Articles Posted in Criminal

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Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents arrested the city of Port Richey’s acting mayor Terrence Hagan Rowe, 64, on Wednesday charging him with obstruction of justice, conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice, and use of a two-way communications device to facilitate the commission of a crime.

According to the agency, agents received information that Rowe was conspiring to interfere with an active criminal investigation.

Rowe has served as Port Richey’s acting mayor since the previous mayor, Dale Glen Massad, was arrested in February following an incident where he allegedly fired a weapon at Pasco County Sheriff’s Office deputies at his home to serve a warrant.

Rowe was transported to the Pasco County Jail on a $15,000 bond. Rowe posted bond overnight.

Obstruction of justice is not a minor offense. It is actually a felony offense that can have serious implications on your freedom, life, and livelihood. The crime embodies numerous behaviors, including providing false information to a police officer, concealing material relevant to a prosecution, or destroying or disguising physical information.

If you have been charged with obstruction of justice, you need to obtain a criminal defense lawyer right away to make sure your rights are protected. Due to the severity of this offense, you need to act fast as you could be facing years in prison plus hefty fines. Our Pasco County Criminal Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can piece together a strong defense against these charges or work to obtain a favorable plea deal without jail time.

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Actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin are among 50 charged in a nationwide college entrance exam scandal, according to court documents filed Tuesday in Boston.

Several NCAA D-1 college coaches, company CEOs and one college administrator have also been implicated in the scandal utilizing 200 FBI agents, dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues.”

Documents show those indicted allegedly paid millions in bribes to get their children into elite colleges. Those colleges include Yale, Stanford and the University of Southern California.

Arrest warrants have been issued. Thirteen of the accused were taken into custody Tuesday morning in the Los Angeles area, including Huffman, according to reports.

As of Tuesday night, Loughlin was still not in custody.

Feds are basing the case on interviews with witnesses, bank records, flight records, emails, cell site data and wiretaps. The charges were authorized by a grand jury.

The scheme, in some instances, involved parents paying the founder of a college prep business in California, to have someone take the SAT or ACT for their children, according to authorities. Prosecutors alleged that the man also paid around $25 million in bribes to coaches and administrators to pretend client’s children were athletic recruits, thereby guaranteeing admission. The man pleaded guilty in Boston federal court around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday to charges including racketeering conspiracy and obstruction of justice, according to reports.

Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, are accused of paying $500,000 to USC, through the man’s operation, in exchange for having their two daughters designated as recruits to the college’s crew team — even though they did not participate in crew — thereby guaranteeing their admission in the college, according to documents. The couple faces charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.

Huffman and her spouse, William H. Macy, are accused of disguising a $15,000 charitable payment in the bribery scheme. The charging papers refer to Macy as “spouse.” He hasn’t been indicted. She also faces the charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.

According to charging documents, a “confidential witness” met with Huffman at her home and explained that he “controlled” a SAT testing center and could arrange for someone to proctor the taking of the test and then correct her daughter’s answers afterward. Huffman is said to have later exchanged emails with this individual in an effort to get 100 percent extra time for her daughter and to facilitate the taking of the SATs away from her school.

Huffman’s daughter is said to have taken the test in December 2017 and received a 1420 on the test, a 400 point improvement from a previous test. Last October, Huffman discussed repeating this for her youngest daughter in a taped conversation that evidently the FBI has obtained. However, Huffman did not go through with the cheating for her youngest daughter, according to court papers.

Also included in the documents on Tuesday, and charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, is TPG’s Bill McGlashan, Hollywood investor and co-founder of STX.

The founder of a college prep business in California has agreed to plead guilty to racketeering, money laundering and obstruction of justice (after alerting several subjects of the investigation of the government probe), according to court papers, and has been cooperating since September 2018 in a bid for leniency.

In all, 50 people around the country were charged in the alleged cheating and recruitment scam.

It will certainly be interesting to see how this case unfolds. Cheating scandals are not something necessarily new, but has definitely grown in popularity within the last decade.

Mail fraud embodies a wide variety of crimes and can extend into other types of fraud as well. Any act of fraud that involves the mail is mail fraud. Many mail fraud charges are accompanied by conspiracy charges.

