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Federal prosecutors charged 27 South Florida suspects Tuesday with marriage fraud, including organizers, recruiters and unlawful immigrants, according to reports.

4107766083_66d44a53c4_zThe main defendants — two Hialeah men ages 50 and 57 and a 50-year-old Hialeah and a 33-year-old Marathon man— are accused of charging a fee to arrange fraudulent marriages between U.S. citizens and undocumented aliens.

The trio allegedly notarized phony marriage licenses, completed necessary immigration paperwork and prepared the participants for their interviews with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, according to police.

They are accused of arranging the fraudulent marriages between 2011 and 2014, and during that time two of the men also allegedly attempted to obtain naturalization illegally, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

The case was investigated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

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Former University of Florida Gator and New England Patriots football player Aaron Hernandez was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison Wednesday for the murder of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd.

Hernandez, 25, who once had a $40 million contract and a standout career ahead of him, will now be serving a mandatory sentence of life without parole.

The former football pro was also found guilty on weapons charges. The jury deliberated for 36 hours over seven days before rendering its verdict.

6566853359_6d069f2b0b_zLloyd was shot six times in the middle of the night on June 17, 2013, in a deserted industrial park near Hernandez’s home in North Attleborough.

Police almost immediately began investigating Hernandez because they found a key to a car that the NFL player had rented in Lloyd’s pocket. Hours after he was arrested, the Patriots cut the former Pro Bowl athlete, who was considered one of the top tight ends in the NFL.

Prosecutors presented a great amount of evidence during trial that Hernandez was with Lloyd at the time he was killed, including home security video from Hernandez’s mansion, witness testimony and cellphone records that tracked Lloyd’s movements.

Hernandez’s lawyer also acknowledged for the first time during closing arguments that Hernandez was there when Lloyd was killed.

But, Hernandez’s attorney told the court that two of Hernandez’s friends, Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz, killed Lloyd. Wallace and Ortiz will stand trial later.

The prosecution never offered a motive other than Hernandez appeared angry with Lloyd at a nightclub two nights before the killing.

Hernandez still awaits trial on other murder charges. He is accused of gunning down two men over a spilled drink at a nightclub.

In the Lloyd killing, the defense argued that investigators pinned the murder on Hernandez because of his celebrity status.

Prosecutors believe that Hernandez organized the killing, made his two friends help carry it out and drove Lloyd and the others to the secluded spot in the industrial park. During closing arguments, prosecutors also allege that Hernandez shot the man, though under the law it is not necessary to prove who fired the shots to achieve a conviction.

Security video from inside Hernandez’s home showed him holding what appeared to be a gun less than 10 minutes after Lloyd was killed. The surveillance system also showed Hernandez, Wallace and Ortiz hanging out at his home hours after Lloyd was shot.

Hernandez was an All-American out of the University of Florida who was drafted by the Patriots in the fourth round in 2010.

This case does not end with this guilty verdict. There will undoubtedly be an appeal to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. There are many issues in this case that could be a strong grounds for appeal, including the fact that the judge allowed certain parts of the expert’s testimony on the Glock being the murder weapon, but excluded other parts. It could be asserted that the expert’s entire testimony was improper. The defense reminded the jury during closing argument that the expert’s testimony had been struck from evidence and should be disregarded. Because of the defense’s reference to this testimony during closing, it could be argued that asking the jury to ignore such incriminating evidence was unfairly prejudicial, which in turn would warrant a new trial.

It will most definitely be interesting to see how an appeal plays out for Hernandez.

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Police believe a 65-year-old man used rented trucks to steal nearly 450 pallets of brick paver stones, worth an estimated $200,000, from Flagstone Pavers.

Brooksville investigators arrested the man on a felony grand theft charge resulting from a six week investigation into the missing pavers.

The company claims they never knew the pavers were missing until early February when an operator received an anonymous call from a woman who said that ’54 pallets of their pavers had been stolen and brought to a warehouse’ in Pasco County, according to reports.

A detective was able to get to the scene before the pavers were dispersed.

Police claim that what they thought were just 54 pallets of product turned out to be 450 stolen pallets.

4745160167_db76dca48d_zThe detective claims to have questioned the man who allegedly told him that he buys products from various locations. The detective said he asked the man for receipts, and the man apparently requested to speak with his lawyer.

Police claim the man had rented Penske trucks nine times for a total of 25 trucks to make multiple trips from Brooksville to Port Richey.

Police allege that from November to February, the man and a crew would load pallets into those trucks overnight and then drive them back and unload them at the warehouse, which is owned by the man’s son.

Police reported that they do not plan to arrest any of the crew members because they did not know what they were doing was illegal.

Police are investigating if an employee inside the plant was helping to facilitate the heist.

