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Patty Ryan, Times Staff Writer

Patty Ryan, a Florida native, grew up in Pinellas Park. For more than three decades, she has lived in Tampa, where she's a reporter for the Times. She joined the staff as an editor in 2001, after 22 years at the Tampa Tribune.

Her work has been honored by the American Association of Sunday and Features Editors and the Florida Society of News Editors.

She graduated from the University of South Florida.

Phone: (813) 226-3382

Email: pryan@tampabay.com

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  1. Doctor loses millions, indicted accountant dies, federal tax case comes to a halt

    Criminal

    TAMPA — Look up tax preparer Peter J. Pinaud online and you'll learn he went to prison in the 1980s for refund fraud.

    Would you trust him with your taxes? Professionals in the Tampa Bay area did, and some are suffering the consequences.

    Dr. James St. Louis, founder of the Laser Spine Institute, was duped out of at least $2.8 million in 2010 and 2011 after Pinaud falsified returns and stole payments intended for the IRS, federal and state court documents allege....

    Dr. James St. Louis of the Laser Spine Institute lost millions, it is alleged, to a tax accountant’s scheme.
  2. Former Tampa gold trader admits he conspired to defraud bank of millions

    Criminal

    TAMPA — Former coin dealer Mark Yaffe admits in a court paper that he conspired to defraud an institution that had extended his now-bankrupt National Gold Exchange $35 million in credit.

    Federal authorities filed a criminal charge against him Thursday, along with a signed plea agreement that calls for up to five years in prison.

    Yaffe is known locally for building a 29,000-square-foot Avila estate modeled after a 17th-century palace, which he lost to foreclosure in 2013, after the exchange filed for bankruptcy, declaring $36 million in debts....

  3. Clearwater woman gets two years for ties to tax refund theft

    Criminal

    TAMPA — A Clearwater woman was sentenced to two years in prison Tuesday for aggravated identity theft after she was found with two debit cards that contained proceeds of tax returns filed in the names of other people.

    Makaeia Demps, 25, apologized for her conduct and told a federal judge she was ready to straighten out her life.

    Attorney James Armington said her life took a turn for the worse when she met Carlos Oscar Johnson, a Pinellas nursing assistant now serving eight years for stolen identity refund fraud....

  4. Buju Banton avoids gun charge in new deal

    Criminal

    TAMPA — The imprisoned reggae star known to the world as Buju Banton has made a deal with prosecutors that eliminates a pending gun charge and frees him in less than four years.

    He'll quit filing appeals. In exchange, the United States will stop trying to hold him accountable for a gun carried by another man in the cocaine conspiracy that sent Banton away for a decade.

    Banton, whose real name is Mark Myrie, could have faced an additional five years if convicted....

  5. Sons sold cocaine as Tampa Deeper Life pastors ministered to addicts

    Criminal

    TAMPA — While a Tampa pastor and his wife were selling religion as a way to get off drugs, three of their adult sons were selling something else: cocaine.

    They got caught.

    Marvin Jefferson, 47, Shannon Jefferson, 33, and Jimmy Lanier, 37 — each adjudicated guilty of drug trafficking after pleas in June — have now begun to learn their fates in federal court.

    The three are the sons and stepson of Deeper Life Christian Church patriarch Melvin B. Jefferson, whose fellow pastor and current wife, Brenda Jefferson, is Lanier's mother....

    Jimmy Lee Lanier
  6. Have a plan for Sparky, Felix, too

    Hurricanes

    Advice from the dog: Cultivate an inland friend, a tolerant one with a home that is high and dry. Do it now before a storm comes barreling up the coast.

    For pet owners, hurricane season requires extra thought.

    Those who plan ahead may land places in kennels, rooms in pet-friendly hotels or enjoy the hospitality of friends.

    Those who don't, by default, toss their pets' safety to the wind, as some learned the hard way when Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast 10 years ago, leaving hundreds of thousands of dogs and cats to perish....

    Don’t let your dog end up like this one carrying government issued rations in its mouth after Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005.
  7. Clearwater minister accused of aiding tax refund scams totaling $755,900

    Criminal

    TAMPA — The pastor of a small Clearwater church admits in a federal plea agreement to cashing $755,900 in tax refund checks that were obtained using stolen identities, while keeping a "small portion" for himself.

    Sylvester Banks Jr., 56, is scheduled to make his first appearance in court Wednesday and plead guilty to theft of government funds, a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison....

