tampabay.com

New loves bloom from Lafaves' failed union

After his wife's infidelity with a teen, Owen Lafave has remarried. She may be next.

By SHANNON COLAVECCHIO-VAN SICKLER
Published March 16, 2006


TAMPA - Debra Beasley Lafave's legal future is in limbo, but not her love life.

As a Marion County judge considers whether to accept a plea deal that would keep Lafave out of prison, both she and her ex-husband have moved on to new relationships.

Lafave arrived in Judge Hale R. Stancil's courtroom last week wearing both a court-ordered ring around her ankle - a monitoring device - and a shiny new ring on her finger.

A diamond, to be precise. On her left hand.

John Fitzgibbons, Lafave's attorney, confirmed this week that she is engaged to Andrew Beck.

Lafave, 25, dated Beck, 26, when they were in high school. They reunited last year.

"She's been engaged for a couple of weeks now, and we wish her the best," Fitzgibbons said.

Lafave's ex-husband, Owen Lafave, meanwhile, has a new wife, a new house and a new job. And a huge smile.

"Everything's new," he said this week. "A clean slate."

Owen Lafave, 27, recently left his job as vice president of commercial lending at Mercantile Bank in Tampa to launch Nationwide Capital, a commercial lending firm, with three longtime friends.

He used to live in Riverview, in the townhouse he shared with Debra Lafave until she moved out shortly after her June 2004 arrest in Temple Terrace.

But he recently bought an 80-year-old bungalow with a big front porch in central Tampa's Seminole Heights neighborhood.

The back yard of that 1,400-square-foot home was the setting for his intimate March 4 wedding to Amy Jean Galentine.

The two met during Gasparilla last year at Hattricks pub in downtown Tampa. They started talking on the phone and sending e-mails, and after a few weeks she agreed to a date.

A few days before the date, she realized who he was. The teacher's ex-husband. She wondered whether she should go through with it, she later told Owen Lafave.

But her mother had seen Lafave on Larry King Live and was impressed by the handsome man who had been so publicly embarrassed by his wife's infidelity. "He's a great guy!" she told her daughter. "You've got to go out with him!"

So Lafave and Galentine went to Lakeland for an art exhibit on Lake Mirror, then had dinner and a few drinks.

In the end, their feelings for each other won out, Lafave said.

"Even on the phone, we just clicked," he said. "It was so easy. It just feels like, this is the way a relationship is supposed to be."

It's unclear when wedding bells will ring for the other Lafave.

The biggest date looming in her future will be set by Judge Stancil. As of Wednesday, he had not yet scheduled a hearing to announce his decision on the plea deal.

Under the proposal, Lafave would serve three years of house arrest followed by seven years' probation, all while serving an identical Hillsborough sentence. In Hillsborough last year, she pleaded guilty to two counts of lewd and lascivious battery in exchange for the house arrest and probation.

Prosecutors say the plea deal will spare the victim, 14 at the time of the June assaults, further media attention.

Contact Shannon Colavecchio-Van Sickler at 813 226-3373 or svansickler@sptimes.com