Published Dec. 29, 2009
The story: Local wildlife expert Justin Matthews finds himself in hot water after admitting to planting the 14-foot Burmese Python he “rescued” from a Bradenton storm drain.
What next? Well, the hammer finally came down on good ol’ Justin Matthews: The state charged him with a second-degree misdemeanor for maintaining captive wildlife in an unsafe manner, since the python was not microchipped, and a third-degree felony for misusing a 911 emergency system, since Matthews called the Southern Manatee Fire District to help out with the “capture.” That second charge is the killer, possibly earning Matthews up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Matthews will be assigned a public defender and his preliminary hearing is set for March 10. He has called the charges “extreme.”