Pasco Veterans charity founder reaches plea deal in drug case

The co-founder of the Pasco-based charity Veterans Alternative did not contest a felony drug possession charge this week and was sentenced to 18 months probation.

Deputies have charged Brian Anderson, 39, with possession of a controlled substance after saying he tried to swallow Xanax while in custody following his July 2021 trial and conviction for assault and battery.

At the time, the Pasco Sheriff’s Office said Anderson, while being searched, pulled a Ziploc bag from his pocket and attempted to ingest the small orange pill it contained. A deputy intervened and retrieved the pill – identified as Xanax, for which Anderson did not have a prescription.

Xanax is used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. Possession without a prescription is a third-degree felony under Florida law, punishable by up to five years in prison, a $5,000 fine and five years probation.

The battery conviction stems from an incident in October 2020, when a massage therapist accused Anderson of touching her inappropriately.

During the trial, massage therapist Mariah King said Anderson touched her arm and upper thigh, put his arm around her and violated her personal space.

A jury found him guilty in a one-day trial and a Pasco County Court judge later sentenced him to 120 days in jail. Anderson quit as CEO of Veterans Alternative on the day of his trial, the charity said afterwards.

Related: Women tell of allegations of sexual harassment by the head of the Pasco veterans association

In May 2021, three other women said that while working at Veterans Alternative in its early years, Anderson experienced unwanted physical contact and sexual advances. Anderson denied the allegations.

A decorated U.S. Army veteran and former Green Beret, Anderson co-founded the nonprofit Veterans Alternative in 2014 to help veterans dealing with trauma.

The plea agreement signed by Pasco Circuit Court Judge Kimberly Campbell on Tuesday also calls for Anderson to abide by a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew and pay more than $600 in court costs. . She opted for arbitration.

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