In the state of Florida, theft offenses are classified as both misdemeanors and felonies. In general, the determining factor of whether charges are a misdemeanor or felony revolve around the amount of money taken or the value of the item or items. In most cases, a theft involving $300 or more is classified as a felony. However, there are instances when a theft offense of a lower amount can become a felony due to a person’s prior record of theft-related offenses.

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A 56-year-old homeless man has been arrested and charged with molesting a child, according to reports.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office claims the man molested a 9-year-old girl multiple times Tuesday and Wednesday at a Largo home.

Officials allege that the man somehow knew the child.

3909882250_0954f81339_m (1)According to police, a witness contacted authorities, who then began investigating the accusations. Police said that the alleged victim confirmed the allegations during interviews.

The man was then arrested and charged with lewd and lascivious molestation on a child under 12 and was transported to the Pinellas County Jail.

While molestation charges are nothing to mess around with, it is important to understand that there are circumstances where an adult is wrongfully accused of lewd and lascivious molestation. Authorities will not usually question allegations made by a child who may be lying in order to achieve some real or imagined gain. If you are charged with molestation or another sex crimes offense, contact a Pinellas County Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton as soon as possible so that we can assess your unique situation, ask the necessary questions and determine the best legal strategy for your defense.

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A former University of Florida track and field athlete was arrested Sunday morning after police allege he struck a bouncer multiple times after being denied entrance to a downtown nightclub.

According to a GPD report, the 23-year-old man was apparently trying to get into Simons Nightclub at about 1 a.m. when police claim he created a disturbance and was denied entry by one of the club’s bouncers.

Police allege that the argument escalated with the bouncer and the man then punched the bouncer in the face repeatedly, leaving a large cut on the bouncer’s forehead that required stitches.

Police claim they were forced to detain the man and physically remove him from the scene.

24523450_67d2e924e7_zThe man was arrested and charged with one felony count of battery and one misdemeanor count of resisting an officer without violence. He was taken to the Alachua County jail where he remained on Sunday with bail set at $17,500.

According to reports, the man competed for the Gators’ track and field team from 2010 to 2013.

The man won the triple jump and finished second in the long jump at the annual Florida Relays at Percy Beard Track that concluded Saturday on the UF campus.

Facing battery charges in Florida can be a life altering experience. You could be facing hefty fines as well as time behind bars, depending on the facts surrounding your case. Obviously, these charges can be nothing short of frightening.

You may have found yourself facing a battery charge that erupted from an act of self defense. Many battery charges arise from a fight, and it is possible that you were not even the aggressor in the attack. Police often charge the person who is hurt the least, or even the person who files charges first.

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A former Key West police officer who was recently accused of sexually abusing a minor will not be prosecuted on two charges of child molestation and one of lewd exhibition.

Assistant State Attorney Val Winter, who had been prosecuting the case against the 42-year-old man, said that the charges were dropped because the girl’s parents believe discontinuing the case “is in the child’s best interests.”

The abuse allegedly started when the girl was 10 and continued until she was 13.

The man, who was a resource officer at Key West High School, turned himself in to the Monroe County Detention Center on Stock Island a year ago. He was released that same day after posting 10 percent of his bond, which was initially set at $100,000, and turning in his passport.

According to a Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrest affidavit, the man allegedly intentionally forced the girl to touch his genitals in her bed at night. He was also accused of touching her breasts and “attempting to touch her vagina.”

The man apparently had a relationship with the girl’s mother at the time of the alleged sexual abuse, and they were living together with both of her children, according to the arrest affidavit.

The man resigned from the Police Department in February 2014 after being put on paid leave on Dec. 17, 2013.

The man was recognized by the FBI for exceptional service in 2000 and was named officer of the quarter in 2006.

If you are being investigated for or have already been arrested and charged with a sex crime, this does not mean your life is over. It is possible to beat a sex crime charge, avoid prison time and avoid having to register as a sex offender. But, you need help to do this. A Monroe County Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton can help explore all possibilities with the hopes of getting the charges against you dropped.

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A 26-year-old Lake Wales motel manager is accused of video voyeurism.

Police claim the man is the motel’s night office manager at the Budget Inn Motel and allegedly installed a camera in a guest’s bathroom.

According to the arrest affidavit, the camera was facing the shower. Police believe the man  installed the device under the guise the bathroom’s plumbing needed to be fixed.

Police allege that after the man left the room, the guests heard something fall in the bathroom.

Once they discovered the camera, they called law enforcement.

4334711333_613c8ab9bd_zIn addition to video voyeurism, the man is also charged with illegal device to intercept communication.

According to police, the man bonded out on Saturday.

The man is a native of Gujarad, India, and he is currently living in the United States on a student visa. The affidavit requests that the man surrender his passport while the case is ongoing.

