Published on:

Detectives arrested a St. Petersburg man who was allegedly running a drug operation involving more than $1 million worth of marijuana.

The 24-year-old is facing charges of possession of marijuana with intent to sell and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Detectives claim they have been watching the man for several years.They received a tip that he was storing large quantities of marijuana in his apartment, which led them to obtain a search warrant, according to reports.

On March 23, investigators went to his apartment and apparently found 23 pounds of high-grade hydroponic marijuana that was packaged and ready for distribution inside his kitchen cabinets. Detectives claim they also found three guns and $87,000 in suspected drug money.

For the next month, detectives continued to investigate the man, and they claim they were able to identify about 230 pounds of marijuana — including the 23 pounds found his house apartment — and $168,000 cash associated with his operation.

Police say 230 pounds of marijuana has a street value of $1,150,000.

The U.S. Postal Service assisted police with the investigation, according to reports.

Being caught with any amount of marijuana and charged with a crime of marijuana possession in Florida is a very common drug charge. However, this does not mean you  should take these charges lightly. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your case, you could be facing hefty fines, a permanent criminal record, and a significant amount of time behind bars.

Continue reading

Published on:

A former Miami-Dade County police director and mayor is facing a domestic violence-related charge following a fight with his longtime girlfriend.

A Coral Gables police report claims the man turned himself in Wednesday, and he was charged with battery.

The arrest report describes that the man’s girlfriend went to his home Saturday to return a cat, and the two began to argue. The woman told police that the man grabbed her by both arms and pinned her against a wall. The report accuses the man of yelling profanities at the woman and spitting at her.

Investigators said the woman’s injuries were consistent with her statement.

The woman and her teenage daughter told police a pattern of domestic violence had developed since 2013, according to reports.

If you have been accused of domestic violence, the best thing you can do to help your case is to get an attorney involved now. Time is of the essence when it comes to these cases. Prosecutors file charges very quickly in regards to domestic disputes, so it is important that an investigation is conducted as soon as possible so that the best defense strategy can be applied. Each case is unique and varies based on facts specific to the case. However, it is best to not delay in obtaining legal representation so that your chances of reducing the charges or obtaining a favorable outcome is not compromised.

It is impossible to predict what will happen with your case without knowing the facts. Punishment varies in each case and depends on whether there are any prior offenses, the extent of any injuries, whether there were any weapons involved, the conduct alleged, whether physical or verbal violence occurred, including making a criminal threat or stalking.

Continue reading

Published on:

A South Florida police officer has been fired after authorities allege he got caught up in an undercover prostitution sting.

According to a Boynton Beach police spokeswoman, the man was fired last week. The eight-year veteran has been on paid administrative leave since October.

Police allege the man drove up to a woman he believed to be a prostitute and offered her $20 for oral sex. The woman was actually an undercover deputy with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

Boynton Beach police terminated the man for conduct unbecoming a police officer and conformance to law.

Prostitution stings are regularly conducted by police across the country. In some cases, law enforcement agents will place false advertisements for escorts or massage therapists online or in classified ads. In other cases, detectives will pose as prostitutes on the street or other areas looking to arrest “John’s,” or those looking to solicit sex. Responding to online ads or inquiring about sex could land an otherwise innocent person behind bars and facing charges of solicitation.

Solicitation of prostitution in Florida is against the law and carries serious legal consequences. Beyond the legal consequences, a charge of solicitation can wreck personal lives and relationships as well as end careers, as this case shows.

Continue reading

Published on:

Gainesville, FL – A University of Florida religion professor who was arrested last year for video voyeurism after deputies claim he secretly recorded a teenage girl has been sentenced to five years’ probation.

The 54-year-old was arrested in October on charges of video voyeurism and possession of obscene material.

He allegedly put a USB recording device in the teenage family member’s closet in October 2014 to capture her actions on video, according to an Alachua County Sheriff’s Office arrest report. Of the seven video files the device contained, two apparently had content.

One of those videos apparently showed the man putting the device in the closet and repeatedly stepping back to check its location, while the other showed the teenager in just her underwear, the report said.

Earlier this month, the man pleaded no contest to one count of video voyeurism, court records show. He was sentenced to five years of supervised probation and must continue with counseling for at least 30 months.

He also is prohibited from possessing pornographic material and is subject to court-ordered restrictions regarding unsupervised contact with minors.

A judge withheld adjudication of guilt in the man’s case.

The man is currently on paid leave, has no professional duties at the university right now and remains banned from the grounds, according to a spokeswoman for the university.

A voyeur, also known as a “peeping Tom,” is someone who gains sexual gratification from watching others in secret. Voyeurism is a sexual offense that is illegal and carries serious consequences. Voyeurism is a felony crime that could result in time behind bars, which is why these charges must be dealt with accordingly. Sexually based offenses are never taken lightly by prosecutors, so you must not ignore such accusations or think you can clear any misunderstandings up on your own by speaking with police.

As soon as you have been accused of voyeurism, the best thing you can do to protect yourself is to obtain legal help. An Alachua County Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton can make sure you are fully aware of the charges against you and what needs to be done to try and achieve the best possible outcome. Sex crimes cases are highly unique – no two cases are the same – which is why you need to act fast and work with an attorney who can develop the best defense strategy for your case.

