Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Alleged Lake City prison-shooting scheme has ties to Tampa

One of the inmates accused of shooting themselves in what authorities say was a scheme to sue the state in an effort to win an earlier release date from a northern Florida prison has a lengthy record in Hillsborough County.

His mother, who is from Tampa, was in jail on charges that she participated in the plot with at least four others, in addition to the inmates who allegedly shot themselves.

Joanne Billups, 46, was arrested Tuesday and booked into the Hillsborough County jail on 10 counts of introducing contraband into a correctional facility. She is accused of sending her son, Deshandre Billups, 26, at least 10 text messages on a contraband cellphone in the days leading up to the March 22 shootings, including one just hours before they happened.

The younger Billups was charged in the scheme with inmate Kirk Cartwright, 33, both of whom shot themselves with .25-caliber Beretta semiautomatic handgun inside the Columbia Correctional Institution in Lake City, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

The two told investigators they were shot inside a cell while praying. But the FDLE says they actually shot themselves with the intent of suing the Florida Department of Corrections.

Investigators say the two conspired to smuggle cellphones and drugs into the prison for personal use or sales, and managed to get the gun sent by mail to the prison without detection. A third inmate is accused with assisting the plot, along with two girlfriends and a sister of the inmates.

Billups' mother was being held in Hillsborough on an out-of-county warrant on $100,000 bail. Her son is serving a 20-year sentence on charges of robbery with a deadly weapon, a gun, and armed burglary, according to the Department of Corrections.

His sentence stems from a January 2009 home-invasion robbery in Hillsborough County for which he initially faced charges of armed robbery, auto theft and possession of a firearm by a felon. He has a lengthy arrest record in Hillsborough for charges including auto theft, illegal weapons possession and escape from police custody.

Alleged Lake City prison-shooting scheme has ties to Tampa 06/18/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 18, 2014 9:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 5 things to do under $5: Where to see solar eclipse, Bucs training camp

    Events

    1 Solar eclipse: Turn around, bright eyes. Monday brings a total eclipse of the sun, and you'll need protective eyewear to see it. The bay area won't be plunged into darkness for a few minutes like the middle of the country, but with solar lenses you can see this rare event. The Museum of Science and Industry, …

    This photo shows a “diamond ring” shape during the 2016 total solar eclipse in Indonesia. For the 2017 eclipse over the United States, the National Science Foundation-funded movie project nicknamed Citizen CATE will have more than 200 volunteers trained and given special small telescopes and tripods to observe the sun at 68 locations in the exact same way.
  2. Florida man has some of Princess Di's wedding cake, plus 13,000 other royal items (w/photos)

    Human Interest

    John Hoatson recalls the day it all began with perfect clarity.

    John Hoatson poses with a photo taken in 2006 when he met Sarah “Fergie” Ferguson, the Duchess of York, for tea at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in California.
  3. Pasco doubles tourist tax to finance sports complex

    Tourism

    DADE CITY — Pasco County is doubling its tourist tax to 4 percent to build an indoor sports complex in Wesley Chapel and improve its outdoor boat ramps in west Pasco.

    Pasco County's plan to double its tourist tax on overnight accommodations to 4 percent is intended to help finance a $25 million sports complex in the Wiregrass Ranch area of Wesley Chapel. It  would include a 98,000-quare-foot multipurpose gymnaisium of eight basketball courts and dedicated space for gymnastics, cheerleading and a fitness center. Shown here is the four-court fieldhouse with 50,000-square-feet of space for competitions at  Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex.  Times photo by James Borchuck (2007)
  4. Les Miller on Charlottesville: 'This is not what we should about'

    Blogs

    TAMPA -- In the aftermath of the violent protests in Charlottesville, Va., and ahead of today's continued conversation on Tampa's Confederate monument, Hillsborough County Commissioner Les Miller on Wednesday looked to inspire unity in an invocation that a colleague called "inspirational."

    Hillsborough County Commissioner Les Miller prayed for unity during Wednesday's Hillsborough County Commission meeting, following the violent protests in Charlottesville that left 19 injured and one dead.
  5. Here's what Florida's gubernatorial contenders say about removing Confederate monuments from public lands

    Blogs

    Gwen Graham: "Our state's role in the Civil War and the deplorable promotion of slavery still cause deep pain today. We all have a responsibility to combat racism and hate wherever it …

    Protesters climb the Confederate Memorial in Tampa on Sunday night after more than 200 people marched down the streets of downtown Tampa to protest white supremacy. Members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and Hillsborough Flaggers plan are standing guard now to protect the statute.