Wednesday, August 15, 2018
News Roundup

Port Richey police charge mayor's sometimes-paramour with domestic violence

PORT RICHEY — Mayor Dale Massad's private residence continues to be a source of police activity. Last month, officers investigated a domestic violence incident that led to the arrest of a woman living at the house, according to an arrest report.

On June 4, police responded to the mayor's home, at 8221 Hayward Lane, and arrested Caj Joseph, 56, just after 8:30 p.m. on charges of felony battery, violation of a domestic violence injunction and criminal mischief.

Witnesses told officers that Joseph had punched Massad "a few times in the body, against his will." Massad also told police Joseph punched him. The police report also states Joseph hit Massad with a vehicle door and kicked the vehicle leaving a "small dent."

Police ran a computer check on Joseph and found Massad had obtained a protective order against her on Feb. 28. Port Richey Officer Robert Williams wrote in an arrest report that Joseph and Massad "live in the same household as on-again, off-again boyfriend and girlfriend." Williams also wrote that in the past he has had multiple encounters with Joseph. Massad was not arrested.

The case remains open. Police have referred it the State Attorney's Office, where it is being investigated, according to Assistant State Attorney Chris LaBruzzo. Port Richey police Chief Gerard DeCanio declined comment, citing the ongoing investigation. Massad also refused to comment.

Police are familiar with Massad's home. In August 2015, two months before Massad won the mayor's seat in a special election, another woman living on his property at the time, Jodie Cunningham, called 911 and said there were intruders in Massad's home. During the investigation, which turned up no intruders, Cunningham told officers she had used cocaine earlier in the day. Police found no evidence of illegal drugs in Massad's home and left.

In May 2016, police were again called several times to Massad's house as clashes occurred, also involving Cunningham and Joseph. During one incident that led to a battery arrest of Joseph, Massad told police Joseph had become angry and had "spit on his face and threw a cigarette, striking him in the face." Massad stated Joseph had "spit on Jodie as well." Joseph told police "she did not know spitting on someone would be considered as a battery."

Massad signed a waiver of prosecution. Cunningham refused to sign one, telling police Joseph spit on her and threw a lighter that hit her. Police arrested Joseph on a charge of misdemeanor battery. Joseph also previously has been arrested on charges of battery, solicitation of prostitution, drug possession, resisting arrest without violence and petty theft, according to court records.

Meanwhile, Massad, 66, who won re-election unopposed in April, also is dealing with a misdemeanor citation from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission on a charge of "landing, harvesting, or possession of snook." Commercial harvest or sale of snook is prohibited in Florida between May 1 and Aug. 31.

The FWC officer issued the citation on June 3, just before midnight east of the Anclote Sandbar, the document states. Massad, who has pleaded not guilty, is scheduled for an arraignment on the charge Aug. 14, according to court records.

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