BRADENTON — In the darkness of the early morning, Bud Moriarty shakes sleep from his eyes and shuffles past the tiny urn atop his bedroom dresser.
In another room, he pours his thoughts into a computer keyboard, hammering out letters to lawyers, detectives, members of Congress, reporters — anyone who will listen. He saves copies in a pair of bulging folders that he labels his "case file."...
At an October court hearing in Tampa, someone told a judge that Marco Antonio Parilla Jr., a prolific criminal with a history of drug arrests, was using and selling cocaine.
The court notified his probation officer, who called and told Parilla to report immediately to her probation office in Clearwater. He said he would come in as soon as he could get out of work, according to court records. He never showed....
Years ago, state universities in Florida could easily send students to Cuba for academic research or bring Cuban intellectuals and cultural figures to the United States for special events.
That got a lot more difficult in 2006, when the state Legislature passed a law declaring that any funds going to state universities cannot be used for travel to nations that the State Department lists as a state-sponsor of terrorism. The law applied to several countries, but it was aimed at Cuba and meant to tighten the restricted relationship the United States had with the communist nation since the 1960s....
TAMPA — A lovers' quarrel ended with a man shot in the buttocks and his girlfriend in handcuffs Tuesday night, according to Tampa police.
Aisha Lenay Rogers got into an argument with the man after 11 p.m. inside the apartment they share at the Mezzo of Tampa Palms Apartments, at 15210 Amberly Drive in New Tampa. During the argument, Rogers pulled a 9mm Sig Sauer pistol and fired two shots as the man tried to run away, according to an arrest affidavit. One shot hit him in the left buttock....
TAMPA — Rita Girven, the longtime Tampa police informer at the center of a fraud scandal, has pleaded guilty to welfare fraud and grand theft charges.
Circuit Judge Samantha Ward sentenced Girven to 18 months in prison, though Girven could be free in the next few weeks, having already served time since she was jailed in August 2013.
Her attorney, Ralph Fernandez, said the guilty plea was in Girven's best interest. She may still face federal charges in a tax fraud case that has also ensnared a former Tampa police detective and community service officer....
TAMPA — When a group of Tampa police officers breached a screened-in porch to make an arrest in 2011, they touched off a legal battle that is poised to end with taxpayers footing the bill for a hefty settlement.
The city of Tampa has agreed to an $80,000 settlement of a federal lawsuit brought by a man who claimed police illegally entered his home and beat him unconscious. The City Council will consider a resolution Thursday to formally approve the deal....
Two years ago, after a mentally disturbed man went on a shooting rampage in a Connecticut elementary school, killing 26, a national debate ensued over whether lawmakers should enact tighter restrictions on guns.
But calls for gun control spurred a somewhat unforeseen effect, as thousands of people flocked to gun retailers. Here in Florida, more people purchased guns in the weeks after Sandy Hook than ever before. The numbers stayed high, even as federal lawmakers declined to pass any major new gun restrictions. ...
TAMPA — When Ruby Washington saw a TV news report Saturday about a triple murder in Tampa, one name rang familiar.
Angel Luis Perez, whom police say shot his girlfriend and two others Saturday morning, was also questioned in the killing of her son, Dontae Leslie, Washington said.
"I saw it on the news," she said, "and I was like, 'That's him!' "
Leslie, 20, was shot to death early on July 15, 2009, as he slept inside his home at 6922 Baldwin Ave., in the East Lake-Orient Park area of Tampa. At the time, his family said they knew of no one who would want to do him harm....
TAMPA — A 17-year-old boy was shot to death Monday night in an apartment complex in the Woodland Terrace area of Tampa.
Joaquan Tyree Brannon was shot multiple times about 10:30 p.m. outside an apartment at the River Oaks apartment complex at 4206 Chestwood Court, according to Tampa police. He was taken to a hospital, where he died.
People in the area spotted a man running away shortly after the shots were fired. The man had not been identified as of Tuesday night, police said....
12/01/14 Public Safety
TAMPA — Five companies have offered to sell body-mounted digital cameras to the Tampa Police Department in response to a request for proposals that the department made last month.
The city revealed the companies' names Monday, but details of the proposals will likely not be made public until a Police Department committee makes a selection. The decision is expected in the next few weeks....
12/01/14 Public Safety
TAMPA — Tampa police released an audio recording Monday of a series of 911 calls from people who reported seeing a monkey running loose Thanksgiving Day.
At least three people reported seeing the freewheeling primate running through backyards and woods along the banks of the Hillsborough River, near River Grove Drive and 40th Street.
"I was just sitting in my backyard and a monkey just ran through it," one man told a dispatcher. "Did someone lose a monkey at some point? ... It was a relatively large monkey, about the size of a relatively big dog or something."...
11/29/14 Public Safety
Nearly three decades ago, a pastor told Eric Ward he should become a police officer. It was a lifelong dream for Ward, but one he harbored in secret. Growing up in Tampa's Belmont Heights neighborhood, police work wasn't always held in high regard.
But Ward went for it. And for 26 years, he has helped tackle crime on those same streets. Early on, other cops told him he was good at what he did. In annual evaluations, his supervisors wrote that he had a future as a leader of the department. ...
TAMPA — A judge has dismissed criminal charges against a former Tampa police sergeant accused of stealing food stamps from a jail inmate, agreeing she could not be held responsible since she had no intent to commit a crime.
Circuit Judge Samantha Ward granted a defense attorney's motion to throw out the case against La Joyce Houston, 48, who was fired last year after her arrest.
Houston was facing charges of food stamp fraud and grand theft. In 2013, she bought more than $300 in groceries with an electronic benefits transfer — or EBT — card belonging to Rita Girven, her personal friend and a longtime police informer....
TAMPA — An attorney for a former Tampa police sergeant accused of stealing food stamps allocated to a jail inmate wants a judge to dismiss the case.
The reason? La Joyce Houston didn't know it was a crime to use another person's welfare funds.
Houston, who was fired from the department last year after her arrest, bought more than $300 in groceries with an electronic benefits transfer — or EBT — card belonging to Rita Girven, her personal friend and a longtime police informer. ...
11/16/14 Public Safety
TAMPA — Before Elyana Serrano threw up, her sister Rayna was laughing and trying to grab colors out of the air. When Ronnie Morales looked at his hand, he saw several other hands jutting from his wrist. His pregnant girlfriend, Jessica Rosado, couldn't feel her fingers or toes.
Doctors at St. Joseph's Hospital suspected the family of four had been poisoned when they all showed up there in March. They summoned Tampa police, who tested cuts of steak the family had for lunch. The results showed it was tainted with LSD....