Articles Posted in Alachua County

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A top University of Florida housing official has been charged with stealing more than $180,000 to buy $16,000 worth of lunches, nearly $45,000 in furniture and $37,000 more in electronics, a report shows.

The 41-year-old senior director of UF housing and education, was arrested Monday night and charged with grand larceny of more than $100,000.

According to a UF police report, the man used state funds to buy $25,000 in household items, more than $11,500 in maintenance items like lawn mowers and more than $44,000 for miscellaneous items including internet service, electricity and seven cellphones.

The report says the UF Office of Internal Audit also has records detailing fraudulent purchases of a recliner chair, blue-cushioned patio furniture, a motion-sensor trash can, tablecloth, cloth napkins, flatware, plates, lamp, storage box, motion light sensor, pitcher, several floor rugs, wall mirror, a seafoam green cabinet and several flat-screen televisions.

In November 2016, the man used his assigned UF credit card to buy a dining set and hutch at Furniture Kingdom in Gainesville for $1,340 and $1,399.95 respectively, the report says.

According to the report, a witness saw the dining set and hutch inside the man’s house. Several photographs posted on the man’s wife’s Facebook page also clearly show the dining set and hutch that were purchased with UF funds, police say.

Beginning in April, the UF Ethics and Compliance Hotline received several anonymous reports of several employees in the UF Housing and Resident Education Department who were using their positions within the department to make fraudulent reimbursement and expense claims and using department funds for private gain, the report says.

The man apparently told police Monday he was only storing the items and planned on bringing them back. He also said he would make restitution for the items.

The man was trespassed from all UF properties, the report says.

UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes said five additional employees who worked under the man have have been placed on administrative leave and may have been involved.

The man started at UF Housing in May 2004 and worked his way up to senior director about a year ago. Records show the man earned $145,675 in 2016.

As of Monday night, the man was in the Alachua County jail, awaiting a first appearance before a judge.

While many people think theft charges are minor offenses, theft convictions can damage your reputation and limit your future employment opportunities. If you or a loved one have been charged with theft or larceny, you should speak with an Alachua County Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton. We can assess your case and determine your options.

Theft charges in Florida are no joke – they can result in hefty fines and jail time. A conviction can limit your ability to gain employment. Penalties stemming from a theft/larceny conviction may include:

  • Fines
  • Jail time
  • Probation
  • Restitution
  • Mandatory counseling
  • Difficulty obtaining employment
  • Trouble securing a professional license

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A Gainesville doctor convicted of 162 counts of health care fraud for false billing and using drugs not approved in the United States was sentenced Friday to effectively serve one year in prison and to pay a fine of more than $1.13 million plus restitution.

The doctor, who had practices in Gainesville and Hawthorne, was convicted in May 2016 and sentenced Friday in federal court.

She was ordered to serve one year and one day in prison on each count. The terms will run concurrently. She will also serve three years’ of supervised release and perform 400 hour of community service. In addition to the fine, she was ordered to pay more than $1 million in restitution.

The woman was indicted in April 2014 on 210 counts of health care fraud and money laundering. She was charged with submitting fraudulent claims for unnecessary tests, buying drugs from outside the U.S. not approved for use here and giving those drugs to patients without their knowledge or consent.

She was convicted of falsely billing Medicare, Medicaid and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, in addition to billing insurance companies for counseling, treatment and training procedures that were never performed.

The woman’s Gainesville office was raided by authorities in 2011. In 2013, she closed her practice.

A conviction for health care fraud is devastating. In addition to potential criminal and civil sanctions, charges like these could wreak havoc on professional and personal reputations and there is the very real possibility of losing professional licenses. Any Floridian who suspects that they are under investigation for health care fraud or who has been charged with a related crime should seek the advice of our Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton as early in the process as possible to start building the most powerful defense possible. The risks are extremely great in these situations.

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A University of Florida professor has been arrested on a cyberstalking charge, according to a police report.

The 45-year-old  professor in the College of Pharmacy is accused of stalking a woman who used to work for him, according to the University of Florida Police report.

