Justia Lawyer Rating for Jason M. Melton Esq.
AVVO
Martindale-Hubbell
Super Lawyers
Florida Justice Association
American Association for Justice
FACDL
Florida Legal Elite
Published on:

A former Pasco County School District transportation manager was sentenced to life in prison in federal court for sexually assaulting children and producing and distributing child pornography.

In August, the 35-year-old New Port Richey man pleaded guilty to enticing and coercing a minor to engage in sexual activity and to possessing child porn.

After statements were delivered and counsel was heard, the judge delivered the man’s sentence.

Court documents described the man as having a deeply embedded preference for sex with children that “descended to depths of depravity that are hard to fathom and that he’s a constant threat to society.”

The man began his career with Pasco schools as a school bus driver and worked his way up to the district’s transportation manager.

According to the plea agreement, beginning in 2014, the man, while employed by Pasco County Schools as a transportation manager, knowingly enticed a 15-year-old student from a local school to engage in sex acts.

Officials said the man had met the teen on the app Grindr.

The man engaged in a sexual relationship with the student that went on for several years. Officials said during that time, the man invited the student to view his collection of child pornography, invited him to watch live productions of child porn on the internet, and invited him to engage in group sex with other adults and minors.

The man also produced and distributed child porn of the student, according to the plea agreement.

Investigators said the man also had a close relationship with a Pasco County assistant principal. Officials said the two men would share child porn.

The government will review the man’s case in a few years under what’s called a Rule 35. That could determine whether he may be eligible for a parole at some point in the future.

After a person has been sentenced, there are several circumstances that could reduce the sentence. A direct appeal can be filed or the prosecution can file a motion pursuant to Rule 35(b) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure to reward the person for providing substantial assistance in investigating or prosecuting another person.

Only the prosecution may file a Rule 35 motion, however, a criminal defense lawyer’s role in the process is substantial. Our Pasco County Criminal Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help make sure your are rewarded properly for the assistance provided. Our goal is to interest the prosecution in what you have to offer, ensure that the cooperation goes smoothly, and that the desired outcome is mutually achieved.  

Continue reading

Published on:

Authorities have arrested a Jacksonville elementary school principal accused of trying to defraud his insurance carrier in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

According to a statement provided through a spokesperson, Duval County Public Schools has assigned the man to an off-campus role until the district’s investigation is complete.

The man allegedly sought $16,000 in reimbursements from State Farm for home repairs linked to damage from Irma, but two invoices he filed were apparently altered and a third was completely made up.

Investigators determined that invoices submitted for repairs to his roof, A/C and entertainment system were not related to Irma. According to the man’s arrest report, they were from 2013.

The man turned himself in to the Clay County Sheriff’s Office to face unspecified charges Nov. 16. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison.

The consequences of an insurance fraud investigation go beyond just having your claim denied – you could end up in prison. Our Florida White Collar Crimes Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton will work to aggressively protect your interests when facing insurance fraud allegations.

Continue reading

Published on:

A member of the San Francisco 49ers was arrested Saturday night in Tampa and charged with domestic violence.

Reuben Foster, a 24-year-old linebacker out of Alabama, was taken into custody just after 9 p.m. at the team hotel, the Grand Hyatt Hotel on 2900 Bayport Drive.

The 49ers played the Buccaneers Sunday at 1 p.m. at Raymond James Stadium. The team announced Sunday morning that it would be releasing Foster.

According to the arrest report, Foster and a 28-year-old woman were involved in a verbal altercation.  

The alleged victim, who was Foster’s former girlfriend, stated that during the altercation Foster slapped her phone out of her hand, pushed her in the chest area, and slapped her with an open hand on the right side of her face.  

Officers allegedly observed a one inch scratch on the woman’s left collar bone.

During the investigation officers learned that Foster and the victim lived together in the past and they were involved in an on-again-off-again relationship over the past three years.

Foster was charged with one count of first-degree misdemeanor domestic violence and booked into the Hillsborough County Jail. Foster was given a $2,000 bond and no contact order with his ex-girlfriend.

The 49ers’ 1st-round draft pick last year, Foster was charged with domestic violence after an arrest last year and was suspended for two games earlier this season due to those charges.

Domestic violence is classified as any violentaction that is committed against a family or household member.Family or household members can include:

  • Spouses or former spouses
  • Parents, children, stepchildren, and other family members
  • Those who share or formerly shared a common dwelling
  • Those who have a child together
  • Those who share a blood relationship through a child
  • Those who have dated

Continue reading

Published on:

Six people were arrested in a drug raid Tuesday after neighbors complained about needles in their yards and suspicious traffic in and out of a home on Tanager Road.
According to the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, a search warrant was executed at the home, and investigators found hypodermic needles, glass pipes and other drug paraphernalia, along with traces of methamphetamine and bottles filled with unprescribed Xanax pills.
Deputies claim that several of those arrested tried to hide pills, pipes and plastic baggies of meth during the raid.
Our Florida Drug Crimes Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton have handled dozens of cases involving drug crimes and as former prosecutors, we have the knowledge and experience necessary to defend your freedom. We have an impressive record of results and have defended individuals facing an array of serious drug crimes charges. We fight hard to protect your freedom.

