bar described a black killer.

    That should have been the key to the case, Fuqua's public defender told an all-white jury Thursday in opening statements.

    The fatal stabbing of Air Force airman Jeremiah "Jeff" Kleiss was a tragedy, said the attorney, Samantha Ward. But, she added, "It's a tragedy that the (Tampa Police Department) made the mistakes that they did, and a white defendant is sitting in this courtroom today."

    The murder investigation became more public on March 16, two days after Kleiss' death.

    Police gave local media copies of a videotape shot by a visiting college student outside the Blues Ship Cafe. It showed two men running down Seventh Avenue, and Kleiss in the street reacting to his wound.

    A caller quickly identified the runners as Fuqua and a pal from Lutz.

    Disputed campaign ad likely to keep running

    TAMPA -- It appears unlikely that television stations will stop running an ad that criticizes Democrat Kathy Castor for a disputed connection with a troubled nursing home company.

    Castor, who is running for state Senate District 13, has asked two law firms to help her stop a political ad that praises her Republican opponent, Victor Crist, for improving nursing homes while criticizing her because her former law firm "represented nursing homes guilty of the largest Medicare fraud in history."

    She calls it "an outright lie," but the Republican Party is standing behind the ad, which it produced on behalf of Crist.

    Right now, all four of the network television stations in Tampa Bay have asked both sides to back up their claims, but the stations most likely will keep running the paid political ad until managers are convinced it is false.

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