Make us your home page

William R. Levesque, Times Staff Writer

William R. Levesque

William R. Levesque began working at the Tampa Bay Times in 1994 and has more than 28 years of experience as a reporter. He's written about Florida agriculture, the military, the Department of Veterans Affairs, county government, police news, criminal and civil courts and business affairs. In the 1990s, his investigative reports about a DuPont pesticide that damaged crops around the world and caused billions of dollars in damages garnered numerous Florida and national journalism awards.

His 2013 investigative report, The Atomic Sailors, about a Navy ship that dumped tons of radioactive waste into the Atlantic Ocean during the Cold War and sickened some of its men, won first place in the non-deadline category of the Society of Professional Journalists Sunshine State Awards. (See

Levesque also was the lead reporter in the Times coverage of the Terri Schiavo case and the criminal trial of the Rev. Henry Lyons.

Phone: (813) 226-3432


Twitter: @WilliamRLevesqu

  1. DeVry U closing two Tampa locations


    TAMPA — DeVry University, a for-profit college facing declining enrollment nationally, is closing its two Tampa locations by the end of the year as part of a company-wide consolidation as it focuses on its most lucrative markets.

    A DeVry spokesperson confirmed Friday the for-profit college would close its Tampa Bay Campus at 5540 W Executive Drive, in the West Shore business district, and its Tampa East Center at 6700 Lakeview Center Drive near the intersection of Interstate 4 and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard....

  2. Union: Haley VA nurse shortage endangers patients and staff


    TAMPA — Nurses at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center are overworked and overloaded because of a critical staffing shortage that is endangering veterans and staff, according to a grievance by a nursing union.

    The union, National Nurses United, filed the grievance against the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital this week. It says Haley needs to hire at least 100 registered nurses, in addition to an unspecified number of support staff, to meet minimum staffing levels mandated by the agency's own rules....

  3. Aviation experts explain why Capitol gyrocopter wasn't shot down (w/video)

    Bizarre News

    Why didn't the government shoot down Doug Hughes in his gyrocopter as he approached the nation's Capitol Wednesday?

    Even assuming the government was aware of his incursion of Washington airspace — and that is not yet clear — aviation security experts say it's unlikely security officials would order the downing of such a small aircraft.

    You don't swat a fly with a hammer....

    A bomb squad technician walks past the gyrocopter that Doug Hughes of Ruskin landed on the lawn in front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, April 14, 2015. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
  4. Drivers and bicyclists seeking alliance on Tampa's Platt Street

    Local Government

    TAMPA — It was one of cyclist Kris Milster's first trips in the new bike lane on Platt Street Tuesday afternoon and he was already dancing an unsteady tango with a Camaro.

    The car tooled along the bike lane in front of Milster. "Dude, what are you doing?" he thought.

    The Camaro's driver was doing what driver's in Florida do better than those just about anywhere else — endangering bicyclists....

    The City of Tampa government has improved the bike lane with better visual graphics for bike safety on Platt Street in Tampa on Monday, April 13, 2015. The bike lane will be the cities first green protected bike lane which cost the 1.5 million dollars according to the City of Tampa website. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  5. Casting call for 'The Infiltrator' bring 1980s back to Tampa

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — Pastels. Leg warmers. Big earrings. Loud silk shirts. Jelly sandals.

    Few of the people who showed up at the Tampa Convention Center for the casting call Saturday of Bryan Cranston's movie, The Infiltrator, wanted to admit that they still keep any of this clothing in their closet.

    The movie is set in the 1980s, so the casting agency encouraged folks who wanted to be extras or stand-ins for featured actors to show up in period garb. Part of the movie will be filmed in Tampa Bay later this month....

    Diane Kruger and Bryan Cranston star in The Infiltrator, the story of Robert Mazur, a Tampa resident and former undercover federal agent who infiltrated Pablo Escobar's drug money laundering empire.
  6. Man found guilty of killing University of Tampa senior


    TAMPA — A father looked at his son's killer one last time. The killer never looked back at him as he left the courtroom Friday in handcuffs to spend the rest of his life in prison.

    More than five years after the death of his son, Kevin McCall said one emotion was overpowering.

    "Today is the end of Aug. 19, 2009," he told a judge.

    A jury deliberated just over three hours before finding David Earl Williams Jr. guilty of first-degree murder, robbery and attempted robbery for the Aug. 19, 2009, shooting death of University of Tampa senior Ryan McCall, 21, a track athlete and aspiring coach....

    David Earl Williams Jr., 25, who blamed the killing on a man called Rabbit, faces life without parole.
  7. Last witness presented in trial of man charged with murdering UT student


    TAMPA — Trial witnesses are rarely perfect.

    They forget dates. They get nervous and stutter. Some are confident and look jurors in the eyes. More often, they whisper when testifying and never look up from their laps.

    Then there are witnesses like Rene Garcia Myles.

