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    Tampa Bay briefs

    By Times staff reports
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published March 15, 2002

    Dunedin man charged in investment scam

    TAMPA -- Federal authorities have filed criminal charges against a Dunedin man accused of bilking millions of dollars from the clients of an investment company he ran.

    Danny Lee Wey, director of Millennium Investment of Clearwater, faces charges of selling unregistered securities, according to court documents. Wey, 53, appeared in federal court Thursday and was released on $20,000 bond.

    Starting in 1996, Wey promoted the sale of eight-month "certificates of special commercial notes." His materials claimed the money would be used to help finance emerging businesses and/or provide short-term loans to those businesses, the FBI said.

    The materials also claimed that any outstanding money owed by Millennium would be guaranteed by the Bank of Bermuda. But the guarantee did not exist, federal authorities said.

    Between October 1996 and June 1999, Millennium issued about 250 promissory notes to about 130 investors for $6.8-million. The Millennium securities had never been registered, a violation of federal regulations, according to court documents.

    In October 1999, state officials closed Millennium. Pinellas County Circuit Judge Crockett Farnell appointed a receiver to take control of its assets, along with those of several other companies. Wey, who could not be reached for comment, was convicted in 1989 of multiple felonies in connection with an unrelated investment scam, a fact not mentioned in Millennium promotional materials.

    Nightclub project won't have disputed design

    TAMPA -- The owner of a proposed Ybor City nightclub complex agreed Thursday to drop the project's most disliked feature: Massive steel beams that would have looked like legs on a spider.

    The decision stopped the Tampa City Council from voting on the issue Thursday and scuttled an attempt to force more changes to the complex on Seventh Avenue.

    "I am numb. I am numb after this," said Marilyn Mancuso Weekley, who opposes the building's design. She stood trembling outside City Council chambers after the meeting.

    "I don't understand why he has to fight the citizens of Tampa -- and force this down their throats," she said.

    Weekley and City Council members want the owner of the $20-million complex to undo its modern design, which they say doesn't fit Ybor's historic look.

    But City Attorney Jim Palermo told the Council it couldn't review a decision to approve the complex. The Barrio Latino Commission, which oversees architectural plans in Ybor City, approved the designs in December.

    City government, which owns a parking lot near the complex, appealed the approval to the City Council. But the city's appeal only dealt with the steel beam structures, not the building's overall design.

    Since the owner agreed to drop the steal beams, the Council can't now try to undo the entire design, Palermo said.

    "It's the concept of taking a second bite at the apple," said Kenneth P. Kroger, the complex's architect who plans to begin construction before summer.

    The new design, without the steel beams, must still be approved by the Barrio Latino Commission.

    -- Times' news researcher John Martin contributed to this report.

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