NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. — Circuit Court Judge Mary Handsel denied a motion from Dale Massad’s attorneys requesting that she set bond for the former Port Richey mayor.
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Massad’s been in custody since he was arrested after allegedly shooting at deputies serving a warrant at his Hayward Ln. home in the early morning hours of February 21.
Massad’s son and sister both testified that they would be willing to watch over him and make sure that he followed any court-ordered conditions of his release if he did receive bond.
“Absolutely – whatever the court sees fit,” said Rainey Massad, Dale Massad’s son.
Massad’s sister, Darla Massad, told the court she’d be willing to temporarily move into her brother’s home while on summer break from her job as principal at a school in Oklahoma.
“Would you be willing to even seek a leave of absence, if necessary, if you had to stay longer than the summer?” Bjorn Brunvand, one of Massad’s attorneys, asked her.
“Yes, sir,” she replied.
Attorney Denis deVlaming read a letter written by Massad to Judge Handsel about his time in jail.
“’My health has continued to fail while some state witnesses have taken turns burglarizing my home,'" the letter reads. "'I cannot see my grandchildren or defend myself from the character assassination from the media involved in this case.'"
Handsel also heard from the Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement’s lead investigator in the case. Special Agent Corey Davidson testified about a jailhouse phone call recorded last week between Massad and his on-and-off girlfriend, Caj Joseph, regarding one of the state’s witnesses in Massad’s case, Thomas Crawford.
“They had a conversation regarding his testimony and him changing his testimony and going to the defense to change his testimony that he had given to me,” said Davidson.
According to Davidson, Crawford did go to Massad’s defense attorneys following that phone call and changed his testimony.
Handsel questioned the appropriateness of a state witness speaking with Massad’s defense team without both sides being present. Brunvand told reporters after court that there’s nothing inappropriate about a witness wanting to speak to Massad’s defense attorneys and that the conversation could have been misinterpreted.
“There’s two things,” said Brunvand. “There’s his home being burglarized during the time period, which she has information about. Then there’s also the possibility that certain witnesses weren’t being truthful with law enforcement, and now they’re coming forward to tell us they weren’t being truthful initially.”
The attorneys did express some frustration with their client.
“We’ve told him and reminded him constantly that everything he says on those phone calls, unless it’s to a lawyer, is recorded," said deVlaming. "Dale Massad is going to do what Dale Massad wants to do, and we’ve encouraged him to shut up.”
Handsel denied the request for bond, saying she initially issued zero bond based on the most recent charges stemming from another jailhouse phone call – this one with former acting mayor Terrence Rowe, in which Massad and Rowe allegedly conspired to intimidate a Port Richey Police officer involved in his case – and that nothing has changed.
Handsel also noted that, based on reports of the phone call with Joseph, Massad seems to be able to actively participate in his case despite being in jail. The judge said the issue of bond can be revisited following Massad’s upcoming trial on the obstruction charges linked to the Rowe phone call.
That trial is scheduled to begin June 24.