- Pilot House goes smoke-free (4/23/17)10
- Without city record, Marie Street residents on hook for thousands in sewer repairs (4/19/17)7
- Event includes the first public tour of 200-year-old Elmwood Manor (4/23/17)3
- BBB warns Jackson man's online business might not be legit (4/24/17)
- Few Southeast students face suspension, expulsion for sexual assaults, campus paper finds (4/25/17)5
- Man out on bond for alleged molestation of boys charged with abusing girl (4/18/17)
- Cape councilman Bob Fox to run for mayor (4/21/17)5
- Woman battered after smashing boyfriend's meth pipe against wall, police say (4/25/17)
- Deputy: Man kicked, broke uncle's ribs after yard-work dispute (4/19/17)
- Sikeston man charged in shooting death of Cape man (4/23/17)
Criminal charges dismissed against owners of Web site
The Associated Press
TAMPA, Fla. -- A judge has dismissed conspiracy charges against two owners of an Internet escort service and racketeering charges against four women linked to the site because they were denied their right to a speedy trial.
Felony defendants have a right to trial within 175 days of arrest, and the charges thrown out Friday involved defendants arrested in June. Prosecutors said they would appeal.
The delays were largely the result of the state's efforts to keep confidential the identities of six witnesses, some married, well-known figures in Tampa area business and politics. Judge Debra Behnke ruled in October that the six witnesses' names must be made public.
The cases were scheduled to go to trial in December, but Behnke postponed them on the grounds that prosecutors had not fully complied with her order regarding the witnesses' names.
Eight defendants still face charges ranging from racketeering to prostitution, but the owners were the main targets of the two-year investigation.
Charles S. Kelly and Steve Lipson owned a Web site that carried advertising from prostitutes and billed itself as "The Net's No. 1 Escort Resource." Customers paid to access the solicitations.
Kelly and Lipson were charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering. Defense attorneys argued the site is protected under the First Amendment right to free speech.