Articles Posted in Criminal

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A Florida man is facing sex crimes charges after he was accused of a molesting a Flagler County teenager in January.

Flagler County deputies were apparently contacted Jan. 4 about a sex offense in Palm Coast. They investigated and claim the man allegedly molested a child between 12-18 years old.

After the allegations were reported to authorities, the accused left the area and had been living in Cape Coral until he was arrested earlier this month on charges of sexual battery and lewd/lascivious molestation.

He was returned to Flagler County and is being held on $150,000 bond.

Sex crimes charges, like sexual battery and molestation, are very serious because they carry extremely harsh consequences if convicted. You could be facing years in prison and lifetime registration as a sexual offender. Due to the severity of these charges, you must act fast to protect yourself. You need to enlist the help of a Flagler County Criminal Defense Attorney at Whittel & Melton as soon as possible. We specialize in sex crimes defense and can put our knowledge to work for you.

While every case is different, we will investigate every shred of evidence to find any weaknesses in the prosecution’s case against you. Our goal is to achieve the best possible outcome on your behalf. We cannot guarantee to get your charges dismissed or reduced, but we will fight aggressively to obtain an outcome that you can live with.

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A Fort Lauderdale doctor has been sentenced to 19 years and seven months in federal prison for distributing prescription painkillers.

The man was sentenced Monday following a conviction in June of dispensing oxycodone outside the usual course of professional practice and for no legitimate medical reason.

Investigators claim the 64-year-old man ran a cash-only pain management clinic in Indialantic from 2009 to 2011. He apparently charged $200-$400 per visit, where patients received prescriptions for high doses of oxycodone with little to no medical evaluation. Investigators believe that many of the people who received the prescriptions then abused the opioid painkillers themselves or sold the pills.

Oxycodone is the most abused prescription drug in Florida and across the country. A prescription drug is defined as any substance which under Federal or State law requires dispensing by prescription or order of a licensed physician, veterinarian or dentist. A doctor could easily face very serious criminal drug charges if law enforcement officers believe that their clinic is merely a cover for a fraudulent prescription drug distribution operation.

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A former Jacksonville Jaguars player faces insurance fraud charges linked to dental treatment authorities said he never received.

Marlon McCree is accused of filing nearly $78,000 in bogus insurance claims, according to reports. McCree allegedly received $31,000 in reimbursements as a result.

McCree, 41, turned himself into the Nassau County jail Saturday morning, where he remains in custody on five counts of filing false insurance claims, jail logs show.

The former NFL defensive back and one-time Jaguars assistant defensive backs coach faces up to 30 years in prison and $30,000 in fines if convicted of all charges.

The state Bureau of Insurance Fraud was tipped off in April by Cigna, which accused McCree of submitting bogus paperwork to the Gene Upshaw Health Reimbursement Account, or HRA.

An investigation found McCree falsified invoices that listed All Smiles Dental, Patronis said. The Jacksonville dental practice had no records indicating he was a patient there.

Insurance fraud happens when a policyholder tried to collect insurance payments that they would not have otherwise been entitled to receive. Make no mistake, this is a very serious crime that carries very serious consequences if convicted. You could be looking at hefty fines, restitution and jail time. If you have been accused of insurance fraud, it is important that you have an experienced Florida Criminal Defense Attorney at Whittel & Melton by your side from the start.

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A Key West firefighter was caught with cocaine at work, according to police.

The 26-year-old was arrested Friday on a felony charge of cocaine possession after a police dog alerted officers to a locker inside a bedroom where the man was staying.

The K-9 also sniffed out the man’s truck where police claim they found an unspecified amount of cocaine.

Possession of any amount of cocaine is a felony.

The man was suspended until an investigation is complete.

The arrest came after Key West police and Homeland Security agents did a sweep of all three Key West fire stations at the same time Friday. They were acting on a tip about narcotics received by the Key West police’s special investigations unit.

Possession of a controlled substance, like cocaine, is a serious crime in Florida. This felony offense carries significant penalties if you are convicted. Simply being accused of possessing cocaine does not mean you are automatically guilty. There can be several potential defense strategies available in a drug possession case. Our South Florida Drug Possession Lawyers can investigate your case to determine whether the search that uncovered the drugs was legal. We will examine the warrant that was issued to authorize the search, if one even existed, and we will make sure every move made by authorities was legal. If they overstepped in any way, we will work towards getting any evidence illegally obtained thrown out.

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A former Hillsborough County teacher arrested last week on charges of probation violation has had the charge dismissed.

The 39-year-old was in court Tuesday for a hearing that she violated her probation for taking pictures with a friend’s 12-year-old daughter in a Clearwater Beach restaurant.

A judge dismissed the violation Tuesday, and she’ll be released Wednesday.

The woman made news in the Bay area in 2010 when she pleaded guilty to having sex with teen students.

She served six years in prison on lewd and lascivious battery charges and was released in 2016.

The woman reported the recent incident to her probation officer. Her probation prohibits any contact with minors unless approved by the court. She was arrested July 19.

