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    Tampa Bay briefs

    By Times staff reports
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published January 11, 2002

    Man faces no charge in incident at Vinoy

    LARGO -- A New York man who was an assistant strength and conditioning coach for the New York Yankees won't face criminal charges in connection with an alleged sexual battery in October at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort, Pinellas prosecutors confirmed Thursday.

    Brian McNamee, 34, of Rockaway Point, N.Y., was never charged in an Oct. 6 incident in which St. Petersburg detectives say a woman ingested gamma hydroxybutyrate, or GHB, an intoxicant known as the date rape drug.

    But police turned the case over to Pinellas prosecutors for investigation. On Tuesday, prosecutors decided not to pursue charges, said Assistant State Attorney Bill Loughery, who declined to comment on the case.

    McNamee was in St. Petersburg with the team Oct. 5 for a series against the Devil Rays. The Yankees stay at the Vinoy when they come to town.

    Police said a night manager at the Vinoy discovered McNamee, the woman and another Yankees employee naked in the outdoor pool at 3:53 a.m. Oct. 6.

    Investigators said the woman accused McNamee of forcing himself on her. The woman was treated at Bayfront Medical Center and released.

    VA sets new rules after shelter inquiry

    ST. PETERSBURG -- In the wake of the federal investigation into the involvement of former U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs official Chester M. Luney with a Tampa homeless shelter, the VA has instituted new conflict-of-interest procedures nationwide.

    Luney, an $80,279-a-year VA psychologist, wrote grants that funneled federal tax money to a homeless veterans shelter run by the Tampa-Hillsborough Action Plan, a nonprofit which at the same time paid Luney $78,000 a year. Luney also acted as VA liaison for the shelter, making inspections that helped assure continued federal funding for THAP.

    Wednesday, VA Deputy Secretary Leo S. Mackay Jr. said VA liaisons will now be required to file forms annually to disclose any interest they have in a program they oversee. The change was in response to stories in the St. Petersburg Times revealing that Luney held dual roles at the VA and THAP.

    Luney abruptly resigned his post at the VA in early October after the Times sought federal records on VA grants to THAP. A week later, the VA's Office of the Inspector General opened an investigation into Luney.

    Later, a surprise inspection of THAP's Veterans Village homeless shelter by the VA turned up numerous deficiencies.

    Elderly couple sickened by carbon monoxide

    SEMINOLE -- An elderly couple narrowly escaped death Thursday morning after being poisoned by carbon monoxide in their home, Seminole fire officials said.

    After Dorothy McManus woke up Thursday, she called 911 complaining of nausea and dizziness. When firefighters and paramedics arrived at the home, they found her husband, Joseph McManus, on the bathroom floor, said Alison Shanabrook, spokeswoman for Seminole Fire Rescue.

    The couple were rushed to St. Petersburg General Hospital. Mrs. McManus, 79, was transferred to Edward White Hospital in St. Petersburg, where she is in stable condition. McManus, 85, was taken by helicopter to Sarasota Memorial Hospital, where he is in critical condition. He was treated in a hyperbaric chamber, which contains pressurized oxygen that is forced into a person's bloodstream, Shanabrook said.

    Firefighters determined the source of the carbon monoxide was a heating furnace.

    Woman in marriage scam awaits deportation

    TAMPA -- A woman arrested two months ago for her involvement in a marriage scam was sentenced to time served on Thursday but remains in jail awaiting deportation.

    Nermine Hani Ayoub Al Khammash, 25, was charged with knowingly entering into a marriage with a U.S. citizen for the purpose of evading immigration laws. Khammash was arrested in November with three Jordanian men who face similar charges. According to court records, she married William R. Griffith, 30, in April. Griffith was not arrested in connection with the marriage scam.

    Payroll error underpays some, overpays others

    TAMPA -- About 1,100 Hillsborough County school employees with direct deposit were underpaid or overpaid Wednesday because of a payroll error -- the second major one this school year.

    The problem was being corrected Thursday, said the district's director of finance, Lee Christensen.

    Employees will have the underpayments and overpayments, totaling $729,000, taken directly into or from their accounts, he said. Most people were paid $150 to $200 too much, though some received as much as $500 extra.

    "Apparently there was a human error," Christensen said. "Someone entered the data wrong."

    Christensen said the problem was discovered Tuesday afternoon while officials were doublechecking payroll amounts, and 11,000 employee paychecks had to be reprinted. But the problem was discovered too late to be corrected for employees who have their paychecks deposited directly into banks.

    This payroll error follows another where 46 teachers were overpaid a total of $56,000 between August and October.

    Woman, 73, found slain in her home

    TAMPA -- A 73-year-old woman was killed Thursday inside her small home in Town 'N Country.

    Anna Geraldine Erwin, of 5822 Sussex Drive, was found dead by her husband, Robert, after he returned from Tampa Bay Downs about 1:40 p.m.

    Police would not say how she died, other than to say she suffered trauma to her upper body. Police said they had no suspects.

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