Articles Posted in Hernando County

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technology-2500010_640-150x150The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a murder-suicide that happened last Friday morning.

According to Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis, the incident happened at a home located on Dunkirk Road around 10:00 a.m. on Friday, April 10.

The sheriff’s office said they received a 911 call from a woman who was initially out of town. They said the woman received a suicidal text from a person living in the home.

The individual was identified as a 43-year-old man.

Prior to calling law enforcement, the woman drove back to the residence where she found the home on fire. She saw at least one dead individual inside the home before exiting.

The Hernando County Fire Rescue entered the home where they found three dead individuals inside.

The fire was confined to one particular area of the home and was extinguished quickly.

The man, along with a boy and a girl, were found dead.

The preliminary investigation reveals that the man committed suicide after killing the two children.

The Medical Examiner’s Office and the Fire Marshal’s Office responded to assist with the investigation.

Officials said records show there was one previous call at the home on March 22 in regards to a verbal disturbance.

The investigation remains active at this time.

During the news conference, Nienhuis stressed the importance of people knowing where to call if they are struggling with matters.

One of the children was an elementary school student and the other child was in middle school. 

If you, or someone you know, is struggling call:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:


National Domestic Violence Hotline:


When most people hear of domestic violence (also known as “DV”) cases, they think of a male figure with an anger management problem who routinely puts his wife and kids in the hospital whenever there is an argument. The reality of DV cases is very different. Domestic violence accusations can come about from really any situation, from heated arguments to child custody cases to both parties being under the influence of alcohol or drugs. 

Due to these cases being severely emotionally charged, prosecutors and the courts are notorious for doling out strict penalties for those accused and charged with domestic violence. The penalties for a domestic violence charge can be absolutely devastating. Domestic violence or domestic battery in Florida is classified as a first-degree misdemeanor, with penalties that may include up to one year in jail or twelve months probation, and a $1,000 fine. Because of the ‘domestic’ nature of the crime, those convicted will face additional mandatory penalties under Chapter 741, Florida Statutes, including:

  • Completion of a 26 week Batterer’s Intervention Program (BIP)
  • 12 months of probation
  • 5 days required jail (if the defendant is adjudicated guilty and there is bodily injury)
  • Additional community service hours
  • Loss of important civil liberties, including concealed carry rights
  • Imposition of an injunction or ‘no contact’ order

Domestic violence is a unique form of violence that occurs between two individuals with a special relationship. Domestic violence charges can be applied when the victim is any of the following:

  • Spouses
  • Former spouses
  • Co-parents
  • Family members
  • Children
  • Roommates
  • Intimate partners

Domestic violence is a group of offenses that include:

  • Certain battery charges
  • Domestic battery
  • Certain homicide charges
  • Invasion of property
  • Stalking
  • Kidnapping
  • Strangulation charges
  • Neglect and abuse
  • Sexual abuse

Domestic violence charges can also arise from certain emotional and/or psychological abuse. Some examples of emotional abuse are:

  • Threatening to harm victim
  • Hurting a pet
  • Name-calling
  • Intimidation
  • Manipulation of words and family members
  • Making fun of victim
  • Ignoring
  • Disrespecting friends and family
  • Isolation of the victim
  • Cheating
  • Monitoring phone calls, texts, emails, and social media

When a domestic violence incident results in death, the accused can be charged with homicide, including murder, voluntary manslaughter, and involuntary manslaughter. A murder from a domestic violence incident occurs when an individual knowingly or intentionally kills a spouse, former spouse, or family member. Voluntary manslaughter would be if the death was carried out in the heat of passion. Involuntary manslaughter is when a crime of battery eventually results in death. In Florida, a conviction for a first-degree murder charge is punishable by a sentence of life in prison with no possibility of parole. This can be a capital felony and under certain conditions, the prosecution can push for the death penalty. Voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter are also felonies.

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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 couple has been arrested for several mailbox thefts in the Spring Hill area.

A 31-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman were arrested Dec. 8 for allegedly stealing items from residents’ mailboxes in Spring Hill.

The first theft occurred on Dec. 6 at a home on Pillar Avenue in Spring Hill. The resident reported the theft of three gift cards from the mailbox.

The second theft occurred on Dec. 7 along Winding Oaks Lane in Spring Hill. Residents reported seeing a man and a woman removing items from a mailbox.

The man has been charged with petit theft, dealing in stolen property, defrauding a pawnbroker and burglary.

The woman has been charged with fleeing/attempting to elude officers, resisting an officer without violence, knowingly driving with a suspended license, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Authorities said the stolen items have been recovered.

The investigation is ongoing.

The holiday season leads to more theft crimes, particularly packages and other items being stolen from front porches or out of mailboxes. While this may not seem like major criminal activity, it is actually quite a serious offense. It is a federal offense to steal or tamper with mail. This includes packages, bags and any other type of mail delivered by the United States Postal Service. Individuals convicted of this type of theft can face up to five years in prison and significant fines.

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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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