Three chances to make things right wasted

He was on probation, but now is going to prison in a 2004 vehicular homicide case.

By Colleen Jenkins, Times Staff Writer
Published February 28, 2008

TAMPA - Some people get the chance of a lifetime. Christopher Lee Anderson got two.

One came from the family of U.S. Secret Service agent Phillip Lebid, who died on Nov. 22, 2004, after Anderson sped off the Crosstown Expressway, ran a red light into downtown Tampa and rammed Lebid's unmarked car into a bus filled with tourists. Anderson pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide, and the federal agent's family agreed to 10 years of probation instead of prison.

Another came from Hillsborough Circuit Judge Daniel Perry. When Anderson was caught falsifying his community service hours on three occasions, the judge allowed him to remain on probation and make things right.

Then Anderson, 24, messed up a third time, and his chances ran out.

On Wednesday, Perry sentenced the aspiring sous chef to 15 years in prison, the maximum penalty for vehicular homicide.

Driving got Anderson in trouble again.

On Feb. 4, he drove to his probation office, even though he wasn't supposed to drive at all for three years as part of his January 2006 sentence.

He admitted he had driven before. On a recorded jail call to his girlfriend, he said police had given him "a false sense of security" by not pulling him over sooner.

Colleen Lebid, the federal agent's mother, called Anderson's attitude cavalier.

"He has insulted us terribly," she said.

Phillip Lebid, 30, was a serious person, she said. A former Fort Myers police officer, he became the youngest member of Tampa's Secret Service office just 10 months before the crash.

She had hoped Anderson would serve his probation in a way that honored her son.

Eleven people spoke on Anderson's behalf Wednesday morning and promised the judge that he had tried. One mistake, they said, should not overshadow his strong work ethic and good heart.

"I don't have an excuse for it," Anderson said. "It was stupid, really stupid."

Attorney Melody Dietsch said her client was not like the majority of probation violators Perry sees in his courtroom.

The judge disagreed.

"He is just like 90 percent of the people I see here," Perry said. "They lie. They lie to themselves, they lie to their friends, they lie to their families."

Some of those people enabled the lies, Perry said. He would not.

Colleen Jenkins can be reached at cjenkins@sptimes.com or 813 226-3337.