St. Petersburg Times--North Pinellas

Mysterious powder closes bank branch
By Times Staff Writer
Published October 4, 2003

EAST LAKE - A branch of the First National Bank was evacuated for about 90 minutes Friday after employees found an unusual black metallic powder on bills they were counting.

No one was taken to the hospital, but two of the bank's six employees told East Lake Fire Rescue that the substance irritated their throats.

The bank, 1100 East Lake Road, was cleared out about 10:30 a.m.

"In this day and age, you've got to take every precaution you can," branch manager Robert Depace said.

A Pinellas County hazardous materials team scoured the bank with equipment that can detect radioactive, biological and chemical agents. All tests came back negative, said Palm Harbor Fire Rescue Division Chief Craig Maciuba, who was in charge of the hazmat team.

The team isolated the money, which came in Thursday from a Clearwater nightclub, and sent a sample to a University of South Florida lab for more tests. Pinellas County sheriff's detectives called the nightclub, where an employee told them nothing was out of the ordinary.