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The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office says that the arrest of a 38-year-old man for drug trafficking resulted after they were able to allegedly link him to a storage unit near Royal Palm Beach as well as his Acreage home. 

Police believe the man kept methamphetamines, fentanyl, cocaine and oxycodone at the storage unit and his home. 

According to police, they seized almost 20 pounds of fentanyl from the storage unit that belonged to the man as well as thousands of oxycodone pills, bath salts, ecstasy, cocaine, around 28 pounds of methamphetamines, and plastic baggies.

The man is facing various drug charges, including trafficking fentanyl, cocaine, methamphetamines, and oxycodone.

His bail was set at more than $2 million. If released, he will be placed on in-house arrest. 

Investigators apparently visited the storage unit on Monday where they also found a photo of the man, which is what led them to his home. 

They apparently obtained a search warrant for his house and found several other drugs and paraphernalia. 

Police claim they recovered a pistol, rubber gloves and a respirator mask that is often used when working with chemicals in the man’s kitchen. 

In the man’s garage they claim to have found a pill press mold where he is suspected of producing counterfeit oxycodone pills using fentanyl.

Fentanyl is a very powerful narcotic that is around 100 times stronger than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin. 

According to a Florida Medical Examiners’ report, fentanyl is responsible for killing 278 people in Palm Beach County in 2018, which is more than in any other county in the state. In the first half of 2019 (January to June), 155 people were killed from fentanyl overdoses in Palm Beach County, which is the third-highest total in any Florida county in that same time period.

Detectives went on to share in their report that they uncovered nearly 20 pounds of fentanyl and 33 pounds of marijuana. They also said they found possible bath salts in a child’s bedroom, narcotic gummies, and more cocaine throughout their search of the rest of the home. 

wheelie-bin-2270582_1920-300x200The PBSO did not share how they were tipped off to the man’s storage unit for potential drug trafficking. They did disclose that they did a “trash pull” from the man’s home on Dec. 29. 

It is not exactly clear how long the man has been on PBSO’s radar. 

According to a report, the accused has served time in federal prison for the intent to distribute drugs in 2008. He was convicted of supplying a woman with ecstasy pills that she sold, according to court documents. He pleaded guilty in 2009 and was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison. He was released in 2015. 

This case is interesting because it brings up how police use trash pulls, which are perfectly legal, to try and figure out what is going inside someone’s home. There is really no secretive way that police carry out a trash pull. They just go to a home or business where trash has been put out for collection and rummage through the contents. What are they looking for? Usually they are rifling through trash to uncover any possible drug residue from cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamines, fentanyl, etc. These drug remnants are often referred to as “shake.” They are also looking for any large amounts of cleaner or other products that are often used in the manufacture of drugs. If they find any information on who is living at the home, that is also useful information to police. If they find any documents that could suggest drug sales have occurred or any other evidence that points to the possibility of illegal activity, this is also helpful information that could result in a search warrant for the home or business being looked at. 

Police will usually monitor trash for several weeks just to be sure that they uncover enough evidence or can rule out any illegal behavior. It should also be noted that trash is not considered private property as the Supreme Court of the United States as well as the state of Florida has ruled that trash that has been placed on the curb for collection is classified as “abandoned property,” so police do not need a search warrant to pilfer through the contents. They also do not have to tell you that they are conducting trash pulls of your garbage.  Continue reading

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A Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputy was arrested for DUI just before Christmas 2020 by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. His 4 door silver 2014 BMW was stopped in Delray Beach after the vehicle was apparently involved in an accident that involved property damage.

The BSO Deputy was booked into the Palm Beach County Jail at 1:03 a.m. and released just two hours later, at 2:42 a.m., according to jail records. 

While the deputy’s case was the most high profile, several others were arrested around the same time just before the holidays when DUI arrests started to stack up. In fact, for 2020, PBSO and Delray Beach Police reported much higher rates than normal.

drinks-2578446_1920-300x200Two women were arrested for DUI on separate occasions around the same time as the deputy. Two other men were arrested on DUI charges in separate incidents as well. 

It is important to be clear that DUI arrests are only accusations and does not mean any of these people arrested are actually guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Innocence or guilt can only be determined in a court of law. 