The woman told UPD’s victim’s advocate office on Tuesday that the man had been communicating with her through email and text messages after she told him to stop, the report said. She told investigators that the professor’s actions caused her to quit her job.

The man allegedly continued to try to contact her, which she claims caused her distress and resulted in her having her mother accompany her to various locations. The woman also claims the man once followed her to her car and made contact with her father, believing that the woman was in the car.

The man is accused of resisting being handcuffed at the time of his arrest, the report said.

The man, who was hired in 2014, has been placed on administrative leave and UF is in the process of having him trespassed, according to a UF spokeswoman.

The man will not be allowed on campus until the case is resolved or it is determined he is not a threat, according to the university.

The man was arrested on charges of cyberstalking and resisting arrest. He was being held Wednesday in the Alachua County jail on $5,000 bond.

Stalking through social media websites, texting, calling and leaving voice mails are all forms of stalking. There are other varieties of stalking, including:

  • Unwanted following
  • Harassing
  • Lurking around the person’s place of employment
  • Hanging out in parking lots where the victim’s car may be parked

In order to prove stalking charges, it must be demonstrated that the offender has pursued the individual and repeatedly or continuously harassed them to the point the person has a reasonable cause to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested.

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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.

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The new year is quickly approaching, and thousands of Floridians have made plans or are starting to think about how to say goodbye to 2015 and ring in 2016.

But before you solidify your New Year’s Eve plans, fire officials have some tips for residents and visitors when it comes to fireworks.

“Anything that is projectile or leaves the ground is illegal in the State of Florida. Basically your safest bet is with a sparkler,” said Natalie McQueen, a Firefighter and Paramedic for the Panama City Beach Fire Department.

Even though sparklers are allowed in the Sunshine State, residents and visitors still need to exercise caution when using them.

Younger children should never light or handle sparklers. Parents should maintain a close watch on kids at all times if sparklers are going to be used. Burns are very common to the hands and face since sparklers do have flickers that come off once they are lit.

If you are using sparklers, after you are done with them, fire officials say to place them in a big bucket full of water, and let them sit overnight.

While setting off your own fireworks might seem fun, our Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton want to remind everyone that the best way to stay safe while ringing in the New Year is leaving the fireworks to the pros. If you are caught with fireworks in the State of Florida it could lead to misdemeanor charges.

Under Florida law, the use of or possession of illegal fireworks is a first-degree misdemeanor. If you are accused of breaking this law, please be aware that you will be arrested. If you are convicted of this crime, you can be sentenced to up to one year in jail, given up to one year on probation, and/or fined up to one thousand dollars.

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Thanksgiving is a time of year when families get together to celebrate memories and honor traditions. However, this is also the time of year when law enforcement agencies gear up to catch drunk drivers on our roadways.

Most law enforcement agencies, receive federal grants to increase their staffing levels during the holiday season, which typically begins with the four-day Thanksgiving weekend and continues to New Year’s Day. Arrests for DUI are highest during this time period.

The following are a few tips that may prove helpful to avoid a Thanksgiving DUI:

  1. Do not drink and drive. If you have been drinking, call a cab, a friend or use a ride share app like Uber or Lyft to get home safe. If you know you will be drinking, designate a sober driver to take you home.
  2. If you are pulled over, do not talk to law enforcement about where you were or what you were doing. Remember, you have the right to remain silent until you have your lawyer present.
  3. If you are involved in an accident, stop immediately and remain at the scene. Do not admit to anything and request to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible.
  4. Do not fall asleep inside your vehicle. You could get arrested if the officer observes that you have the keys in the ignition or if the engine is running.
  5. Drive cautiously. Police will be closely monitoring motorists for any mistakes they make. In particular, they will be on the lookout for motorists who may be driving too fast or too slow, or running red lights or failing to stop at stop signs.

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A man listed as a cafe owner in Gainesville was arrested Friday night after he allegedly tried to film a girl taking a shower, according to Gainesville police.

