Articles Posted in Police Misconduct

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Suspended Marion County Sheriff Chris Blair has dropped out of the race for re-election and has entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the State Attorney’s Office to drop perjury and official misconduct charges against him.

Under the agreement, which Blair signed on Thursday, he will continue to receive his pension from the state retirement system and the state will not proceed with the charges against him that came from his time as sheriff. Also, the federal government does not presently consider him a person of interest or have any plan to file criminal charges against him.

Blair’s letter to Wesley Wilcox, supervisor of elections, reads: “Having duly qualified for election for the office of Sheriff of Marion County, in the Republican Primary and General Elections of 2016, I hereby immediately and irrevocably withdraw my candidacy for the office of Sheriff of Marion County.”

Blair also sent a letter to Gov. Rick Scott’s office, which said: “Having been suspended from office on May 20, 2016, I hereby immediately and irrevocably resign from the office of Sheriff of Marion County.”

Blair, who had been sheriff since he took the oath of office in January 2013, had to leave office on May 20 after he was arrested and charged with two counts of perjury and one count of official misconduct. If convicted of the charges, he faced five years for each charge along with a $5,000 fine for each offense.

Blair’s charges resulted from his account of the 2014 arrest of a man. At least one deputy has admitted beating the suspect following a shootout and after the suspect left his northwest Marion County home. The suspect, who was later convicted of attempted murder, was unarmed and compliant at the time of his arrest; he has a federal civil rights case pending against Blair and several deputies.

Although Blair later swore, on a signed affidavit submitted for that federal case and in testimony in front of a grand jury, that he did not see the suspect face to face after the arrest, a video recorded at the scene shows deputies walking the suspect directly past Blair. A grand jury indicted Blair in May.

The court documents signed Thursday by Blair states that he did not admit or deny “the ultimate facts that gave rise to the charges” and “the agreement is made in my own best interest and enables me to dispose of the charges without risk of conviction and sentence.”

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According to the Florida Highway Patrol, an officer with the Orlando Police Department was arrested this past weekend in Manatee County for DUI and hit-and-run.  

FHP claims that on Saturday, troopers investigated a hit-and-run accident involving two unattended parked cars at 7085 46th Ave. W. in Bradenton.

Reports indicate that the cop was stopped in the area after a Manatee County deputy observed him swerving on the roadway. Troopers said he was off-duty and driving his personal vehicle.

During the investigation, troopers allege they were able to link the DUI and hit-and-run to the police officer.

He was arrested and charged with DUI and hit-and-run.

The Orlando Police Department said the man has been with the force since 2012 and is assigned to the midnight patrol. Reports indicate that the man has been relieved of his law enforcement duties, credentials and firearms pending an internal investigation.

Anyone can be charged with DUI, as this case shows. Your actions following a DUI arrest are critical to the outcome of your case, and it is very important to obtain legal help as soon as possible. There are various defenses available for a DUI charge, and if used successfully, these defenses could lead to a reduction or even dismissal of charges.

While there are numerous defenses available, two that are often brought up involve the reason behind the stop and the method used to test the driver’s BAC. In order for a DUI stop to be legal, police must must have a legal reason to make a stop before administering tests to determine the driver’s BAC levels. If the officer cannot provide a reason for stopping the driver, the stop itself may be illegal and the charges could very well be dismissed.

If the stop is legal, then it is very important to assess the process that was used to determine the driver’s BAC. It must be evaluated that the right method was used and that the sample was analyzed properly.

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A federal corrections officer from Clermont has been sentenced to two years in federal prison after pleading guilty in September to accepting a bribe by a public official.

According to the Department of Justice, the 32-year-old officer used his position as a correctional officer at the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex in Sumter County to smuggle contraband to inmates in exchange for money beginning in January.

The Department of Justice said federal agents monitored a June 18 meeting between the officer and a cooperating witness. During that meeting, the officer allegedly accepted $2,600 for items that he already smuggled into the prison.

Investigators met with the officer, and he apparently admitted he illegally negotiated $7,100 in cash payments in return for smuggling cell phones, prescription pills, tobacco, and other items to federal inmates.

Bribery charges are often highly publicized in the media. These crimes not only capture the public’s attention, but they have the ability to end careers and damage reputations. If convicted, the accused faces severe consequences, including lengthy time behind bars.

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Newly released footage from a body-worn camera contradicts statements two Marion County deputies made just two days after they were suspended with pay, according to the State Attorney’s Office.

The two deputies were suspended after officials learned of possible officer misconduct in regards to how they executed a search warrant.

The deputies searched a Marion County hotel after receiving word that a suspect, wanted on a warrant, was at the property. The incident lead to a search and seizure situation.

One of the deputies wrote in the arrest affidavit that when he arrived to the suspect’s room, he knocked on the door and identified himself as a member of the Sheriff’s Office.

