Articles Posted in Pasco County

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A former Pasco County School District transportation manager was sentenced to life in prison in federal court for sexually assaulting children and producing and distributing child pornography.

In August, the 35-year-old New Port Richey man pleaded guilty to enticing and coercing a minor to engage in sexual activity and to possessing child porn.

After statements were delivered and counsel was heard, the judge delivered the man’s sentence.

Court documents described the man as having a deeply embedded preference for sex with children that “descended to depths of depravity that are hard to fathom and that he’s a constant threat to society.”

The man began his career with Pasco schools as a school bus driver and worked his way up to the district’s transportation manager.

According to the plea agreement, beginning in 2014, the man, while employed by Pasco County Schools as a transportation manager, knowingly enticed a 15-year-old student from a local school to engage in sex acts.

Officials said the man had met the teen on the app Grindr.

The man engaged in a sexual relationship with the student that went on for several years. Officials said during that time, the man invited the student to view his collection of child pornography, invited him to watch live productions of child porn on the internet, and invited him to engage in group sex with other adults and minors.

The man also produced and distributed child porn of the student, according to the plea agreement.

Investigators said the man also had a close relationship with a Pasco County assistant principal. Officials said the two men would share child porn.

The government will review the man’s case in a few years under what’s called a Rule 35. That could determine whether he may be eligible for a parole at some point in the future.

After a person has been sentenced, there are several circumstances that could reduce the sentence. A direct appeal can be filed or the prosecution can file a motion pursuant to Rule 35(b) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure to reward the person for providing substantial assistance in investigating or prosecuting another person.

Only the prosecution may file a Rule 35 motion, however, a criminal defense lawyer’s role in the process is substantial. Our Pasco County Criminal Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help make sure your are rewarded properly for the assistance provided. Our goal is to interest the prosecution in what you have to offer, ensure that the cooperation goes smoothly, and that the desired outcome is mutually achieved.  

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Pasco County authorities have arrested a 19-year-old man and charged him with lewd and lascivious molestation at a county library.

The man accused was a library volunteer when the incident was reported but has since been terminated.

According to a Sheriff’s Office report, a 14-year-old boy claims the man “enticed him to engage in sexual activity.”

The report also said four other juveniles were present at the time gave the same version of events.

Pasco County Libraries said Friday afternoon that a background check was completed on the man in late January and that his first shift was worked on Feb. 9.

He was dismissed from his volunteer position on May 7.

While molestation charges are very serious, especially when it involves a minor child, there are also many cases where a person is falsely accused of a crime they did not commit. Sadly, false accusations are quite common and can wreak havoc on the life of the individual who has been wrongly accused.

If you have been arrested or accused of a sex crime you did not commit, you need to speak with a sex crimes attorney right away. Your reputation and future are at stake, and our Pasco County Sex Crimes Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton do not take false accusations lightly. We are dedicated to aggressively defending those accused of sex crimes so that they can avoid the harsh consequences of a conviction.

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The Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested a Dade City man for allegedly possessing hundreds of files of child pornography and possibly accessing thousands more.

A Pasco County Sheriff’s Office arrest report states investigators found 274 suspected child porn files on the man’s laptop. They allegedly reviewed 22 of those files and found graphic videos, some involving children younger than five years old, engaged in sex acts.

An IP address linked to the man’s home also may have allegedly accessed child pornography files at least 2,529 times in October and 18,779 times in March.

According to the report, the man admitted to downloading such files since he was 17 years old.

The man is charged with 21 counts of possession of child pornography and one count of transmission of child pornography.

He’s currently in jail on $1.1 million bond.

A conviction of child pornography can be devastating to your personal life and career. The number of images, type of pictures and the ages of the alleged children are factored into the charges and sentencing guidelines. You could be looking at years, decades or even life behind bars for each image in question and a permanent stamp on the sex offender registry.

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Two 19-year-old boys have been charged in an alleged holiday crime spree.

Pasco deputies claim the two teens went on a crime spree over the late hours of Christmas Eve and Christmas night in the Zephyrhills area.

The two 19-year-old’s are accused of burglarizing vehicles and stealing money, personal items, firearms, ammunition, and other items from victims.

Investigators claim they recovered several guns, ammo, narcotics, drug paraphernalia, and stolen property items from the suspects.

The teens were arrested and charged with over 18 felony offenses related to the holiday crime spree.

Authorities said further investigation may lead to additional charges and suspects.

Theft crimes usually increase over the holiday season. If you are facing criminal prosecution, you could be dealing with serious life consequences. You could be looking at years behind bars, a permanent stain on your criminal record, fines and other punishments.

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A woman has been arrested in Pasco County after allegedly renting out homes she didn’t own.

Authorities said the 43-year-old was arrested for scheming to defraud after allegedly pretending to be the owner of two homes — one in Holiday and the other in New Port Richey.

According to reports, she was renting out the property for $800-$850 a month.

The actual owner of the property was apparently unaware of this transaction.

