Articles Posted in Federal Crime

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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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A New Port Richey woman has been sentenced to prison for trafficking in counterfeit cosmetics.

The 45-year-old woman was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison. A money judgment was also issued against her for nearly $1 million. She pleaded guilty to the charges against her in September 2014.

According to court documents, the woman sold more than $1 million worth of counterfeit Make-up Art Cosmetics, Inc., otherwise known as MAC cosmetics, between March 2012 and March 2014. Investigators claim she purchased bulk quantities of counterfeit MAC cosmetics from a source in China, then sold the cosmetics as legitimate products at significantly higher prices.

Investigators believe she sold the cosmetics across the country using a website for her company through eBay and directly to some wholesale customers.

This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

Intentionally trafficking or attempting to traffic in goods that are counterfeit is a felony. Trafficking usually translates to mean the repackaging of goods or services with the intent to deceive or confuse.

Under federal law, any individual who knowingly distributes, wholesales, or sells counterfeit merchandise faces severe penalties:

  • Imprisonment
  • Fines
  • Seizure and destruction of counterfeit merchandise the wholesaler or distributor has in their possession.
  • Civil lawsuits  to recover damages, profit loses, attorneys’ fees, and other injunctive relief.

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On Tuesday the FBI arrested Miami Springs Police Sgt. Andres Quintanilla, a 16-year veteran of the force, on a federal corruption charge.

The 33-year-old was charged with “attempting to affect commerce by extortion under color of official right,’’ according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.

According to the federal complaint, a confidential FBI source claims he told Quintanilla in September 2014 that he was a drug trafficker. The complaint goes on to allege that instead of arresting the source, Quintanilla “offered to help the [informant’s] drug trafficking business.’’

Quintanilla allegedly provided the location of an undercover police narcotics office, gave the source the names of three Miami-Dade police officers and ran the name of a purported drug dealer in a law enforcement database when asked to do so by the source, according to the complaint.

3413984703_683eb24000_z (1)The complaint states that by December 2014, Quintanilla had agreed to act as an escort during a purported 10 kilogram cocaine deal. Quintanilla is also accused of choosing a safe location in Miami Springs where the source could exchange 10 kilograms of cocaine for $250,000.

After the alleged deal took place, Quintanilla then apparently followed the source while wearing his uniform and driving his MSPD marked vehicle to an express package service center, where Quintanilla was under the impression that the source would ship the $250,000 of drug proceeds to New York, according to the complaint.

In exchange for his assistance, Quintanilla allegedly accepted $3,500 in bribe payments from the source.

In a press release issued Tuesday night, the Miami Springs Police Chief stated, “As a result of the charges filed against Quintanilla, he has now been relieved of duty without pay pending the results of the criminal case in the U.S. federal court.”

If convicted, Quintanilla, who started with the Springs police department as a public service aide in 1999 when he was 17, faces up to 20 years in federal prison.

Federal corruption charges usually refer to any illegal activity conducted by public officials. Public officials, politicians, as well as the business executives who regularly deal with them are all at risk of being investigated for or charged with violations of federal corruption. Taking bribes, facilitating a crime by another and threatening punishment if certain services are not provided are all examples of actions that could result in a charge of corruption. Extortion and bribery are common charges that fall under the category of federal corruption.

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Loretta E. Lynch was announced as the new U.S. attorney general Thursday, with the Senate voting 56 to 43 to confirm the veteran New York prosecutor five months after President Obama submitted her nomination to Congress.

According to the Justice Department, Lynch is expected to be sworn in as the nation’s 83rd attorney general Monday.

Obama released a statement saying that “America will be better off” with Lynch in charge of the Justice Department. “She will bring to bear her experience as a tough, independent, and well-respected prosecutor on key, bipartisan priorities like criminal justice reform,” he said.

14721716270_a99439f1b9_zLynch is the first African American woman to be nominated for the post, which has taken on a much higher profile than in the past due to the leading role the Justice Department has recently played in the debate over race and policing across the country.