Continue reading

Published on:

A man died after he was struck by the stolen van he was pursuing Thursday in Hudson, Pasco County sheriff’s deputies said.

About 5 p.m. Thursday, the man and owner of a 1999 Ford van and his brother-in-law were in a car following the stolen vehicle from Hernando County into Pasco County. The van had been reported stolen in Spring Hill on Wednesday at 9:45 a.m.

The driver of the van, a 33-year-old Spring Hill woman, pulled into a parking lot at 16823 U.S. Highway 19 on Thursday, according to reports.

The man tracking down his stolen van exited the vehicle and approached the driver’s side of the van, when the woman attempted to flee in the van. She ended up running over the man, deputies said.

The man was taken to Bayonet Point Regional Medical Center, where he died of his injuries.

The woman was arrested at 1:46 a.m. on Friday and booked two hours later into the Land O’ Lakes Detention Center. She is facing charges of felony murder and grand theft auto.

According to Hernando County jail records, she has been arrested numerous times on drug, burglary and larceny charges. She also was arrested twice in Pasco County during 2012, according to jail records.

The investigation is ongoing.

The charges this woman faces are quite serious. For murder and grand theft auto charges, she could be facing a lengthy time behind bars along with other severe consequences.

Following an arrest for grave charges like these, it is crucial to find the support you need to build your case. A Pasco County Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton may be able to help prove your innocence and clear your name. Our goal is to protect your rights inside and out of the courtroom.

Continue reading

Published on:

An Ocala man continues to wait in custody for a judge to decide whether he deserves a new trial. It has been more than six months since his conviction.

The 29-year-old maintains his innocence of the two charges for which a jury found him guilty in an early September 2015 trial: lewd and lascivious molestation of a child and burglary of a dwelling with battery.

The charges arose from a June 2014 call to the Ocala Police Department, in which a concerned grandmother relayed her granddaughter’s story that the man had come into her room during the night and rubbed his genitals over her shorts.

The man is well known to the girl, who was 10 years old at the time, and her family. He said he is close friends with the girl’s mother and was a regular visitor to the Ocala home the three generations of women shared.

The man has been challenging his conviction by petitioning for a new trial.

While the judge denied his first motion for a new trial, filed by the public defender who represented him at trial, his second motion is pending and was the focus of a hearing this week. During the hearing, the girl changed her story to some extent, recanting the part of her original testimony that related to the molestation charge.

The judge is expected to decide on the motion at a hearing set for 10 a.m. April 29. Should the man be granted a new trial on both charges, he could be released from the Marion County Jail as he waits for the new trial.

The man’s first motion for a new trial highlighted a new finding in jury conduct: one juror informed the man’s public defender that she did not know she was allowed to disagree with the other jurors, according to the motion. The public defender polled the all-female jury. Two jurors changed their verdicts, prompting more deliberation and an eventual consensus around a guilty verdict.

William Sheslow, of Whittel & Melton, LLC, was hired by the man after his trial and has pursued a different avenue in a second motion for a new trial. Sheslow argued that the man deserves a new trial based on a notarized statement from the victim’s mother, in which she wrote that her daughter told her after the trial that the man had never molested her. Sheslow also pointed out an antagonistic relationship between the mother and the public defender in the original trial, which he said would have prevented the public defender from obtaining this information.

The antagonistic relationship stemmed from an unrelated case, in which the mother was a victim and the public defender represented the defendant (who was not the man convicted in this case).

Sheslow presented this motion before the judge in November, and the judge requested that he subpoena the mother so he could gauge her credibility at a future hearing before making a decision. That hearing came Monday, when court records indicate the mother, the grandmother and the now 12-year-old girl all testified. The public defender testified as well.

Sex crimes, especially those believed to have been committed against a child, are taken very seriously by courts, as this case shows. The truth is that these cases often rely on the alleged victim’s testimony against the word of the accused. Sadly, testimony from a child is not always an accurate account of what truly happened, and prosecutors will push for a conviction regardless of what evidence is available.

A Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton knows that sometimes mistakes are made during a criminal trial that can lead to wrong decisions being reached. Fortunately, Florida law provides for legal remedies to correct an improper conviction or sentence. A motion for a new trial may allow you to have your case heard again, but by a different jury.

Continue reading

Published on:

Donald Trump is defending his campaign manager to the very end, despite the fact that he is facing criminal charges.

On Tuesday morning, Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, was charged with misdemeanor battery for forcibly grabbing reporter Michelle Fields at an event in Jupiter on March 8.

A video released Tuesday shows Lewandowski grabbing Fields, according to reports.

However, on Tuesday afternoon, Trump got on Twitter to defend his campaign manager—and claim the new footage proves nothing.

This is not the first time the Trump team has denied the incident.

Lewandowski intends to plead not guilty, according to reports.

Trump suggested later on Tuesday that Fields should be the one facing charges for grabbing him and “shout[ing] questions.”

