Tampa Bay Times from St. Petersburg, Florida on April 28, 1984 · 29
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Tampa Bay Times from St. Petersburg, Florida · 29

St. Petersburg, Florida
Issue Date:
Saturday, April 28, 1984
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ST. PETERSBURG TIMES SATURDAY, APRIL 28, 1984 3B Former Dixie County official charged with lying to grand jury By LUCY MORGAN 8t Peter ibutg Timet Sf ft Writer A former Dixie County commissioner has been charged with lying to a federal grand jury about bribes allegedly paid to Dixie County Sheriff Glen Dyuls. John Obe Osten, 61, a prominent Horseshoe Beach rancher who spent 16 years'on the county commission before his defeat in 1980, was arrested at his home late Thursday by agents from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). Ob teen was charged with five counts of perjury allegedly committed during a Feb. 2 appearance before a grand jury investigating drug smuggling and public corruption in Dixie and Taylor counties. EXCERPTS OF HIS testimony before the grand jury, included in the indictment, indicate that Osteen denied any knowledge of any bribes paid to Dyals, including a $10,000 bribe allegedly given to Dyals by convicted drug smuggler Floyd F. "Bubba" Capo. Dyals has previously denied any involvement in drug smuggling or the acceptance of bribes. He was not in his office in Cross City Friday and did not return telephone calls. Dyals appeared before the same grand jury Feb. 22. After leaving the room, Dyals told the Times that he had been questioned about a 1979 drug smuggling operation at the Cross City Airport. Four Tampa Bay area men were arrested at the airport as they arrived in stripped down vans to haul away 2,000 pounds of marijuana. SEVERAL MONTHS later the four men walked out of a Dixie County courtroom on probation after paying fines totaling $80,000. A year later undercover FDLE agents secretly tape recorded Capo as he bragged about fixing a case for four smugglers caught with 2,000 pounds of marijuana at the airport. On the tape, played in a federal trial involving another drug deal, Capo said he paid $10,000 to "the right man" and helped the four men escape with just a fine. Osteen and two other county commissioners were character witnesses for Capo when he was tried in 1980 on Wakullah County drug charges. Capo is currently serving state and federal prison sentences totaling 38 years. In April 1981 when a series published by the St. Petersburg Times first described drug smuggling in Dixie County, Osteen said Capo was an asset to the community and supported about 50 families in the area. OSTEEN WAS on the county commis sion when the board authorized the construe- tion of a controversial "road to nowhere" that has become a frequent landing strip for drug smugglers. The 5 'a -mile segment of State Road 361 dead ends into a marsh near the Gulf of Mexico just north of Horseshoe Beach. The road was constructed with two long straightaways and bridge abutments that are low enough for airplane wings to pass unobstructed. The road is but one example of the way of-ficials in Dixie County have aided wittingly or unwittingly drug smugglers who find refuge in the county. Since a record-breaking marijuana load was seized near Horseshoe Beach in 1973, state and federal law enforcement officials say an unsold amount of marijuana and cocaine and other drugs have entered the country through Dixie and neighboring Taylor County. SMUGGLERS TAKE advantage of hundreds of miles of isolated coastline and the willingness of some local residents to look the other way while the counties become conduits for drugs that are shipped to metropolitan markets around the country. In late 1982 a former Taylor County judge testified in federal court for a friend who had been arrested on drug charges. The retired judge said he didn't think the smuggling of 600,000 pounds of marijuana was too serious if it was merely being moved through the county with none intended for local consumption. A state and federal investigation under way since mid 1981 has resulted in 150 arrests in the two counties. Those arrested and sentenced to prison have included a former sheriff and a deputy from Taylor County; the chairman of the Taylor County Commission and a former Dixie County School Board member. Pasco sheriff's official quits, cites problems Thi etory also appears in torn Tim regional editions. By LUCY MORGAN St. Petersburg Timet Staff Writer NEW PORT RICHEY Maj. Gil Thivener, chief of operations for the Pasco County sheriffs office, resigned Friday, saying he no longer wants to be associated with a department that has lost the ability to respond to the needs of the people. Thivener submitted a single page letter of