Advertisement
  1. News

Ex-Port Richey mayor held without bail; says he didn't mean to shoot at deputies

The governor also suspended Dale Massad from the office of mayor and the state said it is investigating him for insurance fraud.
Published Feb. 25

PORT RICHEY — Former mayor Dale Massad remains held without bail despite arguments in court Friday that there's no evidence he meant to shoot at deputies who raided his house to arrest him Thursday.

The ruling came during Massad's first appearance on charges including attempted homicide and practicing medicine without a license.

It followed an announcement from the state's chief financial officer that Massad is also under investigation now on suspicion of insurance fraud. And later that day, Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended him from the office of Port Richey mayor.

Massad, 68, was arrested at his home Thursday by agents with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement but not before he fired twice at deputies who came to assist, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.

PREVIOUS: Port Richey mayor 'lucky he's not dead' after shots fired during FDLE arrest

He appeared on a courtroom video screen from the Pasco County jail. He hobbled to the lectern Friday and spent much of the hearing leaning in to listen, at times adjusting his striped, orange-and-white jail garb. He did not speak.

Marc Salton, one of two attorneys temporarily representing Massad, asked the judge for a "reasonable bond" and argued that the five attempted murder charges he faces, which require premeditation, were not substantiated.

"He'd have to know that he's shooting at somebody and ... that he's shooting at (at) least five people," said Salton, a former county judge.

Prosecutor Bryan Doeg responded by saying Massad "poses a real ... threat to members of the community" and that he should be held for now without bail.

Doeg also argued against bond on the grounds that Massad told authorities they should shoot him and asked whether the case would go away if he left the country. Doeg did not specify when Massad made the statements.

Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Declan Mansfield found probable cause does exist for all the charges and ordered Massad held without bail.

Frank Bianco, also representing Massad, said after the hearing that his team wants to conduct its own investigation to see where the bullets fired Thursday went. Bianco said Massad was sleeping when the SWAT raid started and his client's response was rational.

The lawyer argued that deputies could have served their search warrant at Massad's office and avoided escalating the situation. But because Massad is a political figure, Bianco said, the mayor was targeted with force.

Bianco also said the mayor has a hearing problem that may help explain his reaction to the raid.

Salton, who knows Massad personally, said, "This is totally out of character."

After Massad's arrest Thursday, Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis ordered an investigation into whether Massad billed insurance companies for medical procedures he is accused of conducting at his home.

Massad turned in his license 37 years ago after the state Board of Medicine filed several counts against him in the death of a 3-year-old girl he had treated for facial birthmarks.

FDLE agents started looking into Massad four months ago after receiving a tip from Port Richey police, and in September, set up an undercover operation, according to an arrest report.

Someone feigning a knee injury called Massad and arranged to meet with him, according to the report. Massad inspected the knee, diagnosed a tendon injury, and said he could find the proper medication to inject, according to the report.

In separate interviews, agents talked with two other people who said they had been treated by Massad.

One patient told agents that over four months, until April, Massad diagnosed a problem and removed an object from the lower back area, according to the report. He also injected the patient's shoulder with cortisone, an anti-inflammatory medication, the report said.

The other person told agents that in August, Massad anesthetized an ankle, cleaned a cut and sutured it shut, the report said.

In addition, another witness told investigators he saw Massad use a computer to order medications online between April and August .

Anyone with information about potential insurance fraud was asked to call (800) 378-0445.

The governor's office did not say if an interim mayor was appointed.

Contact Justin Trombly at jtrombly@tampabay.com. Follow @JustinTrombly.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Jose Vasquez, Jr., 22, of Tampa was charged with manslaughter on Monday after a man he fought outside the Brandon Crossroads bowling alley on Nov. 10, 2019 died from his injuries, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office
    The man Jose Vasquez, Jr. fought outside of Brandon Crossroads hit his head twice on the pavement and died on Saturday, deputies said.
  2. In this Thursday, Aug. 1, file photo, Amanda Kondrat'yev, the woman accused of throwing a sports drink at U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz in June outside a town hall meeting, arrives at Winston Arnow Federal Court House in Pensacola, Fla. Kondrat'yev has been sentenced to 15 days in federal custody for throwing the sports drink at Gaetz. TONY GIBERSON  |  AP
    Amanda Kondrat’yev pleaded guilty to assault in August and had faced up to a year in jail.
  3. Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates. Tampa Bay Times
    Charges are pending, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
  4. Maxwell Guss, 34, of Bradenton was arrested on Monday afternoon on two counts of Lewd and Lascivious Conduct by a person over 18. Sarasota Police Department
    Maxwell Guss has been on administrative leave from Brookside Middle School, where he was a business teacher.
  5. Travelers make their way to baggage claim at Orlando International Airport in August. Officials expect 1.75 million passengers to pass through the airport during the Thanksgiving holiday season.
    Officials at Orlando International Airport on Monday said they expect traffic to increase 6% from 2018.
  6. Fresno Police Chief Andrew Hall addresses the media as community leaders and personnel stand behind him about a shooting at a house party which involved multiple fatalities and injuries in Fresno, Calif., Monday. (AP Photo/Gary Kazanjian) GARY KAZANJIAN  |  AP
    Police were investigating whether the shooting was connected to a recent “disturbance” involving some of the people at the party.
  7. In this Oct. 29, 2019, file photo, Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a military officer at the National Security Council, center, arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington. Vindman is set to deliver public testimony about President Donald Trump’s alleged attempt to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political rival. Democrats and Republicans are expected to press contrasting narratives about the 20-year Army veteran’s decision to come forward to allege abuse of power by his commander-in-chief. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File) PATRICK SEMANSKY  |  AP
    Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Jennifer Williams say they had concerns as Trump spoke on July 25 with the newly elected Ukraine president.
  8. This two photo combination image taken from video released June 21, 2017, by the Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, shows kidnapped teachers Australian Timothy Weekes, top, and American Kevin King, who were both abducted by the insurgents in Afghanistan in August 2016. Three ranking Taliban prisoners released by the Kabul government have been flown to Qatar for an expected swap for the American and the Australian hostage held by the insurgents since their abduction in 2016, Taliban officials said Tuesday. (EL-EMARA Taliban via AP, File) AP
    The hostages were released in southern Zabul province, ending their more than three years in captivity.
  9. Teacher Kate Newell watches seventh graders Aaron Roxberry and Jacob Iovino practice the slope-intercept formula in one of her weekly visits to their Bayonet Point Middle algebra class, which Newell usually teaches remotely. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  10. The Secret Garden, overlooking a lively canal, provides scenic, airy dining at Silver Dolphin Restaurant & Country Store. Owner Yann Milcendeau, who designed and planted the space, says a restaurant needs "something different" to succeed. BETH N. GRAY  |  Special to the Times
    The Silver Dolphin & Country Store joins ZigZag Scallop, which opened four years ago.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement