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Former Tarpon Springs city commissioner, 3 others accused in $1M securities fraud

Police released this image of the robbery suspect.

Police released this image of the robbery suspect.

Tarpon Springs

Ex-city official accused in $1M securities fraud

A former Tarpon Springs city commissioner and three other men have been arrested, accused of defrauding investors of more than $1 million.

Fred W. "Bill" Howard, 62, a developer who served as a Tarpon Springs commissioner from 1978 to 1981, was arrested around 2 p.m. Tuesday at his home by Tarpon Springs police on a Florida Department of Law Enforcement warrant, according to an arrest report. Also arrested were Gerald Gonzalez, 45, of St. Petersburg, Clifford F. Bagnell, 55, of New Port Richey, and Charles K. Byington, 48, of Miami.

The investigation revealed that the men issued and sold 24-month promissory notes to 20 Florida residents through BBG Investments LLC and BBG Rick Management Inc. between September 2004 and August 2005, according to the FDLE. All four men were charged with securities fraud, a first-degree felony, and 12 counts of sales of an unregistered security, third-degree felonies. Howard, Gonzalez and Bagnell were also charged with 12 counts of sales of security by an unregistered dealer.

All are being held without bail.


Man is sought in bank robbery

Police are investigating bank robbery at a Fifth Third Bank on Wednesday. Clearwater police said a man walked into the bank at 1150 Cleveland St. about 10 a.m., handed a note to the teller demanding money and left with an undisclosed amount of cash. The man implied he had a weapon, said police spokeswoman Beth Watts. The man is described as white with a pale complexion, in his 20s, about 5 feet 9 to 5 feet 10, 160 to 170 pounds with a thin build and a goatee. He has a teardrop tattoo next to his right eye. He also had adhesive bandages on the right side of his neck, which detectives suspect may have been used to cover a tattoo. The man was last seen wearing a black knit hat, a gold Ecko T-shirt, a black leather jacket and blue jeans. Police ask anyone who can identify the man or who has information about this crime to call the Clearwater Police Department Tip Line at (727) 562-4422. To remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-8477.


Man accused of sex with minor

Authorities have arrested a 19-year-old man they say had sexual activity with a 14-year-old girl. Zachary Tarver, of 8927 Fairweather Drive, was arrested on a charge of lewd and lascivious battery. Tarver had a sexual encounter with the girl about 11:35 a.m. Wednesday at his home, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. Detectives say Tarver and the girl met recently at Astro's Gate Roller Skating Rink. The two began texting each other, and hatched a plan to have the girl skip school Wednesday. But when the girl's friends found out about the plan, they alerted a school resource officer. Tarver remained in the Pinellas County Jail on Wednesday afternoon in lieu of $10,000 bail.

Former Tarpon Springs city commissioner, 3 others accused in $1M securities fraud 03/17/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 17, 2010 10:34pm]
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