resignation, packed his possessions and left the department late Friday afternoon. Reached at home later, Thivener would not confirm reports circulating in the department that he may seek the Democratic nomination for sheriff. "I plan to take a couple of weeks off and relax, gather my thoughts and see what is in the best interest of my family," Thivener said. HIS ABRUPT departure from the department spread shock waves throughout an agency that has been facing mounting problems and increasing resignations in recent months. In his letter to Sheriff John M. Short, Thivener said he has lost "total confidence" in the department's ability to respond to the needs of the county's citizens and questioned leadership that "shows such disregard for established principles of good management." In his letter, Thivener listed two areas that he said deeply concern him: s Hiring practices, based on personal considerations rather than qualifications. Cosmetic management, in which decisions are made for political rather than practical reasons, and a widespread lack of good common sense. HIS RESIGNATION comes amid an increasing ) Major Gil Thivener's resignation comes amid an increasing shortage of manpower caused by firings and resignations of a number of other members of the department. shortage of manpower caused by firings and resignations of a number of other members of the department. Four deputies resigned earlier this week, and 11 other deputies have applied for jobs with a private corporation in Saudi Arabia. Sgt. James Brady, a veteran detective with the department, also submitted his resignation Friday, but was reportedly asked to reconsider it. The St. Petersburg Times has detailed problems in the department in a series that of investigative reports published since early December. Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney James T. Russell is also investigating the conduct of the department in several controversial investigations as well as Short's private financial dealings with several of his employees. A grand jury is scheduled to convene May 22, but Russell refused Friday to confirm reports that it will be asked to look into the sheriffs department. Thivener, 49, has been one of the department's highest-ranking officers since June 1977 when he moved to Pasco County after resigning as chief of the St. Petersburg Beach police department. SHORT HIRED Thivener as the department's major of corrections and within a few months elevated him to take control of overall operations. Short could not be reached for comment on the resignation. His press aide, Tom Berlinger, was unavailable throughout the day Friday. Ex-convict arrested in Clearwater woman's murder By DOREEN CARVAJAL St. Petersburg Tim Staff Writer A 30-year-old ex-convict was arrested Friday in connection with the murder of a Clearwater woman whose abandoned body was scooped up in the rubble of a demolition project and dumped on a man-made ridge in Pinellas County. The arrest came after an investigation marked by a shortage of clues. When Pinellas County detectives first launched their investigation into the killing of 44-year-old Karen Jeter Nieradka, they had little to go on. They didn't even know her name. Although she was missing for three weeks before her decomposing body was discovered March 23, her friends never notified authorities that she had disappeared. On Friday morning, Sheriff Gerry Coleman announced the arrest of Richard Wallace Rhodes, a paroled ex-convict from Nevada with a string of previous arrests for robbery, burglary and assault. MRS. NIERADKA'S body was found along a ridge under construction at the Wyoming Antelope Gun Club, about one-half mile east of the Sunshine Speedway and south of Ulmerton Road. Her body originally had been dumped at the Sunset Point Hotel in Clearwater, which was later demolished, according to investigators. But nobody noticed the body until the debris was trucked to the gun club. Rhodes had come to the attention of authorities 20 days before Mrs. Nieradka's body was found. He was arrested on March 3 after he rammed a car driven by two people who were chasing him in an attempt to retrieve the stolen belongings of a hitchhiker, according to authorities. It turned out that Rhodes was driving a car owned by Mrs. Nieradka, investigators said. Rhodes became a suspect when detectives discovered the car had been impounded in Citrus County because of his arrest. Richard Wallace Rhodes has spent at least 10 years in state prisons in Oregon and Nevada. In Nevada, he served five years for robbing and stabbing the owner of a hotel. COLEMAN SAID Mrs. Nieradka was last seen with Rhodes before she died, and the two of them were well known around some of the bars in downtown Clearwater. Coleman speculated