tampabay.com

School suspends aide after arrest

Police responding to a burglary at her home find drugs, paraphernalia.

By Times Staff Writer
Published February 20, 2008


TAMPA - A health aide at a Tampa elementary school was arrested on felony drug charges Monday night after police officers responding to a burglary at her home found a stash of drugs, cash and drug-dealing paraphernalia, authorities said.

Keila Benitez Casellas, 40, is charged with felony possession of cocaine with intent to deliver, and misdemeanor possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. She has been suspended from her job at Crestwood Elementary School.

In a home that Casellas shares with her husband, police reported finding 0.19 ounces of cocaine, 0.13 ounces of marijuana and nearly $4,800 in cash, along with plastic bags and scales. Her husband, Steven Casellas, 41, was arrested on the same charges.

About 10:15 p.m. Monday, Tampa police officers responded to a report of a burglary in progress at the house at 3023 River Grove Drive, near Robles Cemetery. No one was home at the time, but police found that someone had broken in through a rear window. While checking inside, officers spotted the evidence "in plain view," said Tampa police Sgt. Jim Contento.

The couple was arrested about 11 p.m. Monday and was released on bail Tuesday morning.

The Hillsborough County school district suspended Casellas with pay pending further action from the School Board, spokesman Stephen Hegarty said. Casellas has worked for the district since 1999 and has been at Crestwood since July, he said.

Steven Casellas was convicted of felony cocaine trafficking in 2000 and served about 31/2 years in a Tarpon Springs work-release facility, state records said.