William R. Levesque, Times Staff Writer

William R. Levesque

William R. Levesque is a journalist with more than 25 years of experience who began working at the Tampa Bay Times in 1994. He covers MacDill Air Force Base, the Department of Veterans Affairs and police news.

Phone: (813) 226-3432

Email: levesque@tampabay.com

Twitter: @WilliamRLevesqu

  1. Lawsuit: VA ignored test result of Clearwater veteran, 'caused his death'


    A Clearwater resident died of colon cancer after his doctor at the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center failed for three years to investigate a test showing the veteran had blood in his stool, a federal lawsuit claims.

    The wife of William B. Halverson filed suit in Tampa federal court Thursday seeking unspecified damages. Halverson died on Feb. 6, 2013, at age 64.

    The suit comes several months after the Department of Veterans Affairs released a report showing 76 veterans nationally were seriously harmed by long delays in getting gastrointestinal consultations. Of those, 24 died, the VA reported....

  2. 1984 VA death was ruled a suicide, but was it really murder?

    Human Interest

    An hour or so before midnight on Aug. 27, 1984, Bud Thompson put on his light blue pajamas, tossed his clothes in a paper bag that he shoved in a closet and climbed into bed. He locked away his belt with his dirty clothes.

    Thompson removed his socks and put his black dress shoes — size 10E — on the floor by his hospital bed in the mental health unit at the VA hospital at Bay Pines....

    Bud Thompson in his Army uniform at home in New Jersey during World War II. He was badly injured shortly after D-day when his supply truck was bombed by a German plane. “He died in Europe, to a certain extent,” a brother says.
  3. Mom, dad, daughter and new boyfriend identified as Pasco murder victims


    HUDSON — Their last Pennsylvania winter behind them, Maggie and Greg Brown packed up the RV and set out for Florida.

    Paradise, Maggie told her friends. Shopping in Miami. The Keys in winter. Beaches and sunsets in between.

    After the long trip south, they moved two months ago to a rented Hudson home with a swimming pool and a hot tub and a boat dock. They settled in with daughter Megan, grandson Tristan, and Megan's former boyfriend, Adam, the boy's father....

    Megan Brown
  4. VA hears veterans' concerns about care at Tampa town hall meeting


    SEMINOLE — Compliments are up. A backlog of benefits claims is down.

    That was the message from Department of Veterans Affairs officials who held a town hall meeting at the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center on Wednesday where they emphasized the positive and largely sidestepped discussion about recent controversies that have dogged the agency.

    The meeting, and others like it held across the nation, are part of the VA's response to calls for improved communication with veterans in the wake of one of the worst scandals in the agency's history....

    Air Force veteran Ed Moody of Pinellas Park asks a question Wednesday during a town hall meeting at the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center. VA officials largely sidestepped discussions about recent controversies the agency is involved in.
  5. Young VA settling retaliation lawsuit by its police officers


    The C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center and up to eight officers who served on the facility's internal police force have tentatively agreed to settle a 4-year-old lawsuit that accused the hospital's leaders of retaliating against them for workplace discrimination complaints.

    The settlement, whose terms are not public, comes five years after a federal judge in a separate case warned leaders of the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Seminole to stop retaliating against employees who file such complaints....

    The C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center in Seminole. [MELISSA LYTTLE | Times]
  6. Two critically injured in Tampa house fire


    TAMPA — Timothy Mendenall said his dog may have saved his life with its incessant barking.

    He opened his bedroom door at 2 a.m. Saturday and saw a sofa in flames. A bed in his friend's room also was burning. Mendenall and the friend quickly filled pots with water from the sink to douse the flames. In seconds, neighbors jumped in to help. Someone sprayed flames with a garden hose.

    They quickly put the fire out. But the friend who shares the 3001 E Ida St. house in east Tampa with Mendenall, and the friend's girlfriend, were critically injured in the fire early Saturday that investigators say may have been arson related to a domestic dispute....

  7. Gen. Joseph Votel takes over U.S. Special Operations Command during ceremony in Tampa


    TAMPA — A general who is rarely quoted in the media and has risen to the highest ranks of the military faster than almost any recent commander is the new chief of the nation's secretive commando forces.

    Army Gen. Joseph Votel III, 56, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and an Army Ranger, took the helm Thursday of U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base during a ceremony at the Tampa Convention Center....

    Army Gen. Joseph Votel III, 56, left, and Adm. William McRaven, 58, whom Votel is replacing, acknowledge the change of leadership for the U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base at Thursday’s ceremony in Tampa.
  8. Man accused of stealing Haley VA patient ID info


    TAMPA — The documents with the Social Security numbers of veterans treated at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center were supposed to be shredded by a company whose website warns, "Don't become a victim of identity theft."

