Alex Orlando, Times Staff Writer

Alex Orlando

Alex Orlando covers crime, breaking news and features in Pasco County.

Orlando, who joined the Tampa Bay Times in 2012, is a second-generation Floridian who grew up in the city of Alachua. He is a graduate of the University of Florida, where he started his journalism career at the Independent Florida Alligator. He previously interned at the Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., the Tampa Tribune and the North Florida Herald in High Springs.

Phone: (727) 869-6247

Email: aorlando@tampabay.com

Twitter: @SAOrlando

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  1. Lutz escape wasn't the first time, fugitive tells deputies

    Crime

    LUTZ — Back in jail after his Sept. 8 escape and subsequent manhunt, deputies say Jason Wayne Adams made a startling admission to them: This wasn't his first time on the lam.

    The 27-year-old state prison inmate first made news when he walked off a work crew in Lutz and was hunted overnight by scores of law enforcement officers. He ended his brief emancipation by riding a bicycle in broad daylight — and in sight of a Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy....

    Jason Adams, 27, escaped from an inmate work detail in Lutz.
  2. Deputies: Holiday man pulls stick-up at bar, says he's just kidding

    Crime

    HOLIDAY — A man with a hood and bandana over his face burst into the Forest Hills Golf and Country Club's bar Sunday night, pointed his gun at the bartender and announced that this was a holdup.

    "Let me at the register," Stephen Randall Koulias yelled, according to a Pasco sheriff's report. "Give me the (expletive) money! Hurry up!"

    But then he took a look around.

    When Koulias, 22, realized other people were in the bar, he dropped the act and pulled off his bandana and hood. He said he was just kidding....

    Stephen Koulias, 22, was arrested after deputies watched surveillance video from the bar.
  3. Adam Matos' story in Pasco quadruple murder backed by no one (w/ video)

    Crime

    HUDSON — Adam Matos, the only suspect in a grisly quadruple murder, floated a new theory during a jailhouse interview this week about who he thinks might be the culprit.

    Matos is at the center of the investigation into the deaths of ex-girlfriend Megan Brown, her parents, Greg and Margaret, and her new boyfriend, Nicholas Leonard. Their bodies were found Sept. 4 stacked on a hill near the Brown home....

    Adam Matos isn’t charged in the Hudson quadruple murder.
  4. Suspect in Hudson murders speaks from jail (w/video)

    Crime

    LAND O'LAKES — Adam Matos doesn't believe he can change any minds.

    After the bodies of his ex-girlfriend, her parents and her new boyfriend were found baking in the sun atop a hill in northwest Pasco County, authorities called him the only suspect.

    But in an exclusive interview Tuesday with the Tampa Bay Times from the Pasco County jail, a despondent Matos said he's no murderer. He's a nice guy, actually. Easy to get along with. And he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time....

    Megan Brown told her boss she was scared of Matos.
  5. Escaped prison inmate caught in Hillsborough

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — In the end, Jason Adams made it easy for his pursuers.

    The 27-year-old prison inmate who walked off a work crew Monday afternoon in Lutz and was hunted overnight by scores of law enforcement officers ended his brief emancipation by riding a bicycle in broad daylight — and in sight of a Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy.

    When the deputy confronted him about 2:15 p.m. Tuesday, Adams gave his real name, according to the Sheriff's Office....

    Jason Adams was found near the Brandon campus of Hillsborough Community College.
  6. Hudson slaying victim 'was scared for her life'

    Crime

    HUDSON — Adam Matos was drunk when Megan Brown came home after a night out with her new boss and new boyfriend.

    Matos, Brown's ex and the father of her son, demanded to know where she'd been. They argued, according to a criminal complaint filed in Pasco County court, and Matos grabbed a silver kitchen knife and backed Brown into a corner.

    He held the knife up to her neck and said, "I'll (expletive) kill you," according to the complaint....

    Detectives gather outside the house at 7719 Hatteras Drive in Hudson on Monday while investigating the slaying discovered last week.
  7. Debate over unaccompanied immigrant children comes to Holiday

    Nation

    HOLIDAY — A handful of the thousands of unaccompanied minors traversing the Texas border routinely wind up in a nondescript beige building in this working-class corner of Pasco County.

    There, 16 children eat hot meals and sleep in bunks before uniting with family members around the country. Their presence, hidden behind the shelter's high fences, has aroused many of the thorny aspects of the nation's larger immigration debate....

    Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services' request to expand a Holiday shelter for unaccompanied immigrant children, such as these found along the Arizona-Mexico border, has drawn complaints.
  8. Four people found dead in Hudson; autistic boy is missing

    Crime

    HUDSON — A week ago, Adam Matos showed up at the Get Hooked Grill, where he had worked as a dishwasher. Fired a few days earlier, he told a manager that he needed his last paycheck.

