Tampa Radio Show Turkey Stunt Results In No Charges Despite Fire

Florida officials have decided not to file criminal charges against a Tampa morning radio host who was responsible for a live stunt involving a fire in a van last December. Todd Schnitt, the host of the M.J. Morning Show on WFLZ, and two other employees will enter a pre-trial diversion program.

The stunt involved deep-frying a turkey in a van located in a parking lot. The van had been stripped of its gas tank in order to minimize the risk – and a frozen turkey was lowered through a hole cut in the van’s roof into a pot of boiling oil.  While the crew seems to have anticipated that a fire would extend from the fryer to the van (and based on their “on-air” comments seemed to enjoy the fact that it did), Hillsborough State’s Attorney Mark Ober said there was no intent to commit arson. He did cite them for an open burning violation.

Is this just another case of officials not taking fire related crimes seriously? After all, fires are just an accident…. right?


About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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