Pastor's Past Raises Concerns In Tea
July 7, 2009, 7:56 AM
The founder of a youth center that's set to open this month in Tea has criminal convictions and charges pending.
Joe Panaia Jr., the 42-year-old pastor of Bridging the Gap Ministries, says on his Web site that his past is an "open book." But he declined to talk about it, other than to say his lawyer misled him about a plea deal involving an indecent exposure charge.
Criminal records show Panaia has convictions for theft and indecent exposure in South Dakota. He also faces charges of bigamy and perjury in Maryland. A prosecutor says there is a warrant out for Panaia's arrest.
Residents of Tea say the youth center is a much-needed addition, but some say they're worried about Panaia's involvement. Perry Edblom, a friend and youth center volunteer, says Panaia is a good person.
Panaia says his goal for the center is to give youth a safe place to go and stay out of trouble.
© 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. Material may not be redistributed.
12/3/2013 10:40 AM
Schools in Dell Rapids are back to normal, after students were told to stay inside much of Tuesday morning while law enforcement looked for someone in...
12/4/2013 6:00 PM
Two Watertown High School students are expected to appear in court in Sioux Falls Thursday for murdering 20-year-old Jordan LeBeau on Monday.
12/3/2013 4:35 PM
Snow reports of six to ten inches have already been reported in west central to northwest South Dakota. That is, from Stanley and Haakon Countie...
12/4/2013 9:55 AM
Robbery was the motive behind a crime in Sioux Falls that ended with one man dead and another hurt.
12/5/2013 11:55 AM
A northwest Iowa day care provider has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of a three-year-old girl she was watching in late October.