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Couple buys estate where home burned

The 4{-acre estate once owned by businessman and banker Howard Frankland has sold to a Tampa couple for $1.975-million.

Public records show that Howard Frankland II _ grandson of the man whose name adorns Tampa Bay's busiest bridge _ sold the Palma Ceia property at 1040 Frankland Road to Cecil S. and Frances G. Harrell on Oct. 8.

Cecil "Stan" Harrell, 63, founded Tampa-based Pharmacy Management Services Inc., which sold in 1995 for about $150-million. The Harrells are also among Tampa's leading philanthropists, having donated $4-million last year to Metropolitan Ministries and $500,000 this year to the Lowry Park Zoo.

The Frankland estate was on the market when a suspicious fire destroyed the five-bedroom, 3{-bath house on Aug. 29, 1996. In February, Forrest Sink, one of Frankland's friends and a relative by marriage, committed suicide as federal agents pressured him to implicate Frankland in the fire. Frankland has not been charged in the fire and has denied knowing what happened or why.

Early this year, Great Northern Insurance Co. filed suit against Frankland, accusing him of intentionally causing the fire or knowing who did. This month, the company unexpectedly dropped the case and has given no sign whether it plans to continue to challenge Frankland's $750,000 claim.

"They haven't returned my calls," Frankland's attorney, Mike Rywant said. "I've been trying to find out when they're going to pay Mr. Frankland."