Articles Posted in Sumter County

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The Sumter County Sherriff’s Office has arrested 22 men and women across the state of Florida during an undercover internet sex sting where detectives posed as children online.

A Sherriff’s Office spokesman said the undercover operation was similar to the popular series “To Catch A Predator” on Dateline NBC.

Investigators said suspects showed up at meeting locations they thought were with minors carrying condoms in tow. The condoms and other evidence are on exhibit today at the Sheriff’s Office headquarters. Suspects have been identified as residents of Tampa, Kissimmee, Ocala and elsewhere.

More details of the takedowns will be released by the Sumter County Sherriff’s Office later today.

While the details of specific charges are unknown as of yet, many times these undercover sex stings that involve solicitation of a minor, travelling to meet a minor for sexual purposes and the possession and/or distribution of child pornography. Child pornography can play a factor in these stings when local law enforcement use pornographic material featuring a minor as a way to entice individuals to the location of the undercover sting. Law enforcement usually establishes an online presence where communication takes place in a private or public conversation, such as a chatroom, where pictures are often exchanged and agreements for sexual encounters are arranged.

The Florida Attorney General’s Office has increased its efforts to investigate sexual solicitation of minors, making it a top priority to protect children from adult threats via the Internet. Florida ranks fourth in the country for child pornography on the Internet. Due to this high rank, the Attorney General’s Office created the Child Predator Cybercrime Unit to shield minors and explore cases involving child pornography and sexual solicitation and exploitation of minors in Florida. Florida also endorsed the Cybercrimes Against Children Act in 2007 which amplified criminal punishments for behavior such as possession of child pornography and soliciting children over the Internet.

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A Lady Lake, Florida woman has been arrested this week for her connection in the January murder of a Wildwood, Florida man.

A warrant for the woman’s arrest was obtained on March 7 after evidence indicated that her vehicle was used to allegedly transport the deceased man’s body to the backyard of an abandoned home.

Sumter County detectives recovered the man’s body on Jan. 20. The Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the death as a homicide and determined the cause to be multiple gunshot wounds.

The Sumter County Times reports the case is still under investigation.

Murder is an extremely serious charge that is defined as a homicide that is premeditated by the accused. Premeditation is sometimes referred to as malice aforethought because they both have similar meanings in regard to murder. When something is premeditated it is carried out with careful planning and consideration. Malice aforethought is used to illustrate a murder that is carried out deliberately, carelessly, and with tremendous discount for human life.

Depending on the evidence of the case, the woman could be charged with first, second or third degree murder. First degree murder is a capital felony that is punishable in the state of Florida by life imprisonment or the death penalty. Second degree murder is a first degree felony that is punishable by a maximum life sentence in prison. Third degree murder is a second degree felony described as a death that occurs while the accused is committing another felony. Upon further investigation into this case the State can decipher an appropriate murder charge for the woman in question.

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Mark Morse, president and top executive of The Villages, a retirement community located in Central Florida, was charged with felony and misdemeanor hunting violations in Montana.

Morse as well as his wife, daughter and five other individuals have been accused of 18 wildlife violations during hunting trips spanning over the past four years on Morse property in Montana. A few of the charges include the illegal killing or possession of elk, deer and other wildlife.

Morse is charged with killing too many animals and killing them without proper licenses, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

For killing multiple animals and hunting out of season, which is considered stealing from the Montana government, Morse could face 21.5 years in prison and fines as much as $203,000 if convicted. Killing an animal without a license carries a punishment of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. Wounding an animal without a license, if found guilty, carries a penalty of one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

Morse and his family could lose their fishing and hunting rights for life in Montana and more than 20 other states because of a multi-state agreement that outlaws hunters who disobey game laws. Florida just happens to be one of the partners to that agreement.

Many Florida residents incorporate hunting and fishing into their lifestyles. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission meets each year to make adjustments to statutes and once these changes are put into effect many people are arrested for violating the new laws. By keeping up to date on these specific statutes, you can avoid jail time and hefty fines.

