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Bigamy case won't go to trial

George W. Dumstorf’s three wives include a South Tampa lawyer. He is to serve 
27 months.

George W. Dumstorf’s three wives include a South Tampa lawyer. He is to serve 27 months.

TAMPA — The husband of a South Tampa divorce lawyer is headed to prison after pleading no contest to the bigamy charge she brought against him.

But the women conned by George W. Dumstorf Jr. aren't happy about the terms of his punishment, dubbed by his own attorney as "a sweetheart deal."

Here's the rub: Dumstorf's sentence will run concurrent with the 27-month prison term he received on Oct. 31 after pleading guilty to a federal bank fraud charge in his native state of Kentucky. He will serve the time in federal, not state, prison, which his victims and their families said amounts to no punishment at all for the bigamy charge.

"He'll be in a country club for 27 months," said Valerie Gaines, whose mother, Judy Howell, was married to Dumstorf for 16 years.

The St. Petersburg Times chronicled Dumstorf's exploits in a story last year. For decades, he held himself out to be a high-level military and NASA man. But his three wives and a longtime girlfriend eventually learned that he was neither of those things, nor was he lawfully divorced from his first wife when he married two more times.

Howell, Dumstorf's second wife, divorced him in 2000 after suspecting him of bigamy. He beat the accusation with the help of his divorce attorney, Martha-Irene Weed.

Four years later, Weed herself married Dumstorf in Panama City Beach. Then she, too, accused him of bigamy after learning that he had been married since 1960 to another woman, the mother of his seven children.

Weed could not be reached Tuesday. She is seeking an annulment and fighting Dumstorf, 70, in court for ownership of their Brooksville ranch and her law office on W Cleveland Street.

She traveled to Louisville, Ky., last month to testify in federal court, but a plea bargain allowed her estranged husband to avoid as many as 31 years in prison for using fake certificates of deposit as collateral for an $850,000 loan. In addition to his short prison stint, Dumstorf must pay $850,000 in restitution and serve five years of supervised release, court records show.

Dumstorf's former sweethearts were prepared to testify this week against him in Panama City, where the bigamy charge was filed.

Instead, he accepted prosecutors' plea offer on Monday, which allowed him to avoid a trial and potential five-year prison sentence tacked on to his federal time.

He did not admit any guilt, said his attorney, Jonathan Dingus. Dumstorf was prepared to argue to jurors that Weed, in her capacity as his attorney, led him to believe that he was legally able to marry her, Dingus said.

But the state's offer "was too good," Dingus said. "Essentially, it was nothing other than what he got in the federal court system."

That's what bothers Dumstorf's victims.

"The judge didn't even get to hear what he's done to everybody," Gaines said. It's "disheartening."

Colleen Jenkins can be reached at cjenkins@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3337.

Bigamy case won't go to trial 11/18/08 [Last modified: Sunday, November 23, 2008 7:25am]
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