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    Tarpon Springs man gets plea deal in Ybor City fight

    Christopher Stamas pleads guilty and receives probation for his role in the scuffle. Last year, he was acquitted in a road rage case.

    By KATHERINE GAZELLA

    © St. Petersburg Times, published May 22, 2001



    Christopher Stamas also must pay $1,570 to cover the victim's dental bill.
    TAMPA -- Christopher Stamas, one of three men acquitted last year in a road rage beating, pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of battery for his role in an Ybor City fight in which a man lost two front teeth.

    Stamas, 21, agreed to serve a year of probation, stay out of Ybor City, complete an anger management course, perform 50 hours of community service and pay $1,570 in restitution to cover the victim's dental bill.

    By agreeing to the plea, Stamas avoided a jury trial and the possibility of a felony conviction.

    He was charged with battery and felony battery last year after being involved in the fight outside the 1509 Club at about 3:15 a.m. on May 14, 2000. The plea agreement reduced the felony battery charge to a misdemeanor.

    Circuit Judge Daniel Perry adjudicated the Tarpon Springs resident guilty on the lesser charge.

    "All's well that ends well," Denis de Vlaming, Stamas' attorney, said Monday. "He got a fair deal."

    Last week, de Vlaming sent a letter to Hillsborough State Attorney Mark Ober complaining that Stamas had been offered a plea deal by one prosecutor but then had it revoked later by another prosecutor.

    The second prosecutor told de Vlaming there were "circumstances" that caused the offer to be withdrawn and mentioned "the problem he (Stamas) had in Pinellas," de Vlaming wrote in the letter. "I then asked him if he was referring to the case where Mr. Stamas was acquitted. He said he was."

    The two sides agreed on the terms of the deal again after de Vlaming sent the letter, he said Monday.

    He said he was pleased that his client received the same deal that any other citizen would have gotten and was not treated differently because of the notoriety from the road rage case.

    "I think if it were a Joe Schmoe kind of case, it's the same outcome Joe Schmoe would have received," he said.

    In the fight last May, police reports say that Stamas scuffled with a Seminole couple, James M. Hanna and Karen Marie Wheeler, who were both 36 at the time. They were waiting for a valet to get their car when a man grabbed Wheeler's arm, she told police.

    Hanna told the man to let go, but he refused, according to police records. The two men then got into a fight, and the man later identified as Stamas knocked out two of Hanna's front teeth, Hanna told police. Authorities said Stamas knocked Hanna unconscious.

    Wheeler told police that she tried to protect Hanna by shielding him with her body. When she kneeled over Hanna, Stamas grabbed her by the arm and dragged her away so that he could kick Hanna without obstruction, she said.

    Wheeler's arm was bruised and she broke a thumbnail in the altercation. In addition to the lost teeth, Hanna had bruises, scrapes and a black eye with broken blood vessels.

    Hanna initially tried to fix his teeth by gluing one back into his mouth. He later went to a dentist.

    Another group of men broke up the fight, and Stamas left in a Jeep Cherokee with about five friends. The valet wrote down the tag number, and the car was traced to George Stamas of Tarpon Springs, Stamas' father.

    Christopher Stamas, who is related to the owners of Stamas Yachts in Tarpon Springs, did not want to comment Monday. Wheeler and Hanna could not be reached.

    De Vlaming had said that Stamas was at the scene but was not involved in the altercation. Wheeler had said it was "absolutely not" a case of mistaken identity.

    The Ybor City fight occurred two months after Stamas was found not guilty of attempted second-degree murder charges in the highly publicized March 1999 road rage case.

    Stamas and Theofilos Mamouzelos were accused of beating Jody Daniel and Luis Collado with shovels, cracking their skulls and leaving them badly injured.

    Daniel and Collado said the attack was unprovoked. Stamas and Mamouzelos told jurors they fought with the shovels in self-defense.

    A judge ruled that prosecutors had not proven that a third man, Michael Saroukos, actively participated in the attack.

    - Staff writer Katherine Gazella can be reached at (727) 445-4182.

    Recent coverage

    Tarpon man again is arrested (January 3, 2001)

    Two found not guilty in road-rage beatings (May 8, 2000)

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