At the start of 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic first came to the attention of the U.S., police reported DUI arrests were down. However, as the state of Florida opened up and the holiday season came into full swing, DUI arrests started creeping back up. More people gathering together and the work season slowing down for some, means more time to spend enjoying the company of others often makes people drink a little more than they usually do. While consuming more alcohol than normal is not necessarily a bad thing, it can be if you choose to get behind the wheel of a car. 

Getting arrested for a DUI anytime of the year can put you in a sour mood. Not to mention the costs associated with an arrest. A first-time DUI in Florida can set you back $1,000 in fines alone, this does not cover other court costs, probation fees or attorney fees. You could also have your driver’s license suspended anywhere from 6 months up to a year. You could be looking at around $3,500 for a misdemeanor first-time DUI. 

If this is not your first DUI arrest, the costs only go up. A second DUI offense can result in fines of $2,000 and a third or subsequent DUI arrests will be an automatic felony and fines of around $5,000. A judge could also order that an ignition interlock device (IID) or breathalyzer be installed in your car. These machines only allow your car to start if you blow a .0%. They will also require you to breathe into the machine at random times while the vehicle is in motion. These devices are not cheap to have; installation can cost around $150 and the monthly lease and calibration can cost you around $100. Depending on your situation, you may have to have an IID in your car for six months or years. 

Regardless of who you are, it is very important to remember that drinking and driving or operating a car under the influence of drugs of any kind, including prescriptions, is always a bad idea. If you have any alcohol in your system when driving and make any type of error, you can be arrested and charged with DUI even if your blood alcohol concentration is under the legal limit of 0.08%. Continue reading

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Gainesville Florida Criminal Defense Attorney Bill Ezzell now spends his days representing those accused of the highest criminal allegations in Florida. His criminal trial experience along with his relationships built as an Assistant State Attorney in Gainesville are an invaluable part of his criminal defense practice.

We spent a few minutes with Criminal Defense Attorney Bill Ezzell talking about handling Rape and Kidnapping cases in Florida, and especially Gainesville. One of the highlights of our conversation is the specific pieces of data that he remembers from his thousands of past cases.

photo__3174468_bill-profileBecause I handled so many cases and supervised other lawyers at the prosecutors office handling our serious Sex Crime cases in Gainesville like Kidnapping and Rape, when we have the opportunity to represent new clients at Whittel & Melton we immediately work to deconstruct what we can assume or think the State’s plan is, down to how they have built the file, how they will present it to the judge and to the jury – and then we work backwards from verdict all the way back to arrest and look for holes, inconsistencies and vulnerable areas ripe for challenge and possible exclusion. Like anything else, because we’ve walked this road before, we know where they are going even before journey begins. – William “Bill” Ezzell, Gainesville Criminal Defense Attorney and Trial Lawyer.

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A Tampa man is facing criminal charges after being arrested for sextortion: allegedly demanding money from a woman who sent him a sexy photo or he would tell her boyfriend about the image. 

The 23-year-old man was arrested on Tuesday by Pinellas Park police. He was booked at Pinellas County jail and released after posting $10,000 bond. 

The arrest report indicates that the alleged victim posted on an app this summer that she had two office chairs that could be picked up for free at a Pinellas Park business. The suspect apparently picked the chairs up and then contacted the woman. The arrest report shares that the two engaged in “flirty” text conversations and the man convinced the woman to send him a sexy photo of herself. 

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drugs-2793133_1280-300x200A 2-year investigation has led to 11 people being indicted for their alleged involvement in a drug trafficking ring in Tampa and Kissimmee. 

The suspects accused of drug trafficking have been arrested and federal prosecutors claim they brought heroin and fentanyl into the region, which caused at least one death. 

The 11 people arrested all face federal conspiracy and drug distribution charges. The penalties for these crimes range anywhere from five to possibly life in prison. 

Police have not released much more information regarding this case as they are hoping to make more arrests and indictments. 

Authorities say that heroin and fentanyl were trafficked throughout Tampa and Kissimmee. Authorities do believe that at least one overdose death resulted from the alleged drug trafficking ring and another person suffered severe bodily injuries. 

The two year investigation started in 2016 and continued through August of this year. It has been a joint investigation conducted by the Tampa Bay Police, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, the FBI, and The Department of Justice. 