The 52-year-old man was charged with attempted voyeurism of a child younger than 16.

The incident allegedly happened about 10 p.m.

The girl told police she saw a hand holding a camera outside the bathroom window. She ran out of the bathroom and told a person in the house, police said.

As that was happening, the man apparently came into the house, police said. The man allegedly told police he was sorry and that he has a problem, according to the police report.

If you were arrested for voyeurism or any other sex offense, it is absolutely vital for you to understand the legal charges against you as well as the possible consequences. Florida’s laws are extremely complicated and when this crime involves a minor, you could be facing felony charges and multiple years in prison.

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A registered sex offender in Gainesville has been charged with possession of child pornography after police allege he had many illegal images on his cellphone. According to an arrest report, an investigation is also underway into whether he had sex with a child.

The 23-year-old man was charged with possessing photographs of sexual performances by children, a Gainesville Police Department report states.

The photographs allegedly show a child who appears to be prepubescent having sex with a man. Other alleged photos of a sexual nature involving children were also found.

The arrest report claims that the man admitted to downloading and viewing the other images of a sexual nature.

Police were apparently alerted to the man through calls to authorities regarding his downloading images and having urges for sex with a boy, according to a dispatch log.

During a police interview, the man allegedly confessed that he had sex with an unidentified 9-year-old, the report states. That case is currently under investigation.

Records from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement show the man was convicted in 2010 of lewd and lascivious battery on a victim under the age of 16 and lewd and lascivious molestation on a victim under the age of 12. The cases were in Levy County.

Either state or federal authorities can prosecute child pornography cases, however, in recent years, the majority of cases involving child porn have been brought in federal courts. Federal sentencing guidelines are much more severe than similar prosecutions in state courts. The prosecution of federal child pornography and other types of sex crime cases has significantly increased in the past decade, with 86 cases in 1995 to 1,769 cases in 2013.

Prosecutors in federal child pornography cases are quite aggressive, seeking years in prison for even the mere possession of illegal pictures. State cases tend to end in probation or shorter jail terms, but federal child porn offenses carry mandatory minimum sentences. In order to avoid the harsh consequences of a conviction, it is essential to not speak to police or prosecutors about your case without first seeking the advice of a criminal defense lawyer who has experience handling child pornography cases. Even if you are under investigation for child porn charges, you are still presumed innocent until proven guilty, but your case must be handled very carefully in order to achieve a favorable outcome.

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Alachua County sheriff’s deputies arrested a mother Sunday night after they allegedly found a home inhabited by a toddler that was full of ingredients used to cook methamphetamine.

The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office was called to a residence in the Hidden Oaks Mobile Home Park around 10 p.m., where they claim they found the front door open and a 2-year-old boy toddling about.

Deputies said a woman identified herself as the boy’s grandmother. They allege she appeared disoriented and told deputies she knew nothing of the reported disturbance.

The woman was not aware she was the only one there to watch the child, according to police.

A short time later, deputies allege a woman arrived and told deputies she was the boy’s mother. Deputies claim the 41-year-old mom also appeared disoriented and said she knew nothing of a disturbance.

Deputies searched the home for anyone else who may have called, and claim they found a trash bag filled with ingredients and tools used to cook methamphetamine using what is called the “one-pot” method.

The woman was charged with trafficking methamphetamine and possession of the drug with intent to distribute. She was booked into the Alachua County jail early Monday morning and was still awaiting a bond hearing.

Alachua County court records show Cannon was convicted in 2013 on a petty theft charge.

The boy is in relatives’ care and undergoing medical treatments monitored by the Florida Department of Children and Families, according to police.

DCF has launched its own investigation.

Meth manufacturing charges are very serious. Additionally, the presence of children can only increase the penalties you may face. After being charged with trafficking methamphetamine you need to seek legal help immediately. In order to provide you with the most effective defense of these charges, a criminal defense lawyer must understand the different methods used to make methamphetamine, including one-pot, shake and bake, anhydrous, and others, as well as the proper procedure law enforcement must follow at the scene.

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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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