Breaking Tampa Bay, Florida and national news and weather from Tampa Bay Online and The Tampa Tribune | TBO.com
Sunday, Apr 20, 2014

Silvestrini, Elaine

Tribune Staff

Foster mom sheds light on Hakkens' past

- A foster mother who cared for Joshua and Sharyn Hakken's sons says she saw signs of neglect long before the couple sailed for Cuba.

Sophisticated system used in Wal-Mart thefts

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The suspects made bogus barcodes to buy high-priced items at a lower cost, and then return them to the Wal-Mart stores to collect a cash refund, according to investigators.

Recording of Schenecker talking with detectives released

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TAMPA — Julie Schenecker was struggling to fill out a form for the detectives who wanted to question her about the 2011 killings of her two teenage children hours earlier.

Tampa man gets 30 years in rape of woman at church

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TAMPA — Demetrius Morris hoped to get probation for raping a 70-year-old woman inside a church.

Florida guns end up in hands of drug cartels

- A Polk County church pastor and his wife say they didn't know some of the 47 assault-style rifles they were buying would end up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels.

Witness’ illness muddles Tampa terrorism trial

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TAMPA — An informant who helped investigate Sami Osmakac cannot testify at Osmakac’s terrorism trial because the informant is being treated in Israel for leukemia, prosecutors notified the court today.

Castor hosts same-sex wedding at congressional office

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Tampa federal Judge Susan Bucklew was in Washington, D.C., on Thursday to perform a wedding.

Ex-employee agrees to plead guilty in hacking of Tampa firm

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TAMPA — After Mariusz Sokolewicz was fired from his job at a computer network services company, he broke into the company’s computer network and brought it to a halt for 24 hours.

Schenecker won’t face death penalty

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Prosecutors have notified the defense they will not seek a death sentence for Julie Schenecker if she is convicted of murdering her two teenage children in 2010.

He sold stolen Social Security checks - until he was shot

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TAMPA — When Alphonso Guice was shot in the face, police who responded to the scene uncovered evidence that the shooting victim was also a criminal.

Years-old Al-Arian terror case in limbo

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Sami Al-Arian, a former USF professor known for his 2005 arrest on terrorism charges, is still waiting for a Virginia judge to rule on his indictment for contempt of court five years later.

Owners of Tampa pain clinic convicted of drug trafficking

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TAMPA — A doctor at a Dale Mabry Highway pain clinic wrote more oxycodone prescriptions in a six-month span than all the doctors in some entire states, officials say.

Man found not guilty in fatal attack at Tampa church

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TAMPA — Three therapists agreed Michael Marston was insane when he killed a man in the parking lot of Christ the King church, and so a judge Wednesday found Marston not gui...

Most court records could soon be available online

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The Florida Supreme Court has lifted a decade-long moratorium on electronic access to court records, but it will likely be more than a...

Local law enforcement battles child sex trafficking abroad

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TAMPA — When federal agents interviewed a Pasco County middle school teacher as he was about to fly to Belize, agents said the 48-year-old told them it’s legal to have sex there with girls as young as 16.<...

Prosecutors making progress in computers-to-Iran case

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TAMPA — Federal prosecutors are continuing to expand their case against participants in a plot to illegally sell commercial-grade computer systems to an Iranian company.

Hillsborough courts moving toward paperless system

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TAMPA — Last year, more than 746,000 cases were filed in Hillsborough County courts.

Mom: Morris not guilty of shooting officers

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While Dontae Morris wrote that he “never regretted anything” in his life, his mother said he is not guilty of shooting two Tampa police officers.

Widow forgives Morris, but wants him to die

- Sara Kocab forgave Dontae Morris on Thursday for murdering her husband, then asked a judge to sentence Morris to death.

Arsenal to fight ID theft growing

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TAMPA — An employee at Amerigroup, a national managed medical care company, is accused of stealing client information for use in filing fraudulent tax returns.

Iran plot snares Tampa man

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TAMPA — A Tampa-based sales representative is the latest defendant to plead guilty in a growing federal criminal case over the sale of commercial-grade computer equipment to Iran.

Tampa man gets 13-year sentence in bicyclist’s death

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TAMPA — Lenoy Rivera says he wishes he was killed instead of Robert Niedbalec, the bicyclist Rivera struck when Rivera was drag racing on Fletcher Avenue three years ago.

Ex-Haley worker sentenced for stealing veterans’ identity information

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TAMPA — Army Lt. Ryan Timoney barely survived a suicide bomb attack that killed two other Army officers, and several Afghans, including two children.

Trial date set as prosecutor suggests Hakken faking insanity

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Joshua Hakken, ruled not fit to stand trial on charges he abducted his children and fled to Cuba, may be faking his insanity, a prosecutor said this morning.

Judge: Tax scammer can't have Bentley back

- Russell Simmons, who is serving more than 12 years in federal prison, was seeking the return of his 2005 Bentley, jewelry and other items that were seized.

Man convicted of tax fraud wants Bentley, jewelry back

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TAMPA — Russell Simmons wants his Bentley back.

Phone conversations key in case against Tampa terror suspect

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TAMPA - More than a year before Sami Osmakac was charged in an FBI sting, U.S. investigators were secretly monitoring his phone conversations.

Feds make Medicare fraud a top priority

- In the Tampa area, the number of Medicare fraud cases has fluctuated from year to year and was down in 2013, but officials anticipate a spike this year as cases that have been investigated begin to result in charges and mor...