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Two Largo court petitions raise question of fairness in Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act

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A pair of City of Largo court petitions raise questions on the fairness of the state’s Contraband Forfeiture Act. Ronisha Ke’irra Scott, 24, is a St. Petersburg resident. An African-American woman, Scott lives in a 675-square-foot St. Petersburg home appraised by the county at $26,435, with a sales value of $31,900. On June 1, Largo Police arrested Scott for running a stop sign and having “excessively tinted windows.” During the stop, officers allegedly found two dilaudid pain pills and a…

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USFSP accused of failing to protect student sexually assaulted in parking garage

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A University of South Florida student who was sexually assaulted in 2016 is accusing the school of not providing adequate protection for her safety. The student, identified in documents as “L.E.,” was a USF St. Petersburg undergraduate who had been sexually assaulted by a non-student Feb. 22, 2016, after entering the elevator at the Parking Garage on the USF campus. The building, at 260 5th Ave. S in St. Petersburg, also holds the Barnes & Noble USFSP bookstore, and has…

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Pinellas County wage-theft law challenged as unconstitutional

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A Largo executive search firm is challenging the constitutionality of Pinellas County’s recently enacted wage-theft ordinance. KLA Industries is an Ohio-based executive search firm located at 801 W. Bay Dr., Suite 203 in Largo. Zachary J. “Zach” Burns, 30, is a Madeira Beach resident and former KLA employee who recently moved from West Chester, Ohio. State records show Burns incorporated the recruitment company Stratus Search in March 2017. Stratus Search has its office at 3530 1st Ave. N, Suite 203,…

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St. Pete Beach resident sues over city approval of new TradeWinds Sugar Sands Resort

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The TradeWinds Resort may have hit another snag in its proposed 116-foot tall, 12-story complex on the former Coral Reef Hotel site in St. Pete Beach. A former candidate for the St. Pete Beach City Commissioner is suing the city to block the development, claiming the building is too tall for the neighborhood, and the OK violates an earlier agreement that limits the height of any new construction. In 2014, TradeWinds — which owns three beachfront hotels — paid $9.5-million…

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Dunedin man, exonerated after eight years in prison, fights new battle

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A part-time Dunedin resident, exonerated after serving eight years in prison for arson, is fighting Florida’s effort to permanently take away his driving privilege. William Haughey is a 45-year-old Dunedin resident who splits his time between Florida and New York. In 2008, a New York court convicted Haughey of arson and criminal mischief for his alleged connection to a 2007 fire at a Putnam County, New York, tavern called Smalley’s Inn. After serving eight years of a 10-year sentence, he was…

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Tampa restaurants tussle over tagline ‘fresh, healthy, authentic’

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A prolific Tampa restaurateur is accusing a nearby rival of piggybacking off her reputation by using the same tagline of “fresh, healthy, authentic.” B.T. Nguyen, also known as Bach Tuyet Nguyen, is one of the successful restaurateurs in the Tampa Bay area. In 2015, the 53-year-old native of Vietnam, through her company BTZ LLC, opened “BT to Go,” her seventh restaurant concept. BT to Go is at 3215 S. MacDill Ave., Suite L in Tampa. According to a Tampa Bay…

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Tom Rask suing Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri over Sunshine Law violations

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Pinellas County political activist and blogger Tom Rask is once again gearing up for battle. Legality of a controversial post-evacuation re-entry permit program has led the Seminole resident and government watchdog to sue Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri for violating public records law. Rask is the 52-year-old editor of Tampa Bay Guardian, a website “founded on the premise that independent journalism is important for achieving accountability and good government.” Rask is also well-known locally as a Tea Party activist, as well as…

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