If you have been accused of mail fraud, you must enlist the help of a criminal defense attorney that has experience handling these complex cases. Our Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton have the experience and knowledge needed to intervene early and overcome these charges quickly. Even if you have not been charged and are simply under investigation, our early involvement could result in charges not being filed at all. If charges are filed, we will fight aggressively to overcome them. If you have already been charged, we will conduct a thorough investigation, attack all evidence against you, and establish a strong defense to protect your innocence.

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A University of Florida student was arrested Sunday morning after police claim he raped a woman Sunday in the UF Keys Residential Complex.

The 19-year-old was arrested on a charge of sexual battery. A UF spokesman said the man is enrolled at UF as a construction management sophomore.

The man was invited back to the woman’s apartment to hang out Sunday morning, a UF Police Department arrest report said. The woman apparently told the man she did not want to have sex.

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The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office Vice and Narcotics Unit assisted the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) in the investigation of a Hernando County man for Unlicensed Practice of a Healthcare Profession.

An investigator from the FDOH advised detectives that the man allegedly advertised his services on a website called El Clasificado, an advertisement website for the Hispanic community. The advertisement stated that the man could treat medical conditions such as: hernias, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis, arthrosis, renal failure, Leukemia, Fibromyalgia, ulcers, vision problems, cysts, and many other health problems. The website shows a photo of the man in a white coat and the caption labels him a doctor.

The investigator from the FDOH advised that the man has never had a medical license, of any kind, in the state of Florida.

On Feb. 7, detectives made arrangements by telephone between a “patient” and the man to meet for an appointment. When asked where to meet, the man advised the patient that a friend allows him to use his house to see patients, and provided the patient with the address of a residence in eastern Brooksville.  The two agreed to meet at the residence at 10:30 a.m. for the appointment.

When the patient arrived for the appointment, he was handed a clipboard and asked to complete papers, according to reports. He was then asked to pay $160.

The man checked the patient’s blood pressure and pulse and then placed a band around the patient’s head and had him hold a metal rod (both the band and the rod were connected to a machine on a table). Once turned on, the machine began making beeping noises. The man told the patient, that the device was testing his heart, brain, intestinal system, bones, nerves, and “everything else.”

When the test was complete, the man allegedly told the patient that “his cholesterol was on the way to being high” and that he “was not getting enough oxygen to his brain.”  The man also told the patient that he has “50 percent fat in his liver and his gallbladder was not in good health.” The man also told the patient that he had Diabetes and Osteoporosis.

The man apparently told the patient he could cure his diabetes with several more visits, and only $2,000. He went on to say that the treatment would include injecting the patient with “his own blood.”

After this, detectives moved in and placed the man into custody.  He was transported to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office to be interviewed by detectives.

When interviewed by detectives, the man said he did not believe that he needed a license to practice medicine. He was apparently a lab technician in Cuba and when he moved to Florida he went to school to get a certificate for Iridology, herbology, and nutrition.

The man was charged with the following:

–       Unlicensed Practice of a Health Care Profession

–       Unlawful Use of a Two-Way Communication Device

His bond was set at $10,000.

Florida law identifies practicing medicine without a license as a felony. It is a felony offense for a person “to practice, attempt to practice, or offer to practice a health care profession without an active, valid Florida license [issued by the Department of Health] to practice that profession.”

If the person accused did not cause bodily injury, the is a third degree felony, with a maximum penalty of up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. If the alleged incident results in “serious bodily injury,” Unlicensed Practice of a Health Care Profession is upgraded to a second degree felony, with a maximum penalty of up to 15 years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

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A former city commissioner in Florida is facing prison time after he was convicted of corruption charges arising from a tiki bar he operated in a strip mall.

According to court records, a jury found 56-year-old David McLean guilty of bribery, official misconduct and theft charges late Monday. McLean was a commissioner in the South Florida city of Margate.

Trial evidence showed McLean used his influence to do city favors for the tiki bar’s landlord. In return, the landlord forgave about $8,000 in rent and made another $6,000 in cash payments.

Broward County prosecutors say McLean faces about four years in prison when he is sentenced in March.

McLean previously was convicted of similar charges in federal court, but an appeals court overturned the verdict because no federal money was involved.

