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Police mum on the arrest of ex-officer


© St. Petersburg Times, published March 29, 2001

Usually a cop being arrested is big news, but the recent case of former Tampa police Officer Kristen Gary apparently fell off the media's radar.

Folks at TPD have historically been upfront when one of their own gets in trouble. But Gary, charged last week with perjury and petty theft, was not a current officer at the time of her arrest, said TPD spokeswoman Katie Hughes.

Hughes said Gary, who had been an officer in the District I office, resigned quietly in December in the midst of an internal affairs investigation. That investigation is still under way, and Hughes won't talk about it.

"Even when an officer resigns, they are still required to complete the administrative investigation," Hughes said. (By the way, didn't police Chief Bennie Holder defend dropping the investigation into former Deputy Chief Ken Taylor because he retired? Just wondering.)

So why didn't TPD say anything about the arrest? (The St. Petersburg Times got an anonymous tip.).

"As far as we are concerned, she is a citizen," Hughes said. "There's no reason for us to publicize the minor arrest of a citizen. If she was active duty, we would have written something about it."

Surely TPD's silence had nothing to do with the fact Gary used to be married to Sgt. John Bennett, executive officer and right-hand man to Chief Bennie Holder.

SPRING FEVER: Looking for a certain lawyer, judge or detective this week? Find those courthouse and cop shop hallways so deserted you had to dodge a tumbleweed?

Maybe you should have looked toward N Dale Mabry Highway, toward Legends Field, where the reigning world champion New York Yankees are playing their last week of spring training games before heading home to the Bronx.

People inside the courthouse and police station peered out the windows at the mostly sunny skies and whispered about how they would be outta here after lunch. They mentioned having a hot dog. Maybe two. They spoke of beer.

Maybe the sudden midweek appearance of Friday-casual clothes should have been a giveaway. A prosecutor was spotted slipping out in a Yankees jersey and cap. Retiring Chief Judge F. Dennis Alvarez wore his plans on his sleeve -- or more accurately, his polo shirt. The Yankee logo was emblazoned over his heart.

ONE REDER AFTER ANOTHER: Folks who tune in to Tampa television news are used to seeing the face of Hillsborough sheriff's spokesman Rod Reder as he intones official statements on crime.

Last week, they got two Reders in a row.

Randall Reder, a Tampa attorney, preceded his younger brother once again as he talked about the appeals court ruling on the now-famous Stop Sign Case, in which he played a part.

In that case, you'll recall, three young people were convicted of pulling up a stop sign in rural Hillsborough that later caused a crash and the death of three 18-year-olds in a Camaro.

Recently, the 2nd District Court of Appeal reversed the manslaughter convictions. The elder Reder handled that successful appeal.

The younger Reder says business for his attorney brother has picked up since he's become the sheriff's spokesman, yet Randall Reder refuses to cough up a percentage of the profit.

"I would sue," Rod Reder joked, "But he's my lawyer."

He takes consolation in the fact that he's "the much younger, much more handsome" version, he says.

For his part, Randall Reder (who, for the record, is 4 years older than his kid brother) threw down a challenge of his own: "Did you ask him who's the better golf player?"

-- Times staff writers Angela Moore and David Karp and researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Contact Sue Carlton at 226-3346 or carlton@sptimes. Contact Amy Herdy at 226-3386 or herdy@sptimes.

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