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The mission: Solving Manatee's violent crimes

MANATEE — A local crime fighting group has stepped up with quite a bit of cash to give law enforcement some help in getting information on Manatee County’s recent wave of homicides and home invasions.

The Manatee County Gold Star Club presented Sheriff Brad Steube with a $25,000 check this week to be used to pay informants who provide information leading to arrests in violent crime cases.

Concern by Gold Star members has heightened in recent months as the number of homicides in Manatee has reached an all-time high, says Gold Star President Ron Getman, also a county commissioner.

“We are concerned about these recent crime issues and felt like we wanted to offer help,” said Getman.

Getman said the donation is more than is usually offered by Gold Star, but the recent homicides and home invasions called for a bigger check, and the sheriff’s office can use the funds as needed.

Manatee Sheriff Brad Steube has expressed frustration over the violence that has plagued Manatee this year. He voiced his gratitude for the donation.

“It shows they are just as concerned about the crime as anybody else and getting it under control,” Steube said. “They have given us this money and said, ‘Use it to the best of your ability to try to get some information on these homicides and home invasions.’”

Florida State Rep. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, also expressed his anger at the rash of violence, saying that he plans to address it in Tallahassee. He said many of his constituents have contacted his office expressing fear and concern over the violence, which Galvano believes is a symptom of a down economy.

“I am very frustrated. This is not the place I grew up in,” said Galvano. “I think all of us need to be a part of changing this on a local level and in Tallahassee. And I think it’s great when local groups like Gold Star step up and work to help law enforcement.”

Gold Star has long been offering rewards for unsolved homicide cases, the latest being the killing of 18-year-old Tevin Yawn in his Palmetto home on Feb. 28. There is a $5,000 reward being offered for information in Yawn’s killing.

Several other cases are also profiled on Gold Star’s Web site, including the Nov. 19, 2007, home invasion shooting death of Machelle Brinson in her Memphis home, and the disappearance of Holmes Beach motel owner Sabine Musil-Buehler.

A list of rewards being offered by Gold Star can be found on the club’s Web site, www.goldstarclub.com. Getman said rewards are offered when law enforcement agency heads request them on a case-by-case basis.

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