We provide legal representation to those facing drug charges related to:

Florida has some of the strictest drug laws in the country and the police and prosecutors involved in your case will do everything they can to see that you are convicted. By contacting our Florida Drug Crimes Attorneys at Whittel & Melton, you taking the first step toward maximizing your potential for a positive outcome.

Continue reading

Published on:

Nearly two dozen men are accused of massive construction fraud, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

They were arrested last week as part of an undercover sting, and now authorities are warning the public about protecting themselves against unlicensed contractors.

The nine-day undercover sting was designed to catch unlicensed contractors that authorities believe were targeting senior citizens in the area.

Detectives posed as homeowners and responded to advertisements placed by the alleged unlicensed contractors.

The contractors gave the detectives $117,000 in alleged fake estimates, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Sixteen people were arrested and six more are facing charges related to this alleged scam.

Contractor laws in the state of Florida are very important to follow. These laws can be confusing, though. If you are a contractor, it is important to follow all laws related to your profession so that you can avoid any unwanted run-ins with the law. However, mistakes do happen and if you find yourself facing criminal charges, our Tampa Bay Criminal Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are here to help.

Continue reading

Published on:

A 49-year-old Tampa man is facing federal charges after being accused of inappropriate behavior on a flight.

The man appeared in federal court Monday in Albuquerque, N.M., on a criminal complaint charging him with abusive sexual contact.  

The charge against the man arose out of an in-flight incident while traveling on a Southwest Airlines flight from Houston to Albuquerque on Sunday. The criminal complaint alleges he groped a woman in the seat in front of him. The woman then requested that flight attendants move her to a different seat.

A conviction on the abusive sexual contact charge carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  

This case was investigated by the Albuquerque office of the FBI and the Albuquerque Police Department.

Crimes aboard aircraft fall within the FBI’s jurisdiction. Sex crimes on flights are surprisingly common. In 2014 there were 38 cases of in-flight sexual assault reported to the FBI. In 2015, that number increased to 63.

While there are certainly people that are sexually assaulted on airplanes, not every accusation of sexual assault or unlawful sexual conduct has merit. Sex crimes cases are rarely as black and white as that.

That why if you’re facing a charge of sexual assault or rape, it is absolutely vital for you to call a Tampa Bay Criminal Defense Attorney at Whittel & Melton. Don’t even think about trying to explain things to the police before you call us at 813-221-3200. We will put our decades of trial law and former state prosecution experience to work for you to fight for your rights and your freedom. We understand the severity of the charges you are facing and what it takes to build a successful case on your behalf.

Continue reading

Published on:

Five Tampa Bay area residents are facing charges due to an alleged  billion-dollar telemedicine scheme.

Starting in 2015, the men and their pharmacy companies are accused of setting up an elaborate scheme that fraudulently solicited insurance coverage information and prescriptions from tens of thousands of consumers across the country, according to a 40-page indictment. They then are accused of using the information to sell pain creams and other similar products.

Doctors apparently approved the prescriptions not knowing that the men and their companies had “massively marked up the prices” of the invalidly prescribed drugs, federal prosecutors said. For instance, several of the pharmacies paid $27 for a lidocaine numbing ointment and billed up to $381, an increase of more than 1,300 percent.

Police allege the men “directed their employees to ‘test bill’ or ‘phish’ for the highest reimbursement items” to ensure the most profit. According to the indictment, “These employees routinely submitted claims … for this purpose, contrary to one of more provider agreements.”

Federal prosecutors believe the alleged scheme bilked $174 million from private health care companies, including Blue Cross Blue Shield. In addition, the five men and their companies allegedly submitted at least $931 million in fraudulent claims.

The five men and their companies face a total of 32 counts. All four men were charged with mail fraud, conspiracy to commit health care fraud and introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce. If convicted, they face up to 20 years in prison for each mail fraud charge, up to 10 years for each conspiracy charge and up to three years for the third charge. They and their companies could also be required to forfeit up to $154 million.

Last week, four of the men were released on bond after appearing in a federal courtroom in Tampa’s Middle District of Florida. The indictment was filed in the Eastern District of Tennessee.

The fifth man charged has already pleaded guilty to felony conspiracy for his role in the case, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Tennessee.

He also pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit wire fraud in a separate case.

While the man faces up to 5 years in prison for each conspiracy charge, helping federal prosecutors with the case against the other men could help reduce his sentence.

