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New leader comes to Tampa's Fox affiliate in wake of arrest

Tampa Fox affiliate WTVT-Ch. 13 named a new general manager for the station Friday, as its former leader announced a deal with prosecutors to resolve his arrest last month on charges of lewd behavior.

WTVT's former general manager, Robert Linger, 50, will enter a misdemeanor diversion program allowing him to complete some requirements — usually community service, paying court costs and staying out of trouble — to have charges dropped, according to his attorney, Steve Romine.

Linger was arrested May 16 on charges of lewd behavior and exposure of a sexual organ at the Fantasy Land Adult Video Store in Tampa.

He was placed on leave after the arrest; a Fox spokesman said Linger will move to a new job as vice president of infrastructure for all of the 35 TV stations owned and operated by the company, working from a different office space in Tampa.

Romine's announcement came minutes after WTVT revealed a new vice president and general manager for the station: Bill Schneider, who will come to Tampa next week from Fox-owned KDVR-TV in Denver.

Police said Linger was among six men accused of masturbating in a movie theater at the store, alleging the men formed a circle around two undercover officers and began the act.

"We've disputed the allegations from the beginning and believe the case should have been dismissed," Romine said. "We're going to resolve this through diversion, which ensures the case is dismissed. It was that route which accomplished this goal without dragging this out."

Assistant State Attorney Pam Bondi said Linger was eligible for the diversion program because his arrest was a first-time offense. The program is not a conviction or admission of guilt. Details on Linger's requirements will be determined later.

Eric Deggans can be reached at deggans@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8521. See his blog at blogs.tampabay.com/media.

New leader comes to Tampa's Fox affiliate in wake of arrest 06/13/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 17, 2008 1:19pm]
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