Man arrested in series of video store robberies
Police have arrested a man they say is responsible for a recent string of video store robberies, including one last month in Largo.
Shermon Andrae Allen, 30, of 4708 Mill Pond Lane in Tampa was booked into the Pinellas County Jail on five counts, including robbery with a deadly weapon, kidnapping and resisting arrest without violence, according to Pinellas County jail records.
Police said detectives received a tip about Allen after seeing a surveillance photo of him from the robbery Tuesday of a Blockbuster video at 2045 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd. in Clearwater.
On Thursday night, officers went to the Countryside Lifestyles Fitness Center, where Allen works, to arrest him.
He ran away, police said, and a police dog found him hiding under a mobile home in the nearby Regency Heights Mobile Home Park at 2550 State Road 580.
In the Clearwater robbery, police say Allen pulled a knife on the store manager as he was opening the store, then handcuffed him in a back room while he tried to get into the store's safe.
Police said Friday they believe Allen, who was being held without bail Friday, also was responsible for three similar holdups recently:
• Hollywood Video at 1477 Main St. in Dunedin on June 23.
• Blockbuster Video at 13819 Walsingham Road in Largo on June 26.
• Blockbuster Video at 300 East Lake Road in East Lake on July 5.
Times staff writer
JWB pays tenant to exit its Pinellas Park building
A countywide board that oversees children's services has a problem that many landlords face — how to get rid of a tenant.
For the Pinellas County Juvenile Welfare Board, the answer: Pay the tenant to go away.
So last week JWB board members voted to write a $140,000 check to WorkNet Pinellas.
In return, WorkNet has said it expects to be out of the JWB building at 4140 49th St. N in Pinellas Park by Oct. 31.
WorkNet Pinellas signed a three-year lease with the JWB in April 2005. The lease contained a clause allowing WorkNet to extend the term through April 2010 if it chose.
JWB executive director Gay Lancaster called WorkNet in January 2007 to tell officials there that her board had voted to sell the building. Lancaster asked what WorkNet would need in order to vacate the building. WorkNet reportedly said it wanted six months' notice.
Sometime last summer, the R'Club offered $2.5-million for the building, so JWB officials began negotiating to get WorkNet out of the building so the R'Club could buy it.
Anne Lindberg, Times staff writer
No layoffs, cuts in city services for year ahead
The City Commission has prepared its proposed $55-million budget for next year, and while there are a few casualties, officials hope none will significantly affect residents.
Overall, Safety Harbor finds itself in better position to weather the economic downtown than some of its larger neighbors. Officials foresee no layoffs and aim to maintain current city services.
Still, there will be decreased merit and cost-of-living increases for all employees. That includes fire union workers, agreed to by the union. Capital improvement projects will be sliced, including funding for brick street restoration.
As proposed, the city's property tax rate would edge up from 2.5 mills to a maximum of 2.7 mills, "but more likely than not it will be 2.6,'' Mayor Andy Steingold said.
Eileen Schulte, Times staff writer
Counselor sentenced in sexual affair with teen
A former youth counselor at Largo Wesleyan Church was sentenced to two years in prison Wednesday for having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl he met while volunteering at the church.
Matthew Crisostomo, 24, of Pinellas Park was arrested in December on a charge of lewd and lascivious battery. Police began investigating him after the girl's mother learned of the relationship.
Crisostomo pleaded guilty to the charge Wednesday. His prison sentence will be followed by three years of probation. He was designated a sexual offender and ordered to have no contact with the girl.
Chris Tisch, Times staff writer