The time Lynch had to wait between nomination and confirmation was the longest for an attorney general nominee in 31 years. With it all said and done, the confirmation vote margin was wider than expected: Ten Republicans joined the Senate’s 44 Democrats and two independents in supporting Lynch. Forty-three senators, all Republicans, were opposed.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., stepping down after more than six years, said Lynch would be “an outstanding attorney general, a dedicated guardian of the Constitution, and a devoted champion of all those whom the law protects and empowers.”

Obama called the slow and final vote to confirm Lynch as “embarrassing” last week.

Obama nominated Lynch, 55, in November to replace Holder. The Senate, then under Democratic control, did not act on the nomination. Rather, they chose to spend time in the lame-duck session on judicial appointments that party leaders believed would stall in a Republican-controlled Senate.

The thinking was that a Republican Senate would not take its time in confirming a replacement for Holder, a frequent target of Republican enmity. However, that was not the case, especially after Lynch became involved in a deep partisan rift over Obama’s immigration policy.

During questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee in late January, Lynch said she believed Obama’s executive actions on immigration last year passed legal and constitutional muster, angering Republicans who considered them an overreach.

Republicans reactions to this was that Lynch was publicly committed to denigrating Congress, and that they could expect to see a great abuse of power by her.

After the January hearing, it took nearly a month for the panel to advance Lynch’s nomination, and then the nomination became caught up in an unrelated political dispute over a bill to combat sex trafficking.

Last week President Obama released this statement: “It’s gone too far. Enough. Enough. Call Loretta Lynch for a vote. Get her confirmed. Put her in place. Let her do her job.”

On Thursday, senators voted on final confirmation around 2 p.m.

The Senate voted 56–43 in favor of Lynch, approving her with help of 10 Republican senators, including Sens. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Thad Cochran (Miss.), Susan Collins (Maine), Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Orrin Hatch (Utah), Ron Johnson (Wis.), Mark Kirk (Ill.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

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Federal prosecutors charged 27 South Florida suspects Tuesday with marriage fraud, including organizers, recruiters and unlawful immigrants, according to reports.

4107766083_66d44a53c4_zThe main defendants — two Hialeah men ages 50 and 57 and a 50-year-old Hialeah and a 33-year-old Marathon man— are accused of charging a fee to arrange fraudulent marriages between U.S. citizens and undocumented aliens.

The trio allegedly notarized phony marriage licenses, completed necessary immigration paperwork and prepared the participants for their interviews with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, according to police.

They are accused of arranging the fraudulent marriages between 2011 and 2014, and during that time two of the men also allegedly attempted to obtain naturalization illegally, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

The case was investigated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

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A Lakeland man is facing up to 80 years in prison after pleading guilty to producing and transporting child pornography.

Reports indicate that the 40-year-old man accepted a guilty plea Monday in Tampa federal court. A date for his sentencing has yet to be set.

Prosecutors believe the man produced at least 50 sexually explicit videos of himself having sex with two children who were 2 and 13 months old.

Officials claim the alleged abuse began in 2012 when one child was under 6 months old.

5555771417_79bc61d1e7_zCourt records show the man filmed the acts with his cell phone and shared the video with at least 100 people.

The Department of Homeland Security began looking into the case in 2013.

Child pornography cases are all over the media today. We have all seen or heard of recent cases where individuals are sentenced to lengthy prison terms for possession, distribution and production of child pornography. Facing a federal sex crimes charge in Florida can be extremely frightening.

Due to the social stigma attached to child pornography accusations, our Polk County Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton understand how important it is to swiftly minimize the impact of a federal child pornography investigation or charge. We know that your family life, personal relationships and job are on the line and will fight for your rights throughout the entire process and will work vigorously to defend your rights.

Unfortunately, federal child pornography cases can be complex and difficult to defend. The government will not usually bring charges until they have conducted a lengthy investigation and are confident they have enough criminal evidence to succeed at trial.

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A 29-year-old former crew member for Holland America Line was sentenced to 30 years and five months in prison, followed by a lifetime of supervised release, for the attack and attempted murder of a female passenger last year, according to the US Department of Justice.

the man is an Indonesian citizen and according to FBI agents, admitted to entering the woman’s stateroom using his company-issued master key, and hiding on the balcony waiting for her to return.

