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    Tampa Bay briefs

    By Times staff writers

    © St. Petersburg Times, published August 25, 2000


    Memorial service planned for heart surgeon

    TAMPA -- A memorial service for Dr. Gary Haas, who was killed last week in a car accident in Texas, will be held Thursday at Idlewild Baptist Church.

    The service is to start at 2 p.m. at 1515 W Bearss Ave.

    Heidi Haas, 41, said her husband, a pediatric heart surgeon, operated on at least 1,500 children in the past five years. Many are expected to attend the service, said Tampa Children's Hospital spokeswoman Joelle Wiley.

    Haas' 19-year-old-son, Granville, was driving when the accident occurred and was slightly injured. Haas' Ford Explorer crashed after a Firestone ATX tire -- the subject of a massive recall -- separated.

    Donations in the doctor's memory can be made to the Ronald McDonald House of Tampa Bay or to the Gary Haas Heart Fund at the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay. For information, call 554-8344.

    Tampa woman killed crossing Dale Mabry

    TAMPA -- A woman was hit by a car and killed as she tried to cross Dale Mabry Highway on Wednesday night.

    Teresa Barnhill Pascarella, 48, of 106 S Hale Ave., died before her ambulance reached Tampa General Hospital.

    Police said Pascarella was walking across the highway near its intersection with Cypress Avenue just after 10:30 p.m. She walked in front of a northbound car driven by Luiza Marilena Roberts of 2404 Teresa Circle. Roberts could not stop and hit Pascarella, police said. No charges were filed.

    Church volunteer faces 2nd sex abuse charge

    While members of the Brooksville Assembly of God worshiped, a church volunteer was preying on young boys in a nearby restroom stall, sheriff's deputies say.

    Such are the newest charges facing George Rodriguez, 46, a church youth volunteer who was first arrested three weeks ago and charged with sexually assaulting a 10-year-old boy who helped him with his home repair business.

    This time, Hernando County sheriff's officials say Rodriguez forced another 10-year-old boy into a church restroom July 23 and fondled him on two occasions. Authorities also released new details Thursday in which they accuse Rodriguez of assaulting the first boy on several occasions in the same restroom. The second boy's family came forward after learning about Rodriguez's first arrest, sheriff's spokeswoman Deanna Dammer said.

    Gymnastics coach faces charges of abusing teens

    A coach at the Culbertson Gymnastique academy in Bradenton faces charges that he sexually abused three students.

    Jeffrey Richards, 38, was arrested Wednesday by the Manatee County Sheriff's Office at his home in Bradenton.

    He is charged with one count of sexual battery, one count of child abuse, one count of having sex with a minor and three counts of lewd and lascivious battery. Two of the female victims are 16 years old. The third is 18.

    Investigators said Richards had sexual contact with the girls starting three years ago at the gym, in his home, in his car and in the woods in northwest Bradenton.

    Richards remained at the Manatee County Jail on Thursday in lieu of $1-million bail.

    Philanthropist's son takes plea deal in killing-for-hire

    The bizarre tale of a Clearwater Beach woman who ended up on her son's hit list late last year has ended with a quiet plea agreement in an Iowa courtroom.

    Peter Hunter, 50, was charged with 16 felonies in October after police said he hired a hit man to kill or injure his three younger brothers and his mother, Carolyn Hunter, a Clearwater Beach philanthropist.

    Last week, Hunter pleaded guilty to consipiracy to commit attempted murder in connection with attacks planned on two of his brothers. He also admitted to a felony count of arranging to have the family's accountant beat up.

    Polk County (Iowa) Judge D.J. Stovall will sentence Hunter on Nov. 21. He faces up to 10 years in prison. Hunter was out on $50,000 bail Wednesday, staying in his Des Moines home. During the next few weeks, he will report to a mental health facility for treatment of bipolar disorder.

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