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Outgoing college president will give up 2001 salary

By Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 29, 2000

ST. PETERSBURG -- Peter Armacost, who is leaving after 23 years as president of Eckerd College, has agreed not to take his scheduled $189,000 salary as president emeritus next year, said the chairman of Eckerd's board of trustees, Arthur J. Ranson III.

Armacost will receive payment, however, beginning in 2002, Ranson said Wednesday. He said the decision was Armacost's, and he assumed it was made to grant the college more flexibility as it tries to shore up its finances. Armacost's sudden retirement came after trustees learned that more than $21-million of the college's small endowment was spent without their knowledge on college projects and operating expenses. They are now trying to replenish the endowment.

Initially, when the college announced Armacost's retirement last week, it said he would receive his salary next year, although he would be on sabbatical.

Armacost did not return calls for comment Wednesday.

An executive committee of the trustees met on campus Wednesday, but Ranson would not discuss what occurred.

Landlord might close after-hours club

TAMPA -- It might be the landlord, not the county, who shuts down a Carrollwood after-hours club that has been under attack by authorities for the past month.

Hillsborough County Judge Eric Myers on Wednesday authorized landlord Joe Raymer to evict club owner Elias Abusaid from the property at 5226 Gunn Highway.

Raymer said the lease had expired without the required written notice from Abusaid to renew. Raymer also said he was concerned about police raids on his property and allegations that Abusaid was operating a rave club without a permit.

Abusaid said he doesn't know what the future holds for AV-02, his once-thriving club that now attracts few customers.

"From a business point of view, I don't know how much more my company can stand," he said.

County commissioners and sheriff's deputies want to close AV-O2, saying it is a rave club where alcohol and drugs are rampant. A June 3 raid led to the arrest of 25 adults and five juveniles on various drug, alcohol and firearms charges. Abusaid, however, has continued to operate the club.

Abusaid has been arrested four times on charges of operating a rave club without a permit, among other charges.

Body of 25-year-old Lutz man found in Tampa motel

TAMPA -- The body of a 25-year-old Lutz man was found in a Hillsborough Avenue motel room about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday. Michael William Ragan died from a gunshot wound, Tampa police said. Officers found his body at the Motel Eastgate after responding to a 911 call.

Investigators are waiting for the results of an autopsy to determine whether the gunshot was self-inflicted or whether Ragan was the victim of foul play.

Retired officer pleads not guilty to spying charge

TAMPA -- The retired U.S. Army reserve colonel accused of spying for the KGB for 25 years pleaded not guilty Wednesday at a brief hearing.

George Trofimoff, 73, said nothing during his appearance in federal court. His case was tentatively set for trial in August.

Prosecutors said they would seek to postpone the trial because of delays in receiving evidence from Germany and Austria, which are cooperating in the prosecution.

From 1969 to 1994, Trofimoff worked for the U.S. Army at the Joint Interrogation Center in Nuremberg, Germany, interviewing Soviet bloc defectors and refugees.

Prosecutors allege he photographed thousands of documents for the KGB in exchange for $250,000.

Authorities seize 5 tons of cocaine, arrest 13

TAMPA -- Federal prosecutors announced Wednesday the seizure of five tons of cocaine off the coast of Ecuador and the arrest of 13 people on trafficking charges.

On June 17, U.S. authorities chased and caught a speed boat with four people and two tons of cocaine aboard, a federal prosecutor said.

The next day, U.S. authorities stopped nine people in two identical blue, 40-foot boats, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

One boat contained three tons of cocaine, and the other was fitted with extra fuel tanks to assist in a long-range journey, officials said.

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