Articles Posted in Manatee County

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A former sheriff’s deputy, wanted since 1991 for capital sexual battery in Bradenton, Florida, was arrested on identity theft charges early Friday at his home in Eagle River, Alaska.

Police claim they found the man living life on the lam in Alaska after he used his late stepbrother’s name to apply for a driver’s license and unemployment benefits.

gavelThe 60-year-old man has been the subject of a federal warrant for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution since 1993.

The man was living under the identity of his stepbrother, who died in his teens in the 1970s in Pennsylvania, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Alaska.

The man is charged in an indictment with two counts of unlawful use of a Social Security number for allegedly using his deceased stepbrother’s name and number to apply for an Alaska driver’s license in 2009 and unemployment benefits in 2013. He has also been charged with aggravated identity theft.

The Social Security Administration notified federal authorities of the alleged identity theft, according to reports.

The former deputy faces up to 12 years for the federal charges in Alaska, and could receive the death penalty in Florida if he is extradited.

Reports indicate that the former road patrol deputy was arrested in 1990 after he was accused of raping a 6-year-old girl in the 1970s. He fled the state before he could be tried.

Every state has the ability to make its own decision on whether to demand extradition. While each state has different standards for making this decision, it is likely that the state of Florida will seek to have this man brought back and tried for the alleged rape he is accused of. For the most part, states will not demand extradition for misdemeanors or minor criminal infractions. Moreover, the U.S. Constitution only requires that states demand extradition in the case of felonies and treason. The decision to extradite a fugitive can be made by prosecutors strictly based on the facts of the case.

In 1985, Congress passed the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act to set up a process for interstate cooperation when returning fugitives back to the state that is demanding them. All 50 states, which includes Florida, have adopted many of the provisions of the UCEA.

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A Bradenton police officer was recently arrested for soliciting a prostitute.

The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office has been working undercover for the past few months to catch prostitutes. Deputies targeted both prostitutes and “johns” on websites. Once a price was successfully negotiated, the suspects were arrested.

Police claim that on June 4, the Bradenton cop answered an ad. He allegedly agreed to meet a female undercover deputy at a hotel off of Cortez Road on his day off.

8056788418_2c3a857754_mThe officer was arrested after police claim he agreed to pay $100 for sex.

According to reports, the officer resigned shortly after the arrest.

The suspect was a patrolman who had been with the department since 2006. However, the media was not made aware of the man’s arrest until nearly a month after it happened.

A Manatee County Sheriff’s spokesman says the media was not alerted right away “Because we had an ongoing sting going on. We don’t normally say that we’re making an arrest when we’re doing an ongoing sting. You wait until the sting is over.”

The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office has now wrapped up this sting.

Once the man’s criminal case is complete, the Bradenton Police Department plans to launch an internal investigation.

If you are facing a charge of prostitution, then you are dealing with a very tough situation. It is important to retain legal representation during this time as you need someone who can review your case and create a defense strategy that will deliver the best possible outcome for you. That outcome could very well be reduced or dismissed charges.

Prostitution is considered a severe offense because it is labeled as a sex crime. If arrested for prostitution, do not say anything to police or prosecutors because anything you say could be used against you in court. You do not want to incriminate yourself by saying anything that could be twisted or misinterpreted by law enforcement.

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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.

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The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office has arrested 12 men in an undercover sting operation dubbed “Operation Intercept III,” targeting adults who use the Internet to solicit sex from children.

The men, ranging in age from 20 to 50, arrived at a decoy house in Sarasota County allegedly intending to have sex with a child, according to detectives. Instead, they were met by undercover officers.

According to the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, the men allegedly used phone applications, social media sites or Internet advertisements to contact undercover agents posing as minors or guardians of children.

Between Thursday and Saturday, agents claim that the men all engaged in sexually explicit conversations with what they believed were minors or parents of minors.

keyboard typingMost of the men charged in the sting believed they were talking to 14-year-old females. One case involved an agent posing as a 13-year-old girl, and another involved an agent posing as a 14-year-old boy.

One of  the men arrested, a 33-year-old Tampa security officer, apparently believed he was talking to the mother of a 12-year-old girl. He allegedly started chatting with the mother on April 17 on OKCupid and then began texting. The man allegedly talked about taking the daughter’s virginity, according to reports.

Another man, 44, allegedly agreed to impregnate a 14-year-old girl, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

All of the men are charged with use of a computer to solicit a child to commit a sex act, travelling to solicit a child to commit sex and attempted lewd and lascivious battery.

Many of those arrested face additional charges related to sending nude photos or drugs.

The sheriff’s offices in Manatee and Sarasota counties have completed six stings, including this operation, in which more than 170 people have been arrested.

This is the most recent sting and the only one that has yielded less than 25 arrests.

Additional investigations related to this operation are ongoing.

Internet solicitation charges involving a minor are typically prosecuted quite aggressively. If you are facing this charge or a similar sex offense, you could be forced to deal with the serious social stigma attached to sex crimes against children as well as the very real possibility of spending years behind bars if convicted.

After the airing of the “To Catch a Predator” series, most people are familiar with how police conduct undercover Internet sex crimes investigations involving minors. However, when individuals meet online, this provides law enforcement with the opportunity to use entrapment to make their case. Entrapment brings up many constitutional rights issues, which is why the facts of your case must be thoroughly scrutinized to make sure no information was obtained illegally. Depending on the circumstances, if entrapment was used in your case, any evidence against you can be thrown out.

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A Manatee High School quarterback was arrested Monday night and is facing charges of lewd and lascivious battery on a 15-year-old girl.