The criminal act of battery is defined as intentionally causing bodily injuries to another person. Battery requires actual physical contact and injuries to the victim for charges to actually be filed. A South Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton can defend you against your battery charges. We can help you better understand the law as it applies to battery and make sure that you are aware of all your defense options.

Continue reading

Published on:

Chicago Bulls legend Scottie Pippen invested more than $20 million with a financial adviser he says had come highly recommended by the team who has just been sentenced to three years behind bars for fraud.

The 66-year-old former money advisor was convicted of a variety of fraud schemes that included forging Pippen’s signature on a $1.4 million loan that he used to pay off personal debts.

In his ruling, the judge found that the advisor had lied at trial about forging Pippen’s signature as well as by claiming he’d gotten the go-ahead to apply for a second loan in the name of another victim.

In addition to the prison time, the judge ordered the man to forfeit $2.7 million and pay an additional $1.5 million in restitution, including $400,000 directly to Pippen.

The man was convicted by a jury in 2014 of five counts of bank fraud. Prosecutors claim he illegally obtained a total of about $3 million in loans from Oak Brook-based Leaders Bank, which included the $1.4 million loan that he claimed Pippen needed to invest in a private jet. The man apparently instead spent most of the money for his own benefit, making mortgage payments and paying other investment clients, prosecutors said.

Bank fraud is a criminal offense defined as deliberately and knowingly carrying out a scheme to defraud a financial institution. Basically, bank fraud is the use of fraudulent means to obtain money, assets, or other property that is owned or in the control of a bank or other financial institution. Bank fraud can be committed in a variety of ways including the following:

  • Mail fraud
  • Wire fraud
  • Making false statements on loan applications
  • Falsifying documents
  • Forging checks
  • Loan fraud
  • Counterfeiting bank documents

Continue reading

Published on:

The Florida Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that a Florida man who showed up drunk for jury selection should not have been sent to jail for his actions.

The Florida Supreme Court found that the Tallahassee man should not have been found guilty of direct criminal contempt by a judge in Leon County Court because some of his questionable conduct happened outside of the court and not in direct view of the judge.

The court ordered that Florida’s First District Court of Appeals issue an order vacating the decision. However, the state could investigate whether to retry the man for indirect criminal contempt.

On April 15, 2013, the man showed up for jury duty at the Leon County Courthouse. He told a judge during general questioning that he had various issues that would make it difficult to serve on a jury, including admitting that he was a drunk.

The judge did not excuse the man and selection continued. The man later fell asleep as other prospective jurors complained he smelled of alcohol and it was hard to wake him up. A breath test administered outside the presence of the judge showed a blood alcohol content of 0.111 percent.

A judge convicted the man of direct criminal contempt for disrupting jury selection and distracting other jurors as the result of being drunk. The judge sentenced him to 30 days in jail and he was eventually released after 17 days.

The First District Court of Appeals upheld the decision before it was argued before the Supreme Court in October of 2014.

Attorneys for the man argued that the court erred in not providing the man with counsel before sentencing him with direct criminal contempt. The Supreme Court said in its 42-page decision that there is no such a requirement in either the federal or state constitutions.

Contempt of court generally refers to any conduct that defies, disrespects or insults the authority or dignity of a court. Contempt of court can happen directly or indirectly – direct contempt happens in the presence of the court and indirect contempt happens outside the court’s presence.

Judges typically have much discretion in deciding whom to hold in contempt and the type of contempt. Those held in contempt can include parties to a proceeding, attorneys, witnesses, jurors, people in or around a proceeding, and officers or staff of the court itself.

Contempt of court is not something we usually read about in the news. In will be interesting to see if the State decides to try the man for indirect contempt, seeing that the direct contempt charges were thrown out.

Continue reading

Published on:

Nearly 300 people attended a meeting Monday held by a Lake Placid principal to discuss the dangers of sexting among minors.

According to reports, the principal found one cell phone with a pornographic video on it, and that one video then turned into a “video that was passed among other students and shared with other students and social media was used to bully that student.”  

The investigation has now allegedly identified 20 middle school girls that sent nude pictures of themselves to other male students.  

The principal believes peer pressure forced the girls to send the pictures and video.

The Highlands County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the case for possible charges for child pornography or sexual exploitation of a minor.

The case was forwarded to the department’s Special Victim’s Unit because of the graphic nature of the images and video found on multiple Lake Placid Middle School student cell phones.

Police claim there were nude pictures of children between the ages of 12 and 14.

In addition to nude selfie pictures, police said they uncovered an extremely graphic video of a student masturbating.  

That video is why the department is looking into the possibility that any students were the victims of sexual exploitation and/or child pornography.  

The initial investigation started on Feb. 10 when a student allegedly showed naked pictures they received on their phone to a teacher. The teacher then took the phone to a school resource officer with the sheriff’s department.  

With the rise of cell phone use, especially among teenagers, the practice of “sexting”—sending nude or sexually suggestive photos by text message—has become alarmingly common. When it comes to sexting, in Florida, the first offense carries a sentence of community service or a fine.  If a student is convicted of sexting three times, it is then escalated to a felony.

Continue reading

Contact Information