But footage from a body-worn camera apparently tells a different story.

“Maintenance. I know you have the do not disturb sign, but I need to come in,” the deputy said. “Maintenance. Are you available?”

Deputies said they discovered drugs and a stolen gun inside the room. The suspect was later spotted in the lobby and arrested.

The body-camera evidence could be enough to destroy the case against the suspect as well as  end the two deputies’ careers.

One of the deputies has been employed by the MCSO for 12 years and the other for nine years.

The suspect remains in jail.

Both the Sheriff’s Office and the State Attorneys’ Office are investigating the incident.

The use of police body cameras in this case is obviously playing a major role. A video log of the actual event is clearly shown, documenting what occurred during an arrest, including the dialogue between the arresting officer and the suspect. This type of footage is extremely important when it comes to criminal defense. The footage from a body camera worn by an officer will show if the criminal defendant’s rights were infringed upon and will show for certain if they were properly Mirandized as required by law.

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As a U.S. citizen, you have what is known as Miranda Rights. The term Miranda Rights has its origins in a 1966 U.S. Supreme Court Case known as Miranda v. Arizona. The court’s ruling on this matter gives anyone in police custody or facing potential criminal charges to be advised of their right against self-incrimination. This is also an element of the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

2240909776_a1097c87ca_zIf you are taken into police custody for any reason, you are required to be given a Miranda warning briefing you on your rights. The Miranda warning must include the following information:

  1. You have the right to remain silent
  2. Anything you say may later be used against you
  3. You are legally entitled to speak with an attorney
  4. If you are unable to afford an attorney, one will be provided for you at no cost

The main purpose of a Miranda warning is to let the person in police custody understand that they have the right to remain silent. This must be communicated clearly to the person detained before any questioning by law enforcement.

What Does It Mean for You if You Were Not Given a Miranda Warning?

If law enforcement fails to properly advise or “mirandize” an individual in custody, the case could be dismissed, but this all depends on the evidence available. If the case has been established mostly on statements that the individual gave without a proper notice of Miranda warnings then those statements could be deemed inadmissible, which would likely lead to a dismissal. If the case has been built based on other evidence, then it is unlikely that the case will hinge on the lack of proper notice of Miranda Rights, but depending on specifics, the case could still possibly be dismissed.

What To Do If You Are Arrested

If you have been arrested and read your Miranda warnings, it is important to ask to speak to your lawyer immediately. Despite what law enforcement may tell you while you are in their custody, police investigators are not looking out for your best interests.

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On Tuesday the FBI arrested Miami Springs Police Sgt. Andres Quintanilla, a 16-year veteran of the force, on a federal corruption charge.

The 33-year-old was charged with “attempting to affect commerce by extortion under color of official right,’’ according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.

According to the federal complaint, a confidential FBI source claims he told Quintanilla in September 2014 that he was a drug trafficker. The complaint goes on to allege that instead of arresting the source, Quintanilla “offered to help the [informant’s] drug trafficking business.’’

Quintanilla allegedly provided the location of an undercover police narcotics office, gave the source the names of three Miami-Dade police officers and ran the name of a purported drug dealer in a law enforcement database when asked to do so by the source, according to the complaint.

3413984703_683eb24000_z (1)The complaint states that by December 2014, Quintanilla had agreed to act as an escort during a purported 10 kilogram cocaine deal. Quintanilla is also accused of choosing a safe location in Miami Springs where the source could exchange 10 kilograms of cocaine for $250,000.

After the alleged deal took place, Quintanilla then apparently followed the source while wearing his uniform and driving his MSPD marked vehicle to an express package service center, where Quintanilla was under the impression that the source would ship the $250,000 of drug proceeds to New York, according to the complaint.

In exchange for his assistance, Quintanilla allegedly accepted $3,500 in bribe payments from the source.

In a press release issued Tuesday night, the Miami Springs Police Chief stated, “As a result of the charges filed against Quintanilla, he has now been relieved of duty without pay pending the results of the criminal case in the U.S. federal court.”

If convicted, Quintanilla, who started with the Springs police department as a public service aide in 1999 when he was 17, faces up to 20 years in federal prison.

Federal corruption charges usually refer to any illegal activity conducted by public officials. Public officials, politicians, as well as the business executives who regularly deal with them are all at risk of being investigated for or charged with violations of federal corruption. Taking bribes, facilitating a crime by another and threatening punishment if certain services are not provided are all examples of actions that could result in a charge of corruption. Extortion and bribery are common charges that fall under the category of federal corruption.

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Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents arrested Mike Classey, who resigned just last week as chief of the Atlantic Beach Police Department.

Classey, 50, was placed on administrative leave Sept. 19 after the city learned of a criminal investigation being conducted by the FDLE. And one week ago, Classey resigned.

Classey was arrested Tuesday and charged with 18 counts of possession of a controlled substance, one count of trafficking in codeine, tampering with evidence and possession of drug paraphernalia.

