Blair released from jail on child abuse charges
Former commissioner Brian Blair and his wife, Toni, have been married 22 years and have two sons, Brett and Bradley.
By RAY REYES | The Tampa Tribune
Published: June 21, 2009
TAMPA – Former Hillsborough County Commissioner Brian Blair was released on his own recognizance this morning, a day after his arrest on two counts of child abuse.
Circuit Judge Walter “Buzzy” Heinrich said child protective investigators will determine whether Blair can see his two sons.
Blair, 52, did not speak at the hearing. Nor did his wife, Toni.
“Toni is great and the children are doing great,” said George Lorenzo, an attorney for the ex-commissioner.
Blair was arrested at 5:12 a.m. Sunday at his Forest Hills home, accused of beating up his sons on Father’s Day.
Here’s what happened Sunday, according to an arrest report:
Shortly before 4 a.m., Blair pushed his 17-year-old son, Brett, in the chest at the family’s home. When the boy tried to walk away, Blair grabbed him, punched him in the face and put him in a choke hold, making it tough for his son to breathe. Then Blair turned his attention to his younger son, Bradley. He grabbed the boy by the throat and punched him in the head, leaving a mark.
Bradley is listed as being 13 on Blair’s campaign Web site, though the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office report filed after Blair’s arrest says he is 12.
The arrest report does not say what sparked the confrontation.
Blair, a former professional wrestler, stands 6 feet tall, weighs 235 pounds and is described as having a muscular build in the arrest report.
He initially was held without bail, a common procedure in domestic violence cases.
He faces two domestic violence charges of child abuse, jail records show. The charges are third-degree felonies.
“He’s in a bad situation. I hate to see it,” friend Dick Rivett said Sunday in front of the Blairs’ home.
Rivett, who said he was speaking on behalf of Toni Blair, described Blair as a loving father and husband who was “always bragging about his kids.”
“He’s basically a real good guy,” Rivett said. “He’s one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet.”
Rivett said Toni Blair is shaken up about what happened but didn’t elaborate. He said he didn’t ask Toni Blair how her sons were doing or about the circumstances surrounding the attack accusation.
Neighbor Sourour Moughamir said she has lived near the Blairs for 10 years and never heard or saw anything unusual. Blair’s arrest shocked her.
“I thought it was not true,” Moughamir said. “They’re very good neighbors.”
Sunday was not the first time Blair has been accused of attacking someone. In 1984, he was investigated by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office after detectives said he beat a former girlfriend. He was never arrested or charged in that case.
Blair denied the accusation in a 2002 interview.
“That’s why it got dropped, because it wasn’t true,” Blair said. “If it was anything, I would have been arrested.”
Blair was accused of throwing the woman over a couch, striking her 10 to 12 times in the head and face, then pulling out a patch of her hair. The sheriff’s office listed the case as active for more than a month.
“I’ve never been a violent person or a mean person or a spiteful person,” Blair said in 2002.
As a county commissioner, Blair called domestic violence “an intolerable and horrible crime” yet voted last year to cut funding for a county-sponsored domestic violence crisis center.
A conservative Republican who stressed family values, Blair was elected to the county commission in 2004 but lost a heated election last year to Kevin Beckner.
“It’s an unfortunate event that happened, especially on Father’s Day,” Beckner said Sunday. “My thoughts and prayers are with his children and the entire Blair family.”
Blair has been under a lot of stress since losing his commission seat, Rivett said.
In March, Blair filed a lawsuit claiming Beckner had falsely accused him of “self-dealing, taking action to harm women and children and supporting racism.”
“There’s a complete difference between negative campaigning and false campaigning,” Blair said after filing the lawsuit. “This has had a profound effect on my children, my entire family.”
A graduate of Tampa Bay Technical High School, Blair rose to fame in the 1980s as part of the tag-team the Killer Bees with the World Wrestling Federation (now World Wrestling Entertainment). At the height of his career, he performed at Wrestlemania III in front of more than 90,000 fans in Pontiac, Mich.
Blair parlayed his wrestling earnings to buy Gold’s Gym franchises. In 1998, he sold three of the gyms for nearly $2 million, court documents show. Sunday’s arrest report lists him as unemployed.
Toni Blair is his second wife; they have been married 22 years. Since 1997, Blair and his family have been members of Idlewild Baptist Church, according to his campaign Web site.
