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Terrence Rowe, ex-acting mayor of Port Richey, admits to conspiracy, gets probation

The plea deal calls for 24 months probation, 50 hours of community service and a mandatory mental health evaluation.
Port Richey's then-acting mayor Terrence Rowe, 64, was arrested March 13, 2019, by Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents on charges of obstruction of justice, conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice and use of a two-way communication device to facilitate the commission of a crime. He was sentenced to 24 months probation in December after pleading guilty to two of the three charges. Prosecutors dropped the obstruction of justice charge. [Pasco County Sheriff's Office]

PORT RICHEY — Terrence Rowe, the acting mayor arrested following a telephone call from his jailed predecessor, has been sentenced to probation after admitting to conspiring with ex-mayor Dale Massad to obstruct justice.

In a Dec. 19 order, Circuit Judge Mary Handsell sentenced Rowe, 65, to two years probation, 50 hours of community service and ordered him to undergo a mental health evaluation and to pay court costs. Rowe had agreed to the plea deal 10 days earlier.

Related: Port Richey acting mayor, ex-mayor conspired in jailhouse call

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement charged Rowe on March 13 with obstruction of justice, conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice and use of a two-way communication device to facilitate the commission of a crime after his telephone conversation with Massad 10 days earlier.

Ex-Port Richey mayor Dale Massad smiles as he is escorted from court after a March 14 court hearing at the West Pasco Judicial Center in New Port Richey. TAILYR IRVINE | Times

Massad, 69, remains in jail and faces attempted murder charges after he was accused of firing at a Pasco County Sheriff’s SWAT team trying to serve a warrant at his home Feb. 21. The raid was part of a state investigation into allegations that Massad, a former physician, was practicing medicine without a license.

Related: Times Investigation: Drugs, guns and politics collided

In that March 3 recorded phone call from Massad at the Pasco Detention Center, the pair talked of intimidating a Port Richey police officer who was part of the investigation against Massad.

“I don’t know why, but he is in on everything,” Massad said of Officer Donald "Kenny'' Howard.

"I'm on it," Rowe replied.

Massad said that anything Rowe could do for him would be “good.”

“You know, this doesn’t go down without somebody answering for it,” Rowe said.

Court records show that prosecutors dropped the obstruction of justice case when Rowe plead guilty to the other two charges, both third-degree felonies. Hadsell withheld adjudication, and her order said the probation period could be cut in half if Rowe completes his financial and community service requirements within 12 months.

Massad also was charged with conspiracy and using the two-way communication device stemming from the phone call, and a jury convicted him June 25 after a one-day trial. He has not been sentenced and is scheduled to go to trail on the other, more serious charges later this year.

Related: Ex-Port Richey mayor convicted of conspiracy

Massad resigned after his arrest, but Rowe refused to follow suit after he was charged. Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended Rowe. Citizens began a recall petition to remove him from office, but Rowe eventually resigned in June, three days after Massad’s conviction.

Rowe was first elected to the Port Richey City Council in 2010 and served as acting mayor for less than three weeks before his arrest.

Attempts to reach Rowe and his attorney, Curtis Crider, were unsuccessful Tuesday. Crider did not return a phone message seeking comment. Rowe’s wife, Leticia, said her husband was unavailable. However, she did say that, as a Council member, Rowe served the city faithfully.

"Whatever promises he made, he kept. He tried to make the city a better place,'' she said.