We are taking the threat of COVID-19 very seriously. Click here to find out what our firm is doing.

Articles Posted in Hernando County

Published on:

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.

Continue reading

Published on:

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.

Continue reading

Published on:

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.

Continue reading

Published on:

Deputies allege that a San Antonio man arranged to meet what he thought was a 13-year-old girl at a Brooksville hotel for sex.

The 61-year-old man was arrested Wednesday on charges of attempted lewd and lascivious behavior, traveling to meet/seduce a minor and using a computer to solicit a minor.

1577999575_d8f36326f7_mThe man had been engaged in long-term computer chats with a person he believed to be a 13-year-old girl, according to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office. At some point during the course of the conversations, deputies claim the man asked to meet the girl.

The two allegedly arranged to meet at the Holiday Inn Express on Cortez Boulevard, deputies said. The man apparently unknowingly told undercover officials that he would meet the girl at 2 p.m. and described the vehicle he would be driving.

The man was arrested after arriving at the hotel. He is being held in the Hernando County Detention Center on $17,000 bond.

In the state of Florida, it is illegal to use the Internet to make plans to travel to a designated location to engage in sexual activity with anyone under the age of 18. Police are known for conducting Internet sting operations where they set up fake chat rooms or send out fabricated messages of a solicitous nature, usually where they act like a minor in order to lure unsuspecting individuals into making arrangements to meet somewhere for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity.

Continue reading

Published on:

A total of 10 people were arrested in an undercover operation cracking down on unlicensed contractors resulting in civil citations totaling $9,675.

The sheriff’s office, working with the Hernando County Building Department, conducted a two-day sting from July 1-2 in order to combat what has been called a growing problem.

8903345091_7511dfd86a_mThe arrests made were in several trades, including: tree removal, tile installation, electrical, roofing, plumbing, general and residential contracting.

All those arrested allegedly advertised their businesses publicly and did not hold the appropriate licenses for the work they agreed to perform, which is a first-degree misdemeanor.

Two arrests were made for people driving on suspended driver’s licenses.

All of those arrested apparently had a combined total of ten misdemeanors and four felony previous arrests in Hernando County, including grand theft and organized fraud.

For the most part, the crime of unlicensed contracting is recognized as a first-degree misdemeanor offense. This crime is punishable by up to one year in the Hernando County Jail and up to a $1,000.00 fine. However, it is important to point out that some offenders can be charged with a third-degree felony with penalties that carry up to five years in state prison and a $5,000.00 fine. These felony offenses include:

  • A second arrest for contracting without a license offense
  • Violating the unlicensed contracting laws that happen during a state of emergency
  • Any violations that involve pollutant storage systems contracting

Aside from potential fines and jail sentences, a person convicted of contracting without a license is often subject to court-ordered restitution. This is usually set in place to reimburse the alleged victims for substandard work or substandard materials that caused a loss. In many cases, restitution amounts can be tens of thousands of dollars. Failing to pay these fees or failing to pay them in timely manner can lead to the defendant being held in contempt of court.

Continue reading

Published on:

Florida will have 159 new laws starting Tuesday that address various issues, including college tuition, corporate tax credits, abortions and sex offenders.

One of the most prevalent laws is one that aims to protect children and others from dangerous sex offenders. The laws are intended to keep the most violent sexual offenders locked up longer and close any loopholes in a law that allows the state to send predators to a high-security treatment center once they have served their time in prison. The new laws will subject more offenders to potential civil commitment and prosecutors, detectives and victim advocates will be part of the committee that reviews their cases.

The sexually violent predator package of bills was among the first of the legislature sent to Gov. Rick Scott during the 60-day session that ended in May. The new laws are meant to create a better child welfare system in Florida. As of now, Florida is the only state in America that has a 50-year mandatory minimum prison sentence for violent sexual offenders.

gavelAnother law that seeks to protect children concerns the Department of Children and Families. The law changes how the department investigates and responds to cases; now placing a higher emphasis on shielding a child from abuse rather than focusing on keeping a family together. Moreover, the law also pays for 270 additional child protective investigators so that caseloads can be reduced and a response team can be sent out quickly to investigate child abuse deaths when the child had previous dealings with the system.

Another law will establish a statewide pilot program to pay for foster children’s driver’s education classes, license fees and car insurance so that they can be better prepared to gain employment when they turn 18 and leave the system.

The children of immigrants in the country illegally will now be able to receive in-state tuition at state universities after Scott changed his position on the issue. Another bill will give tuition breaks to honorably discharged veterans as well as waive professional licensing fees for them.

Local school boards now have the responsibility of selecting textbooks, whether or not they are on a state-adopted list, and will be required to put policies in place that allow parents to object to the books they choose.

Another new law took effect on June 20 that expands a voucher program, giving corporate tax credits to companies that provide money for low-income families to send their children to private schools.

As far as criminal laws go, there will be increased penalties for spiny lobster poachers, people leaving the scene of an accident that causes injury and people who illegally sell prescription drugs. Additionally, electronic cigarette sales to minors are now illegal in Florida. Another law forbids sending text messages soliciting products to residents on the state’s “no sales solicitation calls” list.

Florida has also changed its definition for its late-term abortion ban. Abortions will be illegal in Florida at any stage in a woman’s pregnancy if her doctor concludes that the fetus could survive outside the womb. The previous law banned abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy. An exception can be made to this law if the mother’s life is at risk.

