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Woman whose car crashed into Pasco triplets has tainted past

HUDSON — Betty-Jo Tagerson had been working at the doctor's office for three years before anyone noticed money missing.

But when Tagerson went on vacation for two weeks in late 2007, an employee at Ramappa M.D. in New Port Richey suspected patient cash payments had been erased from the computer.

The office discovered almost $8,000 had vanished and pointed the finger at Tagerson, an office manager. The Pasco Sheriff's Office arrested her on a charge of scheme to defraud and she later entered a pretrial intervention program that, if completed, would result in the charge being dismissed.

But the restitution she owed ballooned to more than $19,000, and since January 2008, the doctor's office said Tuesday, Tagerson has made only eight payments, all of them short of the $500 monthly installment.

"We haven't received nearly the amount we were supposed to," Ramappa office manager Laura Webber said.

Now Tagerson, 39, of Hudson, is the focus of another investigation. The Florida Highway Patrol says that on Friday evening she sped down her residential street and crashed into a group of 5-year-old triplets and their friend playing in a yard.

One of the triplets, Delaney Rossman, died the next morning. Her sister Gabrielle was severely injured. The third triplet, Isabella, escaped with cuts and bruises, as did their 9-year-old neighbor, Marrisa Manuli.

The highway patrol is investigating and has not charged Tagerson.

On Tuesday, as the triplets' mother, Danielle Malm, kept vigil at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, Gabrielle's condition improved from critical to serious. She is stable with two broken clavicles, a broken pelvis, several broken ribs, a broken right leg, a collapsed lung and internal bleeding.

The public visitation and funeral for Delaney is set for Thursday at Aripeka Baptist Church, and a trust has been set up for the Rossman girls.

Tagerson lives on Kings Manor Avenue in Country Club Estates, off U.S. 19 in northwest Pasco County. She has not been available for comment since the accident. Neighbors say she and her ex-husband, Jason Gordon, live together and remain a couple.

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Gordon, 32, has been charged with being an out-of-state fugitive, marijuana possession and twice driving under the influence. The outcomes of the cases are not clear.

Another ex-husband, Rick Tagerson, 41, answered the door at Tagerson's house on Saturday. Records show he has faced charges including aggravated assault, burglary, battery and driving under the influence.

Betty-Jo Tagerson wrote on her Facebook page recently that she just became a grandmother. And on Sunday, she and Gordon left a note among the cards and stuffed animals set up as a memorial for Delaney. It read: "Sorry about the tragedy. If you all need anything let us know. With love, Jason Gordon, Betty-Jo Tagerson."

Her driving record includes two tickets for speeding from 2004 and failure to observe a traffic sign or device, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. She also had her license suspended for about eight months beginning in October 2009 for not having personal injury protection insurance.

The highway patrol does not expect to conclude its investigation of the crash for several weeks, pending the outcome of toxicology tests.

Susan Gardner, a former assistant public defender and current circuit judge who represented Tagerson in the fraud case, said she didn't recall her having any substance abuse problems. Webber, at the doctor's office, said the same.

Times staff writer Drew Harwell contributed to this story. Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6245.

Arrangements

The public visitation

and funeral service for

Delaney Rossman will be noon Thursday at Aripeka Baptist Church, 18731 Aripeka Road in Aripeka. Those who want to send flowers or to make a contribution toward funeral expenses may contact Dobies Funeral Home at (727) 868-4441.

Donations: A trust fund

for the family has been

set up at Fifth Third Bank

in the name of Triplets Memorial Fund. Donations may be mailed directly

to Fifth Third Bank, Bayonet Point Financial Center,

12231 U.S. 19, M T42366, Bayonet Point, FL, 34667.

Woman whose car crashed into Pasco triplets has tainted past 11/09/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 10, 2010 7:18am]
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