Articles Posted in Hernando County

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A Brooksville father is accused of peering into the bedroom window of a teenage girl Tuesday night while leaving his 10-year-old son home alone with access to two loaded weapons.

The alleged incident happened in a neighborhood off of Trillum Boulevard, just east of the Suncoast Parkway.

Deputies claim a patrol deputy saw the 42-year-old peering into the bedroom window of an 18-year-old girl. When the man was first approached, he apparently concocted a story about searching for a dog he had lost six weeks prior.

When deputies further questioned him, the man allegedly admitted he had been looking at the teenage girl, and that it wasn’t the first time.

Following his arrest, deputies apparently learned the man left his 10-year-old son home alone with access to a loaded 12-gauge shotgun and a loaded 9mm pistol.

The man was charged with five counts of voyeurism and one count of child neglect.

He has since posted his $10,000 bail.

The law prohibits watching someone or taking an image of someone, for sexual gratification and without their consent. The crime of voyeurism, or Peeping Tom, is taken very seriously, especially with the recent scandal involving TV personality Erin Andrews. A voyeurism conviction will not only stain your record, but could lead to time behind bars and mandate that you register as a sexual offender. Being a registered sex offender will limit your freedoms, including where you live and work and even whether you are approved for a loan.

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A man was arrested in Brooksville early Wednesday morning for selling crack cocaine near a church.

Hernando County Sheriff’s deputies arrested the 54-year-old man at his home on Twigg Street.

Their search of the house allegedly revealed crack cocaine, marijuana packaged for distribution, drug paraphernalia, numerous guns and rounds of ammunition.

The man was charged with three counts of sale and possession of crack cocaine within 1,000 feet of a church, as well as the following:

  • Possession of a Structure for Manufacturing Controlled Substance
  • Trafficking in Crack Cocaine
  • Possession of Methamphetamine
  • Possession of Marijuana over 20 Grams with Intent to Distribute
  • Felon in Possession of a Firearm (2 counts)
  • Felon in Possession of Ammunition
  • Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

The man’s house shares Twigg Street with three churches. It is also in the vicinity of a bus stop that services several schools, Brooksville Engineering, Science, and Technology Academy (BEST), and the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office South Brooksville Community Center, according to reports.

Florida laws make it a greater crime to be convicted of drug sales within 1000 feet of a church. This can enhance a misdemeanor drug crime to a first-degree felony, which means the person convicted could face up to 30 years in state prison.

The thing about drug crimes within 1,000 feet of a church is that these cases almost always have holes, like is it really a church? Does the church hold regular religious services? Does it actually measure one thousand feet exactly?

There is always evidence that must be questioned in drug crimes cases. At Whittel & Melton, our Florida Drug Crimes Defense Lawyers will investigate every shred of evidence and look for flaws in the prosecution’s case. Our ultimate goal is to beat the charges against you so that you can move on with your life unscathed.

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A 38-year-old Spring Hill man pleaded guilty to making a false statement in an application to obtain a United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) loan earlier this month.

He faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.

According to the plea agreement, the man purchased his home in Spring Hill for $110,000 on September 28, 2010. He and his wife apparently received a loan of $49,650 from HUD’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), as a second mortgage on the home. The NSP was established by HUD to provide emergency assistance to stabilize communities with high rates of abandoned and foreclosed homes. The NSP was designed to assist households whose annual incomes are up to 120 percent of the area median. According to this loan program, the man would not have been required to repay the loan if he lived in the home for 15 years.

In his application to participate in the program, the man apparently provided false and incomplete information related to his debts, assets, employment, income, and tax returns. According to reports,  he failed to disclose a debt from another loan that he had received from another government program to obtain a different home. Reports also indicate that he did not disclose income he earned from his DJ business, or that he owned certain assets, including two cars and a boat.

This case was investigated by the HUD Office of Inspector General and the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Adam M. Saltzman.

One of the most common kinds of financial institution fraud involves loan or mortgage application fraud. In the past decade or so, many bank and mortgage company officials have encouraged individuals to misstate their income and other items on mortgage or loan applications. When these borrowers fail to make their payments, the bank then reviews the applications, looking for misrepresentations of income or other falsified information. If the banks happen to find something, they will then hand the case over to the federal government for prosecution.

The bottom line is that the banks and mortgage lenders attempt to use the government as a collection agency, to collect on bad loans they encouraged people to take in the first place.

It is important to understand that you can be charged in federal court for mortgage or bank fraud under the following circumstances:

  • The bank or mortgage company knew you were making a false statement
  • Bank or mortgage company employees encouraged you to misrepresent the facts
  • Regardless of how much of the information on your application was inaccurate.
  • If your loan application was denied and the information provided was false

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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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Two Hernando residents have been accused of manufacturing methamphetamine in front of a child.

A search warrant was executed at a home on the 3900 block of Withlacoochee Trail Wednesday morning and Citrus Sheriff Fire Rescue Hazardous Materials Team responded to assist with the investigation due to potentially hazardous materials.

During the search, detectives allege they discovered several items used to manufacture methamphetamine.

Deputies believe that a secondary structure on the property was used to cook meth via the “one pot” method.

A small child was present during the manufacturing process, according to deputies. DCF was immediately notified and responded.

During the search, cooked methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia, manufacturing vessels, other manufacturing paraphernalia, and a large amount of meth liquid was allegedly collected.

The amount of methamphetamine seized was more than 200 grams, according to reports. Due to the amount of meth collected, a 29-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman were charged with trafficking in methamphetamine. If convicted, they face a 15 year minimum mandatory sentence in prison.

They have also been charged with manufacturing methamphetamine in the presence of a child, possession of listed chemical, and possession of paraphernalia.

