Friday, April 27, 2018
Public safety

Pasco authorities accuse couple of extensive mail fraud

NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County deputies arrested a man and woman suspected of stealing personal information from mailboxes and using it to commit fraud.

Brian Michael Chipman, 29, of Hammond, Ind., was charged with various fraud-related offenses, burglary and 13 counts of stolen credit cards on Jan. 29. His girlfriend, Shelly Johnson, was also arrested on similar charges.

According to Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco, Chipman drove past houses in Gulf Harbors, in New Port Richey, after midnight in a rental car with no plates and the lights off. When he was pulled over, deputies found multiple pieces of mail with personal information. They also found checkbooks, credit cards, bank statements and Social Security numbers, Nocco said.

Chipman told deputies he was checking for gift cards, according to an arrest report, but only to buy food.

Investigators believe Chipman was looking for debit cards and possibly planning to file fraudulent tax returns. Detectives located at least 11 names of people in the Tampa Bay area.

In jail, Chipman spoke to Johnson on the phone and told her "we should have a bonfire." Detectives went to the couple's residence in Moon Lake and found more stolen mail — including the names of more than 900 victims and around 3,000 pieces of stolen mail.

Law enforcement agencies in surrounding jurisdictions are being contacted, and sheriff's officials said they are combing through their own incident reports, looking for related cases.

The crime spans all four counties in the Tampa Bay area, Detective Justin Ross said, and the locations seem to be random.

Chipman is being held in lieu of $10,000 bail at the Land O'Lakes jail, the Sheriff's Office said. He was charged with scheme to defraud, fraudulent use of personal information and failure to return a rented vehicle. Johnson bailed out of jail after being charged with tampering with evidence and possession of an ID that doesn't belong to her.

Ross said authorities are investigating whether more people are involved, and he urged citizens to be vigilant about mail habits. Try to meet the mailman, if possible, and be aware of incoming letters that could potentially be used to steal an identity.

"Don't leave your mail in the mailbox overnight," he said.

Comments
Deputy, another driver injured when car strikes patrol vehicle

Deputy, another driver injured when car strikes patrol vehicle

LARGO — A Pinellas County sheriff’s deputy and another driver were injured when a sports car hit a sheriff’s sport-utility vehicle on Thursday evening, according to the Sheriff’s Office.Both were expected to survive.The crash took place just after 6 ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Police announce two more arrests in St. Pete strip club shooting

Police announce two more arrests in St. Pete strip club shooting

ST. PETERSBURG — Two more arrests were made recently in connection with the April 2 shooting death of a man outside an unlicensed adult entertainment venue on Fourth Street S, police said.Rodriguez Green, 24, of Largo and Darius Trennell Collins, 23,...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Hernando High student accused of threatening to shoot up school

Hernando High student accused of threatening to shoot up school

BROOKSVILLE — A 17-year-old Hernando High School student was arrested Wednesday for threatening to shoot people at the school, according to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office.The student was serving a suspension at the time of the incident, deputie...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Details emerge in fiery crash that killed prominent Moffitt doctor

TEMPLE TERRACE — Investigators say an orange Dodge Charger was moving about 90 mph when it ran a red light and broadsided a prominent doctor’s car last month on Fowler Avenue. The impact caused Dr. Charles Canaan Williams’ Acura to...
Updated: 9 hours ago
St. Pete police: Man who stole car with baby inside arrested

St. Pete police: Man who stole car with baby inside arrested

ST. PETERSBURG — A man accused of stealing a car with a baby inside earlier this week was arrested Thursday morning when officers spotted him in another stolen car, according to St. Petersburg police.Rashad Webb, 19, was arrested at about 2 a.m. afte...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Long wait at Wingstop ends in brawl, hot oil and second degree burns

Long wait at Wingstop ends in brawl, hot oil and second degree burns

TAMPA — A customer visited Wingstop on Sunday night to pick up his order. What happened next was off-menu:Robert Williams said he suffered second-degree burns on his back and legs after a Wingstop employee threw hot oil on him during a scuffle.Willia...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Orlando man sought in Interstate 4 carjackings captured in Tampa

Orlando man sought in Interstate 4 carjackings captured in Tampa

TAMPA — A 43-year-old Orlando man who was being sought in a string of carjackings along Interstate 4 was captured on Thursday, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.Majar L. Jones, 43, was considered armed and dangerous and the subjec...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Florida has one of the highest rates of fatal hit-and-run crashes, study finds

Florida has one of the highest rates of fatal hit-and-run crashes, study finds

Florida is among the top three states with the highest per capita rates of fatal hit-and-run crashes, a new study published on Thursday by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found.From 2006 to 2016, the organization examined hit-and-run crashes in...
Published: 04/26/18
Florida man pours gasoline and sets girlfriend on fire, police say

Florida man pours gasoline and sets girlfriend on fire, police say

GAINESVILLE — A 55-year-old Florida man is accused of pouring gasoline on his girlfriend and setting her on fire.Gainesville police arrest report says Roosevelt Kitchen was charged with attempted murder. He was being held Thursday on a $1 million bon...
Published: 04/26/18
FHP identifies driver in crash that killed

FHP identifies driver in crash that killed "smiling" teen

TRINITY — Friends said what they’ll remember the most about Lillia Morris is that she was always smiling.The 17-year-old Mitchell High School junior was killed Tuesday when a sport-utility vehicle ran a red light on State Road 54 and slammed into the...
Published: 04/26/18