Articles Posted in Pasco County

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A candidate for Largo Commission is facing felony extortion charges after police claim he attempted to force an opponent to drop out of the race.

The 31-year-old who is running for Seat 3 on the commission, sent an anonymous email to one of his opponents through the candidate’s website on Aug. 29, according to the Largo Police Department.

The email allegedly stated that the sender had negative information about the politician and the information would be released if he did not drop out of the race, police said.

Investigators got the IP address of the email’s sender and learned that it allegedly belonged to the accused.

The man was arrested on Monday and was being held at the Pinellas County Jail on $10,000 bond.

Extortion is a crime where someone obtains something, usually goods or services, by using threats. There are many different types of threats that can be classified as extortion, including threatening to reveal secrets that could damage a person’s public reputation or to the reputation of their business.

Extortion is also federal crime. Those who are convicted of extortion could be sentenced to up to 20 years in federal prison. In addition to jail, there is also the very real possibility of large fines and civil action.

Extortion is not a criminal offense that should be taken lightly. If you are facing allegations of extortion, it is in your best interest to contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your rights are being protected.

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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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A janitor at a Pasco County high school is accused of sending naked photos of himself to a student.

The 24-year-old was arrested Thursday after deputies claim he sent five nude photos of himself to a 17-year-old student at Fivay High School.

Deputies believe that between July and September, the man sent the photos to the student using Facebook Messenger. The man was working at the school at the time, and deputies allege he knew the student was under the age of 18 at the time.

The man was arrested on charges of transmission of material harmful to minors by electronic device or equipment.

He was released from the Land O’ Lakes Detention Center after posting a $5,000 bond.

A sex crime case is a serious problem for those accused. Florida is known as one of the toughest states for sex crime defendants. A conviction can mean a lifelong stigma of being labeled a sex offender, which makes it difficult to find a job, find a place to live, carry on normal relationships, and even communicate with others as convicted sex offenders may be banned from owning a computer or cellphone. An aggressive defense is absolutely necessary in the face of a sex crime investigation or arrest.

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A substitute teacher from New Port Richey was arrested Friday after investigators allege he molested two children more than 50 times, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.

The 68-year-old man was charged with multiple counts of lewd and lascivious molestation and lewd and lascivious battery.

His alleged victims were between the ages of 8 and 9 and 11 and 15, with the last molestation occurring in 2012, according to reports.

The man has been fired by the School Board and is being held without bond at the Land O’ Lakes Detention Center.

Child molestation is a serious charge that carries not only grave legal consequences, but has severe social consequences as well. The sad truth is that these types of accusations can ruin an innocent person’s life. A conviction of almost any type of child molestation charge will result in being labeled as a sex offender for life, which can destroy relationships with family and friends.

False accusations of child molestation happen every single day throughout the country. Sadly, prosecutors and the public are often inclined to side with the accuser in these cases. If the accusation leads to a conviction, the consequences will undoubtedly last a lifetime. It is absolutely vital that anyone accused of molesting a child consult with an attorney experienced in defending this type of crime as soon as possible.

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A Pasco County law enforcement officer was arrested Tuesday night after authorities claim he showed up to meet a 15-year-old boy for sex in Davie.

The 22-year-old Pasco County Sheriff’s deputy is facing a federal charge of luring or enticing a minor into sexual activity.

In early June, deputies believe the man and the teen started exchanging very graphic messages through an online service.

A deputy apparently took control of the teen’s phone in mid-July and began communicating with the man. The deputy pretended he was the boy.

Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco immediately fired the man, who was still a probationary employee because he had worked there for only about nine months.

According to investigators, the man had extremely explicit online conversations about sex with the teen.

In the next few days, the undercover deputy wrote that he replied to the man’s messages and told him he was a 15-year-old virgin.

The man allegedly asked the “teen” to meet him for sex and asked if the minor would be able to stay overnight at a hotel, according to court records.

The man arranged to meet the 15-year-old at 8 p.m. Tuesday night at Pine Ridge Plaza on State Road 84, according to authorities.

8598246170_a96656631a_z (2)Davie police arrested the man when he showed up at the plaza in a black Ford F-150 truck and sent a message that he had arrived. Police searched the vehicle and apparently found an iPhone with some of the messages the two had exchanged.

The man allegedly told police that he messed up and knew he the boy was 15.

He is scheduled to be in court Friday for a bond hearing.

The investigation was conducted by Davie police detectives who work with the FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force.

Local and federal law enforcement agencies routinely conduct undercover sting operations in which they have an officer pose as a minor in online chat rooms, social networking sites, and as this case shows, even on the other end of a text message conversation. When an adult arranges to meet with the undercover officer who they think is a minor, law enforcement agents will immediately arrest them.

Whatever your particular case may entail, the most important thing to know is that the charges you face are very serious. You are facing life-changing penalties if convicted, including significant fines, prison time for any attempt to actually meet a minor, registration as a sex offender and life-long challenges on your personal and financial well-being.

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A New Port Richey woman has been sentenced to prison for trafficking in counterfeit cosmetics.