The man said that before the attack, while delivering room service, the woman disrespected him and his parents by referring to him as a “son of a b____.”

The victim, a 32-year-old American woman, was assaulted by the man while on a seven-day western Caribbean charter cruise.

492037987_de1234b5e0_zFBI agents said the man attacked the woman after she got into bed, choking and punching her numerous times. The man struck the woman with a laptop and curling iron, and tried to strangle her with a telephone cord and a curling iron cord. The victim was said to be unconscious at least once during the attack, at which time the man sexually assaulted her.

The man continued to attack the woman on the state room’s balcony where he tried to throw her overboard.

The woman was able to escape after stabbing the man with a corkscrew, according to the report.

According to Holland America Line, the man was immediately fired.

The company said the man was hired in 2012 after a careful screening that included a clean criminal history check. He apparently had good references and no prior performance issues.

The man did plead guilty to the attack in September. He will be deported after serving out his sentence.

People who are charged with sex crimes can expect to have their lives changed forever, as they will be subjected to invasive investigations and questioning by police. The media can also be quite intrusive once they catch wind of a sex crimes case. Because of this, it is always a good idea for a person to seek legal counsel from a knowledgeable attorney when arrested for or charged with a sex crime.

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A South Florida man has been sentenced to nearly two years in federal prison for stealing thousands of dollars in state unemployment insurance.

A federal judge also ordered the 24-year-old Miami man to pay more than $60,000 in restitution last week.

Earlier this year, the man pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft and other charges.

2204277278_cbf43f4146_zAccording to court records, the man used computers at his home to access 188 fraudulent unemployment claims. He apparently was able to obtain payments on 23 of those claims for a total of $60,400.

The money was deposited into various bank accounts controlled by the man.

Bank cameras apparently recorded the man taking money out of those accounts.

Florida state law provides for strict rules and procedures when it comes to an individual’s ability to obtain unemployment benefits. What this also means is that state prosecutors are quick to jump the gun when they suspect someone is taking advantage of the system. Because prosecutors are prompt when it come to pressing criminal charges the outcomes can often result in  false allegations, improper charges and poorly run investigations.

If you are accused of unemployment fraud, a Miami-Dade County White Collar Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton can help mitigate the damage. If convicted of unemployment fraud, you may be subject to jail time and be required to repay benefits obtained under false pretenses. Our criminal lawyers can put our skills to work for you and aggressively fight to keep you out of jail or possibly keep you free of a criminal record at all.

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Columbia County detectives served a search warrant on a home in Columbia County on Thursday and allegedly found 73 marijuana plants growing and made three arrests.

Police apparently received a tip about the Fort White home, which they allege was operating as an indoor marijuana grow operation.

Those arrested include a 74-year-old Fort White man, a 45-year-old Tampa man and a 50-year-old Tampa man. All three men arrested were charged with cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana of more than 20 grams and possession drug paraphernalia. They were booked into the Columbia County Detention Facility.

marijuana grow houseThe Drug Task force made the arrests and is comprised of law enforcement personnel from Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, Lake City Police Department, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Drug Enforcement Administration and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Marijuana plants are currently illegal in the State of Florida. However, that does not stop people from transforming their homes into a “grow house.” Once police catch wind of an alleged grow house, they quickly start investigating, looking to arrest someone and charge them with various felonies, including possession of marijuana with intent to sell or distribute, possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana, cultivation of cannabis and trafficking in cannabis. Trafficking is the most serious of these charges, requiring 300 or more plants at any stage of growth, and is a first-degree felony carrying a minimum mandatory prison term.

If you know you are being investigated by police, or have already been arrested, you must act fast and obtain the help of a criminal defense lawyer right away. There are steps that can be taken during investigations to prevent police from obtaining further evidence against you. That is why you must not delay, contact a Columbia County Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton today.

Manufacturing marijuana in Florida is a felony. Under the Marijuana Grow House Eradication Act, it is also illegal to own or rent a home for the purpose of growing or possessing marijuana plants. Convictions from grow house charges can vary from five to 30 years in prison depending on the size of the operation and if any children were present in the home.

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