    A screenshot from the Facebook page of the Bible Church of God in Clearwater shows Sylvester Banks Jr. and his wife, Lekeshia, who lead services at the church in Clearwater.
  8. Child porn confession puzzle keeps federal probe of freed Bradenton woman alive

    Criminal

    TAMPA — One day a photograph of a woman and a toddler girl, neither identifiable, appeared in the e-mail account of a Queens, N.Y., police sergeant. The photo depicted intimate conduct that most would find disturbing.

    Authorities alleged that the sergeant had solicited women to create such images.

    For eight months starting in June, federal prosecutors in Tampa acted on a New York law enforcement theory that the adult in the photo was a Bradenton medical worker who sometimes babysat for a friend and had met the cop online....

    Renee Kimberly Gregg was cleared in February.
  9. Woman from Tampa meat market brawl in tax fraud trouble

    Criminal

    TAMPA — Jacqueline Renee Wimbush's last claim to fame was getting a fingertip bitten off during a 2008 brawl over who was next in line at an East Tampa meat market, an incident that put her finger on the news.

    This time, the IRS got the finger.

    The 46-year-old woman collected at least $41,476 in tax refunds that were filed using stolen identities, according to a signed plea agreement filed this week in U.S. District Court in Tampa....

    Jacqueline Renee Wimbush has agreed to plead guilty to the theft of government funds.
  10. Spring Hill woman accused of bomb threats to U.S. base in Japan

    Criminal

    TAMPA —Two recent bomb threats at an American military base in Japan were written by a Spring Hill woman trying to make her estranged husband look bad in a custody battle, federal court records allege.

    In January and again last month, someone claiming to be the husband, Takashi Numata, used an untraceable email service and threatened to blow up Misawa Air Base, which is 400 miles north of Tokyo....

  11. Woman, 19, sues TPD, claims now-fired cop caused head injury

    Civil

    TAMPA — A 19-year-old woman sued the Tampa Police Department and one of its former officers in federal court Wednesday, alleging that he slammed her head to the pavement on Valentine's Day a year ago, causing serious injury.

    Rachel Stockwell, then a University of Tampa student, was forced to withdraw from school because of cognitive impairment and also suffers from facial paralysis, her attorney wrote in the federal complaint....

    Rachel Stockwell’s mugshot, taken after her 2014 arrest, shows a badly swollen eye.
  12. Stolen CentCom computers were found on eBay

    Criminal

    TAMPA — The internal theft of five laptop computers from U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base went undetected until a supplier noticed four of them advertised on eBay, according to federal court records.

    A CentCom official ordered an inventory, putting it in the hands of a Riverview man who now admits to being the thief.

    Scott Duty's signed federal plea agreement spells out those details and more, in anticipation of a hearing next month in which he is expected to plead guilty to stealing government property....

  13. Clearwater man admits to spending late mother's VA benefits

    Criminal

    TAMPA — The former front man for a proposed $200 million luxury transportation mart pleaded guilty in federal court this week to stealing $29,400 in veterans benefits mistakenly paid to his deceased mother.

    Elliot Kahana, 68, of Clearwater had shared a bank account with Anne Kahana.

    Benefits kept arriving even after her death in April 2009, and Elliot Kahana admitted to spending them through January 2011, according to a court record....

  14. Ruskin mailman who flew gyrocopter into Capitol released from jail, headed back to Florida soon

    Criminal

    WASHINGTON — He made the front pages of the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and USA Today for flying through protected airspace and plopping his gyrocopter on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol. He captured air time on an alphabet of news channels for an act of civil disobedience to spotlight campaign finance reform.

    And when Doug Hughes, a mail carrier from Ruskin, emerged in court after 24 hours in custody, he put speakerphones in his failing ears and faced the judge, hoping for the best....

    Doug Hughes and his gyrocopter fly Wednesday near the Washington Monument en route to the Capitol.
  15. Man asks Tampa federal judge to bar Kim Kardashian, Kanye West from Florida (w/video)

    Civil

    TAMPA — Federal judges settle matters of import. They rule on terrorism, public corruption, sex trafficking and the like.

    Add to the list: Kim Kardashian and Kanye West.

    A Tampa federal judge was asked this week to grant an emergency restraining order barring the celebrity couple from ever entering Florida or appearing on Florida television.

    Oddly, the petitioner was an inmate of a Pennsylvania prison, Wayne Richard Albright, 44....

    Reality TV stalwart Kim Kardashian and her husband/rapper Kanye West were called “the worst pair of role models this world has ever seen” by a Pennsylvania sex offender.