    Myles testified Thursday as the lone defense witness for David Earl Williams Jr., the Tampa man accused of first-degree murder in the 2009 robbery and shooting death of University of Tampa senior Ryan McCall, 21. ...

    David Earl Williams Jr. is accused of the shooting death of University of Tampa senior Ryan McCall.
  8. Man accused of killing UT student incriminates himself in tapes


    TAMPA — The detectives pleaded with David Earl Williams Jr. to admit his part in the 2009 killing of a University of Tampa student. They appealed to his sympathy for the victim.

    "He was a good kid," Tampa police Detective Sal Augeri said of the dead student, Ryan McCall. "He was basically a role model for younger athletes. And he's dead. And he didn't do nothing but try to get away."...

    David Earl Williams Jr., 25, is charged with killing a student on Aug. 19, 2009 in Tampa.
  9. Jurors hear voice of man who killed University of Tampa student


    TAMPA — Jurors heard the voices of both killer and victim.

    Best friends Mike Harahan and Ryan McCall were walking back from a bar near the University of Tampa. Harahan decided to call his brother as they walked to McCall's home. In a voice mail, both friends speak in voices slurred by alcohol.

    Suddenly, a third voice is heard — the killer's. "Get over here. . . . Get over here!"...

    Defendant David Earl Williams Jr. sits at the defense table Tuesday during his murder trial.
  10. Trial opens for man accused of killing UT student


    TAMPA — Kevin McCall seemed reluctant to speak too freely after he spent most of Monday sitting in a courtroom just a few yards from the man accused of killing his son.

    "The defendant gets his due in court," McCall said. "That's what the system does. I just want to let the system do its work. No opinions, no nothing. … I don't put myself in an emotional state with it at all."

    The first-degree murder trial of David Earl Williams Jr., accused of killing University of Tampa senior Ryan McCall in 2009, opened with jury selection in Hillsborough County circuit court on Monday. Lawyers may finish selecting a jury today with opening statements in the case coming in the afternoon....

    David Earl Williams Jr. is charged with first-degree murder.  
  11. Mystery Monkey, long on his own, settles into fatherhood (w/video)

    Human Interest

    DADE CITY — Cornelius is like a lot of men. He resisted settling down.

    Embracing the wandering life, he prowled Tampa Bay, finding adventure and evading authority. But it was a lonely existence. What's life without family?

    A year or so ago, Cornelius found a mate. And late Friday or early Saturday, the Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay became a daddy.

    Cornelius, a rhesus macaque who formerly roamed Tampa Bay and eluded capture for years, became a father when his mate Cora gave birth at Dade City's Wild Things, a 22-acre zoo in Pasco County....

    The Mystery Monkey, now named Cornelius, checks out his reflection in 2010 while he was on the lam in southern St. Petersburg.
  12. Hillsborough appoints panel to oversee troubled homeless services

    Local Government

    TAMPA — Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill said Friday he has appointed a panel to advise the director of the county's troubled homeless services division two weeks after an audit pointed to persistent problems in the department.

    News of the panel came amid an unrelated shuffling of some of Merrill's top leadership. Merrill this week announced the demotion of his Fire Rescue chief and shifted an assistant county administrator who is one of the highest-ranking African-Americans in county government to another job....

    Hillsborough Administrator Mike Merrill apologized after an embarrassing finding about inspections.
  13. Two Hillsborough Democrats running for clerk of court


    TAMPA — Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner filed papers Thursday to run for county clerk of court in 2016, saying incumbent Pat Frank encouraged him to seek her job because she planned to retire.

    Somebody disputes that — Pat Frank.

    In an interview Friday, Frank said she will seek re-election for an office she has held for a decade and has no plan to step down....

    Commissioner Kevin Beckner is a Democrat as is the incumbent.
  14. As Indiana adjusts law, Buckhorn seeks women's Final Four repeat


    TAMPA — As teams arrived Thursday for the women's Final Four, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn made a bid to steal next year's show.

    Buckhorn sent a letter to NCAA president Mark Emmert offering Tampa as host for the 2016 event amid the furor over recent passage of an Indiana law some believe allowed for discrimination against the gay and lesbian community.

    The 2016 women's Final Four is scheduled for Indianapolis, and the NCAA had suggested it might move future events out of the state if the law stood....

    Mayor Bob Buckhorn noted that Tampa already is hosting the women's tournament this weekend, and as such would be well positioned to handle the tournament in 2016. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
  15. Tampa City Council names Reddick its new chairman

    Local Government

    TAMPA — For all the political intrigue, it took the Tampa City Council just one anticlimactic minute Wednesday to elect Frank Reddick as its new chairman.

    Reddick has urged colleagues to rotate the position. He wrested the post from Charlie Miranda in a 4-3 vote during the organizational meeting after the council and Mayor Bob Buckhorn were sworn into office at a Tampa Convention Center ceremony....

    Tampa City Council member Frank Reddick said he hopes past chairman Charlie Miranda can help guide him in his new position.