Public figures and all other highly visible people like politicians, police officers and city council members are under watchful scrutiny. When an action looks as if it could be illegal, the accused needs the help of an attorney who knows how to present an aggressive defense. Our South Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton have the experience and persistence to fight charges of corruption.

If you have been charged with a crime, you have the right to an attorney. We will listen to your story in complete confidence and make sure you understand all of your options on how best to proceed.

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At least 13 people were arrested Friday by the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office during a roundup of six men with outstanding warrants for sale of cocaine.

The warrants roundup, which focused on the Putnam Hall area in west Putnam County, led deputies allegedly to pills, drug paraphernalia and more cocaine, and resulted in charges for seven others in addition to the suspected drug dealers. Those seven were arrested for a variety of reasons, including possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of cocaine or prescription drugs, and an outstanding warrant from Clay County.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, these six had warrants for selling cocaine:

  • A 63-year-old man was charged with three counts of selling crack cocaine. He was arrested on a warrant and later released on a $10,000 bond.
  • A 57-year-old man was charged with two counts of selling cocaine, one count of cocaine possession with intent to sell and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia.
  • A 57-year-old man was arrested on a warrant for sale of cocaine. During a search of the man, deputies reported finding cocaine. He was charged additionally with possession of cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was arrested and held on $13,000 bond.
  • A 59-year-old man was arrested on a warrant for two counts of selling cocaine. He is being held on a $20,000 bond.
  • A 51-year-old man was arrested on a warrant for selling cocaine. He’s being held on a $10,000 bond.
  • A 41-year-old man was arrested on a warrant for two counts of selling cocaine. He is held on a $20,000 bond.

Selling cocaine is a second-degree felony in Florida, which could result in up to 15 years in prison. Selling cocaine can be escalated to a first-degree felony if sold within 1,000 feet of a church or school, and carries a mandatory minimum of 3 years in prison.

Many drug bust cases are based upon questionable evidence. Prosecutors often rely on evidence that was obtained as a result of an illegal search or seizure. Our Florida Drug Crimes Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton have successfully suppressed evidence in cases where it was obtained illegally. We provide aggressive legal representation to those accused of possessing or selling drugs.

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A 75-year-old Citrus County man has been arrested and charged with selling significant amounts of marijuana.

According to the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office, a search warrant served at a Floral City residence Tuesday morning resulted in this arrest.

During the execution of the search warrant, detectives allegedly located 464 grams of cannabis, 20-gauge shotgun ammunition, and over $25,500 in cash inside of the man’s bedroom. Detectives apparently searched a large wooden barn located on the property and discovered 711 grams of cannabis and various pieces of distribution equipment – to include a vacuum seal machine, a large digital scale, and various sized plastic baggies used to package drugs.

Detectives claim they learned that the cash located in the man’s room was obtained from the illicit sale of cannabis, so they seized the currency for forfeiture.

Due to the large sum of cash and various evidence collected, detectives estimated that the man was selling pounds of illegal marijuana on a daily basis.

He was arrested and charged with Possession of Cannabis with the Intent to Distribute, Possession of Ammunition by a Convicted Felon, and Possession of Paraphernalia.

The state of Florida has some of the toughest penalties on drug use and possession, including marijuana. Even though marijuana penalties are certainly less severe than many other types of drugs, you can still face hefty fines and serious jail time for the possession, use and sale of marijuana.

Possessing 20g to 25 lbs of marijuana carries a felony charge with penalties of a maximum fine of $5000 and 5 years in jail. Possessing between 25-2000 lbs is also a felony, with penalties of a maximum fine of $25,000 and 3-15 years in jail. If you are charged with selling and distributing marijuana, your penalty will also depend on the amounts being sold.

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An ex-Florida Polytechnic police officer has been arrested on charges of sexual battery, extortion, and aggravated stalking of a family member.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office said that a woman first went to deputies about the man on Wednesday and said the allegations had been happening since the fall of 2012.

Deputies claim the woman provided hundreds of text messages from the past six months that showed the man trying to control, intimidate, isolate, and humiliate her.

In an arrest affidavit, deputies said the man allegedly used “force or violence likely to cause serious personal injury” to sexually batter the woman, and he blackmailed her into having sex with him by threatening to publicly share nude photos of her, deputies said.

