tampabay.com

Teacher accused of drug trafficking

Authorities seize 4.5 ounces of cocaine from East Bay High special education teacher Lisa Dotter's home.

By ABBIE VANSICKLE and LETITIA STEIN
Published June 17, 2006


RIVERVIEW - A special education teacher at East Bay High School has been accused of cocaine trafficking, according to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.

Lisa Marie Dotter, 33, faces charges of trafficking in cocaine, from 28 to 200 grams, according to an arrest report.

Dotter, who has worked at the Apollo Beach school for six years, turned herself into the Hillsborough County jail at 10 a.m. Friday, said sheriff's spokesman J.D. Callaway.

On Wednesday, the DEA and the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office served a federal search warrant at Dotter's home, seizing about 4.5 ounces of cocaine. Investigators found 112 grams upstairs on a television stand, and 7 grams stuffed inside a dresser, Callaway said. An ounce of cocaine in Tampa sells for $600 to $900.

The next day, authorities arrested Omar Runako Philip, 27, accused of trying to deliver cocaine to Dotter.

The two-month investigation into Dotter's drug activity started with a tip to law enforcement, according to DEA special agent Jeannette Moran.

Moran declined to comment further about the investigation.

Dotter was released from jail Friday after posting $10,000 bail, according to an arrest report.

No one answered the door at her home in Osprey Run, a gated community along Bloomingdale Avenue in Riverview.

Hillsborough school officials sent a letter to Dotter in jail informing her that she was not to report to work until further notice. She will continue to be paid wages to which she is entitled.

She had resigned as a summer school teacher on Wednesday, according to Hillsborough schools spokesman Stephen Hegarty. As the case evolves, officials will consider whether to suspend Dotter or take further action.

"She's not going to be in the classroom while these charges are over her head," Hegarty said, noting that Dotter's principal said she was a good teacher.

Dotter has taught students with learning disabilities at East Bay High since the 2000-01 school year. Before coming to Hillsborough, she was a teacher at Clearview Avenue Elementary in St. Petersburg.

She graduated from Gibbs High School in St. Petersburg in 1991 and attended St. Petersburg Junior College before earning a degree at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, according to her Hillsborough schools file.