Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Security company reports clash with former Hillsborough judge

TAMPA — Robert Bonanno was once a powerful judge in Hillsborough County. He didn't have to deal with security to enter his chambers in the old courthouse on Pierce Street.

Things changed after Bonanno resigned amid a 2001 ethics investigation.

On Friday, Bonanno was just another lawyer headed into the State Attorney's Office, meaning he had to go through metal detectors. But, according to a report, he thought he was above the rules and lashed out with a racial insult.

Bonanno didn't want to put his wallet through an X-ray machine, private security company G4S reported to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

"The subject, a private attorney, began yelling that he does not need to go through that process due to who he is," reported security officer Marie Leggon.

Another officer told him those were the rules.

"He started calling me names, like 'stupid dumb black lady' and 'low life,' " security officer Lurene Easterly reported. "I asked him not to call me names. He kept calling me names. I told him, 'I will call a deputy.' He said, 'Call them.' He didn't care."

Bonanno eventually put his wallet in the X-ray machine and passed through security. Two minutes later, he returned, ready to leave.

This time, deputies were on their way.

"I asked him to please wait for law enforcement to come over," Leggon said. "The subject continued yelling that no one can make him stay as he exited the door."

When deputies arrived, Bonanno was gone.

Witnesses at the State Attorney's Office recognized the former judge. Deputies pulled up a photo from his law firm website. The officers confirmed it was him.

Bonanno faces no charges, said sheriff's Col. Jim Previtera. He wasn't required to stay and wait for a deputy. The former judge isn't the only attorney who has ever been rude to a security officer.

"Unfortunately, there's a very small number of attorneys who enter the courthouse who routinely engage in this kind of conduct toward the screeners and the deputies," Previtera said.

None, however, has prompted the private security company to file a report for this kind of behavior, Previtera said.

Bonanno's downfall began in 2000, when a bailiff found him after hours in another judge's darkened office. That judge, Gregory Holder, was out of town.

A grand jury found that Bonanno told "incredible and conflicting" stories about why he was in Holder's office.

A state House committee had begun impeachment proceedings when Bonanno stepped down. He otherwise would have faced questions about a courthouse affair, the sealing of cases and the purchase of a $450,000 model home.

Bonanno, 66, runs a for-profit course aimed at helping people stay out of trouble while on probation. He didn't return two phone messages or an e-mail about Friday's incident.

"I would certainly hope that he was having a bad day," Col. Previtera said, "and that his behavior won't be repeated."

Times staff writer Sue Carlton contributed to this report. Alexandra Zayas can be reached at or (813) 226-3354.

Security company reports clash with former Hillsborough judge 07/05/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 6, 2011 12:32am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trump reveals that he didn't record Comey after all


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump declared Thursday he never made and doesn't have recordings of his private conversations with ousted former FBI director James Comey, ending a monthlong guessing game that he started with a cryptic tweet and that ensnared his administration in yet more controversy.

    President Donald Trump said Thursday that he didn’t record his conversations with James Comey.
  2. Lightning fans, don't get attached to your first-round draft picks

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — When Lightning GM Steve Yzerman announces his first-round pick Friday night in the amateur draft at No. 14, he'll invite the prospect onto the stage for the once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) eludes  Montreal Canadiens left wing Phillip Danault (24) during the second period of Wednesday???‚??„?s (12/28/16) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  3. Investigation Discovery TV show profiles 2011 Landy Martinez murder case


    The murder of a St. Petersburg man will be featured this week on a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery.

    Jose Adame sits in a Pinellas County courtroom during his 2016 trial and conviction for first-degree murder. Adame was convicted of first-degree murder last year for torturing and then executing his boyfriend as he pleaded for his life in 2011. Now it will be featured in a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery. The episode will air on June 26 at 9 p.m. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  4. Uhuru mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel protests exclusion from debate


    ST. PETERSBURG — Jesse Nevel, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement candidate for mayor, on Thursday demanded that he be allowed to participate in a July 25 televised debate between incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and challenger Rick Baker.

    Mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel holds a news conference outside the headquarters of the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday to protest his exclusion from the mayoral debate. Nevel is a member of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement.
  5. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman also has top-9 wing on his wish list

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Much has been made about the Lightning's interest in bolstering its blue line, even after last week's acquisition of defense prospect Mikhail Sergachev.

    Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman gestures as he speaks to the media about recent trades during a news conference before an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. The Lightning, over the past few days, have traded goaltender Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings, forward Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and forward Valtteri Filppula to the Philadelphia Flyers. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA101