Articles Posted in Pasco County

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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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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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