The state of Florida takes meth charges quite seriously. After being arrested for trafficking in methamphetamine, you need to know that you are facing severe consequences if convicted. Our Hernando County Drug Crimes Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton understand how scary these charges are and we are here to help you obtain the best possible outcome for your unique situation.

Meth is viewed as damaging to not just the person using it, but to members of the community as well. The production of meth can result in fires and explosions that can injure and kill innocent people, including children present, law enforcement personnel and emergency responders who are called to a house that is producing meth. Exposing a child to a meth lab is a first-degree felony, and a conviction carries a five-year minimum mandatory prison sentence. Causing the death of someone else through the manufacture of meth is a capital felony, punishable by life in prison.

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A Hernando County detention deputy has been placed on administrative leave without pay pending the outcome of an investigation after he was arrested, along with his girlfriend, in an alleged illegal narcotics transaction.

The man, 41, has been charged with possession of a controlled substance. His girlfriend, 23, was also charged with possession of a controlled substance as well as possession of paraphernalia.

According to the sheriff’s office, the investigation started after they received a tip that a Hernando County detention corporal may be involved in illegal drug activity.

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Police believe a 65-year-old man used rented trucks to steal nearly 450 pallets of brick paver stones, worth an estimated $200,000, from Flagstone Pavers.

Brooksville investigators arrested the man on a felony grand theft charge resulting from a six week investigation into the missing pavers.

The company claims they never knew the pavers were missing until early February when an operator received an anonymous call from a woman who said that ’54 pallets of their pavers had been stolen and brought to a warehouse’ in Pasco County, according to reports.

A detective was able to get to the scene before the pavers were dispersed.

Police claim that what they thought were just 54 pallets of product turned out to be 450 stolen pallets.

4745160167_db76dca48d_zThe detective claims to have questioned the man who allegedly told him that he buys products from various locations. The detective said he asked the man for receipts, and the man apparently requested to speak with his lawyer.

Police claim the man had rented Penske trucks nine times for a total of 25 trucks to make multiple trips from Brooksville to Port Richey.

Police allege that from November to February, the man and a crew would load pallets into those trucks overnight and then drive them back and unload them at the warehouse, which is owned by the man’s son.

Police reported that they do not plan to arrest any of the crew members because they did not know what they were doing was illegal.

Police are investigating if an employee inside the plant was helping to facilitate the heist.

In the state of Florida, theft offenses are classified as both misdemeanors and felonies. In general, the determining factor of whether charges are a misdemeanor or felony revolve around the amount of money taken or the value of the item or items. In most cases, a theft involving $300 or more is classified as a felony. However, there are instances when a theft offense of a lower amount can become a felony due to a person’s prior record of theft-related offenses.

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You want to avoid getting arrested for DUI in Florida on New Year’s Eve and “becoming a statistic.” New Year’s Eve is a holiday that it is both cause for celebrating and relaxing. After the stress of getting ready for Christmas, people usually take this time to enjoy the end of the holiday season and contemplate their goals for the new year. However, because this is the last holiday of the year, there tends to be an increased number of people who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Listed below are several tips to help drivers avoid a DUI this New Year’s Eve.

  1. Limit Drinks

If you are at a party that has an open bar, and you know you are driving, know exactly how many drinks you are having so that you can watch your personal limit. Remember that once you start drinking it can be difficult to stop yourself from having too many. Be mindful of the exact amount you have had to drink.

  1. Call a Cab or Uber or Lyft

Public transportation can save many people from DUI-related accidents and arrests. Save the number of a local cab company in your phone, use a ride share app on your phone or attend parties or social gatherings close to a bus route.

  1. 15958303240_5a5181cc2a_zDon’t Go Solo

Don’t go to a party or social gathering by yourself. Bring along at least one other friend and make sure to determine who the designated driver is for the entire group before any alcohol is consumed.

  1. Eat!

While many people have New Year’s resolutions about weight loss, New Year’s Eve is one of those nights where you should eat. Food fills the stomach, making less room for alcohol. Try to snack on foods like meats or dark chocolate, which are known to keep you fuller longer.

  1. Offer Alternative Drinks

If you are hosting a party, include “mocktails,” sodas, punch, or even just water on your drink menu.

  1. Make Accommodations for Guests

If you know your guests have a far trip ahead of them, arrange for them to stay with you or at a nearby hotel. That way, no one drives home drunk.

  1. Leave the Party Early

New Year’s Eve is one of the busiest nights of the year. You can expect delays for taxis and other modes of public transportation, so be prepared. Leaving your party or social gathering early can also ensure that you get home safely and at a reasonable hour.

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Police arrested a 19-year-old man for allegedly using a stuffed animal to masturbate inside a Walmart on Tuesday.

According to Brooksville Police, the 19-year-old was caught on store cameras just before 3 p.m. acting suspiciously.

Reports indicate that the teen took a stuffed toy horse off the shelf and walked to the bedding department where police allege he then used the toy horse to masturbate.

8911036631_310f7cfc48_zThe cameras apparently showed the teen place the toy back on the store shelf next to other items.

Police claim the teen ran from the store. He was arrested a short time later and charged with indecent exposure. He is being held on a $1,500 bond at the Hernando County Jail.

Police said they questioned the teen and that he admitted to the alleged act.

People have many different views about sex, sexuality and what is appropriate behavior in public. However, if you act in a way that someone else finds lascivious and offensive while in public, you could find yourself facing a sex crime charge of indecent exposure in Florida.

An action you intended as maybe a raunchy joke can easily escalate into a criminal sex charge pretty quickly. If you are convicted of a sexual offense, you will not only face possible jail time, fines and a criminal record, but you could be slapped with the label of being a registered sex offender.

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