Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

USF police turn over bike case to state prosecutors

TAMPA — University of South Florida police have asked state prosecutors to decide whether a university vice president should be charged in a bike theft.

Dr. Abdul Rao, senior associate vice president for research at University of South Florida Health, was captured on surveillance video last week accompanying a man as he removed a red mountain bike from the loading dock at the Johnnie B. Byrd Sr. Alzheimer's Center & Research Institute.

Rao has admitted a lapse in judgment, but maintains he was lending the bike to a "semi-homeless" man who does odd jobs for him.

He said the man, Victor Waiters, 45, told him the bike would help him replace his ID and get to County Line Road to work.

Rao said Monday that he has bought Waiters three bikes in the past and decided this time to lend him one of the bikes from the loading dock — bikes he said he thought were abandoned.

But Tim Boyd, the graduate student who owns the bike, said that when the video surfaced, Rao tried to pressure him to drop the charges, chalking it up to a misunderstanding.

Boyd declined.

Lt. Meg Ross of USF police said Monday that the agency has turned over the case to the State Attorney's Office because the charge would amount to misdemeanor petty theft.

Meanwhile, USF administrators are reviewing the incident to determine what, if any, discipline is warranted.

University spokesman Michael Hoad said that while the incident itself does not amount to a serious crime, its implications upon his position of leadership warrant a second look.

"It's the circumstance of it being a student (who is the victim) and him (Rao) having admitted a lapse in judgment," Hoad said.

Rao said he learned only Wednesday of concerns about the bike. He said Waiters was on his way to return it at that point.

Rao said he contacted YouTube to have the video removed from its Web site. A second version of the video, however, popped up Friday. It shows Waiters and Rao looking over bikes at the loading dock before Waiters walks one down the ramp and both men leave.

Rao, hired in 2006, has taken a paid leave from his job while the police and university review the incident. His contracted salary is $269,280, plus administrative stipends totaling $115,000, for a total compensation of $384,280, according to the university.

He said that while he takes responsibility for making a bad decision, he thinks the flap over the bike opened floodgates to those who were unhappy with him for making changes at USF.

"This is an opportunity for people who are not supportive to take a stab at me," he said.

Boyd's bike is valued at about $100, according to a police report.

Rebecca Catalanello can be reached at rcatalanello@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3383.

USF police turn over bike case to state prosecutors 02/16/09 [Last modified: Monday, February 16, 2009 11:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trump pays somber tribute to fallen troops on Memorial Day

    National

    ARLINGTON, Va. — President Donald Trump expressed the nation's "boundless" gratitude for the ultimate sacrifice paid by Americans defending the United States, dedicating his first Memorial Day address as commander in chief to a top Cabinet secretary and two other families who lost loved ones.

    Brittany Jacobs, left, watches as her 6-year-old son Christian Jacobs meets President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery, Monday, May 29, 2017, in Arlington, Va. Jacobs father, Marine Sgt. Christopher Jacobs, was killed in 2011. [Associated Press]
  2. Florida education news: Budgets, discipline, charter schools and more

    Blogs

    BUDGETING: Florida school district officials keep a close eye on their spending plans as they await word on the Legislature's budget. Gov. Rick Scott

  3. Forecast: Return of summertime pattern means afternoon storms on tap for Tampa Bay

    Weather

    As if Memorial Day wasn't enough of a signal that summer truly is upon us, this week's forecast across the Tampa Bay area will be a stark reminder.

    Tampa Bay's 7-day forecast. [WTSP]
  4. Tiger Woods says medication, not alcohol, led to DUI arrest in Florida

    Public Safety

    Players arriving for a tournament this week at Muirfield Village might notice a framed picture of Tiger Woods with a resplendent smile and bright red shirt. He's posed there with the trophy, an image that embodies the excitement he once brought to golf.

    This image provided by the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office on Monday, May 29, 2017, shows Tiger Woods. Police in Florida say Tiger Woods was been arrested for DUI.  [Palm Beach County Sheriff's office via AP]
  5. Manuel Noriega, Panamanian strongman toppled in U.S. invasion, dies at 83

    Obituaries

    Gen. Manuel Noriega, the Panamanian strongman and onetime American ally who was toppled from power in a 1989 U.S. invasion and who spent more than two decades imprisoned on drug dealing and conspiracy convictions, died late Monday. He was most likely 83.

    Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega waves to newsmen after a state council meeting, at the presidential palace in Panama City, where they announced the new president of the republic in 1989. Panama's ex-dictator Noriega died Monday, May 29, 2017, in a hospital in Panama City. He was 83. [Associated Press]