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Bell Flop Champ on Probation Arrested

May 26, 2003

FANNING SPRINGS, Fla. (AP) _ Michael Sullivan knows the secrets to executing a great belly flop: Shoulders and head back, legs bent, belly out.

And most important, he said, is this: ``Don’t be on house arrest.″

Sullivan, a 5-foot-9, 182-pound man _ small by champion belly flopper standards _ won last year’s title at the Red Belly Day, an annual festival on the Suwannee River in Fanning Springs, about 36 miles west of Gainesville.

He even got his picture in the newspaper _ and that, as it turns out, was his undoing. After seeing the picture, Columbia County sheriff’s officials arrested Sullivan for violating the terms of his house arrest, which he had been sentenced to for violating probation.

The probation was part of the punishment for leaving an accident scene and driving without a license.

Sullivan was only supposed to leave his home for work purposes, officials said.

Now, Sullivan’s serving a three-year term at state prison in Lake Butler.

That meant he couldn’t compete at this year’s Red Belly Day, which was held Saturday. Officers patrolled in case any other violators tried to make a splash.

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