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....
TAMPA — Lawyers at the firm of Adams & Diaco stand accused of serious hardball tactics: sending a Tampa paralegal undercover to discredit an opposing attorney by getting him arrested for DUI.
It's not the first time the firm has faced accusations about how it does business.
Three years ago in Miami, a lawyer at Adams & Diaco was accused of sending a paralegal undercover — that time, to discredit a witness who was about to testify....
TAMPA — For two years Daphne Jones has dispatched landscaping crews to dozens of Hillsborough County schools where they mow grass, trim weeds and make the grounds suitable for children.
Jones, 41, is the owner of On-Point Group, part of a privatization experiment school officials say is saving taxpayers money and helping small businesses.
But the Tampa Bay Times found that most of the workers Jones has sent to campuses have criminal convictions on their records. ...
TAMPA — The Tampa Bay Host Committee raised most of its money for the Republican National Convention outside of Florida, and most of the companies that got that money were based outside the state, too.
Of $52.4 million that the committee spent to support the convention, $11.5 million — or about 22 percent — was spent in the Tampa Bay area, according to the committee's financial report to the Federal Election Commission....
In the months leading up to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, local boosters talked a breezy, confident game: Fundraising? Going well. No worries.
Privately, it was much harder than they let on.
Recession-battered companies that gave to previous national political conventions were sitting this one out. Companies in major regions of Florida seemed indifferent to their sales pitch. (Hello, Orlando? Disney? Universal?) ...
TAMPA — A $5 million donation from Las Vegas casino owner Sheldon Adelson and another $4.6 million from St. Petersburg businessman Bill Edwards and his companies propelled the Tampa Bay Host Committee over its $55 million fundraising goal for the Republican National Convention.
In all, the nonprofit, nonpartisan host committee took in nearly $55.9 million to support the Aug. 27-30 convention held in Tampa, according to a finance report filed Wednesday night with the Federal Election Commission. ...
On Mother's Day in May 1984, a young lawyer in Arizona named John Donald Cody sent flowers to his mom in Clearwater.
Then he vanished.
Sought by the FBI for stealing and suspected espionage, Cody became a phantom who eluded capture for nearly three decades.
On Oct. 1, almost 30 years after he vanished, federal officials announced they'd finally caught their man. Now 65, he is sitting in a jail cell in Cleveland, charged with running a charity scam in Tampa under the alias Bobby Thompson. ...
The mystery of Bobby Thompson's identity has been resolved.
But the answers just lead to more questions.
Officials with the U.S. Marshals Service announced Monday that the man who used the Thompson alias while running a multimillion-dollar veterans charity from Tampa for nearly a decade is John Donald Cody, a former military intelligence officer who is also a wanted man. ...
Jon Stewart's Daily Show showed a woman snatched into the air by a giant palmetto bug. E! News sent Ross Mathews to Skin Tampa for a lap dance. And Piers Morgan talked to the Hollywood Reporter about canoeing the Hillsborough River and its "alligator-infested mangroves." (Thanks, Piers!) Yes, the eyes of the world turned to the Tampa Bay area last week for the Republican National Convention. But what everyone reported, tweeted and told the folks back home didn't necessarily come from the Chamber of Commerce script. The reviews aren't just a matter of civic pride. They're key to the prize that local leaders hoped to win from landing and hosting the convention: a giant-sized boost to the area's profile, increasing tourism, repeat visits and corporate recruitment. "When you say Florida, you're not just going to think about Miami and Orlando," said Ken Jones, president of the Tampa Bay Host Committee. "You're going to be hearing about Tampa Bay more and more." So how did Tampa Bay fare?...
THE VILLAGES — It's happy hour on a steamy summer evening and the band is playing covers of Jimmy Buffett, Pat Benatar and Aerosmith.
Couples sway to the music. Others shuffle in an uneven line dance.
As the sun goes down at the Villages, a 55-and-up retirement community, a crowd slathered in sunscreen ambles about, tossing back vodka and gin-and-tonics (easy on the tonic). ...