No April Fool's Joke: RJ Larizza bought into media hype in prosecuting ex-Daytona commissioner in weak case & lost

Lentz story in strip club winner in Fla Press Club / Headline Surfer®Carl Lentz, IV, acquitted of misdemeanor battery / Headline Surfer®State Attorney RJ Larizza loses case against p[olitician after buying into media hype / Headline Surfer®DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- It should come as no surprise that Carl Lentz, IV, was found not guilty of misdemeanor battery in a prosecution that never should have been pushed by the office of State Attorney RJ Larizza.

It was a year ago today, April 1, 2014, that Headline Surfer® published its award-winning story, No April Fool's Joke: Daytona Beach City Commissioner Carl Lentz shows how to get a bang for his buck.

It was among six stories that the internet newspaper received recogntion from the Florida Press Club in 2014, as an award-winner in the statewide journalism contest with winners announced in October.

Despite iuntense media coverage, that extended beyond Central Florida, Headline Surfer® was the only media outlet to win an award for coverage on Lentz, who was trespassed by Daytona Beach police from an adult strip club, even though the internet newspaper had to wait several days for Police Chief Michael Chitwood to release public records on the incident.

Chitwood remains bitter that Headlin Surfer won two Florida Press Club awards in 2012 for its coverage on his promotion of a patrol supervisor despite longstanding allegations he was abusive to certain women cops under his command.

That story, published May 5, 2012, was headlined: Daytona police chief promotes patrol supervisor who taunted female cop for more than a year. It was among six-award winning stories, three blogs and a special award for the site itself in the annual awards contest.

To date, Headline Surfer® has received awards from the Florida Press Club for 22 stories, six blogs and top internet site since 2011.

Nobody was more plesed with the outright acquittal than Lentz himself, prosecuted on a simple battery charge of tossing a drink into the face ogf a bartender in Club Topic.

Lentz told Headline Surfer®: "I am thrilled with the verdict and the justice system worked in this case. The accusations made about me were all lies from one individual who was out for personal gain. The charges and media follow-up were political moves to make me look bad. "

And Lentz made sure to let his feelings be known about Larizza'ds decision to prosecute, despiye flimsy evidence in what amounted to a "he said-she said" case with no credible third party witnesses for the state or the for Lentz.

"The amount of resources utilized by the State Attorney are unprecedented for a case like this and he moved forward with charges against the advice of his advisors. I think the voters will hold (Larizza) accountable for this in 2016."

Lentz didn't testify and his main antagonist in the case, William Bittorf, owner of the strip club, was not called as a witness.

 

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Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com since 2008. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed close to a hundred award-winning byline stories nearly evenly split in print and digital platforms. Frederick earned his Master of Arts in New Media Journalism with academic honors from Full Sail University in Winter Park in February 2019. He was a metro reporter with the Daytona Beach News-Journal for nearly a decade and then served as a city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette in Taunton, Mass, while maintaining a residence in Central Florida. Prior to moving to Florida, Frederick was a metro reporter for the Rockland Journal-News in West Nyack, NY, for seven years. Headline Surfer was named the Sunshine State's top internet news site by the Florida Press Club in 2018.