The 45-year-old woman was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison. A money judgment was also issued against her for nearly $1 million. She pleaded guilty to the charges against her in September 2014.

According to court documents, the woman sold more than $1 million worth of counterfeit Make-up Art Cosmetics, Inc., otherwise known as MAC cosmetics, between March 2012 and March 2014. Investigators claim she purchased bulk quantities of counterfeit MAC cosmetics from a source in China, then sold the cosmetics as legitimate products at significantly higher prices.

Investigators believe she sold the cosmetics across the country using a website for her company through eBay and directly to some wholesale customers.

This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

Intentionally trafficking or attempting to traffic in goods that are counterfeit is a felony. Trafficking usually translates to mean the repackaging of goods or services with the intent to deceive or confuse.

Under federal law, any individual who knowingly distributes, wholesales, or sells counterfeit merchandise faces severe penalties:

  • Imprisonment
  • Fines
  • Seizure and destruction of counterfeit merchandise the wholesaler or distributor has in their possession.
  • Civil lawsuits  to recover damages, profit loses, attorneys’ fees, and other injunctive relief.

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A Wesley Chapel doctor and his office manager are accused of defrauding the Florida Medicaid program out of more than $100,000.

The male doctor and his office manager, who is also his ex-wife, were arrested Wednesday. Investigators allege the pair billed the Florida Medicaid program for services that were never performed.

The man is an ear, nose and throat specialist. The officer manager’s arrest report lists her as a registered nurse at Moffitt Cancer Center.

Both are facing one count each of Medicaid provider fraud, one count of first-degree scheming to defraud and one count of second-degree criminal use of personal identification information.

6127243966_e9189f1099_mIf they are convicted, they face up to 30 years in prison. They could also be ordered to pay more than $100,000 in restitution.

The case will be prosecuted by Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecution.

Medicaid is a federal and state cost-sharing program that provides healthcare to people who are unable to pay for such care. Medicaid Fraud usually targets the providers of services who accept Medicaid and can be prosecuted on the State or Federal jurisdictions.

Common examples of Medicaid fraud can include:

  • Phantom Billing: Billing for medical services not actually performed
  • Upcoding: Billing for a more costly service than was actually rendered or Billing for sessions that are longer than what was actually performed
  • Unbundling: Billing for multiple services that should be combined into one billing
  • Billing twice for the same medical service
  • Dispensing generic drugs and billing for brand-name drugs
  • Kickback: Accepting something in return for medical services
  • Bribery
  • Providing unnecessary services
  • False cost reports
  • Embezzlement of recipient funds

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A 25-year-old Pasco County High School instructor has been placed on administrative leave after being arrested for unlawful sexual activity with a minor.

According to reports, the female teacher contacted the student at the school through  Facebook messenger in early April. Deputies allege that she gave the victim her phone number and asked him to call her.

Deputies claim the pair met up at a park in New Port Richey and had sex. According to the arrest report, several more sexual encounters occurred between April and July.

7949717596_50b93b42fb_zDeputies said the teacher was 24-years-old at the time of the incidents and the victim was 17.

The teacher worked as a graduation enhancement instructor helping kids who are at risk of not graduating. She has been with the school district since April 2013.

The school board is expected to vote whether to suspend the woman without pay at its next meeting on January 20th.

The woman has been released from jail on $10,000 bond.

Sex crimes carry very harsh penalties, including mandatory registration as a sex offender, hefty fines, and depending on the specific charge, mandatory minimum prison sentences. It is absolutely necessary that you contact a criminal defense lawyer once you know that the police are investigating you for such a charge.

As a teacher in a public position, being accused of a sex crime can ultimately end your career. It is very important to get help from a Pasco County Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton as soon as possible due to the fact that consequences for a conviction of are severe. When facing these accusations, licensed professionals, like teachers, may suffer automatic revocation of their license.

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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.

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Investigators claim they discovered hundreds of thousands of dollars in marijuana from seven grow houses in Pasco County after they stopped by to check out claims of electric theft.

According to reports, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said they were alerted to the seven houses by officials with Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative after the company learned that more than $206,000 worth of power had been stolen over the course of the past two weeks.

When investigators got to each home, they allegedly found elaborate marijuana grow operations. The sheriff’s office believes the grow houses are the work of of an organized crime ring because the wiring installed to steal the electricity at each home appears to be the same.

4151958797_286773e01e_mAs of now, only one arrest has been made. A 50-year-old Port Richey man has been charged with trafficking and cultivating marijuana and theft of utilities. Police anticipate more arrests as the investigation continues to unfold.

While the manufacturing of marijuana may not take place in a laboratory the same way many drugs like methamphetamines are produced, the cultivation of marijuana is a very serious offense in the state of Florida. Due to its Schedule I classification as an illegal substance, arrests stemming from marijuana-related offenses will generally result in felony charges.

If you have been charged with or have been arrested for or accused of growing marijuana, you are probably feeling extremely scared and under intense pressure. Consulting with a Pasco County Drug Crimes Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton could help alleviate some of your stress, and at the same time provide you with a plan of action to make it through the legal process without suffering life-altering consequences.

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