Make us your home page

Dan Sullivan, Times Staff Writer

Dan Sullivan

Dan Sullivan covers Hillsborough County courts for the Tampa Bay Times. Since joining the Times in 2010, he has written about unsolved crimes, the opioid epidemic, gun control, and Florida's death row, among other topics. In 2014, he was a Livingston Award finalist for a story that examined a legal loophole that allows Florida to hold mentally challenged criminal defendants without trial. A native of Salt Lake City, Utah, he is a 2006 graduate of the University of Tampa, where he earned a degree in writing.

Phone: (813) 226-3386


Twitter: @TimesDan

  1. Federal judge reverses bail order, keeping neo-Nazi jailed in Tampa explosives case


    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....

     This is a photo the government says Brandon Russell posted in an online neo-Nazi forum. The photo was one of several prosecutors admitted in court yesterday as they argued that Russell poses a danger to the community and should be detained before trial. Russell faces federal charges related to the discovery of bomb-making materials in the apartment he shared with murder suspect Devon Arthurs. [Images provided by: US District Court, Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division]
  2. Accountant for Plant City drug trafficking group gets four years in prison


    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....

    Alexandro Velasquez, 20, acted as an accountant for a Plant City drug trafficking organization, according to federal prosecutors. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office].
  3. National Guard 'neo-Nazi' aimed to hit Miami nuclear plant, roommate says


    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....

    The Turkey Point nuclear power plant south of Miami was a target Brandon Russell planned to hit with mortars, the Tampa man's roommate told investigators. [AP Photo, 2008]
  4. Jury convicts man in 2013 stabbing of Riverview store clerk


    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....

    Lawrence Bongiovanni received a sentence of life in prison for the slaying.
  5. Tampa neo-Nazi wanted to target 'power lines, nuclear reactors and synagogues,' according to court documents


    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....

    Devon Arthurs appears for a court hearing via video conference Monday at the Falkenburg Road Jail. Arthurs said he shared neo-Nazi beliefs with his roommates until he converted to Islam.
  6. Devon Arthurs, charged in Tampa Palms double murder, to remain jailed


    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....

    Brandon Russell, 21, faces federal firearms and explosives charges related to the discovery of bomb-making materials at the Tampa Palms apartment he shared with murder suspect Devon Arthurs. [Photo courtesy of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office].
  7. Leader of Plant City drug ring avoids life sentence, gets 17 years in federal prison


    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....

    Saul Velazquez-Bazan got a break for his remorse and cooperation with federal investigators.
  8. Judge grants request for bond for neo-Nazi in Tampa explosives case


    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....

    Brandon Russell, 21, faces federal explosives charges in connection with the discovery of bomb-making materials at his Tampa Palms apartment. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office].
  9. Former FDOT employee and husband accused of theft of federal funds


    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....

  10. National Guard 'neo-Nazi' left slaying scene to buy rifles, authorities say


    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....

    Brandon Russell, 21, faces federal charges after bombmaking materials were found.
  11. Witnesses recount discovery of wounded 7-Eleven clerk as trial begins in Riverview killing


    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....

    Prosecutors say Lawrence Bongiovanni’s DNA was found nearby.
  12. Ahead of attorney general run, former Hillsborough Judge Ashley Moody draws Bondi's support


    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 County Circuit Judge Ashley Moody said she wants to continue some of Attorney General Pam Bondi’s initiatives, such as her efforts to address the opioid crisis.
  13. Pam Bondi to back Tampa's Ashley Moody to succeed her as attorney general


    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."...

    Former Hillsborough Circuit Judge Ashley Moody will have the backing of Attorney General Pam Bondi when she runs for Florida attorney general.
  14. Awaiting trial six years in Ruskin murders, ice cream man finds himself short a lawyer


    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....

    Attorney Lyann Goudie, right, signed on to help with Michael Keetley’s murder case but wound up being his only lawyer. Here she addresses Judge Samantha Ward as Keetley listens.
  15. Four Brandon middle school students face child porn charges related to sex video


    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....