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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. Tampa woman charged with selling teens for sex

    Criminal

    TAMPA — A Tampa woman accused of selling an underage girl for sex in 2013 now faces federal sex trafficking charges for that case and two others involving teen boys.

    Alysia Nicole Algere, 28, was arrested earlier this month in Louisiana. A grand jury indicted her in 2014, but the federal case was kept sealed until after Algere's arrest.

    Initially, Temple Terrace police followed a tip to a room at a Ramada Inn on Morris Bridge Road and found two girls, ages 16 and 18, who said Algere posted photos advertising their services online and kept half the proceeds....

    Hillsborough jail mug of Alysia N. Algere, a Tampa woman who faces federal sex trafficking charges for pimping teen girls and boys.

Hillsborough Country Sheriff's Office
  2. Misconduct inquiry didn't stop Buju Banton juror from serving in another trial

    Criminal

    TAMPA — Two years ago, a federal judge concluded that a juror had independently researched the law amid the cocaine conspiracy trial of a reggae star, disobeying the judge's orders.

    The juror denied the conduct. But U.S. District Judge James S. Moody Jr. appointed a special prosecutor to put Terri Monique Wright of New Tampa on trial for federal criminal contempt of court, a rarity even in an era of Internet-compromised juries....

    Misconduct by a juror was charged in Buju Banton’s federal trial.
  3. University of Tampa student facing federal charge in StubHub scam

    Criminal

    TAMPA — University of Tampa student Sachin Kumar lived it up a little in 2013. His Facebook page shows trips to India, Dubai, Chicago, Miami and his home state of New York.

    Though he griped about tuition costs, he boasted of a leather couch and a 55-inch TV.

    "Life is good," he wrote.

    But federal court records suggest Kumar enriched himself that year by selling fraudulent events tickets over the Internet sales platform StubHub, using accounts set up in at least one fictitious name: "Lester Salmon."...

    UT student Sachin Kumar, 22,
has “accepted responsibility … and agreed to pay restitution,” his attorney says.
  4. Riverview woman gets three years for tax fraud, lying to HUD

    Criminal

    TAMPA — A Riverview woman who collected tax refunds using stolen identities while living in federally subsidized housing will spend three years in prison.

    Ronika Paris, 35, was also ordered to pay $70,873 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.

    The U.S. Attorney's Office said she used the identities of more than 60 people to file false tax returns and open prepaid debit card accounts. She admitted in a plea agreement to theft of $17,979, but investigators linked her to further losses. ...

    Ronika Paris, 35, of Riverview also must pay nearly $71,000 in restitution to the IRS.
  5. Man who burned church threatened to blow up TIA, Crystal River nuke plant, authorities say

    Criminal

    TAMPA — A man accused of setting fire to a Brooksville church in June had threatened months earlier to blow up an array of local landmarks, including the Crystal River nuclear power plant and Tampa International Airport, authorities allege.

    David Wayne Willmott Jr., 24, of Inverness now faces both state and federal charges.

    He's accused of making bomb threats throughout the area in November and April and setting fire June 14 to Lake Lindsey United Methodist Church. He was first charged with all of the conduct in state court, but the U.S. Attorney's Office reported Thursday that a grand jury had indicted Willmott on Wednesday in relation to the "hoax" bomb threats....

    David Wayne Willmott Jr. is accused of making a series of threats involving bombs.
  6. Polk teacher's aide accused of coercing 11-year-old for sex faces federal charge

    Criminal

    TAMPA — A teacher's aide accused by Lakeland police of trying to have sex with an 11-year-old boy she called "love bug" now faces a federal criminal case.

    Alecia Kay Dotson, 45, was indicted Wednesday in Tampa on a charge of coercion of a minor.

    Investigators tipped off by a concerned mother arrested Dotson on June 30 at the Lakeland Square Mall after she bought supplies for a planned encounter with the boy at a mall movie theater, according to the Lakeland Police Department....

  7. Meth found in candy wrappers in Bradenton home with kids

    Criminal

    TAMPA — A Bradenton man with two young children distributed methamphetamine packaged as Mexican pinata candy and kept the drugs in a bedroom closet, a federal complaint alleges.

    Jesus Casteyano, 53, who has an infant and a 6-year-old son, was arrested after federal agents found a tub containing 19 pounds of methamphetamine in retail candy bags labeled "Combo Pinata."

    His wife, Erika Galvan, said her husband had warned her not to let their son eat the drugs, the complaint states. ...

    Photos of collected evidence [U.S. Attorney's Office]
  8. In tax fraud's wake, dozens of kids grow up motherless

    Criminal

    TAMPA

    The 6-year-old girl has a pink-and-blue purse, crocheted by her mother in prison.

    "She clings to it everywhere she goes," said her great-grandmother, Annie Etti of Tampa. "It's always, 'Mommy, Mommy.' "

    Adults tell the girl that prison is a college campus, but her older brother knows better. He has been having nightmares since their mother, Ashley Guy, was locked up last year for filing fraudulent tax refund claims. For three weeks, the kids slept in a car as relatives tried to regroup. ...

    Rosa Martin
  9. Palma Ceia church hit with $2.1 million tax lien; ex-business manager admits to theft

    Criminal

    TAMPA — A year after a $58,000 check for a roof repair bounced, the former business manager at Palma Ceia United Methodist Church has admitted in a federal plea agreement to skimming $82,835 from church accounts.

    Juliet Suzanne Ellis, 45, could face up to 20 years in prison on a wire fraud charge.

    And now the church has an even bigger problem.

    Days ago, the Internal Revenue Service filed tax liens against Palma Ceia United Methodist totaling more than $2.1 million for unpaid payroll taxes and penalties from June 2007 through June 2014....

  10. Sentence in Tampa tax fraud case hits a new high: 27 years

    Criminal

    TAMPA — James Lee Cobb III, a felon with a collection of 7,000 Social Security numbers, was sentenced this week to 27 years in prison for leading a scam to claim $1.8 million in tax refunds using stolen identities — while also illegally owning guns.

    Victim records were taken from the James A. Haley VA Hospital, the Florida Hospital Tampa (formerly University Community Hospital), a medical billing company and out-of-state ambulance services, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office....

    James Lee Cobb III, 37, had pleaded guilty to tax fraud and illegal possession of firearms
  11. Sex versus security clearance: Feds say Riverview man lied

    Criminal

    TAMPA — A Riverview man has been accused of lying to federal authorities about his sex life while trying to get a job.

    When Jeffrey F. Bohn sought national security clearance in June 2010, he didn't disclose his contact with a foreign national with whom he was "bound by affection," a grand jury alleges.

    Three times since then, he disavowed such ties.

    The government isn't naming the foreigner — identified only as "Individual A" — or providing context that might fully explain why the matter escalated to charges punishable by up to five years in prison. Bohn, 55, said "that he did not know or have sex with Individual A" when "he in fact knew and had sex with Individual A," the four-count indictment states....

  12. Palm Harbor oncologist accused of deceiving patients, Medicare with unapproved cancer drugs

    Criminal

    TAMPA — A Palm Harbor oncologist sold discounted foreign-labeled cancer drugs for more than three years without federal approval or patient knowledge, according to an indictment unsealed Thursday.

    Dr. Diana Anda Norbergs of East Lake Oncology is accused of administering at least $700,000 worth of the drugs and then billing Medicare as if she had used higher-priced U.S. versions.

    "The purity and efficacy of these prescription drugs were of the utmost importance for patients' care," the record states....

    The East Lake Oncology website includes a photo of Dr. D. Anda Norbergs.
  13. 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.
  14. 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....

  15. 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....