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....
The man known as Bobby Thompson goes on trial in state court in Cleveland today.
He faces up to 40 years in prison on charges of fraud, theft and money laundering for his role as head of U.S. Navy Veterans Association, a charity in Tampa that raised over $100 million in donations but turned out to be a total charade. Its state chapters were mail drops, its directors nonexistent. It gave little aid to veterans....
08/03/13 Human Interest
TAMPA — The two young women who once worked together at a law firm met up for happy hour downtown that January night.
First they hit Malio's, a dark steak house bar favored by older men in expensive suits nursing Grey Goose, their briefcases like faithful dogs at their feet. Next was the trendier, throbbing Fly bar, filled with 20- and 30-somethings like themselves.
Melissa Personius, who worked as a paralegal, called her boss at the Adams & Diaco law firm....
In the wake of John D. Stanton III admitting to bigamy in a court filing this week, the trustee handling the former Cast-Crete executive's bankruptcy now wants an accounting from his purported second wife and her divorce attorneys.
In court papers filed Friday, trustee Larry S. Hyman requested Susan Stanton's bank records, evidence of gifts, phone logs, and other financial documents pertaining to her settlement and divorce from John Stanton, dating back four years before Stanton's 2011 bankruptcy filing. Hyman also requested records from her attorneys, Marian McCulloch and Louis F. Hornstine....
TAMPA — Former Cast-Crete executive John D. Stanton III admits to bigamy in a court paper his attorney filed Tuesday.
It's the latest twist in his federal bankruptcy case.
His former wife Susan, among the creditors, filed a claim against him last year for $13 million in child support and alimony.
But an attorney for Stanton, 64, says their marriage, divorce and settlement are all "void" and that Susan Stanton's unsecured claim should be given no priority status in bankruptcy court....