ST. PETERSBURG MAYOR WANTS TO REVIVE ‘DEAD’ PROPERTIES
The city of St. Petersburg has a new idea for breathing life into “dead” properties: Ask a judge to force them to auction. Mayor Rick Kriseman is targeting more than 400 properties in legal limbo sprinkled across nearly every city neighborhood. No one can buy the properties because it’s unclear who owns them, or the owner is unreachable or unresponsive. The Midtown neighborhood, one of the city’s poorest, has the greatest concentration, stymieing reinvestment there.
EX-CONCERT PROMOTER PLEADS NOT GUILTY IN $300 MILLION FRAUD CASE
A former concert promoter recently extradited to the U.S. from Brazil has pleaded not guilty to fraud and money laundering charges in an alleged $300 million fraud scheme. Jack Utsick entered the formal plea Tuesday in Miami federal court. He was actually extradited last year following a lengthy Brazilian court fight, but encountered difficulties hiring a lawyer. Utsick is currently represented by a public defender.
DAYTONA BEACH POLICE OFFICER ACCUSED OF GROPING WOMAN
A Daytona Beach police officer is accused of groping a handcuffed woman. Police Chief Mike Chitwood says 22-year-old Larry Jones was arrested Tuesday and is on administrative leave without pay pending an internal affairs investigation. The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports Jones was hired in March and is still in his probationary period. He is charged with misdemeanor battery and two felonies — false imprisonment and public servant falsifying an official record. Chitwood says he is “disappointed and disgusted” over the incident.
DEPUTY DISARMS MAN DURING DUI STOP
An Ocala man faces multiple charges after a sheriff’s deputy found him unresponsive in his car, which was stopped at a traffic light. Marion County Sheriff’s Deputy Joseph Jenkins approached the car on Monday and tried to wake 23-year-old Chandler Wayne Neal, who had his foot on the brake. When Neal came to, he pulled a loaded black Glock .40-caliber handgun and held it across his chest with the barrel pointed at Jenkins. The Ocala Star-Banner reports Jenkins pushed the weapon away and ordered Neal to drop it. The two struggled until Jenkins was able to wrestle it away. The gun had 12 rounds of ammunition inside.
PANTHERS TAKE 3-2 WIN OVER MAPLE LEAFS
Nick Bjugstad scored the go-ahead goal on a power play early in the second period and the Florida Panthers defeated the struggling Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 on Tuesday night. Jussi Jokinen and 2008 Maple Leafs draft pick Jimmy Hayes also scored for the Panthers, who moved within two points of idle Boston for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Roberto Luongo made 27 saves, his latest solid performance in a strong season.