By KEVIN BRADY
3 South County men arrested in online child predator sting
Two men from Riverview and one from Ruskin are facing multiple charges after they were arrested as part of an online child predator sting.
Fifteen men were arrested as part of the five-day investigation known as Operation e-Guardian which focused on unincorporated Hillsborough County.
Among those arrested were:
• Trinton Andre Jones, 23, of Riverview. He faces charges of online solicitation of a minor for sex, traveling to meet a minor for sex, sending harmful material to a minor and unlawful use of a two-way device.
• Mark Anthony Thompson, 23, of Riverview. He faces changes of online solicitation of a minor for sex; traveling to meet a minor for sex and unlawful use of a two-way device.
• Samuel David Ramirez, 23, of Ruskin. He faces charges of online solicitation of a minor for sex, traveling to meet a minor for sex and unlawful use of a two-way device.
Using social media sites and online chat rooms, undercover agents communicated with the men who, authorities say, believed they were communicating with a child. The men drove to a specific location to have sex with what they thought was an underage male or female, according to investigators.
The investigation identified child sex predators in chat rooms, utilizing instant messaging, texting, dating sites, social networks and even online classified ads.
“Operation e-Guardian is the first operation of its kind headed by FDLE,” said Tampa Bay Regional Operations Center Special Agent in Charge Rick Ramirez. “Working with our law enforcement partners, we maximized our resources stopping these predators from preying on our children.”
“It is critical that we conduct operations such as Operation e-Guardian as part of a multi-faceted approach to ensure the children in our community are protected from these individuals who are out to sexually exploit minors,” said Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee. “A strong message needs to be sent to these offenders that this behavior will not be tolerated and if they commit acts such as this, they will be arrested and placed in jail.”
Please visit the Secure Florida website to review tips for keeping your children safe online at: http://secureflorida.org/2011/family/best_practices_for_parents/
Others arrest in the investigation from the Bay area were:
• Jeffrey Willey, 53, of Lutz
• Robert Frank, 45, of Zephyrhills
• Jason Miles, 46, of Tampa
• Michael Murphy, 23, of Sarasota
• Daniel Anderson, 37, of Tampa
• Clay Johnson, 25, of Thonotosassa
• Clay Reddick, 28, of Winter Haven
• Bryan La Clair, 51, of Bartow
• Jose Alvarez III, 23, of Wellington
• David Yoder, 68, of Dade City
Permanent drug take-back boxes now available in Ruskin, Brandon
The Hillsborough County Drug Take Back Initiative has installed permanent drug take-back boxes at four Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office locations.
The initiative, which allows drop-off of unwanted prescription drugs – with no questions asked – kicked off Oct. 22.
The boxes are located at the following Sheriff’s Office locations:
• District 4: 503 33rd St. SE in Ruskin
• District 2: 2310 N. Falkenburg Road in Brandon
• District 3: 7202 Gunn Highway in Tampa
• District 1: 14102 N. 20th St. in Tampa
This initiative is designed to ensure that unwanted prescription drugs are accounted for, and disposed of in a safe and secure manner.
The Hillsborough County Drug Take Back Initiative is a collaborative effort by the Hillsborough County Strategic Planning/Criminal Justice Office, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, and members of the Hillsborough Community Anti-Drug Alliance.
For additional information about the Drug Take Back Initiative, contact the Criminal Justice Office at 813-276-2033.
Tampa Bay Water votes to pay $21 million in legal fees after losing lawsuit
Tampa Bay Water will pay $21 million in legal fees after losing a lawsuit against HDR Engineering, the company that designed the county’s 15 billion gallon reservoir in south east Hillsborough County.
The payment, approved 8-0 by Tampa Bay Water’s board of directors, ends the litigation against HDR Engineering over the failed soil-cement liner in the C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir.
The fees include costs for the trial, post-trial proceedings, and the appeal and will be paid through funds on hand and they will not directly affect water rates.
“While the outcome has fallen well short of our expectations and was not favorable for the agency, we firmly believe that trying to recoup the public’s investment through legal action was the right decision,” said Pinellas County Commissioner Susan Latvala, Tampa Bay Water’s chairman of the board. “We fought hard for what is right, and now we have to do what is in the best interest of the agency and the community to bring this chapter to a close.”
The Board’s decision comes after the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the trial court Sept. 23 and the board met to review the agency’s remaining legal options.
The reservoir has provided water to the Tampa Bay region since it opened in 2005 but cracking in the reservoir’s soil-cement erosion-control layer limit the reservoir’s functionality. Tampa Bay Water is renovating the reservoir, replacing the erosion-control layer so the facility can perform as intended and when needed. It is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2014.
Deputies hit by motorcyclist during Sun City Center traffic stop
Police are reminding drivers to slow down and pull over when they see emergency vehicles after two deputies were hospitalized during a routine traffic stop on Interstate-75.
The incident began at 8 a.m. Oct. 25 when Hillsborough County Sheriff’s deputies Chris Davis and Steve Launikitis were conducting a traffic stop on a 2005 Suzuki motorcycle driven by Valrico’s Bryan Martinez on the west shoulder of southbound I-75, just north of the Sun City exit ramp.
A second motorcycle, a 1993 Honda Goldwing driven by Bryan Edmonston of Kissimmee, then drove into the right emergency lane and struck the 2005 Suzuki and both deputies who were interviewing Martinez.
Edmonston, who was not wearing a helmet, was transported to Tampa General Hospital with a non-life-threatening head injury. Deputy Davis suffered a broken leg and dislocated shoulder. The incident left Captain Launikitis with a broken leg and possible hip fracture.
Just seconds before the crash, the officers alerted Martinez to move because they saw they were going to be struck by the motorcycle.
Edmonston has not been charged pending toxicology reports and completion of the crash investigation. There is no indication he was impaired.
Florida’s Slow Down and Move Over Law dictates drivers move out of the lane closest to an emergency vehicle and slow down. The law is designed to protect Florida police, fire, and other emergency workers when they are on roads and highways. As you approach emergency vehicles you must move out of the lane closest to them if the road has two or more lanes traveling in your direction.
The law states a motorist must slow down to 20 MPH less than the posted speed limit. So if you are on the Florida Turnpike and the speed limit is 70 MPH you must slow down to 50 MPH as you approach and pass emergency vehicles.