06/27/17 Public Safety
LARGO — A Pinellas County sheriff's corporal resigned recently after an investigation into an alleged extramarital affair revealed a trove of racist, sexist and pornographic images on his personal cellphone.
Shawn Pappas, 46, resigned from the agency at the end of February after investigators found the photos, which include images comparing black people to animals, derogatory memes about the Women's March on Washington and photos he took of his genitals while working on duty at the agency shooting range. ...
Four questions with Largo City Commissioner Michael Smith before he helps lead the St. Pete Pride parade06/23/17 Human Interest
A decade ago, Largo City Commissioner Michael Smith was afraid to tell his friends and family he was gay.
On Saturday, he'll be leading the St. Pete Pride parade as one of four grand marshals, front and center of the largest Pride celebration in the state.
06/22/17 Public Safety
TARPON SPRINGS — The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has released a fact-finding report that largely mirrors an earlier investigation that ruled the officer-involved shooting that killed 25-year-old Nick Provenza last month was a "justifiable homicide."
The FDLE findings were similar to those made in a Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office report earlier this month. The State Attorney's report concluded that Tarpon Springs police Officer Scott MacIsaac was justified in using deadly force in that May 6 incident at a charity car show. FDLE does not act on its findings, but will send its report to prosecutors to review....
Pinellas Suncoast Fire and Rescue District Chief Salvatore D'Angelo announced Tuesday night he was leaving the department for a new job.
D'Angelo said after a district commission meeting he accepted a position as the executive director of the North Collier Fire Control and Rescue District. Aug. 4 is his last day at Pinellas Suncoast, which provides fire and emergency medical services for Belleair Beach, Belleair Shore, Indian Rocks Beach, Indian Shores and the unincorporated Oakhurst area....
06/16/17 Local Government
LARGO — In the midst of crafting next year's budget and updating the long-term financial forecast, city officials are facing several variables that could impact projects and services.
A contribution increase to the police and fire pension fund adds constraints to the budget for next year and beyond, while the financial plan is muddled by two major local government revenue sources left to the will of voters: a one-cent sales tax known as Penny for Pinellas that is up for renewal this year and a property tax break in the form of a homestead exemption increase that, if approved when it goes before voters next year, would cut at least $650,000 from the city coffers in the first year....
Police: Children's ministry director at Anona United Methodist Church in Largo inappropriately touched 14-year-old girl06/14/17Crime
LARGO — The director of children's ministry at Anona United Methodist Church and a prominent member of the local theater and dance community has been arrested after police said he inappropriately touched a 14-year-old girl.
Domenic Victor Bisesti, 31, faces a charge of lewd and lascivious molestation after the girl told police he touched her buttocks several times and tried to kiss her at the church at 13233 Indian Rocks Road, according to Largo police. Investigators and church officials don't know of any other victims....
06/08/17 Public Safety
CLEARWATER — The Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office has decided not to charge the parents of a 10-year-old boy who fatally shot himself in January.
The revolver Ian Sevostjanov used to shoot himself in the chest was kept unsecured in a desk drawer, according to the Clearwater police investigation. But Fred Schaub, felony division director for the State Attorney's Office, said the child's parents taught their children gun safety, and it appeared, based on cellphone records, that the child was intent on ending his life....
Pinellas sheriff's K9 unit welcomes first female deputy in 35 years, second in agency history(w/video)06/07/17 Public Safety
Kayla Juliet didn't know much about the tryout, but she did know about the infamous 80-pound bag.
The duffle, stuffed with two bags of dog food taped together, was supposed to symbolize an injured dog to help prepare the K9 deputy hopefuls for a worst-case scenario. So Juliet added a bag of concrete of the same weight to her workouts in the month leading up to the tryout.
It was grueling — "it's hard to imagine something that rough," she said. But she made it through, graduating alongside her partner, Jace, on May 30. She's only the second female K9 deputy in Pinellas County Sheriff's Office history, and the first in more than 30 years. It's a milestone for an industry with a low percentage of women and an agency that Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said has struggled to attract female deputies to specialized units....
A 43-year-old man went on a reckless driving rampage Saturday night from St. Petersburg to just south of the Hillsborough-Pasco line that the Florida Highway Patrol said caused seven hit-and-run crashes, including one in which he beat a driver and stole her car.
Lon Alan Brown of New Port Richey faces charges of carjacking with a deadly weapon, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, leaving the scene of a crash with property damage, driving under the influence and refusal to submit to testing, according to Hillsborough County Jail records....
05/31/17 Public Safety
It was time for a break, so Joseph Samson hopped on his bike and pedaled into the night.
He left the Clearwater convenience store he worked at Tuesday night, his mother said, and was heading south across Cleveland Street. It was about 9:45 p.m., near the intersection of Fredrica Avenue, when a pickup truck driving east hit him, then left him behind.
Not even eight hours later, Robert Allen Shepherd, 62, was wearing a reflective vest as he rode his bike, adorned with lights, westbound in the bike lane of Ulmerton Road when he was struck east of 58th Street N by an unknown driver who fled the scene, the Florida Highway Patrol said....
LARGO — The land sits at the intersection of Clearwater-Largo and Rosery roads mostly empty, save for about a dozen mobile homes and even more concrete slabs of foundations past.
After years of hearing rumors of a sale, residents said they received notices to move out by Oct. 31 to make way for a land use change. And in April, a developer submitted plans to build a 208-unit apartment complex to be named Rosery Court on the two parcels bordered by the Pinellas Trail to the west, Rosery Road to the north, Clearwater-Largo Road N to the east and the Belleair Village Motel to the south....
05/29/17 Public Safety
Michael Steller went out with his family on their boat Sunday to celebrate Memorial Day weekend like any Floridian: water, sun and a cookout with family.
About 4:30 p.m., he attempted to do a flip off the boat into the Gulf of Mexico while the 23-foot pontoon was anchored on the north end of Three Rooker Island off the coast of Tarpon Springs, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office....
05/25/17 Public Safety
CLEARWATER — Firefighters rescued a 14-year-old girl who whose leg was trapped between two pipes on Franklin Street on Thursday afternoon, Clearwater fire rescue said.
The call came in at 4:25 p.m. and crews arrived four minutes later to the stack of pipes in the 1300 block of Franklin Street. It took firefighters seven minutes to free her from the pipes. She was flown via helicopter to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg with a leg injury....
Clearwater officer fired after investigation reveals use of unnecessary force on 13-year-old (w/video)05/24/17 Public Safety
CLEARWATER — When Michael Leonardo and two backup officers arrived at the youth shelter on the morning of April 2, the 13-year-old boy was still simmering from a fight.
He'd calmed down in the time it took the Clearwater police officers to respond to reports that he was kicking walls and screaming in the shelter after a dispute with a roommate. They arrested him on a battery charge and led him outside with his hands cuffed behind his back....
LARGO — Three investigations into a fire department training exercise gone wrong determined that human error caused a firefighter's injury, resulting in suspensions for three employees.
Investigations found that a string of training deficiencies and miscommunications contributed to an accident in which firefighter Nick Pluscht, 30, fell 14 feet to the ground while performing a window bailout exercise, fracturing his spine....