In his online biography, Blair wrote that he has devoted more than 6,000 hours in community service, including managing and coaching baseball for Forest Hills Pony League.
Resignation from Animal Advisory Commission
I found it interesting that in March Linda Hunnicutt (lindmonk) who listed at PublicData.com as having a criminal record in bank and charity fraud was bragging that she was having me removed from the Animal Advisory Committee, three months before I knew anything about it, and her email suggests that she and the person she intended the email to, were sending multiple letters to pressure Commissioner Blair to have me removed.
Please note that it specifically states that one purpose of effort with the reporter was to have me removed from the “commission board”, i.e. the Animal Advisory Committee.
“—– Original Message —–
Sent: Friday, March 10, 2006 3:11 PM
Subject: Re: [monkeyyardsale] Caorle Baskins.
In a message dated 3/10/06 3:06:36 PM Central Standard Time, firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
No Vernon didn’t I did… with Vernons information..lol…. and with all the messages we have sent out, (you and me) she is being removed from the commission board and they will be doing a TV expose’ on her next week.. the tv crew is out at Vernons now.. he keeps calling me and having me speak to the reporter on behalf of simply simian… so we are in the forefront anyway…. Gloria is the one that wanted the website.. she is our ace in the hole, a professional lobbyist.. doing a crack up job at it too.. and she is thinking we are angels as we put that site up for her.. she was supposed to send you a check for the cost a few days ago.. so when you get it that is what it is for… not a membership… from Gloria Johnson…
I thought this was going to Karen please you guys keep this quiet… “
As you can see, it has been their plan to use you to remove me from the Advisory Board since back in March when they fed Chris Hawes the misinformation she relied on for her article. Gloria Johnson is the person in the St. Pete Times article today called Cuddly Pet or Wild Animal? HERE
The following seems to be circulating all over.
On Behalf Of Raven Simons
Sent: Friday, June 02, 2006 5:59 PM
Subject: [EPOU] FW: FL Animal Rights activist removed from Animal Advisory
I am asking an important favor of everyone. Please write a thank you letter to Mr. Brian Blair for removing Carole Lewis Baskin (Big Cat Rescue and Humane USA) from the Hillsborough County Animal Advisory Committee. Carole is having a fit at being removed. Mr. Blair needs to show community support on this decision.
To all the bird people- This is the women that posted our names and address on her Humane USA website.
To all the pet owners- I welcome anyone to attend the meetings with us. This group called the Animal Advisory committee are nuts. They are extreme in their views.
Please feel free to forward this email to supportive individuals. We need as many letters as possible by Sunday 6/4/06. Anyone and everyone can write a letter, not just Hillsborough County people. This effects any animal owner. Counties tend to follow each other’s lead.
Animal rights activist do not have a place on an advisory committee. They have a personal agenda that is not in anyone’s best interest, including the animals.
Mr. Blair can be reached at Blairb@hillsboroughcounty.org . I am including the letter that I sent.
Dear Mr. Blair:
I am writing to thank you for removing Carole Lewis Baskin from the Hillsborough County Animal Advisory Committee.
I have been attending the Animal Advisory meetings. The committee is made up of animal rescue / animal rights individuals and local veterinarians. Ms. Baskin is the Florida director of Humane USA, an animal rights group. I feel there should be individuals representing the pet community (groomers, kennel owners, dog trainers,ect.) on this advisory committee.
The current Animal Advisory committee is outrageous in their proposals. They would like the Hillsborough County ordinances to regulate the pet population and our ownership to an extreme. Without the balance of pet industry individuals, I feel that Hillsborough County will not be a pet friendly place to live. The pet industry provides many jobs in our area and has a multimillion dollar impact on our County. The medical community has also proven that pets improve the quality of our lives.
The story on BayNews 9 about the fraudulent fund raising at Big Cat Rescue, which Ms. Baskin is the CEO, is of concern also. It makes you question her integrity.
Thank you for taking the time to address this issue.
This is also being circulated through the email list of the Phoenix Exotics, a group who promote exotic pet ownership and whose abuse was documented in the API study. Please notice that they view the entire Committee as “nuts” and feel people who are concerned about animal welfare have no place on it. This link is an undercover investigation video into members of Phoenix Exoticshttp://www.api4animals.org/gallery/displayimage.php?album=16&pos=0 It is well worth the time to watch to fully understand why these people are doing all they can to discredit me and Big Cat Rescue.
See more on the resignation HERE