The terms of probation can be very restrictive. You are expected to live your normal life while following strict procedures. You cannot travel too far from a fixed point, you must report regularly to a probation officer, and you must not be arrested for or charged with any further offenses, among other things. Failure to comply with any of these areas could be considered a probation violation.

If you have recently been charged with violating the terms of your probation, you face serious criminal consequences. Whether done so intentionally or by accident, you are likely to face harsh consequences, including extended probation, hefty fines, or sentenced to serve the remaining term of your original imprisonment. This all depends on individual circumstances – no two cases are the same.

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Pinellas County deputies have been on a mission to arrest contractors accused of operating without licenses.

In a sting conducted from Saturday through early Monday called “Operation Flush Out,” 30 people were arrested after pitching electrical, drywall and other construction services to undercover detectives.

The three-day sting produced a combination of at least 60 felony and misdemeanor charges against people offering to work without a license or insurance, the sheriff said.

It is the sheriff’s third sting since October to combat the hundreds of unlicensed contractors who rip off homeowners and leave properties in shambles.

Contracting without a license carries a misdemeanor for first-time offenses and a felony the second time. Other violations include felony charge of workers’ compensation fraud. Florida law requires contractors in the construction industry to carry the insurance. Without it, violators can lower prices and steal business from licensed and insured contractors.

In the state of Florida, unlicensed contracting is usually charged as a first-degree misdemeanor, with penalties of up to 1 year in jail or 12 months of probation, and a $1,000.00 fine. If the accused has been previously convicted of contracting without a license, the offense may be charged as third-degree felony, which carries penalties of up to 5 years in prison or 5 years of probation and a $5,000 fine.

When it comes to charges of contracting without a license, it is vital to have a criminal defense attorney on your side to identify possible defenses and to minimize potential penalties. However, many people accused of this charge opt to plead guilty to the charge in order to avoid the expense of an attorney. By doing this, they obtain permanent criminal records, risk their chances of obtaining a license in the future and get slapped with paying out restitution to alleged victims that claim they performed substandard work or used sub-standard materials and caused a loss.

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A former standout high school quarterback in Tampa Bay is out on bond after being accused of beating his ex-girlfriend.

The 29-year-old is facing domestic battery charges in connection with an incident in Key West earlier this month involving his girlfriend at the time.

According to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, the man attacked the woman in their hotel room after reading text messages on her phone.

He is accused of punching her several times and knocking her to the ground and stomping on her throat.

The man was released on a $50,000 bond.

After being arrested for domestic battery, it is absolutely vital to the outcome of your case to seek expert legal defense as soon as possible. Domestic battery is a serious crime that involves the harm of a household or family member.

Domestic cases are very sensitive in nature, and all too often involve false accusations as a result of relationship problems. Untruthful statements may be made out of anger, and when police are brought into the matter, there is usually always an arrest made for domestic battery.

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A warrant has been issued for the arrest of former NFL player Jabar Gaffney, who is charged with felony criminal mischief in the vandalism of his former teammate’s BMW.

Someone slashed the tires of Lito Sheppard’s BMW and poured a contaminant into the gas tank while the car was parked outside a Jacksonville Beach restaurant June 17, causing $14,000 in damage.

Afterward, Sheppard, a former Philadelphia Eagles cornerback, sought a temporary restraining order to keep Gaffney from coming near him or his family, according to reports.

Gaffney and Sheppard, former teammates at Raines High School and later at the University of Florida, grew up in Jacksonville. Both returned to the city following their professional football careers.

In Sheppard’s petition for injunction, which he signed under oath, he said Gaffney had been threatening and harassing him, as well as damaging his personal property. He said the two have feuded in recent years because of false allegations claiming Sheppard had an affair with Gaffney’s wife.

Vandalism refers to the destruction, defacement, or damage inflicted to another’s property. Under Florida law, criminal mischief, also known as vandalism, can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the amount of damage caused. When the amount of damage to the property in question exceeds $1,000, the offense is a third degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment.

In the unfortunate event that you are facing vandalism charges, do not discuss your case with anyone. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton urge you to consider the fact that anything you say and do can be used against you in a court of law, so assert your right to remain silent. You want your attorney present before any questioning can occur.

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Some changes are coming our way in Florida. More than 100 bills that Gov. Rick Scott signed into law from the 2018 legislative session will take kick in Sunday, including a new state budget that tops $88 billion.

Take a peek at the laws slated to take effect Sunday:

State budget

HB 5001: Lawmakers passed a $88.7 billion budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. The spending plan increases public-school funding by $101.50 per student, though Democrats and many education officials have argued that a far lower amount will be available for basic school expenses.

The budget will provide $100.8 million for the Florida Forever land preservation program and offer a $130 million increase in Medicaid funding for nursing homes. Lawmakers also included $3.3 billion in reserves and put money into such issues as Everglades restoration, beach restoration, “preeminent” universities and helping universities attract “world class” faculty.

