Florida state trooper responsible for University of North Florida newspaper theft

Last month, we reported on the theft of thousands of newspapers at the University of North Florida. At the time, editors and police hadn’t yet determined who was responsible for the theft, some of which was captured on surveillance video.

Now, the paper has learned that a state trooper with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has admitted responsibility for at least some the thefts. According to reports in The Spinnaker, UNF police recognized one of the two men in the video as a highway patrol officer, and contacted Florida Highway Patrol. Highway Patrol identified the man as Steven Coppola, a UNF graduate.

Coppola explained his actions in a phone call to The Spinnaker:

Coppola said that after receiving a phone call from a friend who read Spinnaker’s June 12 issue, he was concerned about the Police Beat section.

A friend of Coppola’s, 25 year-old Joshua Hott, was reported on in the June issue’s Police Beat.

Hott was arrested outside of the Lazzara Performing Arts Center May 30 and charged with video voyeurism. The police report said a suspect was seen taking video of an 18 year-old male as he was using the restroom. …

Coppola said he was concerned about how the coverage might affect Hott’s younger brother, who is currently a UNF student. Coppola and a friend decided to take the papers to prevent the story from getting out— a decision Coppola said he regrets.

The paper’s editor, Jacob Harn, told the The Spinnaker that he hasn’t decided what to do next, but is considering filing suit.