that robbery was the motive for the killing. And Coleman added that Rhodes may be connected to other killings. "We have statements that link this individual to perhaps other homicides, and other agencies are concerned about his background and are investigating charges of homicides in their jurisdictions," Coleman said. But he declined to identify those agencies. "HE IS THE subject of interest by many police departments on a national basis," he said. Coleman said the department's confidential sources have revealed Rhodes has talked about committing murders in other areas outside Pinellas County. But he noted the information may be based on rumors. Rhodes has spent at least 10 years in state prisons in Oregon and Nevada. In Nevada, he served five years for robbing and stabbing the owner of a hotel in Hawthorne. During the period between 1972 and 1978, Rhodes was arrested on more than a dozen charges, ranging from prowling and burglary to auto theft and grand larceny. While Rhodes was being held in jail in Sumter County on other charges, he recently sent a letter to the St. Petersburg Times insisting that he was being held for "a murder that never took place" in Pinellas County. Hawkins hears of Pinellas programs for children alone after school By LORRI DENISE BOOKER St. Petersburg Timet Staff Writer Every day when 10-year-old Michael Condra walked home from school, an'old man in the neighborhood would follow the little boy with his eyes. Michael would walk a little faster and try to ignore the man. But he was scared for the next two hours as he waited alone for his parents to come home from work. A few months ago, Michael joined Latchkey Services of Pinellas County Inc. That means he stays at his school after classes are over until one of his parents comes to get him. On Friday, Michael and group of "latchkey children" told U.S. Sen. Paula Hawkins, R-Fla., about the benefits of the 8-year-old program. Latchkey children are those who are home alone at least part of the day while their parents are working, or those who are being cared for by other preteen children. "They teach us to use good manners," said Michael, who stays at school until 5 p.m. "I like it. It's fun plus I get to meet a lot of new friends." Hawkins is a member of the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee, and cosponsor of a bill that would provide federal funds to set up latchkey programs. She was at Osceola High School to listen to a panel of speakers offer their support and suggestions for the bill. The panel included Fred Hoffman, Pinellas County assistant superintendent for Pinellas has 1 2 latchkey centers housed in elementary schools throughout the county. Parents who leave early for work can drop off their children at the school cafeteria before school tpegins and pick them up after work. student services, and representatives from the county Juvenile Welfare Board, the State Department of Health arid Rehabilitative Services, the American Bar Association and the National Parent Teachers Association. "I know that there are some members of Congress who do not think that child care is a federal issue," said Edith Baylis, a member of the board of directors for Camp Fire Inc. "But as our society evolved, so did our conception of the role of the federal government. Our federal policy must be responsive to the needs of . . . society." Pinellas has 12 latchkey centers housed in elementary schools throughout the county. Parents who leave early for work can drop off their children at the school cafeteriavbefore school begins and pick them up after work. The children, supervised by "group leaders," play board games, have a recreation period, listen to cultural awareness speakers, learn to cook and watch movies. Hawkins called the Pinellas latchkey program the "model for the entire country" and said allocating funds for other such programs is a necessary step. "It's a prevention cost," she said. "I don't believe we can afford not to do it. We're spending millions of dollars looking for children (who have disappeared). Rather than looking for children, I want to know where they are. I want to know that they're in school (and) that they've been there all day." "We need to know where our children are, what they're doing and that they're protected." Former NOW president lectures on the power of the female vote By HELEN HUNTLEY St. Petersburg Timet Staff Writer TAMPA Women have the power to turn Ronald Reagan out of office, and they need to use it, feminist leader Eleanor Smeal said Friday. "Everything we are fighting for is on the line," said the former president of the National Organization for Women (NOW), who now publishes a newsletter on women and politics. She received an enthusiastic response from the audience