Ex-manager of Sonic charged in theft inquiry
A former general manager for the Sonic drive-in on Ridge Road is accused of stealing $12,734 from the restaurant and using at least part of it on a gambling trip, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office. James Alan Phipps, 53, kept 19 of Sonic's cash deposits and a refund check that were supposed to be deposited in the bank, a report states. He is accused of pocketing the money between March and December of last year. A witness told authorities Phipps used money from a Sonic deposit envelope during a gambling trip. As detectives began investigating, Phipps called the Sheriff's Office and confessed, spokesman Doug Tobin said. "He wanted to come clean," Tobin said. Phipps said he was getting help for his gambling problem. Detectives say the money is gone, but Phipps offered to repay it and drove from his new home in Arkansas back to Pasco County to turn himself in, the report said. He was booked into the Land O'Lakes jail Tuesday on a charge of scheming to defraud. He is being held in lieu of $10,000 bail.
Charter school seeks new chief
Academy at the Farm, one of Pasco County's first charter schools, is looking for a new director. Michael Rom, who helped found the rapidly growing school, surprised many people by announcing that he will retire on July 1. But he explained that the timing is right, as the Academy at the Farm has no major expansion planned for the first time in several years. "What's best for the school and the future of the school is to bring someone in who will take it for the next five to 10 years," said Rom, who turns 63 this summer. "Next year is the best year for that." The school is taking applications for another week and then a selection committee will review candidates and make a recommendation to the board.
Agency offers help on Medicare plans
Now is the time for seniors to review their Medicare Advantage health plans. The Area Agency on Aging of Pasco-Pinellas Inc., in partnership with the Florida Department of Elder Affairs' SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders) program, is providing free assistance to seniors who are weighing their options. Counselors can be reached by calling toll-free 1-800-963-5337. Callers can also request a face-to-face appointment with a SHINE volunteer. To provide the best assistance, counselors need to know what medications and providers the patient uses, and whether they have received any notice of changes in their coverage.
Sign up and we'll e-mail the news
Get it straight from our newsroom to your inbox. A new e-mail service will send you links each morning to the latest Pasco County headlines. To sign up, visit enews.tampabay.com.