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. Prison terms imposed for three in Valrico 'prepper' case

    Criminal

    TAMPA — Four people with varying roles in doomsday prepper Martin Winters' scheme to arm a citizen militia and inflict harm on law enforcement learned their fates Friday.

    Three will go to prison for firearm crimes. Of those, two were felons who illegally had guns: Jason Swain, 33, and James Beebe, 56. U.S. District Judge Richard A. Lazzara sentenced Swain to three years in prison and Beebe to 18 months. Nicholas Hall, 23, got a year and a day for falsifying gun paperwork, and straw buyer Desiree Beebe, 23, got three years of probation....

  2. Former airline pilot from St. Petersburg gets 21 years for child porn

    Criminal

    TAMPA — Donald Gallagher, a former American Airlines pilot convicted of child pornography, says he lies in bed at night wishing he could turn back time.

    "I had everything in the world going for me," he said.

    Instead, he will lose years to prison. A federal judge Thursday sentenced Gallagher, 52, to 21 years of confinement for producing explicit images of two girls in 2011 at his St. Petersburg home, while also collecting and distributing the work of other child pornographers. ...

    Gallagher, 52, says he doesn’t know why he did what he did.
  3. Air Force sergeant gets 11 years for enticing a girl who didn't exist

    News

    The 15-year-old girl wasn't real. Her online willingness to fly to Louisiana for a sexual liaison with an Air Force staff sergeant was all part of a Tampa-based sting.

    But there's nothing fake about the federal prison sentence handed out this week to the sergeant. Steven Richard Romel, 32, will serve 11 years for enticement of a child for sex.

    Romel answered a Craigslist ad last fall. It had been placed by a male federal agent who pretended at first to be an 18-year-old Kissimmee girl before confiding that "she" was actually 15. None of it was true....

    The 15-year-old girl wasnÕt real. Her online willingness to fly to Louisiana for a sexual liaison with an Air Force staff sergeant was all part of a Tampa-based sting. But thereÕs nothing fake about the federal prison sentence handed out this week to the sergeant. Steven Richard Romel, 32, will serve 11 years for enticement of a child for sex. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
  4. Former Pasco teacher pleads guilty to online enticement of Belize teens

    Criminal

    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. ...

  5. Doomsday prepper investigation brings charge against Lithia mom

    Criminal

    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....

  6. U.S. House of Representatives: District 15

    Kyc

    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...

    Cohn
  7. What does it take to run a Florida medical practice? Not a green card

    Criminal

    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. ...

  8. Tampa doctor accused of distributing controlled substances without need

    Criminal

    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. ...

  9. Tampa man admits to $309K Apple scam in plea deal

    Criminal

    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....

  10. Feds say Riverview mom filed bogus IRS claims while public housed her family

    Criminal

    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....

  11. Man who mailed fake letters to GOP donors gets probation

    Criminal

    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....

  12. Tanker crews supporting U.S. strikes against ISIS return to MacDill

    Macdill

    TAMPA

    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....

    Capt. Matt Swee embraces his wife, Shelly, after the airman returned Tuesday to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. He was deployed overseas for eight weeks as part of a refueling squadron that helped jets targeting Islamic State militants in Iraq. For a video report on the crews’ return to MacDill, go to tampabay.com/video.
  13. Federal grand jury indicts Tampa man accused of duping Apple 42 times

    Criminal

    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....

  14. 'Operation Walking Dead' finds Social Security keeps on giving

    Criminal

    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....

  15. After seven delays in Cortnee Brantley appeal, judge denies No. 8

    Criminal

    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....