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According to local news, a Webster, Florida man was charged with ten (10) counts of Possession of Child Pornography. The presiding first appearance judge set his bond at $50,000. He will be prosecuted in Bushnell, Florida.

It is reported that the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office’s Cyber Crimes Unit, along with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, had long suspected the individual of allegedly possessing the content and executed a search warrant assumingly regarding same this week.

It is alleged the material was stored on the Sumter County man’s laptop computer.
As is often the case, the defendant will immediately look to the warrant for his first legal challenge. This is a good place to start because the arrest warrant is what placed the officers at his home for his arrest and ultimately seizure of his computer. As a secondary issue, it will need to be investigated exactly how these images were found to be downloaded onto this man’s computer. Often times, the reasons for the initial arrest and search warrant and reasons for these pictures being downloaded are linked. In contrast, when those items are not linked, a common source of problems for the prosecution is these types of cases is involuntary downloads.

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In what will no doubt be the subject of rumor mills in Sumter County, Florida for some time, a Deputy from the Sumter County S.O. has been arrested for the very serious offense of Sexual Battery on a child under the age of 12. This offense is a Capital Felony under Florida Law.

According to two news sources, the investigation, which was mostly done by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (F.D.L.E.) began in the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office (S.C.S.O.) where it was learned that the target of the allegation was a Sheriff’s Deputy. The information was then turned over to F.D.L.E. according to reports. The timeline of this alleged transfer of the investigation will certainly be a source of discussion during the defense of this case, as both the family of the victim and the defendant may have been unduly prejudiced by the S.C.S.O. being involved at any level.

The Deputy was taken into custody with no bond. The Sheriff’s office has reportedly suspended the officer as well. It is unknown at this time if the local State Attorney’s Office will handle this file or if it will be turned over to an outside SAO. Most cases involving local law enforcement are handled by outside prosecutors.

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Sumter County’s only Federal Prison, Coleman Federal Correctional Complex, and only one of two Correctional Complexes in the South East United States, was also home to a conspiracy of five corrupt guards and other civilian workers who, according to reports, were paid to facilitate and bring in contraband into the facility. This prison scheme was unearthed in large part by the work of an inmate.

The inmate, and former cocaine dealer, additionally helped dismantle a sixteen person marijuana syndicate and draw attention to an eleven member prison-gang who distributed heroin. At the time of the hearing, the convicted drug trafficker, had served nineteen (19) years in Federal Prison.

For the work of this inmate, Chief U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Kovachevich, converted two consecutive life sentences to “Time Served”. A Motion to Modify or Correct Sentence can be brought on behalf of defendants in rare situations. But in cases like this one, if properly argued and for a great reason, a judge is always able to modify the terms and conditions of their sentence.

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Florida’s 5th DCA– the appellate body that reviews criminal cases in counties like Hernando County or Brooksville, FL, Sumter County or Bushnell, FL, Citrus County or Inverness, FL and Marion County or Ocala, FL, to name a few–declined to change a $500,000 bond ordered in a potential homicide case in Orange County.

Sheriff’s Office detectives originally arrested the defendant for child neglect, obstruction of a criminal investigation and false statements. The defendant is rumored to be linked to a potential homicide. At the first appeareance, the Prosecutors presented evidence of thier murder investigation and suspicions of defendant’s involvement. Although the defendant was only charged with the above, the Judge took the murder investigation into consideration when setting a bond.

Murder, which is defined in Florida Statute § 782.04, and Manslaughter, which is defined at Florida Statute § 782.07, are crimes that First Appearance Criminal Judges take a very serious look at when considering a request for Pre-Trial Release. Certainly, ties to the community and criminal background also play a role in a judge’s determintaion of bond. However, the danger to the community, potential flight risk and nature of the offense, along with any aggravating factors, are often the overriding when denying the petition to overturn the $500,000 bond. I am sure the judge took the murder investigation into consiteration when setting the high bond.

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