08/31/15 Local Government
Tucked in a secluded corner of the Ozark Mountains, far from the traffic and sprawl of Hillsborough County, is the house that took down Jim Norman.
It is a vacation getaway, two stories with a dock and boathouse overlooking a picturesque lake in a resort community where Arkansas meets Missouri.
Five years ago, revelations about who paid for this house fueled a scandal that derailed Norman's political career. A powerful Hillsborough County commissioner and rising Republican star, Norman was headed to a bigger stage in the Florida Legislature when the story broke....
A few days ago, I got an earful from a reader for a Perspective piece I wrote for the Times back in 2008. I wrote then about the Confederate battle flag and the local group hell-bent on flying it high, contorting history both to put their ancestors, and mine, in an impossibly favorable light, and ignoring more than a century of evil done with that flag as a backdrop.
As events played out last month, I was the least of my caller's problems, flag-wise. Through tragedy, and in the halls of justice, our country had a growth spurt....
TAMPA — Steven B. Rodd's life has gone very wrong in recent years.
In 2011, he was sentenced to three years in federal prison for aiding the $300 million Ponzi scheme run by Lou Pearlman, the boy band impresario who created the Backstreet Boys.
After Rodd got out in August, he told a judge he couldn't support his wife and three kids.
Three months ago, he lost his job as a cash-for-gold salesman....
HUDSON — There were few answers on Thursday about what led a 12-year-old boy to allegedly shoot his two brothers Wednesday night, killing one and injuring the other, before turning the gun on himself.
Investigators say Kevin Pimentel, remembered as a quiet kid who played with his iPad on the school bus and was in gifted classes, shot and killed his 6-year-old brother, Brady, and injured his 16-year-old brother, Trevor, inside their home. He then shot himself, committing suicide, Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said at a news conference Thursday morning....
12/30/14 Special Topics
TAMPA — A month before reports of his charity's treatment of homeless people sparked controversy, New Beginnings of Tampa founder Tom Atchison was fighting to save his church in federal bankruptcy court.
Atchison's New Life Pentecostal Church owed more than $900,000 to a Texas bank. On Oct. 23, the bank's lawyer urged a judge to allow an auction of the church property. ...
Nov. 15: After 31 years in the Angels organization, Joe Maddon is hired as Devil Rays manager, replacing Lou Piniella.
April 3: In Maddon's first regular-season game as manager, the Devil Rays lose to the Orioles 9-6 at Camden Yards.
Oct. 1: Maddon closes his first year as manager, a majors-worst 61-101.
Sept. 8: The Rays pick up a two-year option that keeps Maddon under contract through 2009....
As New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter puts the finishing touches on his playing career, we take a look back at images of him captured by Times photojournalists through the years.
You'll find even more photos of Jeter in the Times photo archive.
TAMPA — After eight years representing a Republican stronghold, can Hillsborough County Commissioner Al Higginbotham broaden his appeal enough to win countywide, where Democrats have the advantage?
That is the prime question facing Higginbotham's campaign this year, as the 60-year-old Plant City native left eastern Hillsborough's District 4 because of term limits to run for the countywide District 7 seat on the commission. And though Higginbotham romped in Tuesday's GOP primary, a closer look shows he has work to do in large swaths of Hillsborough to prevail in the Nov. 4 general election....
TAMPA —The city paid Eric Houston $85,654 a year to solve homicides for the Tampa Police Department.
But he may also have betrayed victims, divulging their identities for tax refund fraud, court records suggest.
About 4,600 individuals Houston checked out on state or national databases between 2010 and 2012 had fraudulent tax returns filed in their names, according to an affidavit obtained by the Tampa Bay Times....
A Tampa executive "systematically" executed his wife and two teenage children in their bedrooms before splashing gasoline throughout the family's mansion, shooting himself in the head and burning down the house, authorities said Friday.
The official — albeit still incomplete — account of the inferno that consumed the $1 million home in the exclusive Avila community north of Tampa this week confirmed what was widely suspected: Darrin Campbell, 49, was responsible for the deaths of his wife, Kimberly Campbell, 51, and children Colin Campbell, 18, and Megan Campbell, 15....
TAMPA — All four people found dead this week in a burning mansion north of Tampa were shot, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office announced Thursday evening.
Investigators also found a gun registered to Darrin Campbell, the 49-year-old man who leased the house with his family, and discovered Campbell had bought gas cans and what one official called an "exceedingly large" number of fireworks in the days before the blaze....
Thirteen years ago, Valessa Robinson was a dark mystery — a teenage girl from the comfortable suburbs convicted in the stabbing death of her own mother, the body left stuffed in a garbage can while the girl and her friends partied.
Jurors saw Robinson at the defense table dressed in good-girl clothes — Mary Janes, pastel sweaters, tights. They also heard testimony about a rebellious 15-year-old deep into drugs, ugly to her mother and mad for a sinister older boy....
11/23/13 Public Safety
TAMPA — With one email to the most powerful lawman in town, a Tampa attorney had two top Hillsborough sheriff's detectives investigating his client's enemy.
The attorney: Stephen Diaco.
The client: loudmouth radio personality Bubba the Love Sponge Clem.
The suspect: a 46-year-old AAA employee with perhaps a little too much time on his hands.
Morgan "Joshua" Morey now says Diaco used the Sheriff's Office to have him criminally investigated last year. And that's an eyebrow-raising claim, since Diaco is at the center of separate allegations that his firm used a Tampa police connection to set up a courtroom enemy for a DUI arrest....