Fentanyl is a dangerous opioid that has received a lot of media attention because of its highly addictive qualities with recreational use. The United States lists fentanyl as a controlled substance. This drug is commonly used by medical professionals as a pain killer for patients undergoing severe and painful medical treatments such as cancer, nerve damage, or burn wounds. Fentanyl is far more powerful than morphine and it takes just a few minutes for its effects to kick in. This is why the drug has become so popular on the street – people with chronic pain use it for quick relief, but find themselves needing more as prolonged use causes the body to become tolerant of the drug’s effects. 

The effects of fentanyl are very similar to heroin, actually. The only difference is fentanyl lacks the euphoric high that heroin offers. Fentanyl makes users feel drowsy, hazy, slows the breathing, and slows the heart rate. The effects of fentanyl begin a few minutes after taking the drug and last for about an hour. While heroin and fentanyl are similar, fentanyl usually comes in much higher doses that are about 50 times more powerful than heroin. The high potency of fentanyl is why it is labeled as being so dangerous. On the street, this drug may be mixed with heroin and users used to heroin run the risk of overdosing by ingesting a drug that is much more powerful than what they are used to. 

If you have been accused of being involved in a federal drug crime involving fentanyl or heroin, you need to enlist the help of a Drug Crimes Defense Attorney at Whittel & Melton as soon as possible. We want to help you fight the charges stacked against you, and our representation could mean that you avoid serious criminal consequences. We know how terrifying drug charges can be, which is why we will provide you with the aggressive legal defense you need. Law enforcement targets those suspected of illegally selling opioids like heroin and fentanyl, so if you have been arrested for a drug crime stemming from one of these drugs, you need to be aware that even first-time offenders face very serious legal ramifications. The stakes are very high in federal drug crimes cases, so there is no time to waste. 

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pointing-1991215_1920-300x146The City Manager of Mascotte City, which is located west of Orlando, was arrested Thursday and charged with disorderly conduct as well as felony battery following an argument with a city council member who apparently voted against renewing his contract. 

The 62-year-old was detained after police responded to a fight outside the Mascotte Civic Center after a city council meeting Wednesday evening. The arrest report claims the man was fighting with the Mayor Pro Tem and her husband, who is Mascotte City’s fire chief. 

Reports indicate that the fight erupted because the man’s three-year contract was not renewed after it ended June 17. Witness accounts state that the man was aggressive with the mayor and was poking her on the shoulder, bumping her with his chest, and swearing at her.  

The mayor’s husband apparently stepped in and helped stop the alleged feud. Police claim they had to remove the man from the building so he would not follow the couple. 

Following his arrest, the man was released from the Lake County jail a few hours later after posting a $2,500 bond.

A new acting city manager has been named.

Felony battery charges are nothing to scoff at. While these charges may seem extreme for the situation, they must be dealt with accordingly. If you are charged with the crime of battery, you need the assistance of serious litigators to help get you through the criminal process. A conviction could lead to large fines and time behind bars, as well as a permanent stain on your criminal record. If you are convicted of committing a violent felony, you could find it difficult to obtain a decent job and suitable housing in the future as you could be labeled a violent offender. 

Our Lake County Felony Battery Attorneys at Whittel & Melton don’t want one simple mistake to ruin the rest of your life. We are here to listen to your side of the story and do everything we can to achieve a positive outcome for your situation, no matter how tough the case is. 

Battery charges require an in-depth investigation. There are instances where alleged victims of violent offenses have fabricated the events for their own selfish purposes. We can conduct a further investigation into your battery charges to see if you were falsely accused. If you were falsely accused of a battery crime, we will fight aggressively to get the case against you dismissed. 

In order to prove the crime of felony battery, the State must be able to show that you intentionally or willfully struck another person against their will and that the alleged victim suffered great bodily harm. Felony battery is classified as a third-degree felony in the state of Florida and could result in five years in prison, a $5,000 fine, and other punishments. 

Just because you are accused of committing felony battery, this does not mean you are automatically guilty of this crime. There are numerous defenses to this crime, including self defense, factual disputes about the incident, the alleged victim’s accusations are entirely false, the injuries suffered by the alleged victim do not add up to great bodily harm, and the alleged fight was a mutual altercation. Our Lake County Felony Battery Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help you fight these charges so that you can get back to leading a normal life. The penalties and consequences of a conviction are very real, and we want to fight aggressively to have your charges dismissed or at least reduced to a misdemeanor. 

As former prosecutors with the State of Florida we are quite familiar with how these cases are handled. Working both sides has given us valuable insight into how to achieve a successful outcome. While we cannot guarantee results, we can formulate a powerful defense strategy on your behalf. 

