06/16/17 Public Safety
American culture is fascinated with spies, and Florida has links to some of the most intricate espionage cases the country has seen. Here are a few high-profile cases from recent years.
It took 25 years for authorities to capture George Trofimoff. Decades of providing highly classified documents to the Soviet Union finally caught up with him when he was arrested at Tampa hotel in 2000. ...
TAMPA — A man accused of shooting his two roommates Friday in a Tampa Palms apartment told police he shared neo-Nazi beliefs with the men until he converted to Islam then killed them because they showed disrespect for his faith.
The revelations weren't over.
Officers found a garage stocked with bomb materials as they arrived to investigate the double homicide, leading to federal explosive charges against Brandon Russell — a Florida National Guardsman and admitted neo-Nazi who kept a framed photo of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh on his dresser....
04/21/17 Real Estate
TAMPA — Darryl Shaw first ventured into Ybor City real estate in 1988, just after he finished a bachelor's degree in international business at Brown University.
It didn't end well.
The 22-year-old moved to Ybor and bought a run-down building on E Seventh Avenue with plans to convert it to office space. Then the balcony collapsed during renovation. The city condemned the building, which had to be demolished. End of that career....
LITHIA — Trevor Summers' life rapidly disintegrated over the past seven months:
In September, he pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges in federal court in Philadelphia. In October, his wife, Alisa Summers, sought a domestic violence injunction against him. Two months later, she filed for divorce.
Then, on Feb. 21, she filed for another protective order, accusing her husband of holding her prisoner at knifepoint....
BRANDON — Vincente Fuillerat was already pained by the separation from his wife.
Then the 53-year-old electronic security consultant found out the woman with whom he'd raised two children during 28 years of marriage was in a relationship with another woman.
The discovery of Lisa Fuillerat's romance with Samara Routenberg angered him, said Tampa attorney Ralph Fernandez, whose firm represented Vincente Fuillerat during the divorce proceedings. He considered it immoral, Fernandez said....
WHAT I ATE: I sidestepped Southern fare (like biscuits and gravy) on Savvy Jack's menu, opting instead for one of the French breakfast specialties. I initially had my eye on crepes, but settled on one of the daily specials: the friande, a minced meat pie encased in puff pastry, topped with cheese and bechamel sauce, served with two eggs and a slice of fresh tomato.
Our server assured me I would like it, and I did....
WHAT I ATE: My dining companions and I opted for TacoSon's "Family Pack" of 10 tacos (we chose 5 chicken, 5 shredded beef), with 32-ounce containers of refried beans and rice, plus salsa and chips. We also added a large order of guacamole and chips, and the soda drinkers each opted for bottles of Jarritos Mexican soda: one guava, one mango.
TacoSon offers up seven different taco meat options, and while I've sampled most, my favorite remains their shredded beef (barbacoa), which was moist, tender and flavorful. Another favorite: Pork rinds (chicharron) in salsa verde....
06/09/16 Human Interest
TAMPA — On a September afternoon nearly 90 years ago, Tampa was already a city with a skyline.
Cigar City's downtown was fairly bustling, years before residents and businesses would flee to the suburbs.
You can see people walking, heading west toward the heart of downtown from the view of the Cass Street Bridge....
For artist Joan Griffin Burpee, it was a memorable commission.
The call came from Stewart Bryan, a Tampa Tribune publisher in the mid 1970s who would later become chairman of Media General, the Tribune's owner at the time.
As the Tribune prepared to move in 1975 from downtown Tampa to its new headquarters at 202 S Parker St., Bryan wanted Burpee to create a series of seven paintings, each commemorating and honoring the work of the pressmen who produced the newspaper each night....
03/19/16 Human Interest
TAMPA — Month after month, the Tampa animal charity Soaring Paws entices donors with promises their contributions will be doubled, tripled or even quadrupled through limited-time matches from something called the "Amazon Rescue Foundation."
If the generosity sounds incredible, it might be. No such foundation appears to exist in the United States.
Soaring Paws pilot Albert Lonzo Adams III, who flies dogs and cats for rescue groups, declined to further identity the mystery sponsor....
03/07/16 Human Interest
TAMPA — Wallets opened when a Tampa pilot's charity claimed to be answering a request from Make-A-Wish to fly a sick boy named Brian on a mission to rescue shelter pets.
But Make-A-Wish says it never asked and last month told pilot Albert Lonzo Adams III, who has a history of fraud convictions, to stop using its name.
Adams, 45, is top dog at Soaring Paws, a nonprofit that flies stray pets from overcrowded Southern shelters to small rescue groups in cities where the animals are wanted....
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump earned a rare distinction by being banned from a city in Tampa Bay on Monday night.
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman playfully tweeted that he was “hereby barring” The Donald from the Sunshine City after Trump proposed blocking all Muslim people from entering the United States in response to recent terror threats.
In June of 1977, British rock band Led Zeppelin was similarly banned from Tampa following a washed-out, riotous concert at Tampa Stadium. Then-Mayor William Poe didn’t show a whole lot of love for Robert Plant and crew following the show, saying: “Led Zeppelin will not perform in Tampa again. We have to protect the health and welfare of the police officers as well as the citizens of Tampa.”...
When news broke late last month that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are jockeying with the Tampa Sports Authority to play a second "home" game away from Raymond James Stadium, the between-the-lines intrigue was what it all means for Tampa and for Buccaneer fans, and where those home-away-from-home games might be played....
Former Hillsborough County Commissioner Jim Norman did not quite make the six figures in campaign contributions one of his supporters predicted for Norman’s controversial comeback bid, but he did take in $83,475, according to his first campaign report.
Norman, a Republican, served 18 years on the commission and was elected to the Florida Senate in 2010. But he withdrew his bid for re-election in 2012 in a scandal involving a lakefront vacation home in Arkansas bankrolled by a millionaire businessman and supporter who had benefitted from the commission’s pro-growth votes.
After three years out of politics, Norman said in August he wanted the controversy behind him and filed to run again. Republican kingmaker Sam Rashid predicted Norman would have $100,000 in support waiting for him.
That crowded race for the District 6 countywide seat will be closely watched.
Former Hillsborough County Democratic Party chairwoman Pat Kemp took in $46,240, former Hillsborough County Commissioner and Tampa City Council member and Democrat Tom Scott took in $10,311, and local transit activist Brian Willis posted $62,047.
Joining Norman on the Republican side of the race are Thomas Avino and Tim Schock, who have one more day to file their reports....
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....