User uShare Login | Register

Along with posting photos, videos, and stories, your uShare account lets you post Classified Ads, recipes on What's For Dinner, and Announcements.

26° View Weather Current Conditions Sioux Falls Change Location
Set Weather Options



Significant snowfall for KELOLAND on Monday. Click Here For Storm Center Update. | Sioux Falls News & Weather, South Dakota News & Weather, Minnesota and Iowa News

[0] My Saved Articles
Find local businesses
on the KELO Pages!


Tea Pastor Has Long Criminal Past

July 13, 2009, 6:01 PM by Brian Kushida

Tea Pastor Has Long Criminal Past
A Tea man on the South Dakota Sex Offender Registry has gone quiet about opening up a community church and youth center in the town.

Forty-two-year-old pastor Joe Panaia Jr. spoke with KELOLAND News a little more than a week ago, as he prepared to open his Bridging the Gap Community Church and Youth Center.

Panaia said his sex offense status had nothing to do with kids, and that he wants to help local teens. But the man who asked the public for a second chance has been in trouble with the law since then.

Tea resident Joe Panaia Jr. refused to comment Monday on why he's keeping his community church and youth center open, despite new details, and concern, emerging about his criminal past.

His criminal record in South Dakota alone is seven pages long.

In October 1999, authorities arrested Panaia for sexual contact without consent. Those charges were dropped.

But in January 2003, he pleaded guilty to indecent exposure after records say he exposed himself to a woman. He spent 30 days in jail and is now a registered sex offender.

His run-ins weren't limited to sex charges. Panaia was accused of grand theft of over $500 in May 2005. Those charges were dismissed, but he did plead guilty to social services fraud of $200 or less, and spent less than a week in jail.

Two years later in 2007, he pleaded guilty to forgery, had to pay $575 dollars in restitution, and went on probation for 18 months.

Later that year, he faced several driving violations, including not having a driver's license, but those charges were dropped.

And just last week, Panaia pleaded guilty to driving without a license, and was ordered to pay a $50 fine.

Reports also say Panaia is wanted in Maryland on charges of bigamy and perjury in Maryland.

The director of the youth center said Monday he would not comment on Panaia or the center, despite saying he backed Panaia earlier this month.

Previous Story

Next Story



You may also like

Ronald Neels Sentenced To 75 Years In Prison

11/23/2015 5:59 PM

For more than a decade, nobody knew Ronald Neels was sexually abusing a victim inside his home near Garretson. The victim never said anything about th...

Full Story | Watch
Roslyn Man Arrested In Shooting

11/21/2015 4:46 PM

A Roslyn, South Dakota man is accused of trying to kill another man overnight.

Full Story
Harrisburg High School Wins $100,000

11/25/2015 9:01 AM

Students at Harrisburg High School are celebrating Wednesday morning.

Full Story
Tyrese Ruffin's Mother Speaks Publicly For First Time

11/25/2015 6:18 AM

In her first and only television interview, Doohen talked about her son, who she called the joy of her life.

Full Story
LHS Student Charged With Making Bomb Threat

11/23/2015 10:53 AM

Sioux Falls Police said a 16-year-old student wrote a message on a bathroom mirror.

Full Story