A conviction of even a relatively minor sex crime such as voyeurism carries pretty harsh penalties. You not only face a potential year in jail, but even a conviction of a misdemeanor sex crime may require you to register as a sex offender, which restricts where you live or work. A conviction on your record may also cause difficulty with obtaining employment or renting or purchasing a home.

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A 57-year-old woman was arrested Wednesday after she allegedly smeared dog feces on a neighbor whose pet had defecated in the woman’s yard.

The woman was charged with battery on a person 65 years or older and was released Thursday from the Palm Beach County Jail on her own recognizance.

Both the women live at the Woodfield Country Club.

According to an arrest report, the woman’s 67-year-old neighbor was walking her dog when the animal defecated on the woman’s lawn.

3736219520_6e647e6707_zThe neighbor told Boca Raton police that the woman came out of the house screaming. The neighbor said she was trying to pick up after her dog with a plastic bag, but stopped when the woman began yelling at her.

The neighbor apparently told the woman to clean it up herself.

The neighbor then claims the woman grabbed a plastic bag, scooped up the feces and ran after her. She then allegedly smeared the feces on the neighbor.

According to reports, when police arrived, the neighbor had feces on her hands and shirt.

The woman told police that her neighbor frequently allows the dog to defecate on her lawn and never attempts to clean it up. The woman did apparently admit to the police that she picked up the feces and “targeted” her neighbor with it.

The woman told police that the neighbor smeared the feces on herself.

In the state of Florida, if battery is committed upon a person that is 65 years old or older, this is classified as battery on an elderly person. Battery on a person 65 years old or older is a felony, punishable by incarceration and can result in a felony conviction on your criminal record.

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A Penn State University associate sociology professor was arrested during a flight from Nicaragua to Miami on Saturday. Her onboard speech about U.S.-Venezuela relations apparently got her pulled off a flight in Miami.

Authorities claim that the 52-year-old, who lives outside Philadelphia, is facing disorderly conduct and breach of peace charges for going on a rant and lighting a cigarette during the flight.

2500519580_7c31e5dd69_zA passenger apparently caught the alleged rant on video. Police said it shows the woman lighting a cigarette and blaming it on another passenger. Flight attendants requested that police meet the flight in Miami, where the woman was taken into custody.

The woman wrote an email after she returned to Pennsylvania that alleges she was mistreated. She says all she did was speak out against U.S. treatment of Venezuela.

Disorderly conduct is classified as engaging in conduct that caused a disturbance by being unreasonably:

  • Violent
  • Loud
  • Abusive
  • Obscene
  • Boisterous

The problem with disorderly conduct charges is that they are so broadly written they give police officers much room for interpretation. It’s up to the officer who arrives at the scene to assess whether or not behavior should be defined as disorderly. If they do believe disorderly conduct is occurring, or has occurred, police have the authority to make an arrest in any public or private place, which includes an airplane.

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A Gainesville man was arrested Saturday night after police allege he distributed sexually obscene photographs taken of a female who was a minor at the time the photographs were taken.

According to a Gainesville Police Department report, the 36-year-old man and the female had apparently been involved in a two-year sexual relationship that began when the girl, who is now 18 years old, was 16.

The report alleges that the man knew the victim was 16 years old when the relationship began.

During the course of the relationship, the man is accused of taking several nude pictures of the girl. On Saturday, police claim he signed into the girl’s Facebook account and sent the obscene photographs, some of which allegedly featured the man and the girl involved in a sexual act, to some of the girl’s friends without her consent, according to the report.

5269295051_31a102e6ae_mThe girl apparently told police that she recognized the photos as ones that were taken while she was still a minor.

After the man’s arrest, police claim he admitted to having sex with the girl and taking the photographs, but he said that the two didn’t engage in any sexual acts until after the victim turned 18. He allegedly admitted to posting and distributing the photos using the victim’s Facebook account, according to the report.

The man was charged with one felony count of sexual assault involving a minor and one felony count of transmitting obscene material harmful to a minor.

He was transported to the Alachua County jail, where he remained Sunday evening without bond.

Most sex crimes involving minors, including the charge of transmission of material harmful to a minor, are crimes that are punished very harshly in Florida. Law enforcement and prosecutors have one goal in mind, and that is to protect children at all costs. With that said, those that are accused of these sexual crimes stand to face very serious repercussions. An individual convicted of such an offense may be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of their lives, in addition to the prison time they will face. Due to the severity of these charges, you need the help of an Alachua County Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton who can protect you from these heinous allegations both in and out of court.

Any transmission of obscene material to a minor, which includes nudity or sexual conduct, is considered a sex crime. Any indecent material sent by the internet, text message, email, post mail or in person is classified as a third-degree felony. Every individual transmission can be charged as a separate offense. Multiple images can result in many years behind bars. These charges are no joking matter, so the best thing you can do for your future is to contact our firm right away for the help you need in defeating these charges. Call us today for a free consultation – 352-264-7800.