The man had apparently worked for Florida Polytech University for two years and resigned when he was arrested, deputies said.

A sex crime combined with an extortion offense can result in serious criminal consequences. In extortion cases, a person is accused of forcing another person to do something against their will, like sending money or giving up property. Similarly, sextortion refers to blackmailing or threatening someone for explicit photos, money and even sex.

Sextortion is a second-degree felony in the state of Florida, which could translate to 15 years in prison. When combined with a sex crime, like sexual battery, the consequences are drastically enhanced. You must fight to protect yourself from these serious allegations, as they will not just go away on their own. Our Florida Sextortion Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can fight for your rights and do everything we can to achieve the best possible outcome for your particular situation.

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A former Florida lawmaker has been arrested and charged with abusing his wife of 10 years, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

Former Rep. Baxter Troutman, 52, was arrested early Saturday after his wife made multiple domestic violence accusations against him.

According to authorities, the woman said she and her husband had argued about her buying a home in Lakeland in her own name on Wednesday.

She told deputies she left the home for several hours and returned at about 9:30 p.m. to sleep. She told authorities that her husband came into her bedroom at about 4:30 a.m. and pulled the comforter off her bed.

The two had slept in separate bedrooms for several years, she told deputies.

The man apparently came into her room and pulled the comforter off her bed and started shouting expletives at her and then began to play loud heavy metal music on all he TVs around the house.

She told deputies that when she tried to go back to sleep, her husband came into the room again and yanked the comforter off the bed, causing her to fall to the floor. According to the report, he then grabbed her by the chin, pulled her head back and said, “B— get up.”

The woman told deputies she used her cell phone to record how loud the music was playing on the TVs. She then went back to her room and used a chair to block the door.

Deputies said that she also told them previous instances of domestic violence. She told authorities that in 2018, her husband hit her in the face when she refused to give him the passcode to her cell phone. According to the Sheriff’s Office report, she provided pictures of the injuries.

She also claimed her husband broke her pinky finger during an argument in 2015. She told deputies she had a neighbor take her to a hospital for treatment.

Baxter Troutman was charged with one count of aggravated battery and two counts of battery. He previously served as state representative for District 66.

If you have been arrested and charged with aggravated battery, even if you have been wrongfully accused, you need to obtain legal representation as soon as possible. Many individuals charged with domestic violence crimes do not seek the legal representation they truly need in order to successfully prove their innocence. When facing a serious crime like aggravated battery, there is no substitute for aggressive and powerful legal representation that may ultimately keep you out of jail.

Given that serious bodily harm may result from aggravated battery, Florida prosecutors are especially tough on the accused. The consequences of a conviction can include a potentially long prison sentence hefty fines. Our Florida Domestic Violence Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton know what to expect from the prosecution and can provide you with honest legal representation, making sure you are fully aware of the potential consequences you are facing and your options for overcoming your charges.

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Boynton Beach police went undercover Monday, hit a host of “hot spots” and jailed nearly a dozen in Operation Buy Bye.

Confidential informants apparently facilitated many of the hookups. The shopping lists included heroin, fentanyl, ecstasy and crack cocaine. The buys went down in parking lots at Walmart, Chevron and Shell stations and Betty Thomas Park, according to arrest reports.

Narcotics investigators arrested 11 suspects throughout the day Monday. More arrests are expected, according to the Boynton Beach Police Department.

In all, 10 men and one woman were arrested. The youngest was 19; the oldest 47. Sales were largely in small amounts, $20 and $40, reports show.

Being arrested by an undercover officer in a drug bust might make you think there is no way of beating the charges against you. However, all evidence police obtain in these undercover operations must be obtained legally. Many drug busts involve illegal tactics, and if evidence is obtained illegally, it can be deemed inadmissible at trial. Due to the complexities of undercover drug stings, it is best to consult with a South Florida Drug Crimes Defense Attorney at Whittel & Melton before making any statements to police.

The point of undercover drug operations is to make numerous arrests, even if that means violating suspects rights. We can make sure your rights weren’t violated during any stage of the investigation or arrest. If we find your rights were compromised in any way, we could get the charges against you dropped.

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