Two former Gators are under arrest for the theft of Florida State University’s national football championship trophies. The $30,000 footballs made of Waterford Crystal went missing in June of 2004.
After a year and a half on the lamb, two national college football championship trophies are back home at FSU. Twenty-five-year-old John Piawaty of Ft. Walton Beach is charged with stealing the trophies and giving one of them to 29-year-old Jason Rojas.
Both are University of Florida grads, and Rojas is an attorney with the Florida Public Service Commission.
FSU Police Major Tom Longo says the theft apparently started out as a prank.
“Mr. Piawaty was in town on that night and was here on campus looking around and apparently just wandered into the Moore Center and saw the trophies and took them.”
It was a costly prank. The Sears trophies from 1993 and 1999 are valued at $30,000 a piece.
FSU President T.K. Weatherell says he’s just glad to have them back intact. Wetherell hopes the case of the crystal balls doesn’t heighten tensions between the two rival schools just because the alleged thieves are former Gators.
“It’s unfortunate, wherever they went to school, because someone’s going to get blamed, and UF is an outstanding school, they’ve got a great student body.”
We asked Wetherell if having the trophies back will bring some luck to his struggling Seminoles.
“It couldn’t hurt. Long as you win, it couldn’t hurt,” he said.
The true test comes Thanksgiving weekend, when FSU and UF face each other on the football field.
A spokesman for the state Public Service Commission says suspect Jason Rojas, the PSC attorney, has been placed on paid administrative leave indefinitely.