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Ex-TPD sergeant LaJoyce Houston takes plea deal in stolen tax refund case

TAMPA — LaJoyce Houston, a former Tampa police sergeant accused with her husband in a federal tax refund fraud scheme, has agreed to plead guilty to receiving stolen government property, cou …

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Deputies: Vet who practices in Gulfport, Port Richey abused animals at Lakeland home

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Hillary Clinton said her 'skin crawled' when Donald Trump stood behind her on debate stage

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  1. Plant City farmer hopes robot pickers can save strawberry industry from shrinking labor force

    Agriculture

    PLANT CITY — If current trends continue, the region's status as a major strawberry producer will depend in large part on what happens in Mexico.

    Strawberry pickers work during the daytime, when fruit is more likely to bruise. Machine pickers can work at night. The owner of Wish Farms in Plant City is developing automated pickers and hopes to see them at work on a widespread basis in five years. [Times file]
  2. Charlie Crist asking local youth for advice on how to stop deadly car theft epidemic

    Public Safety

    ST. PETERSBURG — U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist is meeting with local children Wednesday night to get their thoughts on how to stop the deadly juvenile auto theft epidemic plaguing Pinellas County.

    From left: St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, Congressman Charlie Crist, Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri and St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway during a meeting earlier this year to discuss the car theft epidemic among Pinellas youth. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  3. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman sells house for $3 million to new player

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman's multi-million Davis Islands home is staying in the Lightning family. Yzerman sold his 6,265-square-foot house Monday to new defenseman Dan Girardi for $3 million.

    The Davis Islands home of Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman sold for $3 million Monday to Lightning defenseman Dan Girardi. | [Courtesy of Hi Res Media]
  4. Hernando commissioners propose tax-rate reduction as budget talks continue

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — The typical budget battle between the Hernando County Commission and Sheriff Al Nienhuis has largely been averted this summer, except for a dust-up over how the sheriff has accounted for federal inmate money. But a minor skirmish did break out this week.

    Hernando County Commission Chairman Wayne Dukes has suggested a small rollback in the proposed property tax rate for the 2017-18 fiscal year and proposes that it be equally shared by the county's operations and the sheriff.
  5. Danny Rolling killed five in Gainesville 27 years ago this week

    Criminal

    The following story appeared in the St. Petersburg Times on October 26, 2006, the day after Danny Rolling was put to death. Also included are photos covering the period from the time of the murders to the day of Rolling execution.

    Rolling Executed

  6. Trigaux: As Florida seeks top 10 status as best business state, red flag rises on workforce

    Business

    In the eternal quest to appeal more to business than other states, Florida's managed to haul itself out of some pretty mediocre years. After scoring an impressive 8 among 50 states way back in 2007, Florida suffered horribly during and immediately after the recession. Its rank sank as low as No. 30 only four years ago, …

    Florida's trying to make strides in preparing its high school and college graduates for the rapidly changing skill sets of today's workforce. But the latest CNBC ranking of the best and worst states for business gave Florida poor marks for education, ranking No. 40 (tied with South Carolina for education) among the 50 states. Still, Florida ranked No. 12 overall in the best business states annual ranking. [Alan Berner/Seattle Times]
  7. Florida: White man who killed black person to be executed

    State Roundup

    GAINESVILLE — For the first time in state history, Florida is expecting to execute a white man for killing a black person — and it plans to do so with help of a drug that has never been used previously in any U.S. execution.

    This undated photo provided by the Florida Department of Corrections shows Mark Asay. If his final appeals are denied, Asay is to die by lethal injection after 6 p.m. Thursday. Asay was convicted by a jury of two racially motivated, premeditated murders in Jacksonville in 1987.  [Florida Department of Corrections via AP]
  8. Ex-TPD sergeant LaJoyce Houston takes plea deal in stolen tax refund case

    Criminal

    TAMPA — LaJoyce Houston, a former Tampa police sergeant accused with her husband in a federal tax refund fraud scheme, has agreed to plead guilty to receiving stolen government property, court records state.

    Former Tampa police officers Eric and LaJoyce Houston walk into the Sam Gibbons U.S. District Courthouse on Oct. 28, 2015, to face charges relating to stolen identity tax refund fraud. [SCOTT KEELER    |      TIMES
 ]
  9. Deputies: Vet who practices in Gulfport, Port Richey abused animals at Lakeland home

    Crime

    LAKELAND – A veterinarian who practices part-time in Gulfport and Port Richey was arrested Tuesday along with her husband after Polk County Sheriff's Office deputies found more than 30 severely …

    Veterinarian Gail Nichols, 66, (above) who practices in Gulfport and Port Richey, was arrested Tuesday along with her husband Paul Smith, 74, after Polk County deputies found more than 30 severely abused animals at their Lakeland home. The two are each facing several counts of felony animal cruelty, among other charges, after at least 38 horses, birds and dogs were found at 3211 West Bella Vista Street in dire states and in filthy, unlivable conditions. [Polk County Sheriff's Office]
  10. Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast: Several key players still sidelined

    Bucs

    Greg Auman gives an injury update, with several key players still sidelined from practice three days before the Bucs play the Cleveland Browns in Tampa, and a full recap of your favorite scenes from Tuesday …

    Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans was held out of practice Wednesday at One Buc Place. [CHARLIE KAIJO | Times]
Vice President Mike Pence will visit Miami’s Venezuelan enclave of Doral on Tuesday.

Pence will try to escape long shadow of Trump’s military talk on Venezuela today in Miami

The uncomfortable but inevitable question that dogged Vice President Mike Pence everywhere he went in Latin America last week will trail him to Miami on Wednesday: Is President Donald Trump really considering potential military action in Venezuela?...

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Alex Colome said the key to his effectiveness is not altering anything, especially his locked-in focus on getting the final outs.

Rays morning after: Secret to Alex Colome's success is staying cool, calm, collected

The ninth inning couldn't have started much worse for Rays closer Alex Colome on Tuesday, who took over with a 6-4 lead and quickly allowed a single and a double to bring the tying run to the plate....

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Stephen King will appear on Oct. 6 in Sarasota with his son.

Here's how to see Stephen King and Owen King in Sarasota (it's complicated)

Sleeping Beauties, the new novel co-written by horror master Stephen King and his son Owen King, comes out Sept. 26, and the authors are hitting the book tour route....

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