PORT RICHEY, Fla. (FOX 13) - Residents of the small town of Port Richey, Florida are fed up after a string of arrests and charges being filed against the city’s mayor and vice mayor.
Thursday, Port Richey residents at Pam’s Restaurant had one thing on their minds as they sipped on a cup o' Joe: "It's disappointing," said Charles Morris, who like many community members, are shocked by the twists and turns that continue to shake up city hall.
That day, the former mayor, Dale Massad, was arrested for the second time in just weeks. Since his first arrest Feb. 21, he was suspended and then resigned from his job. Then, the vice mayor, Terrance Rowe took over but was also placed under arrest.
Now, Massad has again been arrested on new charges.
"It's very crazy," said Richard Cooling, a long-time Port Richey resident.
Massad’s first arrest came after a four-month Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation found he was practicing medicine in his home despite his license being revoked in 1992.
When the SWAT team showed up at Massad's home, the then-mayor fired shots at the agents, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.
No one was hurt. Massad was charged with attempted homicide, in addition to the original charges involving his alleged illegal medical practice.
Nearly three weeks later, Terrance Rowe, the deputy mayor of Port Richey, was arrested Wednesday night, accused of conspiring with the former mayor.
"It's very, very sad, when the public entrusts themselves with somebody like this, and then you turn around and get this, it's a slap in the face," said Cooling.
Earlier this month, investigators say Massad called Rowe from jail, and the phone call was recorded. According to officials, Massad was heard saying, “I believe Howard was hired illegally, fired illegally and re-hired illegally. I don’t know why but he is in on everything,” referring to his February arrest.
Rowe responded with, “I’m on it.”
“Okay, so anything you do is good,” Massad added.
“You know this doesn’t go down without somebody answering it,” Rowe said, according to the arrest report.
Massad now faces additional charges of conspiracy to obstruction of justice and use of a two-way communication device.
Rowe was charged with obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruction of justice. He was arrested Wednesday but bonded out by Thursday morning.