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Foreman of Lyons grand jury sentenced

Times staff writers

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 18, 1999

TAMPA -- The grand jury foreman who helped indict the Rev. Henry J. Lyons will himself do some prison time.

Dale T. Marler, 56, of Holmes Beach was sentenced Monday to 41 months in federal prison for dealing cocaine and marijuana during the time he was serving on the grand jury investigating the National Baptist Convention leader.

Marler is from a Florida citrus family and has a long record of civic and religious involvement. He worked as an aide to Lawton Chiles when Chiles served as a U.S. senator. Marler attributed his drug dealing to a drinking problem and financial troubles but said he was not shirking his responsibility and told U.S. District Judge Henry Lee Adams Jr. he was "truly sorry."

Several lawyers and businessmen who have known Marler for decades testified to his good character. Marler's attorney had sought a sentence of 37 months in prison, but the prosecutor argued for a 41-month sentence, citing the contrast between Marler's public image as a good citizen and his criminal activities.

Federal prosecutors previously have said Marler's acts did not compromise the Lyons investigation. And Adams, who also handled the Lyons case, rejected defense motions to dismiss Lyons' indictment in the wake of Marler's arrest.

Police search for four men who robbed family

ST. PETERSBURG -- Police are looking for four men who broke into the home of a family getting ready for bed Sunday. The men, dressed in black clothes and ski masks, broke into 2601 16th Ave. N about 11:15 p.m. Two of the family members, Ne Phanphilathip, 29, and Soubanh Siharath, 45, were ordered to lie on the floor, said St. Petersburg police Officer Dan Bates. Noy Douangdet, 27, and her 3-year-old son were in bed and were told to hide under the bed linen, Bates said. The men took a a reported $2,000 in jewelry and cash and left in a dark-colored van with a stripe on the side. No one was injured. Family members told police they saw the van in the area two weeks ago. Anyone with information is asked to call police at (727) 893-7580.

State asked to look into two wastewater plants

TAMPA -- Just as they finished an investigation of wrongdoing at one wastewater plant, Hillsborough County officials learned this month about allegations of drug use and theft at another plant.

Now they have asked state prosecutors to look into allegations of wrongdoing at both plants, where employees have alleged that managers knew about misconduct but did little to stop it.

Officials want prosecutors to investigate allegations from a Ruskin plant that Kenneth Stanczykowski, the plant's chief supervisor, regularly took county gasoline for his own use and that Stanczykowski got paid overtime to clean carpets and do other work for a supervisor, utility manager Tom Vena.

Stanczykowski and Vena could not be reached for comment.

Friday, Vena blamed complaints at the Valrico plant on disgruntled workers.

Demonstrations scheduled to support Al-Najjar

Two events are planned this week to protest the continued detention of Mazen Al-Najjar, a Tampa man who Wednesday begins his third year in jail on secret evidence alleging ties to terrorists.

A Palestinian immigrant with an expired visa, Al-Najjar has been denied bond while he appeals his deportation. The U.S. government says he is associated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group.

Evidence of that accusation, however, is secret, and Al-Najjar and his supporters say his detention is unconstitutional.

He was arrested May 19, 1997. No charges have been filed.

A prayer vigil will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday outside the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service detention facility in Bradenton, where Al-Najjar is being held. On Friday, a community rally at Tampa City Hall will be from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Supporters intend to fly 732 black balloons, one for each day Al-Najjar has been in jail.

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