Drug case nets siblings
The sons of Holy Ground homeless shelter owner Lisa Barabas-Henry have been indicted on federal drug charges. Lance Derek Barabas, 21, Landon Douglas Barabas, 23, and Larry Gene Barabas Jr., 25, were arrested Tuesday by federal agents on charges of trafficking and money laundering. According to the indictment handed up Oct. 20 by a grand jury in federal court in the Eastern District of Tennessee, the young men were part of a drug operation for two years involving 11 other people. They are accused of possessing - with the intent to distribute - oxycodone, ecstasy and marijuana, the indictment states. It is thought that the 14 people involved jointly earned at least $1.25 million selling drugs, according to the indictment. About $21,000 in cash was seized from two co-defendants.The Barabas siblings also are accused of laundering money. The other individuals face charges including selling drugs near an elementary schools and a park in Knoxville, Tenn. One man is accused of having a firearm while trafficking drugs. Two other local men, Richard Douglas Sullivan, 22, of 6636 Harbor Drive, Hudson, and Douglas Chantz Dodd, 20, of 9504 Marley Ave., New Port Richey, also were booked into Pinellas County Jail in connection with the case. Dodd was released the next day. David Lewen, who is prosecuting the case in Tennessee, said Thursday that he can't comment on specifics of the case. He confirmed that two search warrants were executed in connection with the indictment but could not say where or even what was seized. The Barabas brothers were booked into Pinellas County Jail on Tuesday. During a bail hearing in federal court in Tampa, their mother testified on their behalf. She put up her Beacon Woods home at 12709 Woodbine Drive as collateral for the $100,000 bail for her eldest son, Larry, court records show. The home actually is owned by Holy Ground, records state, but Barabas-Henry is the principal owner of the shelter for the homeless. As part of his agreement with the court, Larry Barabas will live at his Port Richey home, 10805 Gawain Road, with his wife. He must look for a job and can travel to Tennessee for court proceedings. His two brothers remained in jail Thursday. Bail for his youngest brother, Lance, of 101 S. 12th St., Tampa, was denied because of his "continued drug use," according to court documents. Bail for Landon Barabas, who listed his address as 8835 Denton Avenue (the homeless shelter), was taken under advisement by the judge. As boys, the Barabases often were alongside their mother at the homeless shelter she runs in Hudson. The family has endured many difficulties, including the death of the boys' father, Jody Henry, in a car crash in 2000. Since then, Lisa Barabas-Henry has fought numerous serious illnesses and survived a heart attack. Landon Barabas, a onetime Hudson High wrestling star, survived a motorcycle crash three years ago. Barabas-Henry said Thursday she was surprised by the charges and that her sons would not be convicted. "In the end, you'll see it's not them," she said, her voice cracking.
Reporter Lisa A. Davis can be reached at (727) 815-1083.