ZEPHYRHILLS — Pasco Sheriff's deputy William Peace Jr. followed the white Cadillac on Tuesday afternoon as it traveled down State Road 54, plodding 20 mph below the speed limit.
The nine-year agency veteran expected to find an impaired driver when he followed the car into a shopping center. Instead he found Mary Anne Mann, 78, and her 11-year old dog.
Peace recognized her immediately. In June 2008, he had investigated when she reported the Cadillac as stolen. He found it at a mechanic's shop almost two weeks after she had dropped it off for an oil change.
He remembered her confused mental state and the sad story of a son battling a terminal illness.
When he ran her license Tuesday, he found it was suspended, and there was a warrant out for the grandmother's arrest.
The crime? A parking ticket from November 2008. She never paid the fine or acknowledged the eventual summons to appear in court.
Peace called his supervisor for guidance. She tried to drive away. The deputy called for backup.
He didn't handcuff Mann and he asked a fellow deputy to take her dog, a friendly white pup named Sadie, home so it wouldn't end up in the hands of Animal Control.
Mann was taken to the Land O'Lakes jail, her mug shot and fingerprints taken. Her family said she was put in her own cell and treated very nicely.
She spent 5‑1/2 hours at the jail Tuesday night for not appearing in court on charges she had parked within 10 feet of a fire hydrant.
"Once the deputy determines there's a warrant, he's bound by law to serve the warrant," said Sheriff's Offices spokesman Kevin Doll.
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Thursday afternoon, Mann looked quizzically at a copy of the Nov. 10 parking ticket, obtained by a reporter.
It said she had to pay $40 within 30 days, or $75 within 40 days.
"I don't remember getting this," said Mann, who has no prior arrests. "Had I known about it, I would have paid it."
The delinquency notice that arrived two months later didn't jog her memory, though she recognized her signature on the certified mail receipt. Neither did the summons to appear in court at 8:30 a.m. May 1.
After Mann failed to show up, the judge issued a warrant for her arrest.
Mann worked for many years as an anesthetist at St. Joseph's Hospital and the James A. Haley VA Medical Center in Tampa, her family said. Her ex-husband is long gone from his own battle with cancer.
Her small, neat Zephyrhills home is filled with stacks of National Geographic magazines, dark wood furniture and family photos, old and new. She points out her son who lives in Australia, and her other son who died in November.
His death came eight days after she received that parking ticket. Maybe, she reflected Thursday, she was too consumed with grief to deal with the citation.
"I wish I had the kind of mind that could figure this out," she said.
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Sawyer Mann spoke to his grandmother Wednesday. The 23-year-old is on leave from the Coast Guard for a few days to visit his mother in Wesley Chapel, then he returns to his station in Miami.
His grandmother didn't mention the arrest.
"She used to be as sharp as a tack, but now she's going downhill," Sawyer said.
He said he noticed it before his father died, but since then, his grandmother has become more and more depressed.
"All of her friends had moved out of her neighborhood, my dad was the person she could rely on," he said. "It's hard on her now. All she has is her dog, really."
Doll said the Sheriff's Office notified the Department of Children and Families after their dealings with Mann this week and last June. Sawyer Mann said he and his family are trying to figure out the next step for his grandmother.
Her case will likely go to court in September.
Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report. Helen Anne Travis can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 435-7312.