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The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office arrested a 24-year-old man from South Carolina after he allegedly tried to kidnap WWE star Sonya Deville, also known as Daria Berenato, at her home in Lutz. 

The man is accused of stalking the 26-year-old wrestling star featured on E!’s reality show Total Divas. 

The Sheriff’s Office believes the man began plotting the abduction around eight months ago, according to reports. 

The man apparently parked his car at a nearby church around midnight and then walked to the woman’s home at Lake Park Subdivision in Lutz. 

Reports indicate that he gained access to the woman’s home by slicing te patio screen and then entering the home through the sliding glass door after waiting for three to four hours for the oman to go to bed. This set off the alarm, causing Deville to look out her window and see the man and immediately flee her property in a car. 

She called 911 and the man was still inside the home when police arrived.

Police claim the man had duct tape, mace, zip ties, and a knife, and other supplies they believe he was going to use to take Deville hostage. 

He was arrested and charged with criminal mischief, armed burglary, attempted armed kidnapping, and aggravated stalking. 

Police claim that they have evidence showing he was stalking the woman on social media for months before showing up on her property. 

He was being held without bond, according to reports. 

Kidnapping and burglary charges are very serious and require a very strong defense strategy. A conviction for these charges can result in significant prison time, substantial fines, and probation. You need to obtain legal counsel as soon as you are aware of charges against you so that you can take appropriate action and defend yourself. 

Attempted kidnapping charges are a second-degree felony in the state of Florida. After your arrest, your charges will be given to the State Attorney’s Office to review. They will conduct an investigation before filing formal charges. This is where having strong legal representation on your side can help you. In most of these cases, the State does not have the time to perform an in-depth investigation. Your criminal defense attorney can meet with them and present any evidence that contradicts the charges, which could result in lesser charges being filed. 

You need to implement a smart legal defense strategy right away in these types of cases. As former prosecutors, our Tampa Bay Criminal Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton understand how the State approaches these cases and what strategies they will use to try and obtain a conviction. We will use that knowledge to help with your case and formulate an approach to try and avoid a conviction and the harsh penalties that come along with it. 

We can negotiate with prosecutors to try and avoid the courtroom and reach a plea deal or advocate on your behalf at trial. Every case is unique and we cannot guarantee results. We can provide you with the legal help and support you need to implement the strongest defense strategy. 

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mail-truck-3248139_1920-300x200A postal clerk in Florida allegedly stole mail and passport applications in what federal prosecutors are calling an identity theft scheme. 

The 30-year-old Ruskin woman was arrested Monday, according to court records. Last week, a federal grand jury in Tampa charged the woman with aggravated identity theft, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and theft of a postal key.

According to the indictment, while working at a St. Petersburg United States Postal Service the woman allegedly conspired with others in a scheme to defraud financial institutions that are federally insured. She is accused of opening mail addressed to other people and taking pictures of personal information. She apparently did this with other people’s U.S. passport applications as well, according to officials. 

The woman allegedly then sent the photographs of personal information and passport applications to other co-conspirators to be used in a bank fraud scheme, according to investigators.

The indictment further charges the woman with taking restricted postal arrow keys and then passing them off to co-conspirators. These master keys give access to open mail boxes and banks of mailboxes at various locations, such as apartment complexes.

Identity (ID) theft is committed when another person steals your personal information with the intentions of committing fraud. Identity theft is one of the most frequent crimes prosecuted in the state of Florida, and those that are charged with this type of white collar crime face very serious penalties, including years behind bars and significant fines. 

When it comes to identity theft schemes, sometimes people get wrapped up in these criminal enterprises without fully understanding what they are involved in. It is not at all uncommon for people accused of ID theft crimes to have no intentions of hurting others when they just made an honest mistake. This is where our Tampa Bay White Collar Crimes Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton come in. We can explain your side of the story and show that you were possibly a victim of a larger crime and taken advantage of. We can work with the prosecution to negotiate the best possible deal where you can avoid a felony conviction and time behind bars. However, if this is not possible, we are fully prepared to take your case to trial. 

