TAMPA — The neo-Nazi roommate of a double-murder suspect will remain held without bail on federal explosives charges after a judge Wednesday reversed an earlier ruling granting his release.
Evidence presented at a hearing this week — including statements from murder suspect Devon Arthurs, who said his roommate Brandon Russell was planning acts of terrorism — were enough for U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas B. McCoun III to change his mind about Russell posing a threat to the public....
TAMPA — The nephew of a man who ran a multi-million-dollar drug trafficking organization out of a Plant City business was sentenced Wednesday to nearly four years in federal prison.
Alexandro Velasquez, 20, acted as an accountant for his uncle's drug business, according to prosecutors, counting the proceeds of cocaine and marijuana sales and sending the funds Mexico.
The U.S. Attorney's Office characterized the organization as an arm of a multi-national drug trafficking organization. It operated out of Velazquez Pallets, on Turkey Creek Road in Plant City....
TAMPA — Brandon Russell, a National Guardsman and self-described neo-Nazi, had plans to blow up power lines in the Florida Everglades and launch explosives into a nuclear power plant near Miami, his roommate Devon Arthurs told police.
Prosecutors on Tuesday played portions of a recorded interrogation Arthurs gave in the hours immediately after he was arrested in the killings of Jeremy Himmelman and Andrew Oneschuk. In the video, Arthurs offers a justification for the killings, claiming that Russell, the surviving roommate, was preparing to commit acts of terrorism....
TAMPA — Lawrence Bongiovanni is a murderer.
A jury found the 24-year-old guilty Tuesday of the brutal 2013 stabbing of Kenneth Redding, a clerk at a 7-Eleven store in Riverview. They also convicted him of armed robbery.
Bongiovanni will receive an automatic sentence of life in prison.
He had, until recently, faced a possible death sentence. But prosecutors dropped their pursuit of an ultimate sanction, citing Bongiovanni's history of mental illness....
Tampa neo-Nazi wanted to target 'power lines, nuclear reactors and synagogues,' according to court documents06/12/17Criminal
TAMPA — Brandon Russell had bombmaking materials in his apartment because he wanted to "kill civilians and target locations like power lines, nuclear reactors, and synagogues," according to a federal court document filed by prosecutors late Monday.
That assertion is based on law enforcement interviews with Devon Arthurs, one of Russell's three roommates who is accused of killing the other two at their Tampa Palms apartment....
TAMPA — A man who told investigators he killed his two roommates because they were neo-Nazis and criticized his conversion to Islam will stay in jail while he awaits trial.
Attorneys for Devon Arthurs announced in a Monday morning court hearing that they would not contest the state's request that he be detained.
Arthurs, 18, appeared at the 10:30 a.m. hearing via a closed circuit video conference from the Falkenburg Road Jail. He stood silent with his wrists shackled, yawning once, as a jail deputy stood at his side....
TAMPA — Saul Velazquez-Bazan admitted months ago that he was the leader of a multimillion-dollar drug trafficking organization.
On Friday, he sobbed as his attorney told the story of his client's impoverished childhood and once-honest living.
Velazquez-Bazan could have been sent to prison for life. But U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich, noting his remorse and cooperation with the government, gave him a break....
TAMPA — A judge granted a request Friday from a suspected neo-Nazi to be allowed out of jail while awaiting trial on federal explosives charges.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas McCoun rejected the government's argument that Brandon Russell should be held in jail because he poses a threat to the community or is likely to flee if released.
"I am unable to conclude there is clear and convincing evidence that Defendant represents a threat to any other person," McCoun wrote....
TAMPA — A former employee of the Florida Department of Transportation was indicted this week, along with her husband, on charges that they schemed to steal more than $300,000 in federal grant money.
Tracy Dean Tronco, 51, was a transit coordinator and passenger operations specialist in FDOT's Tampa district. She was responsible for administering transportation projects and funds, including grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation....
TAMPA — A distraught Brandon Russell told investigators he was leaving town to visit his father in West Palm Beach.
He had just discovered two of his roommates shot to death May 19 in their Tampa Palms apartment.
But instead, prosecutors say, Russell hooked up with another neo-Nazi like him, grabbed some cash, and bought two rifles and 500 rounds of ammunition. The pair then headed south to the Florida Keys....
TAMPA — Early one morning in the summer of 2013, two men stood at the gas pumps outside a Riverview 7-Eleven chatting about motorcycles.
During a lull in the conversation, they heard the store's front door slam open. Someone in a dark jacket ran out, bumped into a trash can, scurried behind the building and disappeared. They thought he had stolen cigarettes.
James Walker walked inside to tell the clerk, Kenneth Redding, about the theft. But Redding was not behind the counter. Walker found him crouched on his knees and elbows in one of the aisles, drenched in blood. He yelled for the other man, Ryan Guy, to call 911....
TAMPA — Former Hillsborough Circuit Judge Ashley Moody won't officially announce her candidacy for attorney general until today, but she already has the support of that office's current occupant.
Pam Bondi told the Tampa Bay Times on Monday that Moody is the candidate she will support in the 2018 race.
"I've known her most of her life," Bondi said. "I don't think there could be a more qualified candidate for attorney general in the entire state of Florida. I wholeheartedly support Ashley, and I'm proud of her for wanting to sacrifice so much for our state."...
Former Hillsborough Circuit Judge Ashley Moody has yet to officially announce her candidacy for attorney general. But she already has the support of that office's current occupant.
Pam Bondi told the Tampa Bay Times on Monday that Moody is her preferred successor, and the candidate she will support in the 2018 race.
"I've known her most of her life," Bondi said. "I don't think there could be a more qualified candidate for attorney general in the entire state of Florida. I whole-heartedly support Ashley and I'm proud of her for wanting to sacrifice so much for our state."...
TAMPA — Michael Keetley was deep into his sixth year at the Falkenburg Road Jail, with no date in sight for his murder trial, when the letter arrived. He showed it to his parents, who had cashed in their retirement savings to pay his legal fees.
Paul S. Carr, the Ruskin attorney he had entrusted to help keep him out of prison and off death row, was suggesting he should find another lawyer. A collision, Carr said, had left him with a severe head injury....
BRANDON — Four Burns Middle School students, ages 12 to 14, have been arrested on child pornography charges after one secretly recorded a girl in a sex act and the others posted it online, authorities said Friday.
The girl was with a 12-year-old Valrico boy in a dressing room on March 18 at a JCPenney in Brandon, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office reported. As she performed a sex act on the boy, he recorded it....