    But the firm, federal prosecutors say, employed a 24-year-old with a criminal history who kept those records out of the shredder, instead selling them to individuals who used the documents to file fraudulent tax returns....

  9. Company: Most cars for relocated troops delivered on time this month


    The company under fire for severe problems in a program that ships the personal vehicles of U.S. troops and civilian defense personnel says it is on track to deliver 90 percent of the cars it is handling on time.

    The catch: That figure includes only vehicles shipped since Aug. 1.

    And this percentage, released by International Auto Logistics of Brunswick, Ga., is still far short of the contractually required 98 percent on-time delivery rate mandated by U.S. Transportation Command....

  10. Military says about 70 percent of troops' vehicles being shipped will be late


    The company hired to deliver the personal vehicles of troops and civilian defense workers around the world has successfully transported just 7,987 of the 27,358 vehicles it is shipping, and 70 percent of those still in transit will arrive late, according to an email by military officials released this week.

    The figures show that an additional 2,250 vehicles are awaiting pickup by their owners. But many have complained that International Auto Logistics of Brunswick, Ga., does not notify them when vehicles arrive at processing centers....

  11. Bill Young VA Medical Center cardiology clinic speeds access to care


    SEMINOLE — With frequent media reports of long wait times at veterans hospitals, Melville "Mac" Gibbons didn't know what to expect when he called the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center and asked to see a cardiologist.

    The answer the Navy veteran got surprised him: Come on down. Now.

    The hospital, the fourth-busiest in the Department of Veterans Affairs system, recently launched a new Convenient Cardiology Consult Clinic, or the C-4 Clinic, that allows new cardiology patients to be seen by a heart specialist the same day they are referred by other physicians at the hospital. Such patients had waited an average of 42 days previously, Young VA leaders said....

    Bill Young VA cardiologist William Corin talks with Melville “Mac” Gibbons at the Convenient Cardiology Consult Clinic.
  12. Tampa veteran's stolen motorcycle refurbished, returned


    TAMPA — Army veteran Paul Rivera said he was planning to sell his $10,000 customized motorcycle before it was stolen from outside his Tampa apartment on June 18. But he got it back. And he just might keep it forever.

    "I'm never going to get rid of it now," Rivera said.

    With the help of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office and others, the Nam Knights Motorcycle Club, Westside Chapter, presented Rivera with his refurbished 2005 Honda CBR600 at the Veterans Memorial Park & Museum on Saturday....

    Iraq War veteran Paul Rivera thanks Westside Nam Knights Motorcycle Club members Travis Wright and Ryan McDonaugh, left, for restoring his stolen motorcycle with the help of donations.
  13. Blame questioned for problems shipping troop vehicles


    Hundreds of U.S. troops and civilian defense workers complain that the company hired to ship their personal vehicles after they relocate is delivering them weeks, even months late.

    The military blames litigation filed by the firm that formerly did the work for the government as the cause of the program's ills. That delayed the start of the new company's work from December to the height of the moving season on May 1, triggering shipping problems, says the U.S. Transportation Command....

  14. New company shipping troop cars plagued by complaints


    Some U.S. troops joke that their missing cars are at the ocean bottom. Photos of absent automobiles are posted online like the images of missing children on milk cartons. A few threatened to file stolen vehicle claims with insurers when a shipping company could not locate their cars.

    "Still missing my husband's truck," Tabitha Nelson Smith posted on Facebook. "They actually called him 2 weeks ago and said his truck was here. He went to pick it up and it wasn't his!!! They were actually going to give him someone else's vehicle. I guess some poor soul on the other side of the world has our truck!"...

     Army Staff Sgt. Christoph Tunis with his wife, Sabrina Tunis.  Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Tunis, a former St. Petersburg resident who is assigned to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, stands next to his 2011 Jeep Compass that was recently shipped from Europe to the United States. The company that shipped it lost track of the car for a time. And now that it has arrived, the custom's paperwork is missing, Tunis said. So he is unable to register the vehicle in the states.
  15. VA apologizes for giving Congress inaccurate info


    The Department of Veterans Affairs apologized Thursday to the U.S. House Veterans Affairs Committee for providing it with inaccurate information in a fact sheet detailing delays in the diagnosis of gastrointestinal cancers.

    The fact sheet, released to the committee in April, said 76 veterans had been seriously harmed, and 23 died, after delays in getting tests that confirmed a GI cancer. In a story earlier this month, the Tampa Bay Times reported the fact sheet erroneously suggested the review involved cases going back to 1999 when, in fact, only cases from fiscal 2010 and 2011 were counted....