Our Tampa Bay White Collar Crimes Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton have years of experience handling criminal cases involving identity theft and related charges. As former prosecutors, we know what defense strategies can defeat these charges and result in minimal consequences. We also know how serious the State takes these crimes and what they will do to obtain a conviction. The stakes are very high in these cases, but we can help you understand your rights and how best to proceed with your defense. It is important to understand that the government will pursue these charges aggressively and has virtually limitless resources at their disposal. This is why you need a criminal defense attorney that is equally as aggressive fighting in your corner to secure your freedom. 

We know that identity theft charges can be stressful and leave you feeling scared and uncertain of your future. That is why it is absolutely vital to the outcome of your case to secure legal representation as soon as you are accused of a white collar crime of this nature. Economic crimes can be successfully beat, but you must have a strong defense strategy. Every case is different, but we are happy to speak with you in a free consultation to discuss the details of your case. We can answer your questions openly and provide you with the honest feedback you need. 

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forest-fire-3747355_1920-300x169While no one will serve prison time, California utility Pacific Gas and Electric Company was found guilty Tuesday of starting the deadliest fire in California’s history that resulted in 84 unnecessary deaths, known as the 2018 Camp Fire. 

The Butte County District Attorney said this verdict is a “historic” one that will serve as a reminder that corporations will be held accountable for negligently endangering human lives. 

The 84 counts involuntary manslaughter the company pleaded guilty to as well as the 1 count of starting the wildfire, is one aspect of how the company is being held responsible for 84 people burning to death. 

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handcuff-3748614_1920-300x245A woman who ran a Florida-based charity that provides cradles for stillborn babies has been charged with scheming to defraud and several other felonies, according to reports. 

The charity provides these cradles to help families get through their tough loss of a child. 

According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the 53-year-old woman was arrested last week in Lakeland. 

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services takes a tough stance against charities accused of committing fraud against their donors and released a statement that the accused woman’s actions are vile and appalling. The accused woman is the president and director of Stories of Babies Born Still. SOBBS is supposed to use donated funds to buy Comfort Cradle Devices for hospitals, according to investigators.

Their investigation allegedly revealed that payments had been given to SOBBS, but the manufacturer had only received payment for about half of the orders.

The woman was freed on $8,000 bond.

Scheming to defraud in the state of Florida is also known as organized fraud. This is a very commonly prosecuted crime in our state. This crime basically allows prosecutors to combine several small fraudulent acts into one larger crime. 

There are varying degrees of scheming to defraud in Florida. The value of the property will determine the penalties. Scheming to defraud is classified as a third-degree felony when the value of the goods are $20,000 or less. When the property or goods are valued at $20,000 or more but less than $50,000, then the crime is categorized as a second-degree felony. A first-degree felony is charged when the value of the property or goods is $50,000 or more. 

A person accused of scheming to defraud can still be charged with a crime even if no money or property was stolen. If the accused intended to steal any money or property they can still be charged. The intent to steal $750 or more can be charged as a third-degree felony. Less than $750 is considered a first-degree misdemeanor. 

In order for the State to successfully prove its case against someone accused of scheming to defraud, they must demonstrate that the accused intended to defraud others. It is very possible in these types of cases for the person accused to have no intent of defrauding others or possibly completely unaware of their involvement in an organized crime scheme. 

Fraud charges fall under the umbrella of white collar crimes. Criminal consequences all depend on the amount of money involved as outlined above. Most investigations of fraud go one for years, so it is very important to protect yourself and obtain legal representation as soon as you become aware you are the target of an investigation. 

All crimes of fraud are considered crimes of dishonesty, and taken very seriously by prosecutors and judges. If you are accused of fraud in Florida, your reputation, freedom, and future are all on the line. You need an attorney who is skilled in representing those accused of scheming to defraud and other theft crimes. Our Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are here to help you understand your rights and how to proceed with a successful defense strategy. As former prosecutors, we are quite familiar with the tactics they use to achieve a conviction for organized fraud and other theft crimes, like felony grand theft. We can put our knowledge to work in your favor and mount a strong case based on the facts of your case. 

Theft crimes and fraud charges are nothing to scoff at. You could be looking at years behind bars and significant fines if you are convicted. Our Florida White Collar Crimes Lawyers at Whittel & Melton know that many of these crimes can arise from misunderstandings. In many instances, these crimes are charged when two individuals were unclear on how funds were to be allotted. When one party uses the funds in a way that they believed was in compliance, then there is no intent. We can help establish that what appears to be a crime was a misunderstanding and work to have the charges against you dropped. 

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