Articles Posted in Kidnapping

Published on:


The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office arrested a 24-year-old man from South Carolina after he allegedly tried to kidnap WWE star Sonya Deville, also known as Daria Berenato, at her home in Lutz. 

The man is accused of stalking the 26-year-old wrestling star featured on E!’s reality show Total Divas. 

The Sheriff’s Office believes the man began plotting the abduction around eight months ago, according to reports. 

The man apparently parked his car at a nearby church around midnight and then walked to the woman’s home at Lake Park Subdivision in Lutz. 

Reports indicate that he gained access to the woman’s home by slicing te patio screen and then entering the home through the sliding glass door after waiting for three to four hours for the oman to go to bed. This set off the alarm, causing Deville to look out her window and see the man and immediately flee her property in a car. 

She called 911 and the man was still inside the home when police arrived.

Police claim the man had duct tape, mace, zip ties, and a knife, and other supplies they believe he was going to use to take Deville hostage. 

He was arrested and charged with criminal mischief, armed burglary, attempted armed kidnapping, and aggravated stalking. 

Police claim that they have evidence showing he was stalking the woman on social media for months before showing up on her property. 

He was being held without bond, according to reports. 

Kidnapping and burglary charges are very serious and require a very strong defense strategy. A conviction for these charges can result in significant prison time, substantial fines, and probation. You need to obtain legal counsel as soon as you are aware of charges against you so that you can take appropriate action and defend yourself. 

Attempted kidnapping charges are a second-degree felony in the state of Florida. After your arrest, your charges will be given to the State Attorney’s Office to review. They will conduct an investigation before filing formal charges. This is where having strong legal representation on your side can help you. In most of these cases, the State does not have the time to perform an in-depth investigation. Your criminal defense attorney can meet with them and present any evidence that contradicts the charges, which could result in lesser charges being filed. 

You need to implement a smart legal defense strategy right away in these types of cases. As former prosecutors, our Tampa Bay Criminal Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton understand how the State approaches these cases and what strategies they will use to try and obtain a conviction. We will use that knowledge to help with your case and formulate an approach to try and avoid a conviction and the harsh penalties that come along with it. 

We can negotiate with prosecutors to try and avoid the courtroom and reach a plea deal or advocate on your behalf at trial. Every case is unique and we cannot guarantee results. We can provide you with the legal help and support you need to implement the strongest defense strategy. 

Continue reading

Posted in: and
Published on:
Published on:


St. Petersburg police arrested a 25-year-old man and charged him with two counts of kidnapping and one count of sexual battery with a deadly weapon.

Police claim the incidents involved teenage boy.

Police said the first incident happened June 29 when the man posed as a teenage girl on Facebook and lured a 17-year-old boy to a house. The man was allegedly armed with a handgun and threatened the boy, then apparently sexually assaulted him, authorities said.

The man is also accused of posing as a teenage girl and luring a 15-year-old boy to a vacant house on July 17. The boy escaped unharmed.

There are various levels of kidnapping laws in the state of Florida, and all of them are serious. Potential penalties can include substantial jail time and fines, just to name a few. These are severe crimes that require a strong defense. Depending on the facts of your case, some of your defense options could completely dismiss kidnapping charges while others may reduce the penalties of a conviction. When faced with kidnapping charges in St. Petersburg or the surrounding area, don’t mess around – get help from a Tampa Bay Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton as soon as possible.

Continue reading

Published on:


A Broward County court bailiff made his first appearance in court Wednesday after being charged with armed kidnapping, two counts of sexual battery and aggravated assault with a firearm.

Details of the case involving the 62-year-old man were not discussed during the bond court hearing. However, a prosecutor did note that the charges involve a “high level of violence.”

The hearing has been postponed until Thursday so that the man’s attorney can attend.
The Broward judge asked the man if he wanted a different judge since he is a familiar face in his court. However, the man declined a different judge.

The Plantation Police Department has yet to release an official copy of the arrest report.

The man was booked into the St. Lucie County jail at 2 a.m. Tuesday. The man explained that he has children and grandchildren in Port St. Lucie in his initial court appearance.

court.jpgA judge in St. Lucie County ordered the man to be held without bail, and he was transferred by bus to Broward County on Tuesday afternoon.
Sheriff’s officials claim they have opened an internal affairs investigation, but have yet to
determine the man’s job status.

The accused has been a bailiff for the Broward County Sheriff’s Office since 1999.
While the details surrounding this man’s arrest are unknown at this point, the charges he faces are quite severe. An armed kidnapping charge is classified as a first-degree felony punishable by up to life imprisonment. Sexual battery and aggravated assault with a firearm are also felony charges in Florida. Punishments for these crimes vary based on the evidence brought forth by prosecutors.

If you or someone you love is facing serious criminal charges in south Florida, it is crucial that you seek assistance from an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. A Broward County Criminal Defense Lawyer can help guide you through the legal process, clarify what your options are and piece together the strongest possible defense on your behalf.

Continue reading

Published on:


A federal judge sentenced a 51-year-old Palm Beach Gardens resident and former New Jersey lawyer to more than 24 years in federal prison Tuesday for his involvement in a foiled kidnap plot of a wealthy Palm Beach County businessman for a $20 million ransom.

The man believed the elderly victim was engineering private high-stakes poker games which had personally cost him more than $100,000.

Prosecutors played secretly recorded tapes of the man, for the first time in public, threatening what he believed was the elderly victim’s wife with terrible violence if she didn’t meet his demands.

The man was unaware that the woman he was threatening was an undercover FBI agent posing as the victim’s wife.

While the man pleaded guilty to kidnapping conspiracy, prosecutors believe the case could have ended tragically if witnesses had not tipped off the FBI.

The Palm Beach Gardens man apparently planned the crime for 18 months with a 37-year-old Jupiter man, who pleaded guilty to his role and is serving a little more than 10 years in prison.

1384588_brown_envelope_money_bribe_1.jpgThe FBI became involved with the kidnapping plan after the former lawyer confided in his girlfriend. She introduced him to her friend who allegedly had ties to Russian mobsters. After meeting with the man, the girlfriend and the friend reported the man to the FBI. Undercover agents were introduced to the former attorney, who had no clue he had been fooled until he was arrested.

The man was sentenced Tuesday on the eve of the anniversary of his May 29, 2012, arrest in the parking lot of a home improvement store in Palm Beach County where he thought he was showing up to receive a $12 million ransom. This amount was negotiated down from the initial demand of $20 million.

Continue reading

Contact Information