Two years after the SWAT team raid on his Port Richey home, a conclusion to the case of former Port Richey mayor Dale Massad is nearing.
During Friday morning’s 18-minute pretrial hearing conducted via Zoom, Massad and his two-man defense team accepted a plea deal that would send him to jail for three years and then require 10 years of probation following release.
Massad appeared on the Zoom call wearing his orange-and-white striped prison uniform and a blue surgical mask. He spoke twice, answering “yes” to a pair of questions from 6th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Mary Handsel regarding his understanding of the plea deal and sentencing.
Accepting the plea deal removes the need for Massad to go to trial on his two remaining cases. The plea will officially be entered and accepted in court at the West Pasco Judicial Center in New Port Richey on Wednesday, March 3.
Massad’s defense counsel — Bjorn Brunvand and Denis deVlaming — and Rita Peters, with the Florida Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution, will be present during the hearing. Massad will be on-site, but participating via video conference.
The accepted guilty plea charges Massad with one count of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, one count of a weapons offense within a dwelling and one count of resisting arrest with violence.
Following his state prison term, Massad will then be on probation for 10 years. Terms of that probation include specific psychological counseling, drug treatment, having no contact with any listed witnesses or victims involved in any case, paying restitution to a victim and paying yet-to-be-determined investigative, prosecution and court costs.
The COVID-19 pandemic and other legal issues resulted in multiple delays before getting to Friday’s pretrial plea deal. Prior to the guilty plea, Massad had already been tried and convicted in June 2019 on separate charges related to the case. He had not yet been sentenced on those charges.
Massad’s current legal troubles began nearly two years ago to the day, on Feb. 21, 2019. That’s when a Pasco County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team led an early morning raid at Massad’s Port Richey home to arrest him on charges of practicing medicine without a license. When deputies forcibly entered, Massad reportedly fired a handgun multiple times, leading to additional charges of attempted homicide.
Massad’s June 2019 trial was related to charges that came after the raid. Two charges — obstructing justice and unlawful use of a two-way communication device — were added in March 2019 because of conversations Massad had with then-acting Port Richey Mayor Terrance Rowe, while using a jail phone line.