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COLUMN

Happytown

The week the city got all gay on the county, Polk Sheriff Grady Judd continued to get all hot on the porn and the Siegel's unfinished mansion overshadowed the region's hunger crisis. Sex and money, then!

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Every few months or so, we drop a line to Lawrence Walters, who is perhaps the only attorney in Central Florida to have ever used the term “bangbus affidavit.” Much of Walters’ time goes toward defending pornography, mostly because Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd devotes much of his time to destroying it. Not satisfied with the shuttering of every single adult establishment in Polk County, Judd continues to wage a frighteningly effective war on every scrap of pornographywithin county lines, even if it exists harmlessly, privately, behind closed doors. (For more on Judd’s crusade, see our Feb. 24 profile of the sheriff, “Church and state.”)

When we called Walters on Oct. 27, he informed us of his newest case: the charges pending against 56-year-old Theresa Taylor who was arrested in June for the felony crime of “wholesale promotion of obscene material.” Allegedly, Taylor was having sex, with men, on camera, and putting the footage online. Disturbing. But Walters, mysteriously, wasn’t as horrified. “The only thing that makes this different from any vanilla porn tape is that it includes interracial activity,” he says. “Perhaps that offended somebody out there in Polk County government.”

Or perhaps Judd’s computer crimes unit, which is notorious for generating one of the first Internet obscenity cases in American history, had way too much time on its hands.Note that during this fiscal year, the unit had a budget of $527,052 and employed at least eight full-time employees. On the other hand, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, overseeing an area with nearly twice the population of Polk County, employs only three people in its computer crimes unit, to which it allocates $275,000 per year.

That begs the question: Is our unit too small, or is Judd’s unit too big?We’re inclined to believe the latter. Consider the fate of Jay Gillespie, a 35-year-old man from Polk City, who in 2006 was killed in a head-on car accident caused by a driver hopped up on methamphetamines. Because the county bungled the evidence collection, Judd’s office did not press charges; nay, it didn’t even issue the surviving perpetrator a traffic ticket. Polk Deputy Charles Cook gave up his interrogation of the meth-head after one pathetic attempt, a far cry from the diligence displayed by Polk deputies in hot pursuit of a bare breast. In April of this year, a jury granted Gillespie’s family $7.25 million in damages, accompanied by this verbal slap: “We hold the Polk County Sheriff’s Office in contempt for not pursuing more earnest criminal charges and hope that they will.” Check your unit, Grady!

Have you heard about the Siegels, the wealthy Windermere family who can’t afford to finish building their 13-bedroom, 23-bathroom mansion (which they lovingly call “Versailles”) because the family business – Westgate Resorts, the largest time-share company in the U.S. – started to see sluggish sales in the flagging economy? The Wall Street Journal just profiled the Siegel family (again) and documented the dilemmas they face due to economic uncertainty. “The problem with our place now is that when we have parties with, like, 400 people, it gets too crowded,” Jacqueline Siegel told the WSJ.

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