Battle heats up over arson charges and MJ Morning Show radio stunt

July 20th, 2010 by Staff



Tampa, Florida –
There’s more heat over the Hillsborough State Attorney’s decision on whether to file felony arson charges against 93.3 radio personality M.J. Kelli, members of his morning show and Clear Channel Broadcasting.

It stems from a radio stunt that went bad in December when the morning show tried to fry a frozen turkey in boiling oil which was in a van. The van caught fire, the fire department had to be called and a firefighter was injured during the incident.

The state Fire Marshal’s Office recommended in January that arson charges be filed, but nothing has happened yet.

People on the radio show worried about charges the morning the fire happened, as a staffer asked MJ if the incident constituted as arson. Attorneys for the radio personality and Clear Channel say that’s not a concern.

Attorney Ron Cacciatore says if you burn your own property and don’t try to make a false claim, it is not arson. Cacciatore says it was a stunt that got out of hand.

But John Corbett, the Chief of Fire Investigations and Arson in the State Fire Marshal’s Office, says it is illegal to burn your property or the property of others. That is why the state fire marshal’s office and the Tampa Fire Department says they are perplexed why arson charges have not been filed on an investigation that has been completed since January.

Corbett says they did a thorough investigation and were able to determine arson was committed. State Attorney Mark Ober’s office says because it is an open investigation, he can’t comment.

While the state fire marshal’s office and the Tampa Fire Department are blasting Ober’s office for not hauling M.J. into court to face felony charges, the attorneys for the radio personality are blasting the fire officials for overstepping their bounds.

Attorney John Fitzgibbons, who represents MJ, is fired up about the fire agency’s anger. Fitzgibbons says he doesn’t think he has seen as unprofessional conduct in his career as what the fire department is engaged in.

Fitzgibbons says fire officials are in the wrong to air the dirty laundry in public by criticizing Ober’s office. Fitzgibbons, a former federal prosecutor, says if he was still working for the feds he would call them down to his office and give them the biggest dressing down they had ever seen.

Both Tampa Fire and the fire marshal’s office say it is not abuse of their offices or a waste of public time to push for the charges, since a firefighter got hurt. Corbett says if somebody gets injured in public safety it is not a waste of time to push for criminal charges. Corbett adds, the van didn’t miraculously catch fire or set itself on fire.

Now defense attorneys are trying to put out another fire before it gets out of control and burns their clients.


12 Responses

  1. Roberto

    Looking all over YouTube I can’t find a video anywhere showing the van actually burning, just the steps leeding up to igniting it. Hard to believe the van actually burning was not video’d.
    Gee do you think they purposely withheld the burning van video because right away they realized it was evidence?
    The character announcing the vans ignition sounds like he is bordering on orgasmic delight.

  2. Linda Smith

    I remember the day this incident occurred and was appalled at the STUPIDITY of those responsible. This MJ character needs to feel the same ‘heat’ that rubbed against Bubba for the hog incident. Why is there no consequences for this? I say VOTE this jerk out of office……The police and fire departments need to combine their political power together and fight the good fight.

  3. michael day

    I was trained in fire fighting while in the navy. wat this man did was arson pure and simple. I drove past that fire and it was as abad as it looks in the film.. why he has not been charged who knows. even if he is it will most likely be a show trail like all celeberty trails exept one. Bubbas trail should not have happened for the pig incedent. i doid not like the stunt but he did cook and eat the animal.

  4. Todd

    It’s too bad the Navy doesn’t teach spelling or grammar.

  5. Bigdog

    Next his Lawyer will say MJ is to small to be put in jail.

  6. Ren

    I have to agree with Michael on the Pig Stunt. Though they did eat the creature it was just a little extreme for my tastes when I listened that day, but for Mr. Ober to Go over board and have Bubba, and Spice Arrested for it, and face a possible prison sentence for a Stunt that was well reasearched by the Show’s staff and LEO’s and they found NOTHING illegal in what Bubba, the Hunter guy, and Spice were doing. Yet this MJ guy burns down a fraggen van, which is clearly arson, and 6-7 months later he STILL isn’t being charged with it. Uhhm Mr. Ober what is wrong with that picture you’re painting I must ask

  7. robert clark

    go take the insurance off your own home and burn it and see what happens……

  8. Matt from Sanibel

    Fitsgibbons’ gall really gets me. The guy sets a van on fire without permits, causing injury, and his lawyer is talking about other people’s supposed “unprofessionality.”

    As for Ober apparently “knowing more about fire law” than the state fire marshall, ask him this: When did Mark Ober attend the State Fire Academy, much less graduate?

    They brought up a good point on the show; call the EPA to investigate for chemical violations (burning tires, old furniture relasing deady chemicals into the air, etc.). Ober won’t have a say when it comes to federal charges.

    Bubba should ask Alex Sink if she would appoint a special prosecutor to go after MJ and Clear Channel if elected. Crist should do so in the meantime. I will write to Crist saying as much because part of Ober’s responsibility is to avoid even the appearance of impropriety, and he’s failing in that miserably.

  9. Ineda Beer

    Ain’t nothing gay about getting a BJ from MJ.

  10. vestule

    If Ober was smart, he would recuse himself from the case, and request another D.A. to “review” the case. This way he can save face to the public, and not be the one who sent his former employee’s husband to prison. Judges do it all the time, and the DA has the same ability… The State Fire-Marshall should seek Ober being removed from the case, so they can move forward with the charges. Who knows, a jury may not convict him… but he shouldn’t be treated any differently then a homeless guy that sets fire to something then ends up in jail.

  11. Sparky

    I work for the Dept and the Capt was out for awhile recovering. I say MJ its time to pay the piper. People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Looks like karma is bitting him in the butt.

  12. Ziggy73

    What a slap in the face to the brave and selfless men and women who work as firefighter and law enforcement everywhere. I’d like to see Mr. Fitzgibbons give those supposedly “unproffesional” men and women a good “dressing down” and see how that works for him!! The only unproffesional behavior I’ve witnessed so far in this debacle are from the incompetent and outright inept attorneys and local agencies that are supposed to take slam dunk cases like this with the same persistence as they have shown in the past against other on air personalities with far less evidence. As time goes on I lose more and more confidence in the “justice” system. That little sawed-off prick should be the top story in his next morons in the news set. This whole situation turns my stomach and I can only hope and pray that his next run for ratings will be for time off for good behavior. SICKENING!!!

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