This looks like that missing ATM
© St. Petersburg Times,
Hillsborough sheriff's deputy Matthew McElhiney was on routine patrol in the wee hours Wednesday when he spotted a pickup truck matching the description of one used in a burglary.
Someone had smashed their way into a Hess service station in Lutz and taken the portable ATM, putting it into the back of a truck. The truck was captured on surveillance video and looked awfully similar to one sitting in a driveway on N Boulevard.
So McElhiney and a backup knocked on the door and were met by 38-year-old Steven Franklin Williams, wearing a ball cap that, hey, looked similar to one worn by a suspect in the surveillance video. Matter of fact, the deputies were just thinking that Williams himself resembled the suspect in the video when he ... invited them in.
"Then it was, 'Oh, hello ATM!' " said sheriff's Lt. Rod Reder, as deputies walked into Williams' living room to find the stolen money machine.
At that point Williams admitted to stealing the ATM and taking the $1,100 inside, Reder said.
FIZZLED EXPLOSIVES: Ralph Fernandez promised to deliver big news defending Circuit Judge Robert Bonanno at Tuesday's impeachment hearing in Tallahassee.
"This stuff is explosive," the Tampa lawyer said last week. "Trust me, even if we capture bin Laden on Tuesday, this story will still be on the front page."
Osama bin Laden remained at large Tuesday, and Fernandez's story still didn't make the front page. His defense wasn't even the main the news of the hearing.
Instead, the committee's chairman grabbed the headlines by expanding the inquiry to matters stretching back 10 years.
In a 42-page document submitted to the House Judicial Oversight Committee, Fernandez accused Circuit Judge Gregory Holder of sending an e-mail about a case after Holder had disqualified himself from the case. By doing so, Holder may have violated the law, Fernandez said.
"Judge Holder has apparently appointed himself the moral guardian of the Hillsborough County Courthouse," Fernandez said.
Holder is the one who called for an investigation of Bonanno last year. A bailiff discovered Bonanno inside Holder's empty and darkened office after hours when Holder was out of town on military duty. To say the two judges are not friends is an understatement.
As for Fernandez's accusations, Holder said he was asking then-Chief Judge F. Dennis Alvarez for his opinion about a ruling Holder had made. "The decision is made. Period. Finished. I asked Alvarez what he thought of my decision," Holder said.
"That was the extent of that. There is nothing improper about that."
The committee, by the way, didn't seem to think Fernandez's report was nearly as scintillating as, say, the search for bin Laden.
EARLY BIRD: Lawyer J. Kevin Carey should be glad he planned ahead.
Since February, Carey, a partner at the Carlton, Fields law firm, has been raising money to run for a spot on the Circuit Court bench. He's collected more than $40,000.
Carey raised the money not knowing for sure if there would be a race to run.
He was running for the seat now occupied by Judge Donald Evans. As recently as a few weeks ago, Evans was planning to retire to take a job for Tampa Crossroads. Evans' retirement would have given Gov. Jeb Bush a chance to appoint Evans' replacement. That would have ended Carey's campaign.
But the money to pay for Evans' job -- he would develop a mentoring program for ex-cons -- didn't come through. Several foundations pulled back support after Sept. 11.
So Evans, 62, will serve out the rest of his term. The voters will now pick his successor.
Carey, who is on the board of directors of Tampa Crossroads, is the unintended beneficiary of Evans' bad luck.
With an open seat available, though, Carey won't be the only one in the race. Expect other lawyers to jump in.
A DAY IN THE LIFE ...: Speaking of Carlton, Fields, the law firm now has its own day named in its honor.
Mayor Dick Greco declared Monday Nov. 26 "Carlton Fields Day" to honor the firm's 100-year history of public service. The mayor's proclamation recognized the firm's commitment to free legal work, which includes spending $1.84-million this year or 3 percent of the firm's total billable hours. But the proclamation is also a sign of the firm's political clout.
Bob Martinez, the former Tampa mayor and Florida governor who now works as a consultant at the firm, asked Greco to issue the proclamation. At the firm's celebration, Greco mingled with many of his old Tampa friends, lawyers and local power-brokers he's done business with for years.
With this precedent set, we expect that when Holland & Knight and other large law firms or companies turn 100, they too will get a day named after them.
A FAMILIAR FACE WITH A NEW JOB: If you looked around the scene of an accident earlier this month after a police chase ended with a wreck, there were the regular players: detectives from the hit-and-run unit at the Tampa Police Department, members of internal affairs, even some brass.
The police union was there, too -- with a face normally seen in the courthouse halls.
Sharon Slater, who spent over a dozen years in the courthouse working for the State Attorney's Office and the Public Defender's Office, began working for the union this month as the new labor relations director.
She joins Margaret Simon, who left the life of commercial real estate to run the finances for the West Central Police Benevolent Association, or PBA, under new president Kevin Durkin.
Durkin says being Yankees fans had nothing to do with their qualifications, but we wonder.
© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South St. Petersburg, FL 33701 727-893-8111