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    March trial set in teacher's killing

    By Compiled from Times wires

    © St. Petersburg Times, published September 29, 2000


    WEST PALM BEACH -- A 14-year-old accused of first-degree murder in the slaying of an English teacher is scheduled to go to trial on March 5.

    Palm Beach Circuit Judge Richard I. Wennet on Thursday denied a request by the widow of teacher Barry Grunow for the trial to be held sooner, telling her lawyer that Pam Grunow has no standing in the case.

    If convicted, Nathaniel Brazill could face life in prison.

    Mouth-washing charges dropped

    BUNNELL -- A Bunnell Elementary School teacher and two aides will not be prosecuted for allegedly washing out the mouths of several students who used foul language.

    Teacher Lynn Wolf, 61, who later resigned, and aides Tanya Haymes and Iris Robinson, both 23, who were fired, were charged by police with aggravated child abuse for using moist towelettes on the students in April.

    But prosecutors said Wednesday there was no intent to cause great bodily harm, which is required to support such a charge.

    Parents of some of the children said they are considering civil lawsuits against the district. "My little girl was abused, emotionally and physically," said Marianne Qaddoum. "I can understand the feelings of the parents, but I can only speak to the facts of the case," said Assistant State Attorney Steve Nelson. He said the use of soap to wash out students' mouths should fall as a policy issue to the Flagler County school district.

    Superintendent Robert Williams publicly apologized to the families in May.

    Nine charged with racketeering

    FORT LAUDERDALE -- Nine alleged members and associates of the Gambino Mafia family have been charged with crimes ranging from racketeering to murdering a stripper and then planning to murder her accused killer.

    All nine were charged with racketeering and some with loansharking, counterfeiting checks and being accessories to murder, U.S. Attorney Guy A. Lewis said Wednesday.

    Anthony "Tony Pep" Trentacosta took control of the New York-based Gambino family's Florida operations in March 1999, after the death of Anthony "Fat Andy" Ruggiano, according to the indictment.

    Trentacosta, 61, an Atlanta resident, gave his orders to Frederick J. Massaro, 60, who owned Beachside Mario's, a storefront restaurant in Sunny Isles, prosecutors said.

    They say the restaurant was used as a front to procure information needed to counterfeit checks, sell stolen merchandise, conduct loansharking and as a place to plot Jeanette "Jade" Smith's murder.

    Prosecutors say Smith, 22, of Pembroke Pines, was strangled on March 20, 1999, at a Sunny Isles motel. Her body was found two days later in the Everglades. Ariel A. Hernandez, 35, faces first-degree murder charges.

    Federal prosecutors say Massaro knew about the killing in advance and five days later solicited two men to kill Hernandez. Police arrested Hernandez before the hit could be carried out, prosecutors said.

    Lewis would not say why investigators believe Hernandez killed Smith or why Massaro wanted him killed.

    Ex-Miami city manager enters innocent plea

    MIAMI -- Former Miami City Manager Donald Warshaw pleaded innocent on Thursday to charges that he misspent police pension funds and money from a police charity, using that money for hockey tickets, designer clothing, and trips.

    Earlier, Warshaw turned himself in to the FBI, a day after being indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of mail fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

    "This is probably, with the exception of the day my father died, the saddest day of my life," said Warshaw, who seemed contrite while speaking on the steps of the federal courthouse steps in Miami after his initial hearing.

    "I probably could have used better judgment for what I did, but that's in the past now. All I can do about it is defend myself when I get my day in court."

    Warshaw, who once was Miami's chief of police, was released on $100,000 bail by U.S. Magistrate Judge John O. Sullivan. He will be arraigned on Oct. 11.

    Warshaw funneled $86,563 from Do the Right Thing Inc. and the Miami police pension fund for his personal use between May 1993 and April 1999, according to the indictment. He firmly asserted Thursday that he has returned all the money in question.

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