TAMPA — A former Pasco County middle school teacher has pleaded guilty in federal court to online enticement of two minor girls for sex and now faces 10 years to life in prison.
His intended victims, ages 13 and 15, lived in Belize.
David Wendel Thompson, 49, of Seffner used Facebook to try to coax the girls to have sex with him, promising money, according to his plea agreement. ...
TAMPA — A Lithia mother tapped the identities of three daughters while falsifying paperwork to obtain weapons for doomsday prepper Martin Winters, federal court records state.
Ellie Elizabeth Saldana, 42, admits in a plea agreement filed Monday that she was the straw buyer in 2011 for multiple semi-automatic AR-15-type rifle purchases funded by Winters.
Federal authorities call Winters leader of the River Otter Preppers, a group that advocates preparation for an end-times event foretold in the Bible's Book of Revelation. He discussed plans to kill law enforcement agents, the government alleged, and later pleaded guilty to creating and possessing unregistered destructive devices....
U.S. House | District 15
Alan M. Cohn, a former TV investigative reporter, takes on incumbent Dennis A. Ross, a former state representative first elected to Congress in 2010. Cohn, a Democrat, lives in Hillsborough County. He supports increasing the minimum wage and says it's time the middle class got an economic recovery like Wall Street did. Ross, a Republican, lives in Polk County. He touts cuts in federal spending and wants to simplify the tax code. By Patty Ryan, Times staff writer...
TAMPA — Ophthalmologist Ashish Sanon, born in India and trained in Canada, did well for himself among the cataracts, glaucoma checks and drooping eyelids of Citrus County.
In the past five years, he billed $5 million, enough to keep up homes both on Clearwater Beach and at the Black Diamond Ranch golf course, records show.
His tale has all the markings of an American success story, except — as the government reminded him this month — he isn't an American. Nor does he have a green card. ...
TAMPA — Chuma Osuji worked in a gas station after he arrived from Nigeria at 20. When he got sick, he couldn't afford a prescription.
He became a doctor and, as a hobby in 2002, started African Ambassadors, a charity for people without health insurance.
But now he's in danger of losing his medical license over alleged violations of drug laws.
An indictment unsealed Friday in U.S. District Court accuses Osuji, 51, of distributing controlled substances without legitimate medical need. ...
TAMPA — A man accused of scamming Apple stores out of $309,768 in merchandise admits to the deeds in a signed plea agreement.
Sharron Laverne Parrish Jr., 24, of Tampa is scheduled to plead guilty Oct. 3 to wire fraud, a crime punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison.
When his debit card purchases were declined, he pretended to call banks and then relayed phony override codes to store clerks, the government alleged. Parrish admitted to employing the scheme 42 times in 16 states....
TAMPA — Last year, a Riverview woman collected $1,351 a month in housing assistance from the federal government while also falsely claiming federal tax refunds totaling $61,544, authorities allege.
Ronika Paris, 35, didn't tell the Tampa Housing Authority about all of her bank accounts, the government says, and so now she faces extra federal charges.
Paris, arrested Friday, was indicted by a grand jury this week on eight counts of wire fraud, eight counts of aggravated identity theft, one count of access device fraud and two counts of making false statements....
TAMPA — Seattle engineer James Webb Baker Jr. grew so frustrated over reports of a Democratic voter purge in Florida in 2012 that he retaliated by mailing fraudulent elections letters to GOP donors questioning their citizenship and right to vote.
Now he's the one shut out of the system, convicted of a felony and unable to participate in America's political process.
Baker, 59, was sentenced Wednesday to three years' probation, starting with six months of home detention, after he pleaded guilty in May to voter intimidation and fraud related to identification documents....
For eight weeks, two crews of a KC-135 Stratotanker performed the military's version of a high-wire act. In midair, they refueled jets that were targeting Islamic State militants in Iraq and supported missions that dropped humanitarian aid.
On Tuesday they came back down to earth, to a nation that awaits President Barack Obama's next move in the region, and to friends and family members who were thrilled to see them....
TAMPA — A federal grand jury indicted Sharron Laverne Parrish Jr. this week on wire fraud charges, ramping up the pending federal case against a man accused of scamming Apple stores in 16 states out of $309,768.
Forty-two times, he bought Apple merchandise using debit cards from closed or inactive bank accounts, the Secret Service alleges. After initial denial of a transaction, he would pretend to call the card issuer and then provide an override code to the clerk, the government alleges....
TAMPA — Five Tampa Bay area residents face federal charges in a sweep of Social Security fraud that, in some cases, caught adults living for years off the checks of their deceased parents.
The investigation, dubbed Operation Walking Dead, turned up more than $1 million in benefits fraud by 18 people in the Middle District of Florida, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced.
In signed plea agreements, Donna Bennett, 68, of Dunedin and James Birney, 47, of Oldsmar each admitted to collecting their late mothers' Social Security benefits. Bennett, whose mother died in 2009, collected $60,581 and Birney, whose mother died in 2008, collected $95,556, the government alleges....
TAMPA — The long-stalled appeal of Cortnee Brantley was set in motion Wednesday after a federal circuit judge denied her attorney's eighth request for a delay.
A one-year prison sentence looms over Brantley. She was convicted in 2013 of helping to hide that ex-boyfriend Dontae Morris was a felon with a loaded gun when he killed two police officers in 2010. A district court judge allowed her to remain free while appealing the case, but defense attorney Grady Irvin has not filed her appellate brief....
TAMPA — Doomsday prepper Martin Winters pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to making and possessing unregistered destructive devices.
Winters, 55, of Valrico, was the subject of a June manhunt in eastern Hillsborough County before he surrendered at an FBI field office on June 18.
He led a group called the River Otter Preppers, which advocated survival preparations in advance of an end-times event foretold in the Bible's Book of Revelation, court records state. An undercover FBI agent reported that Winters talked of buried guns, booby traps and his plans to kill government agents if they raided his property....
TAMPA — A year ago, St. Petersburg landlord Michael Shimshoni backed out of a signed federal plea deal in a lead paint case that could have sent him to prison for as long as two decades.
He agreed this week to plead guilty to a lesser charge that might allow him to avoid prison and instead serve probation.
"We're very happy with it," defense attorney George Tragos said. "He believes it's fair and just."...
TAMPA — Allegations of child sexual abuse against a once-beloved private school headmaster now span 34 years and, potentially, two institutions.
James Jerome Larkin, 63, was jailed Wednesday on a charge of capital sexual battery on a 10-year-old boy in 1980.
It was the second charge in four months. A 14-year-old boy told authorities that Larkin, his school principal, had molested him just last March, which led to Larkin's arrest in April....