Lastly, new laws will create a Florida Tourism Hall of Fame and the position of state poet laureate to promote poetry in Florida.

Laws across the United States are constantly changing. When you have been accused of committing a crime in Florida, only a Florida Trial Lawyer at Whittel & Melton can provide you with the legal representation that you need. While many attorneys are quick to negotiate with prosecutors to obtain a plea bargain instead of pursuing trial, our Florida Criminal Attorneys know that sometimes trial is the best option for your situation. We thoroughly evaluate every case and will always advise you of your best legal defense strategy.

Continue reading

Published on:

A 32-year-old former Florida Department of Law Enforcement crime lab analyst was arrested Tuesday on charges of grand theft, 12 counts of tampering with or fabricating physical evidence and nine counts of trafficking illegal drugs.

Investigators allege the man replaced prescription pain pills with over-the-counter medications while processing drug cases.

The former Pensacola crime laboratory chemist is currently free on bond.

prescription pills

If you or someone you know or love has been charged with tampering with evidence in Hernando, Lake, Marion, Osceola, Pasco or Sumter counties, a Florida Criminal Defense Attorney at Whittel & Melton can make sure you know what to expect from your case.

The man was arrested at the Escambia County Jail around 6:30 p.m. His bail was set at $290,000.

FDLE agents claim that since 2006 the accused processed 2,600 cases that crossed 35 counties in Florida, including Hernando, Lake, Marion, Osceola, Pasco and Sumter. On Monday, 80 agencies were alerted of the alleged tampering.

St. Cloud police said that they are reviewing 16 cases from several years ago that could be linked to this case.

The investigation apparently began Thursday, Jan. 30 when Escambia investigators noticed that there were prescription pain pills missing from the evidence locker room.

The accused was relieved of duty Friday, Jan. 31 and issued his resignation Monday asking the agency to issue any money owed to him.

According to the FDLE, additional charges could be filed pending the results of this ongoing investigation.

These charges are undoubtedly serious. If convicted of tampering with evidence, this could remain on your criminal background for the rest of your life. Despite the circumstances surrounding your case, by being accused of this crime, you run the risk of being permanently labeled someone who destroyed or concealed evidence. Because of the severity of the charges, you must make sure and give tampering with evidence charges the attention they deserve.

Continue reading

Published on:

Two former Hernando County Sheriff’s deputies are now facing criminal charges in separate cases.

One is accused of stealing money meant for the family of a deputy that was killed and the other is accused of stealing taxpayer dollars.

Both Deputy Michael Glatfelter and Sergeant Joseph Reid resigned before they were booked into the Citrus County Jail.

They both posted bond.

Glatfelter is the former treasurer of a local Fraternal Order of Police. He allegedly stole more than $1,000 from a memorial fund selected to go to the family of Deputy Scott Bierwiler, a Hernando County deputy who was killed in a car accident while on his way to work in 2009.

The FOP has apparently changed its policies to make sure similar incidents do not happen in the future.

A separate case centered on a former sergeant, Joseph Reid, alleges the man stole up to $1,500 from the VICE unit as far back as 2011.

cash money betch.jpgLaw enforcement officers are exposed to many illegal substances, large amounts of cash and other illegal activities due to the nature of their work and their environment. Anytime suspicion arises regarding an officer’s behavior, there is a lot on the line. Not only could criminal charges be filed, but the officer’s reputation and career are also at stake.

If convicted of a theft crime, these two officers could face much more than just hefty fines and the loss of their jobs; they could be forced to spend lengthy time in prison. Even if they are not found guilty, their professional and personal reputations may be permanently tarnished.

A Hernando County Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton can help you defeat any type of criminal charge stacked against you. As former prosecutors, we know the strict penalties that law enforcement officers face when accused of crimes. We can thoroughly inspect the allegations against you and work to help you overcome any criminal charges so that you achieve the most favorable outcome possible.

Continue reading

Published on:

The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office recently released the results of a four-week operation designed to serve outstanding arrest warrants on people accused of domestic violence or failing to pay child support.

The task, dubbed “Operation Safe Families,” was conducted from Oct. 13 through Nov. 9. According to reports, it resulted in 403 arrests in the county.

Operation Safe Families took place with the National Family Violence Apprehension Detail initiative, a one-day national endeavor to serve outstanding family-violence warrants organized by the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon. Operation Safe Families was aimed at targeting those individuals that endanger the lives of their children and families in Florida.

At its conclusion, the operation yielded 59 arrests associated with possession of controlled substances, 29 arrests related to domestic violence, 25 arrests associated with nonpayment of child support, nine arrests on domestic violence injunctions and 92 arrests associated with other warrants and alleged criminal actions.

arrested betch.jpgThe Florida Department of Law Enforcement logged 108,046 domestic violence offenses that were reported to law enforcement agencies, according to the 2012 Uniform Crime Report. This same report indicated that 202 people died as a result of domestic violence, which represents about 20 percent of all homicides in Florida.

Domestic violence is defined as any threat or action aimed at a spouse, domestic partner, live-in companion or even another family member that causes the person to fear for his or her well-being. Domestic violence charges in the state of Florida can be classified as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the severity of the offense. If you are charged with this crime, you could face the following consequences:

• Jail Time
• Mandatory Counseling
• Community Service
• Anger Management
• A “No contact” order prohibiting you from seeing the alleged victim
• A “No return” order prohibiting you from returning to your home

Continue reading

Contact Information