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Pinellas Park/Gateway Chamber of Commerce fires president after arrest, discovery of past charges

PINELLAS PARK — The president of the Pinellas Park/Gateway Chamber of Commerce was arrested Friday.

The charge was minor — driving with a suspended or revoked license — but the incident was only the latest in a line of arrests that date to at least 1995 when Kenneth Wayne Brown faced the more serious charge of larceny/grand theft.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement records show, in the intervening years, accusations of other wrongdoing, including bounced checks and possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. State driving records show that Brown, 51, also has multiple offenses on his driving record, including speeding, failure to pay fines and other incidences of driving with a suspended or revoked license. He was declared a habitual traffic offender in 2007.

Brown did not return a phone message Tuesday seeking comment.

"It's sad and it's unfortunate," said Housh Ghovaee, chairman of the chamber board. "It's a shame that this happened."

Ghovaee said chamber members had not checked into Brown's background.

"He had worked with the Clearwater chamber for a few years," Ghovaee said. "For us, that was certainly an important and a strong background."

Ghovaee said he found out about Brown's latest arrest Monday. He and another board member met with him and, at first, were not terribly concerned because they thought it was just a traffic issue. Then Tuesday, they found out Brown had more serious charges on his record. Ghovaee said the chamber has let Brown go and will search for a new president/CEO. Brown had worked for the Pinellas Park chamber since last June or July. It is unclear what his salary was.

The circumstances surrounding Brown's latest arrest were unavailable. But the history of Brown's encounter with law enforcement began in Monroe County, where he was charged with larceny/grand theft in 1995, according to FDLE records. Brown pleaded guilty but adjudication was withheld.

In 1996, a charge of fraud for a check issued for insufficient funds was not prosecuted. And he was charged in November 2008 with misdemeanor possession of marijuana and narcotic equipment. He pleaded no contest and adjudication was withheld.

Pinellas Park/Gateway Chamber of Commerce fires president after arrest, discovery of past charges 04/07/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 7, 2009 5:32pm]
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