Courts & Crime

Trapper who staged python capture given probation

BRADENTON — A judge sentenced snake trapper Justin Matthews to probation Tuesday as part of a plea deal on charges stemming from the staging last summer of the release and capture of a python.

Matthews, 47, pleaded no contest to a felony charge of misusing 911 service and a misdemeanor charge of maintaining captive wildlife in an unsafe manner.

As part of the plea, Matthews was sentenced to two years probation, 100 hours of community service, and he must pay a fine of $704 to Southern Manatee Fire Rescue, according to Manatee Assistant State Attorney Heather Doyle.

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