of about 100 persons, most of them women, attending a conference at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. SMEAL DELIVERED most of her message with the hands-in-pockets ease of a speaker accustomed to the national limelight. She became emotional, however, when she spoke of the Reagan administration's impact on programs affecting women. "I've spent the last three years in Washington watching all the work I've done in the past 15 years being undone," she said. "I'm not sure we'll ever be able to put it back together again." Reagan's re-election threatens everything from the way federal courts have defined women's legal rights to the continuation of the Medicare program, Smeal said. Leading the list of Smeal's concerns is the likelihood that the next president will have the opportunity to appoint a large number of Supreme Court justices and federal judges. With those appointments comes the potential to change the way the courts rule in cases involving sex discrimination and abortion rights. , "Essentially, affirmative action programs are being gutted," she said. Those programs may never be revived if Reagan is re-elected, Smeal said. WOMEN HAVE been voting differently from men for years, but nobody believed it until the 1982 election, Smeal said. She recalled that in her days as a graduate student at the University of Florida 20 years ago, her textbooks and most of her professors dismissed women's role in politics. The conventional wisdom was that women voted the same way men did, she said. "There is a women's vote," Smeal said. She said her own research shows that 'It is not a battle between the sexes. It is a battle between the haves and the have note who view the system differently.' Eleanor Smeal women are far more likely to vote for Democrats than for Republicans, mainly because of the stand Democrats take on issues women care about. She said women are more concerned than men about unemployment, inflation, cuts in social programs, military spending, equal rights for women and women's right to abortion. SMEAL SAID the "gender gap" between women's and men's opinions has a relatively simple explanation: "It is not a battle between the sexes," she said. "It is a battle between the haves and the have nots who view the system differently." She said women are more likely to oppose cuts in social programs not because they are more compassionate than men, but because they are poorer than men and more likely to be the beneficiaries of those programs. Women object to a warlike foreign policy not because they are afraid their sons will be sent into battle, but because they are more fearful than men that such policies will lead to nuclear war. "We know we're not in control, and frankly, we don't trust the guys who are," she said. Smeal predicted that women voters will outnumber men voters by 6-million to 9-million in November's presidential election. How they vote will determine the outcome of the election, she said. Smeal said she is very pleased by the way her message is being received as she lectures around the country especially by women college students. She said many young women thank her for her efforts and say they intend to work for women's equality. "It's very gratifying,'' she said. "It makes you feel like the reinforcements are coming." rx r D n l fl IS W Full Size FISCHER KEYBOARDS Console Orqans J5?1 f,Al!10 5YAMAHA,l0WREY 8 ' "C w,l"" CASlO. ROLAND , inWPPY Wa,ron,V- , e BALDWIN BALDWIN 9jt 2ef HAMMOND WWX Wfe THOMAS BALDWINfc WURLITZERf allen oBXL 5 HiSUL J WURLITZER jE FonMoehin 1- Symha Jk. uin. N ' Great Ton, If N.wf - Q Q flfC Beautiful Grand Pianos BALDWIN STEINWAY YAMAHA AEOLIAN FLETCHER & SONS YOUNG CHANG MAYR (yjHKBDL Never An Inventory So Awesome! Never A Sale So Urgent! Open 'til Midnight! A piano & organ inventory so awesome it even takes the capacity of Fletcher Music's gigantic super warerooms. A disposal so urgent we're open 'til midnight Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. We've purchased quality pianos from manufacturers and importers direct from the "Largest Ever Piano & Organ Sale" held recently at Tampa's Superbowl Stadium. Great buys on new & used Grands, used Spinet Pianos, portable Organs all at unbelievable prices. Hurry many items are one-of-a-kind and subject to prior sale. a4 SPINET ORGANS LOWREY BALDWIN KIMBALL YAMAHA HAMMOND CONN WURLITZER From fJf egTJliatWBeMeaMejmPlWWBWyWia MANY USED PIANOS BALDWIN KAWAI YAMAHA STEINWAY SOHMER WURLITZER CABLE From $3Qg EMM 7 "7 Budget Tormi Up to 60 mot. to pay ) Low Monthly Paymtntf MatrorCord VISA FLETCHER MUSIC CENTERS 2970 GULF-TO-BAY BLVD. 1 Mi. East of U.S. 19 CLEARWATER - 799-6006 uTTCMM ix. v-te-Y W t moved troti Utm (on flood

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