At Whittel & Melton, our Tampa Bay area Health Care Fraud Defense Attorneys handle criminal cases in Tampa and throughout the U.S. We represent health care practitioners, including doctors, nurse practitioners, therapists, clinics, hospitals, providers of medical equipment and billing companies facing criminal charges with the federal government, including:

  • Overbilling for services
  • Billing for services or tests not rendered
  • Prescribing unnecessary or additional services in order to bill more
  • Incorrectly reporting diagnoses, treatments or procedures to increase payments
  • Unbundling billed services
  • Using false billing codes
  • Submitting duplicate claims
  • Changing dates, services or names of patients on claims
  • Altering medical records or reports
  • Referral kickbacks or self-referrals

Health care fraud may be investigated by the FBI, the state Attorney General’s office, U.S. Postal Service or the Office of the Inspector General. Regardless of what department your case is being pursued by, we can apply the best possible defense strategy with the hopes of securing the best possible outcome.

Continue reading

Published on:

A Gainesville barber was one of seven men arrested in a Volusia County internet sex sting.

The 34-year-old was arrested at a RaceTrac station in Deltona over the weekend. He allegedly told Volusia County sheriff’s deputies he only came to the meeting place because he believed it was an undercover sting and he thought it would be cool to see it in action.

The man was arrested and is accused of engaging in sexually charged chats and texts with an undercover detective he believed was a 14-year-old girl.

The man was in custody Monday at the Volusia County jail in lieu of $40,000 bond. The charges against him:

  • use of a two-way communications device to commit a felony
  • attempted lewd and lascivious sexual battery on child
  • traveling to meet a child after luring the child via computer
  • use of a computer to lure a child.

There were six other men arrested in the sting, which started last Wednesday and concluded around 4 a.m. Sunday and was dubbed Operation Unlawful Attraction.

Undercover sting operations are very common these days. They start with some online chats and lead to phone calls, texts and conclude with a meetup. Police will pose as minors or the guardians of minors online and attempt to catch online “predators.”

The interesting thing about these stings is that you can be arrested even if you did not actually commit a crime. Showing up to an arranged meeting spot is enough to seal the deal and you will be carted off to jail right then and there. Once arrested, it is best to invoke your right to remain silent until you have secured legal representation. Regardless of your innocence, police will do everything they can to twist your words around to work against you in court.

Continue reading

Published on:

Three high school students were arrested on campus Thursday on Ocala and accused of possessing marijuana-laced cookies/brownies.

Two of the students are 17, and the third is 18. Each is charged with possession of marijuana more than 20 grams. One of the younger teens has an additional charge of possession with intent to sell.

According to school resource officers, there was a fight at the school which lead to the students backpack being searched. Inside the bag were Rice Krispie treats that included marijuana, a report said.

The school resource officers and school officials later recovered two other bags that police said belong to the three students. Inside the bags were Fruity Pebbles marshmallow squares and cookie/brownie squares that contained marijuana, the report said.

While possessing 20 grams of weed might not look like much, a possession charge in Florida for that amount carries harsh penalties, even for a first time offense. Amounts equaling or larger than 20 grams indicate the possibility of the intent to sell marijuana, and carries a much more significant punishment. Possession of marijuana more than 20 grams is classified as a third-degree felony under Florida law, which is punishable by five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

While drug cases involving minors are usually handled in juvenile court, the decision is ultimately left up to the judge. If a judge feels the minor exhibited especially heinous behavior, or if the juvenile has a criminal history and has been given opportunities to change in the past, they will likely be sent to adult court and processed as if they were over the age of 18. Florida leads the nation in number of juveniles sent to adult court to be processed. Because of this, you need to enlist the help of our Ocala Marijuana Drug Crimes Attorneys at Whittel & Melton. We specialize in juvenile cases and can help your child defend their reputation.

Continue reading

Published on:

A Clearwater doctor has pleaded guilty to one count of health-care fraud and has agreed to surrender her DEA registration number, her Florida medical license and to a permanent exclusion from Medicare and Medicaid programs, according to the justice department.

The 66-year-old woman violated a Florida law that requires doctors to perform an in-person office visit and examine the patient before prescribing a Schedule II controlled substance, according to the Department of Justice.

The woman owned a pain management clinic on Druid Road East in Clearwater.

From as early as July 2011 through December 2017, she billed Medicare for face-to-face patient visits to prescribe controlled substances like oxycodone, but some of those visits didn’t take place on those dates, according to the Department of Justice. Instead, she filled the prescriptions for patients’ families who came by her office, without examining the patients.

She also submitted at least $51,500 false and fraudulent Medicare claims, according to a department of justice news release.

The case was investigated by the Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit.

Being a healthcare professional means you are subject to extensive regulations and civil statutes. If you fail to comply with the current health care regulations, you can expect to be the target of a federal prosecution. Our Tampa Bay Medicare Fraud Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help you fight allegations of health care fraud, including allegations relating to:

  • Medicare fraud
  • Medicaid fraud
  • Billing fraud
  • Kickbacks and Gratuities
  • Bribes
  • Conflicts of interest

Prosecutors also file charges against health care providers who allegedly lie about the number of patients they treat or the types of services they perform. We are ready and able to defend doctors and other healthcare professionals who find themselves wrapped up in such inquiries.

Continue reading

Contact Information