According to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, the 17-year-old was arrested at 8:13 p.m. Monday. The girl apparently  reported the alleged incident to law enforcement earlier that day.

Investigators believe that the teen and the alleged victim attended a party Saturday where they both drank alcoholic beverages. The two apparently began kissing and the girl claims she told the boy to stop, according to a sheriff’s office report.

teen arrestedThe report states that the teen grabbed the alleged victim, pulled her into the bathroom, turned off the lights and locked the door. Once inside the bathroom, the girl claims that the boy tried taking her pants off but she asked him to stop.

Following his arrest, the teen allegedly admitted to having some sexual contact with the girl but denied raping her, according to the sheriff’s office.

According to a Manatee County school district spokesman, the teen will be re-assigned to an alternative school until this matter is resolved. School district officials will cooperate with law enforcement’s investigation, but will make no comments until the case is settled.

This teen’s arrest comes just a year after unprecedented legal scrutiny involving Manatee High School athletics.

A former running backs coach is scheduled for trial on June 2 involving one of seven misdemeanor charges of battery involving former female students and school employees as well as three misdemeanor charges of interfering with a student’s attendance. He has pleaded not guilty and will receive separate trials for the charges.

Former Manatee High School principal and former assistant principals are all facing charges of failure to report child abuse in the same case involving the former coach.

Lewd and lascivious battery cases are rarely witnessed first-hand by anyone other than the alleged victim and the accused, so the prosecution usually relies on circumstantial evidence and unreliable accusations of the victim. In many cases, these allegations are exaggerated or completely fabricated. When these cases involve a juvenile that is accused of touching another minor in an inappropriate way they are usually tried in juvenile court. However, depending on the age of the accused, the State Attorney’s Office could very well file these charges in adult court. Due to the serious nature of these charges and the severe potential consequences, parents should never allow their child to discuss these allegations with anyone, including prosecutors and law enforcement, before obtaining experienced legal representation.

In Florida, lewd and lascivious battery is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison when the accused is 18 years old and the alleged victim is between the ages of 12 and 15. When a juvenile who is less than 18 years old is charged with lewd and lascivious battery and the alleged victim is between the ages of 12 and 15, then the crime can be charged as a third-degree felony punishable by 5 years in state prison. Any person convicted of this crime would be declared sexual offender and be forced to comply with sexual offender registration laws in Florida and throughout the United States.

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A Manatee County man was arrested shortly before 2:00 p.m. Thursday after Bradenton police claim he lead them on an unusual “leisurely” car chase.

The slow-speed car chase, described by police as “like the movie, ‘Driving Miss Daisy,'” took about 15 minutes to resolve in a serpentine loop around the 1700 block of 14th Street West.

The chase started shortly after a BPD officer saw the 24-year-old man drive by as he was patrolling the intersection of 21st Avenue West and 13th Street West on foot.

The officer apparently noted that the man was wanted on a warrant and called headquarters as another officer attempted to pull the man and his 24-year-old passenger over.

police betch.jpgPolice claim that the man failed to pull over even after seeing the flashing lights provide by the cop car. He allegedly continued driving through neighborhood streets, obeying stop signs and lights.

The man finally hit a dead end in the 3600 block of 18th Street West. A total of six officers were traveling around the chase, including a K-9 unit.

Upon reaching the dead end, the man apparently got out of the car and put his hands up.

His warrant was for failure to pay child support, but now he will be charged with a slow-speed chase, according to police.

The man faces charges of fleeing to elude, resisting arrest, driving with a suspended license and not paying child support. He was being held at Manatee County jail with bail set at $2,610.

The 24-year-old passenger has pending charged of possession of narcotics. He was taken to Manatee Memorial Hospital for treatment following the chase.

Under Florida Statutes, it is considered a third-degree felony for any driver to fail to stop after he or she has knowledge of being ordered to stop by a law enforcement officer. Fleeing or attempting to elude police is punishable by up to five years in prison, and if convicted of this offense, the court will revoke the driver’s license for 1 to 5 years. If you have been charged with this serious criminal offense, you must act fast and contact a criminal defense lawyer to ensure that your rights are protected. Prosecuting attorneys with the State Attorney’s Office in Manatee County take charges of this nature quite seriously and will seek maximum penalties. That is why these charges must not be taken lightly. In order to avoid an unfortunate outcome, you must prepare the strongest possible defense.

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Port Manatee’s former chief financial officer was arrested last month and charged with 15 felonies, including dealing in stolen property, defrauding a pawnbroker and being an accessory to crimes allegedly committed by his son.

The 61-year-old turned himself in to the Manatee County Jail and was booked on the 15 charges.

He was fired last month from his $149,000-a-year job at the port due to his alleged involvement in thefts that were apparently committed by his 24-year-old son.

pawn shop.jpgHis son is facing multiple counts of burglary, theft and defrauding a pawnbroker. He has been accused of taking power tools, an air conditioner and other property from the port and pawning it. He is currently being held at the Manatee County Jail.

Police claim that the former CFO bought back some of the property from pawnbrokers and returned it to the port without notifying authorities it was stolen in the first place.

The man apparently told officials his son has a drug problem.

The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office investigated the crimes. Court documents show that the 61-year-old allegedly bought a laser measure, a GPS unit, an air conditioner, a projector, a camcorder and other electronics back from several pawnshops and returned the products to the port, even though he knew they were stolen.

He is accused of helping his son conceal his alleged crimes, the accessory-after-the-fact charge.

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