Tax package

HB 7087: A roughly $170 million tax-cut package provides relief for farmers and property owners impacted by Hurricane Irma, provides a sales-tax “holiday” in August for back-to-school shoppers and retroactively covers a disaster-preparedness tax “holiday” in early June that coincided with the start of hurricane season. The package also includes reducing a commercial lease tax from 5.8 percent to 5.7 percent, though that cut will begin Jan. 1.

Education

HB 7055: The law expands the use of voucher-like scholarships to send more public-school students to private schools. One program in the bill will let students who face bullying or harassment in public schools transfer to private schools. The so-called “hope scholarships” will be funded by motorists who voluntarily agree to contribute sales taxes they would normally pay on vehicle transactions to fund the scholarships. Among other things, the bill also boosts the Gardiner scholarship program, which pays for services and private-school scholarships for students with disabilities.

Child marriage

SB 140: The bill will largely block minors from getting married in Florida. In the past, minors ages 16 and 17 have been able to get marriage licenses with parental consent, and judges have had discretion to issue licenses to younger minors if they have children or if pregnancies are involved.

Under the change, marriage will generally be barred for people under age 18, though an exception will be in place for 17-year-olds who have written consent from their parents or guardians. Also, the 17-year-olds will not be able to marry people who are more than two years older than them.

Opioids

HB 21: With Florida facing an opioid epidemic, the measure is aimed at preventing patients from getting addicted to prescription painkillers and then turning to street drugs such as heroin and fentanyl.

The bill, in part, will place limits on prescriptions that doctors can write for treatment of acute pain. Doctors in many cases would be limited to writing prescriptions for three-day supplies, though they could prescribe up to seven-day supplies of controlled substances if “medically necessary.” Cancer patients, people who are terminally ill, palliative care patients and those who suffer from major trauma would be exempt from the limits. The bill also requires physicians or their staff members to check with a statewide database before prescribing or dispensing controlled substances.

Bethune statue

SB 472: Lawmakers approved placing a statue of civil-rights leader and educator Mary McLeod Bethune, the founder of what became Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, in the National Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C.

The statue of Bethune will replace a likeness of Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith, who has long been one of Florida’s two representatives in the hall at the U.S. Capitol. The state’s other representative is John Gorrie, widely considered the father of air conditioning.

Slavery memorial

HB 67: The measure will lead to building a memorial on the Capitol grounds to honor the untold number of slaves in Florida history. The bill requires the Department of Management Services to develop a plan and costs for the memorial, with the plan then submitted to the governor and legislative leaders.

Daylight-saving time

SB 1013: The measure seeks to place Florida on year-round daylight-saving time. The change, promoted as a way to help Florida tourism, still needs congressional approval.

Veterans

HB 29: Named the “Don Hahnfeldt Veteran and Military Family Opportunity Act” after a House Republican who died in December, the measure expands a 2014 law by further reducing professional licensing fees and requirements for certain military members, veterans and their spouses. This bill also designates March 25 each year as “Medal of Honor Day.”

Foreign affairs

HB 545 and HB 359: One measure (HB 545) will prohibit state agencies and local governments from contracting with companies that boycott Israel. The other (HB 359) bars state agencies from investing in companies doing business with the government of Venezuela, a step intended to put pressure on the regime of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Our Florida Drug Crimes Defense Lawyers would like to address the opioid epidemic sweeping across Florida and rest of the nation. Almost 80 people die of an opioid-related overdose daily. More than 30,000 Americans died in 2015 due to an opioid overdose. Part of the reason we are suffering from this crisis is because pharmaceutical companies push these drugs on people and doctors over prescribe them. We hope that the new bill (HB21) will help curb some of the unnecessary overdoses plaguing the country.

Opioid-related deaths and crimes have gotten significantly worse in recent years due to fentanyl. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is used for extreme pain – mostly in operating rooms and hospice care. It is up to 100 times stronger than morphine and up to 50 times stronger than heroin.

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A physician and two nurses have been convicted of health care fraud in what authorities claim was a $12 million plus Medicare billing scam.

On Friday, a federal jury in Dallas convicted a 70-year-old doctor and a 47-year-old nurse of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Both were also convicted of three counts of health care fraud.

Another nurse, 42, was convicted of four counts of health care fraud.

Prosecutors believe the scheme ran from 2007 through 2015. The trio was convicted of defrauding Medicare through false claims through a home health agency and a physician house call company. Evidence showed medically unnecessary home health services were ordered and often not provided.

Sentencing is pending.

The government is aggressively cracking down on Medicare fraud throughout the country like never before. These cases usually mean the government has been investigating a clinic, doctor or facility for months, maybe even years. The government performs a hard investigation into patients’ procedures and billing to find any errors. At Whittel & Melton, our Medicare Fraud Defense Attorneys are here to protect you from the consequences of a conviction. We will help you fight Medicare fraud charges head on.

The most common types of Medicare fraud charges include:

  • False invoicing
  • Improper coding
  • Billing for medical services not provided to the patient
  • Charging for unbundled services
  • Charging for medical devices not provided
  • Billing for patients that do not exist
  • Multiple billings of the same procedure

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