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Largo father who lost parental rights accused of stalking children

Greg Pound protests in 2007 at the courts complex in Largo against the foster care system.

JIM DAMASKE | Times (2007)

Greg Pound protests in 2007 at the courts complex in Largo against the foster care system.

LARGO — For waving at his children, calling out to them and holding up a sign for them to read as they passed by on a school bus, Largo resident Greg Pound was charged with aggravated stalking.

If those facts sound bizarre, it is only the latest twist for Pound, a father who has lost his parental rights and an activist who repeatedly protests the foster care system.

But to some of his supporters, this week's arrest sounds questionable.

Pound, who was a write-in candidate for sheriff, has filed a complaint, according to friends and family, about Pinellas Sheriff Jim Coats with the Florida Commission on Ethics.

"I think it's a little bit suspicious that he has an ethics hearing in Tallahassee with charges against the sheriff — now he's locked up," said Pound's friend and pastor, Bruce Bendt.

But sheriff's spokeswoman Cecilia Barreda said Pound's arrest had nothing to do with his frequent protests or any ethics complaint.

Pound is a familiar sight in front of the Pinellas County courts complex on 49th Street near Largo, and other locations. He often rails about corruption in the system and points to a Web site, www.rescuemykids.com.

But his fight with the child welfare system also has been a personal one.

Foster care workers in 2004 removed four children from Pound and his wife, Melissa, shortly after an incident in which their baby was bitten by a dog widely reported to be a "wolf hybrid." (Family members later denied the dog was part wolf.) The workers were concerned not only about the dog bite but also about the mother's mental stability and other issues.

The Pounds did not complete a list of tasks and classes designed to prove they could provide their children with a safe, stable home. When Melissa became pregnant with their fifth child together, she disappeared with the new baby, Moses. Melissa's and Moses' whereabouts are still unknown. Greg Pound went to jail for a month in 2006 for failing to say where she had gone, although he maintained he didn't know.

In 2007, Pound lost all parental rights to his children. Court papers say a domestic violence injunction prevents him from having "direct or indirect contact with his children," who have been adopted by their maternal grandparents.

But Pound did contact his children, sheriff's officials say.

Affidavits filed this week say he stood at the corner of Ulmerton Road and Seminole Boulevard, waving and yelling as the kids came by in their school bus over a 10-day period, and holding a sign that said "Grandma lies, Mommy and Daddy love you."

These incidents upset the children, court papers say. Afterward, one of the kids "was seen crying by a teacher and she did tell the teacher that she hated her life," court papers say.

The intersection is right by the sheriff's main offices, one of the places where Pound protests.

A spokeswoman for the state Ethics Commission said no complaint by Pound against Coats has become public, but complaints stay private during the initial stage of investigation.

Pound was arrested and released on his own recognizance on Wednesday, but rearrested Friday after the Sheriff's Office concluded he had not complied with the terms of his release.

Bendt said his understanding was that Pound refused to sign paperwork promising to remain in Pinellas County, because he was scheduled to travel to Tallahassee soon to talk to the Ethics Commission about Coats.

Pound has been charged with aggravated stalking, a felony; and violation of a domestic violence injunction, a misdemeanor.

Largo father who lost parental rights accused of stalking children 05/30/09 [Last modified: Saturday, May 30, 2009 7:05pm]
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