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Former bank executive charged with money laundering, fraud

PINELLASA former Florida National Bank executive from Dunedin was charged Tuesday with bank fraud and money laundering. A federal indictment alleges that in 1986 and 1987 Ronald Vassallo, 43, helped the bank make more than $1-million in loans to his friends and relatives, then used the proceeds to invest in his own businesses. Vassallo also forged the signatures of purported borrowers on loan documents and checks, authorities said. Vassallo owns a Dunedin restaurant called the Dog House.


ST. PETERSBURG _ Florida Power Corp. wants customers to be aware that blackouts could occur if very hot weather hits Florida and a major power plant in the state goes out of service. Florida Power spokesman Rick Janka said the utility will send notices in electric bills warning of potential energy shortages. "This is a statewide problem, not just a Florida Power problem," he said. Janka said customers should conserve energy between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.


Contractor accused

of bank fraud

TAMPA _ A Tampa contractor was charged Tuesday with bank fraud for allegedly lying to a lender about progress on 11 homes to get $300,000 that was diverted to the builder's operating expenses. Thomas C. Hills, 49, is charged with falsifying records of the amount of work done by Thomas C. Hills Contractors Inc. in order to get obtain draws on construction loans at Community Federal Savings and Loan in 1984 and 1985. A federal indictment charges that Hills used the money for operating expenses, not to complete the 11 homes involved. Hills had not been arrested as of Tuesday, authorities said.

Boy hit by gate

released from hospital

TAMPA _ Two-year-old Frank Kendrick, injured when a 200-pound gate fell on him in the Ponce de Leon public housing complex, was released from the hospital Tuesday afternoon, hospital spokesman said. Frank suffered head injuries when the gate fell on him and a playmate Sunday evening. He was in critical condition at Tampa General Hospital on Monday, but quickly improved and was released abut 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. Authorities are not certain how the gate fell. Tampa police say it rusted off its hinges, but Tampa Housing Authority officials say it may have been tampered with.


Entry forms for the "Run to Bridge the Bay" on the new span of the Howard Frankland Bridge will be available beginning Tuesday at area Foot Locker stores. A 5K run and walk are part of dedication ceremonies July 20 for the new span. Runners and walkers also may register at the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce, 100 Second Ave. N, or at the Athletic Department at the University of South Florida in Tampa (214 Physical Education Department).