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Arrest warrant issued for ex-sheriff

By THOMAS LAKE
Published May 17, 2007


PORT RICHEY - Ten months ago, as he faced his third eviction, former Sheriff Jim Gillum said he wanted to disappear.

"In the very near future, " he told a reporter, "I will become invisible."

He has, at least temporarily.

And now the very deputies who once served at his pleasure have been commanded to take him to jail.

Gillum, the hard-charging sheriff of Pasco County from 1984 to 1992, became a wanted man April 25 when County Judge Candy VanDercar signed a warrant for his arrest.

The charge: issuing a worthless check, a first-degree misdemeanor.

This is what happened. About a year ago, when Gillum and his third wife and several children moved into a house on Laurel Vista Loop in Orchid Lake, he wrote a $1, 200 rent check to Lisa Egan, the landlord.

"They got in that house on that bad check, " Egan told the St. Petersburg Times.

The family stayed there about three months, as Egan worked through the eviction process, and when they left, Egan said, she found it a wreck: cat urine on the carpet, maggots in the garage. She estimated the ordeal cost her $5, 000; she said Gillum was the worst tenant she ever had.

On March 26, the State Attorney's Office filed the bad-check charge. Gillum was supposed to get a court summons for an April 19 arraignment. But the electronic docket says it was returned unserved. Apparently it had been mailed to an outdated address. Gillum missed the court date, and the judge issued a warrant for his arrest.

Doug Tobin, a spokesman for current Sheriff Bob White, would neither confirm nor deny that deputies are looking for Gillum, 63. It was not clear whether Gillum knew of the warrant.

The Times searched for him Wednesday afternoon but did not find him. At a possible address on Yucca Drive in New Port Richey, a reporter encountered two neighbor boys who said Gillum and his family had been there as recently as two months ago.

The living room was full of broken furniture. A plateless old minivan sat in the driveway. Bushes grew wild.

The boys, both 12, said they were friends with some of Gillum's children.

"The power and the water got shut off, so he moved out, " said John Chiarella, who was wearing a Slipknot T-shirt. "Really sad."

They were not sure where the family had gone.

"All we know, " said Jeffrey Dennis, "is he left and never came back."

Thomas Lake can be reached at tlake@sptimes.com or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6245.