Former AME principal arrested in prostitution sting

By Amy V.T. Moriarty

Islander Reporter

A former principal at Anna Maria Elementary was arrested in Hillsborough County in September.

Thomas Levengood, 68, was arrested for entering/remaining in place for prostitution, lewdness or assignation by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, according to a Sept. 10 arrest record.

An attorney entered a not guilty plea Sept. 14 on Levengood’s behalf.

Natalia Verdina, public relations coordinator for HCSO, said Levengood was arrested at 3:05 p.m. at Sun City Park in Ruskin, where he allegedly approached an undercover detective and solicited sex.

Verdina said no money was exchanged between Levengood and the detective.

Levengood was released from jail after posting a $250 cash bond. He is scheduled to appear before 13th Judicial Circuit Court Judge John Conrad for virtual arraignment proceedings Oct. 12, according to court records.

Grayson Kamm, chief communications director for the State’s Attorney’s Office in the 13th Judicial Circuit, said charges were filed in that office Sept. 25.

A Sept. 18 news release from HCSO identified Levengood as one of 11 men arrested by deputies in two Hillsborough County parks, as part of “Operation Park Cleanup.” All were similarly accused in the sting operation.

According to that news release, deputies focused their enforcement efforts on Sun City Heritage Park and Sydney Dover Conservation Park in Dover because both “are known to deputies as points where men meet for sex.”

Levengood was the principal at AME from February 2007 through June 2014. He was the principal at Bayshore Elementary from August 1994 through January 2007.

Levengood was unavailable for comment and his attorney, Brian Palacios, declined to discuss the case.

If convicted of the second-degree misdemeanor, Levengood could face up to 60 days in prison and/or a fine up to $500.