The Kelleys: lavish parties, huge debts

FP

MICHAEL S SCHMIDT & SHERYL GAY STOLBERG

Jill and Scott Kelley moved here about a decade ago, taking up residence in a huge redbrick home with a spectacular view of the water on Bayshore Boulevard, Tampa's most fashionable street. They quickly established themselves as social hosts to the powerful officers who run two of the nation's most important military commands.

The Kelleys were known for their lavish parties, with extravagant buffets, flowing champagne, valet parking and cigars for guests from nearby MacDill Air Force Base, including David H Petraeus and John R Allen, who now commands troops in Afghanistan.

"Tampa is the kind of community where, if you're new to the community, you can carve out your own niche," said Pam Iorio, the city's former mayor. "They decided to carve out a niche with the military."

Records show that Kelley and her husband, a doctor, have been subject to a string of lawsuits over debts, according to a report in The Tampa Bay Times, which said the Kelleys owed a bank nearly $2.2 million, including attorney fees, on a building they own. They also ran a cancer charity, which appears to be defunct. A 2007 tax filing, the latest available, shows the charity raised $157,284 that year, but spent just $58,417 on programme services, described as conducting research to improve the lives of terminally ill adult cancer patients.

The couple appeared to be well regarded at MacDill, home to Central Command, which runs the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and hosts officers from more than 50 foreign countries, and Special Operations Command, which trains commandos for missions like the one that killed Osama bin Laden. The two sit side by side on the base, where generals, admirals and other high-ranking officers live in elegant homes on a spit of land that juts into Tampa Bay.

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