The woman also had active felony warrants for grand theft and unlicensed real estate broker or sales associate in Hillsborough County.

There are many reasons why good, normally upstanding people end up facing fraud or other white collar crimes charges. Whatever the reason, our Pasco County White Collar Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton have one goal, which is to defend you against the charges. This means investigating your case thoroughly and presenting the strongest case possible to help you get back to leading a normal life.

We represent people throughout the state of Florida that are under investigation or facing formal state or federal charges for a wide range of white collar crimes, including:

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Creepy clowns have been making headlines across the nation, and Florida is no stranger to this creepy craze.

Pasco County deputies are on alert for a creepy clown.

Authorities believe the clowns have been spotted in Hudson, Port Richey, and Holiday. The county’s school district sent out a robo call and a post on Facebook Friday telling parents there was a threat posted on Facebook and Twitter about the creepy clowns showing up at schools.

Pinellas County schools had two similar incidents Friday where a clown was spotted outside schools. Pinellas County, however, isn’t considering this as a credible threat.

In Pasco County, authorities said the sightings are quite sinister. In one instance, investigators said someone dressed as a clown and friended young people on Facebook, then asked one kid to meet in the park after dark.

There have been other cases nationwide involving people dressed as clowns, some of them scarier than others. If you encounter one, especially near a school, you’re asked to contact authorities.

While some people find this clown craze funny, at the end of the day, unless you are headed to your job at the circus/fair/birthday party, do not dress up as a clown. Even if you think it is fun and you have zero intentions of hurting anyone, police have made it very clear they will arrest and charge people.

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A New York man is accused of traveling to New Port Richey to have sex with a 13-year-old girl.

On Tuesday night, at approximately 11 p.m., Pasco deputies were dispatched to the girl’s home in reference to an unwanted guest complaint.

The caller advised that his wife found a 21-year-old man in the bedroom closet of his 13-year-old daughter.

The man, 21, apparently told detectives he traveled from Staten Island, New York to New Port Richey by train to visit the teen.  

The detective allegedly discovered the man had numerous nude photos of the victim on his cell phone.

Detectives arrested the man for lewd and lascivious battery, traveling to meet a minor and possession of child pornography.

According to the arrest report, the man told detectives he met the girl three years ago online and started “dating” her a year ago. He apparently told detectives he was unaware that the girl was 13.  

The man was booked into the Land O’ Lakes Detention Center on $25,000 bond.

If you have been accused of traveling to meet a minor for sex, it is important to speak with a Pasco County Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton as soon as possible. Do not wait as these charges are very serious. You could face up to 15 years in prison and lifetime registration as a sex offender.

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A man died after he was struck by the stolen van he was pursuing Thursday in Hudson, Pasco County sheriff’s deputies said.

About 5 p.m. Thursday, the man and owner of a 1999 Ford van and his brother-in-law were in a car following the stolen vehicle from Hernando County into Pasco County. The van had been reported stolen in Spring Hill on Wednesday at 9:45 a.m.

The driver of the van, a 33-year-old Spring Hill woman, pulled into a parking lot at 16823 U.S. Highway 19 on Thursday, according to reports.

The man tracking down his stolen van exited the vehicle and approached the driver’s side of the van, when the woman attempted to flee in the van. She ended up running over the man, deputies said.

The man was taken to Bayonet Point Regional Medical Center, where he died of his injuries.

The woman was arrested at 1:46 a.m. on Friday and booked two hours later into the Land O’ Lakes Detention Center. She is facing charges of felony murder and grand theft auto.

According to Hernando County jail records, she has been arrested numerous times on drug, burglary and larceny charges. She also was arrested twice in Pasco County during 2012, according to jail records.

The investigation is ongoing.

The charges this woman faces are quite serious. For murder and grand theft auto charges, she could be facing a lengthy time behind bars along with other severe consequences.

Following an arrest for grave charges like these, it is crucial to find the support you need to build your case. A Pasco County Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton may be able to help prove your innocence and clear your name. Our goal is to protect your rights inside and out of the courtroom.

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A Pasco County Schools substitute teacher was arrested Tuesday for having sex with a 15-year-old girl.

According to an arrest report, the 20-year-old Spring Hill man, engaged in a consensual sexual relationship with the girl from July to December 2015.

The victim was apparently 14 years old at the time the alleged relationship began. According to detectives, she was not a student of the man’s and they did not meet at school.

Detectives arrested the man after they recorded a phone call between him and the girl on Feb. 1 that apparently detailed their sexual activity. The girl reportedly cooperated with detectives in setting up the recorded phone call.

The man was released from the Land O’ Lakes Detention Center after posting a $10,000 bond.

Just like any sex crime, a substitute teacher who is convicted of having sex with a student faces a lifetime of social stigma as a registered sex offender. Any person employed by a school in a position of authority can be criminally punished for engaging in sexual activity with a student. This includes:

  • Teachers
  • Substitute teachers
  • School administrators
  • Student teachers
  • Teachers’ aides
  • School counselors

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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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