    Then he vanished.

    On Thursday, Pasco investigators went looking for Matos' 4-year-old son, Ismael "Tristan" Santisteban, who is autistic. What they found was carnage — four people dead on a hill — but no trace of the boy....

     Four people were found dead Thursday after investigators went to a house on Hatteras Drive in Hudson on a welfare check of the residents. A 4-year-old boy with autism was last seen at the house a week ago. He was not among the dead and is believed to be with his father, 28-year-old Adam Matos who is considered armed and dangerous and driving a blue Ford pickup.  [Pasco County Sheriff’s Office]
  9. Deputies: Pasco teen who set house on fire texted mom an apology

    News

    PORT RICHEY — A 14-year-old seventh-grader is facing two charges of attempted murder after admitting to setting her family's house on fire early Thursday, authorities said.

    The girl told Pasco sheriff's investigators she soaked a towel and bedsheet with bleach and rum then set them on fire in the garage of the house on Hermitage Lane where her mother and 9-year-old brother were sleeping, according to an arrest report....

    A 14-year-old girl has been charged with one count of arson and two counts of attempted murder in an overnight fire that occurred at 1:43 a.m. at 9006 Hermitage Lane in Port Richey. Fire crews arrived on scene within six minutes and discovered heavy smoke and flames. (BRENDAN FITTERER  |  Times)
  10. Holiday bar owner charged with embezzling sales tax

    Public Safety

    HOLIDAY — The owner of LNT's Kickstand Saloon was arrested last week after, authorities say, she embezzled thousands of dollars of sales taxes.

    Nina Marie Novak, 54, collected sales tax from customers but did not send it to the state during various times between September 2012 through November 2013, according to a news release from the Florida Department of Revenue.

    The release says she amassed $9,800 in stolen sales tax at the bar, 2419 Grand Boulevard....

  11. Deputies: Pasco girl who set house on fire texted mom an apology

    Public Safety

    PORT RICHEY — A 14-year-old girl immersed in violent Internet fiction and angry at her mother about household chores set fire to her family's house early Thursday, Pasco authorities said.

    While her mother and 9-year-old brother slept, the girl soaked a towel and bedsheet with bleach and rum and then lit them on fire in the garage, according to an arrest report.

    Later, the report says, she sent her mother a text saying, "Mom Im so sorry I dont know why I did it." She also asked if anyone was hurt....

    A 14-year-old girl is accused of setting her Port Richey home on fire with her mother and 9-year-old brother sleeping inside early Thursday. She told investigators she packed a bag and walked to a nearby park restroom, where she slept.
  12. After arrest, Lake County man sues Pasco sheriff

    Public Safety

    NEW PORT RICHEY — A Lake County man has filed a federal lawsuit against the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, saying he was arrested on driving under the influence charges for no reason.

    The complaint filed Tuesday in federal court alleges that Cornelius Caldwell was driving through Dade City at 6:04 a.m. on April 7, 2013, and "exhibited no manifestations of alcohol or drug impairment" when he was pulled over by Deputy Gene Smith....

  13. Deputies: Man in DUI arrest had telltale sign of heroin use

    Crime

    ZEPHYRHILLS — When deputies found Oscar "Cuba" Rosario in deep slumber behind the wheel of his car, a report states, they did not test him before making a driving under the influence arrest. A heroin needle was still sticking out of his arm.

    Deputies found the car, still running, in the parking lot of a CVS at 7050 Gall Boulevard, at about 8:30 Tuesday night. After several failed tries at waking Rosario, firefighters had to break the drivers' side window to get to him, a Pasco Sheriff's report states....

  14. Few details available in Dade City shooting

    Crime

    DADE CITY — Twelve hours after two men were gunned down outside Cooper's Bar, no one was to be found there.

    Foam cups and other trash sat in piles around the mulch lot. "No loitering" signs hung from the establishment's purple walls. A lock barred the front door.

    And in those 12 hours, few details about the shooting emerged. The Pasco County Sheriff's Office reports the men were shot multiple times outside the bar, at 13500 Center St., about 10:40 p.m. Monday....

  15. Pasco sheriff, PHSC reach agreement on law enforcement academy

    Public Safety

    NEW PORT RICHEY — The Pasco Sheriff's Office and Pasco-Hernando State College agreed Tuesday night on jointly running a law enforcement academy.

    After more than a year of conflict between the two agencies, the college's board of trustees approved the contract unanimously in a matter of minutes.

    "We've toiled in this vineyard for a while," said board chairman Leonard Johnson.

    The crux of the agreement, proposed and signed by Sheriff Chris Nocco on Aug. 18, allows the Sheriff's Office to appoint an academy director, who will be an agency member. The appointment, according to a news release, will give the Sheriff's Office more say in the academy's instructor hiring....