Grassroots campaign to help wrongly accused man
By JON WILSON
Published May 9, 2007
Disappointed that state lawmakers refused to help a man who spent 24 years in prison for a robbery, kidnapping and rape he didn't commit, a longtime Habitat for Humanity leader has launched his own relief campaign.
Norm Bungard, a Seminole resident, is offering to the highest bidder a guided tour of St. Petersburg's Midtown and a few extras.
The money will go to Alan Crotzer, who was released from prison after DNA tests showed that he didn't commit rape.
This month, legislators refused to compensate Crotzer for the time he spent in prison, more than half his life.
Bungard will conduct the tour in a Hummer. He won use of the vehicle from Dew Cadillac in a benefit auction for the Free Clinic.
"I want to do something as a citizen, and make no mistake, I am not judging our judicial system. I have to trust that we, societally, collectively, did the best we could 24 years ago, " Bungard said.
"I just wanted a kind of grass roots sort of thing to help out. He's got a little bit of public sympathy and empathy, but that doesn't help with the groceries, " he said.
A retired Social Security official, Bungard kicked off the drive with a $250 donation.
The highest bidder will make out a check to a church for the Alan Crotzer fund, Bungard said. The church has yet to be determined, he said.
"I am not collecting money. I want to make that very, very clear, " said Bungard, who has a history of getting involved in community causes and has served as president of Habitat for Humanity, which builds homes for needy people.
The tour, he said, will last two to four hours and include lunch, possibly at the landmark Munch's Restaurant on Sixth Street S. A stop at the St. Petersburg Social Security office is likely.
Bungard also promises a surprise: a visit to a longtime Midtown resident who is full of stories and historic knowledge.
Anyone interested in bidding may call Norm Bungard at 727 547-0006 or e-mail him at Habhous@aol.com.
[Last modified May 9, 2007, 07:30:43]
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