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    Tampa Bay briefs

    By Times staff writers

    © St. Petersburg Times, published April 18, 2001


    Body of missing man found in pond

    TAMPA -- Since 45-year-old Joseph William Hart walked out of the VA hospital March 19, relatives feared the worst.

    On Tuesday, those fears were realized.

    Authorities found Hart's body floating in a Carrollwood retention pond, a few miles from his parents' home in Northdale, where he lived.

    Hart, who suffered from hepatitis C and an addiction to prescription pain medication, was supposed to start treatment for his disease March 19 at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center. Officials there told his parents that he checked in about 7:30 a.m. But by 1:30 p.m., he had walked out. He had no car, no money and no identification. When he didn't come home by March 22, relatives reported him missing.

    Hillsborough sheriff's spokesman Lt. Rod Reder said a surveying crew working off Orange Grove Drive just south of Fletcher Avenue found Hart's body about 8 a.m. Reder said it did not appear Hart died a violent death. An autopsy will be done.

    Odessa lawyer faces more sex charges

    TAMPA -- An Odessa lawyer accused of participating in a prostitution ring involving teenage girls has been arrested a second time and charged with more counts of having sex with minors.

    David Russell Stahl, 58, has been charged with unlawful sexual activity with a minor and three counts of lewd and lascivious acts on a child, all felonies. He was being held in jail Tuesday without bail.

    Detectives began investigating in January after a tip that a 13-year-old girl was living with a man. That man was Shawn Robert Martin, 24, a paralegal in Stahl's office who kept the 13-year-old runaway in his apartment, having sex with her and advertising her for prostitution on the Internet, police said.

    Martin was charged with 32 sex-related crimes and remains in jail on $210,500 bail.

    Detectives said Stahl paid to have sex with the girl, and was charged with one count of lewd and lascivious acts on a child in February. Bail was set at $100,000, and he bonded out the same day.

    Tuesday, Stahl was charged with paying a 14-year-old girl and a 16-year-old girl to have sex with him between September and November 1999.

    Besides Martin and Stahl, five others have been arrested in the teen prostitution investigation.

    School Board signs deal with Compaq

    TAMPA -- The Hillsborough County School Board signed a five-year exclusive contract with Compaq Computer Corp. on Tuesday. The deal is valued at about $50-million.

    The agreement means Houston-based Compaq will supply the district with most of its new computers, service its technology equipment and help train users for the next five years. In addition, parents and teachers will be able to buy computers for their personal use at reduced prices beginning in May.

    Man hit by van is in critical condition

    TOWN N' COUNTRY -- A 22-year-old man was in extremely critical condition Tuesday night after being hit by a minivan when he tried to cross Memorial Highway.

    James Carroll of Summerchase Apartments on Memorial Highway left a Circle K and was crossing the highway from north to south, authorities said. His dark clothing made him almost invisible to Anita Vaaler, a 40-year-old woman driving a 1997 Chrysler minivan. The right side of Vaaler's van hit Carroll.

    Officials said Carroll suffered severe head and internal injuries and a compound fracture of his right leg. He was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital late Tuesday night.

    Vaaler was not charged in the accident.

    Superintendent wants two workers fired

    TAMPA -- Hillsborough Superintendent Earl Lennard has recommended two employees be fired after an investigation into wrongdoing in the maintenance department.

    On March 26, Lennard sent letters to Roosevelt Lawrence Jr., maintenance unit manager, and Larry T. Pound, maintenance repair supervisor, saying district goods were purchased for their personal use, purchase forms were falsified and they impeded an investigation into theft.

    The case has been forwarded to the State Attorney's Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

    Both men were suspended without pay March 13.

    Lawrence quit the district after learning of Lennard's recommendation to fire him. Pound has requested a hearing before the School Board, which has not been scheduled.

    Pinellas stiffens watering fines

    Water scofflaws soon will face higher fines and tougher enforcement as officials in drought-stricken Pinellas County redouble efforts to reduce water consumption.

    County commissioners late Tuesday approved two measures to try to reduce water use by 5 percent, meeting conditions of an emergency order by the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

    Repeat offenders could be fined as much as $500, and more people will be out looking for them.

    The county soon will embark on a $300,000 media blitz, emphasizing the need to save water and consequences of failing to do so.

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