Courts & Crime

Python hoax leads to charges against Bradenton trapper

MANATEE — A well-known Bradenton nuisance-animal trapper, who admitted to staging the capture of a 14-foot python on July 25, has been arrested on charges stemming from the hoax.

Justin Matthews, 47, faces a felony charge of misuse of a 911 emergency system and a misdemeanor charge of maintaining captive wildlife in an unsafe manner, according to a report released today by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

FWC investigators say on July 25, Matthews called Tampa Bay area media outlets to witness the capture of a Burmese python from a drainage pipe. Matthews told onlookers he was capturing the snake after residents in the area reporting seeing it over a number of months, the report said.

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