According to reports, Classey turned himself in and was booked into the Duval County jail on $136,036 bond.

State Attorney Angela Corey and FDLE officials claim agents began investigating Classey after receiving a tip from the Department of Homeland Security. They allegedly intercepted a package containing controlled substances from India addressed to “Michael Cassey” at a UPS store post office box. Agents claim Classey showed up at the store to pick up that package, as well as a second package.

One package allegedly contained Xanax and the other contained injectable steroids.

5231885791_da7b35bea4_zFDLE searched Classey’s home on Sept. 19 and reportedly found what was described as large quantities of various steroids, Codeine, Xanax and syringes.

Agents apparently asked the man for the computer that he ordered the alleged drugs on, and he told them he had asked his son to dispose of it. Investigators claim they later found it in a trash container.

The man’s resignation is not tied to the Police Department or his job.

In order for police to charge you with tampering with evidence, you must have done either of the following while knowing that an investigation is going on or will soon:

  • 1. Hide, destroy or alter a piece of evidence, such as a document, weapon or even drugs in order to interfere with the investigation.
  • 2. Use false evidence to trick or confuse investigators or to interfere with the investigation.

If you are convicted of tampering with evidence, this is something that will remain on your criminal record for the rest of your life. Despite the circumstances surrounding your case, even just an accusation that you tampered with evidence in a criminal investigation can tarnish your reputation and good standing in the community. With that said, understand that these charges are extremely serious and must be given the high level of attention that they deserve.

A Duval County Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton can help you if you have been charged with tampering with evidence. First and foremost, we will conduct an extensive investigation into the charges to look for any mistakes law enforcement made during their investigation, as well as any other legal issues that can be raised on your behalf.

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A Bunnell police officer was arrested last week after the Florida Department of Law Enforcement accused him of soliciting teenage boys online.

The 30-year-old Palm Coast man was arrested Mar. 25 on two counts of computer pornography and child exploitation, and one count of criminal use of personal identification information.

facebookThe FDLE said they began investigating the man in December 2013 after receiving complaints regarding his behavior. Investigators claim the man created a fraudulent Facebook account posing as a teenage girl and used the account to solicit teenage boys. FDLE alleges the conversations turned sexual when the man requested sexual photos from the teens.

Reports indicate the man was arrested at Bunnell City Hall by deputies from the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office. He was booked into the Flagler County Jail with bail set at $125,000.

He posted bond later that night and was released.

Bunnell police said the man has been suspended without pay.

Sex offenses involving juveniles are punished harshly in Flagler County and throughout the state of Florida. In fact, Florida has some of the harshest sentences for sex offenders in the nation, and penalties often include any number of years up to life in prison, considerable fines and other strict consequences. For most, being forced to register as a sexual offender is the most detrimental penalty of all. Registered sex offenders face many struggles as this can not only ruin careers and reputations, but restrict where they can work and even live.

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Three Clay County sheriff’s deputies are facing discipline after a high school student spent more than a month in jail charged as an adult in a sexual battery case all because he had the same name as the accused.

After a girl under the age of 12 told police she had sex with a Clay High student in the fall of 2012, investigators arrested a 17-year-old boy and booked him into the Clay County jail.

However, following a review of reports from the Green Cove Springs Police Department detailing the mother of the alleged victim having a verbal altercation with a boy that had the same name, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office began an internal investigation that revealed they had arrested the wrong teen.

cuffsThe mistake was not uncovered until 35 days later when the teen received court documents detailing the charges against him.

According to reports, three Clay County deputies received formal counseling for the wrongful arrest and one deputy faces a 10-day unpaid suspension and a transfer from investigations to patrol.

Authorities claim that the Clay County deputies failed to confirm the suspect’s identity with a photo lineup.

Sadly, because of this error an innocent teen was arrested for a criminal offense that he did not commit.

A disciplinary hearing was being held for the deputies on Tuesday morning. The results have yet to be released.

Being investigated for a criminal offense or getting arrested in Clay County is not a fun or pleasant experience. The hours and days leading up to an arrest and those immediately following an arrest are highly important when it comes to protecting your legal rights. In most criminal cases, once an investigation has begun or an arrest has been made, there is no time to spare. A criminal defense attorney should be retained immediately to make sure police and prosecutors play by the rules. With that said, all criminal defendants have a right to legal counsel throughout the investigation process as well as during all criminal proceedings.

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Police are under investigation for jokingly filing in a witness statement in the name of a force dog.

Officers in the UK became exasperated when prosecutors asked for an account of a crime from a “PC Peach'” not realizing Peach was the name of a police dog. So they completed the form as if it had been written by the K-9, and signed it with a paw print.

The dog’s statement read: ‘I chase him. I bite him. Bad man. He tasty. Good boy. Good boy Peach.’

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