Articles Posted in Theft

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A top University of Florida housing official has been charged with stealing more than $180,000 to buy $16,000 worth of lunches, nearly $45,000 in furniture and $37,000 more in electronics, a report shows.

The 41-year-old senior director of UF housing and education, was arrested Monday night and charged with grand larceny of more than $100,000.

According to a UF police report, the man used state funds to buy $25,000 in household items, more than $11,500 in maintenance items like lawn mowers and more than $44,000 for miscellaneous items including internet service, electricity and seven cellphones.

The report says the UF Office of Internal Audit also has records detailing fraudulent purchases of a recliner chair, blue-cushioned patio furniture, a motion-sensor trash can, tablecloth, cloth napkins, flatware, plates, lamp, storage box, motion light sensor, pitcher, several floor rugs, wall mirror, a seafoam green cabinet and several flat-screen televisions.

In November 2016, the man used his assigned UF credit card to buy a dining set and hutch at Furniture Kingdom in Gainesville for $1,340 and $1,399.95 respectively, the report says.

According to the report, a witness saw the dining set and hutch inside the man’s house. Several photographs posted on the man’s wife’s Facebook page also clearly show the dining set and hutch that were purchased with UF funds, police say.

Beginning in April, the UF Ethics and Compliance Hotline received several anonymous reports of several employees in the UF Housing and Resident Education Department who were using their positions within the department to make fraudulent reimbursement and expense claims and using department funds for private gain, the report says.

The man apparently told police Monday he was only storing the items and planned on bringing them back. He also said he would make restitution for the items.

The man was trespassed from all UF properties, the report says.

UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes said five additional employees who worked under the man have have been placed on administrative leave and may have been involved.

The man started at UF Housing in May 2004 and worked his way up to senior director about a year ago. Records show the man earned $145,675 in 2016.

As of Monday night, the man was in the Alachua County jail, awaiting a first appearance before a judge.

While many people think theft charges are minor offenses, theft convictions can damage your reputation and limit your future employment opportunities. If you or a loved one have been charged with theft or larceny, you should speak with an Alachua County Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton. We can assess your case and determine your options.

Theft charges in Florida are no joke – they can result in hefty fines and jail time. A conviction can limit your ability to gain employment. Penalties stemming from a theft/larceny conviction may include:

  • Fines
  • Jail time
  • Probation
  • Restitution
  • Mandatory counseling
  • Difficulty obtaining employment
  • Trouble securing a professional license

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Florida authorities said three teenagers – one 14-year-old and two 16-year-olds – stole a sport utility vehicle, sped away from officers and died in a fiery, violent crash early Sunday morning.

The 4:30 a.m. crash happened in Pinellas County.

A fourth teen in the SUV, who is 14, survived and is hospitalized.

All the teens all had criminal histories – including one who had gotten out of jail on July 31.

Reports indicate that a Ford Explorer and a Chrysler Sebring were stolen from a Clearwater car dealership Thursday. Both vehicles were spotted by deputies early Sunday morning. Deputies tried to apprehend the drivers of the cars, but didn’t pursue them. The sheriff’s office’s pursuit policy generally does not allow deputies to chase stolen cars.

Deputies believed the teens were using the stolen cars to commit burglaries. At one point, they set up a perimeter to try to catch the teens, but a deputy spotted the vehicles outside of the perimeter.

According to reports, the cars were in a “cat and mouse” game with each other, accelerating and slowing down, hitting speeds of 100 mph or more.

The deputy that spotted them did not initiate a high-speed chase, but the Explorer continued at about 100 mph when it hit another vehicle, caught fire and went airborne. The Explorer also hit a billboard pole.

The driver hit by the Explorer suffered minor injuries, reports indicate.

Officers found the Chrysler Sebring and arrested the two in that car; one is 16 and the other 18.

The teens involved were being monitored under a program for repeat offenders.

In 2015, police in Pinellas made 499 felony arrests for juvenile auto theft, more than any other county in Florida going back eight years, and more than the most populous counties in America, including Los Angeles. The Tampa Bay Times did an investigation into teen car thefts in April of 2017; the paper found that every four days, a teen crashes a stolen car in Pinellas County. It also found that in nearly every other county in Florida, most people arrested for auto theft are adults. But in Pinellas County, 62 percent are younger than 18 – the largest rate of juveniles arrested for grand theft auto of any sizable Florida county for at least a decade.

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A former Polk County school principal was arrested Friday morning on allegations of fraud and theft.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office has charged the 46-year-old former principal with 60 counts of dealing in stolen property, 16 counts passing forged or altered documents, 2 counts fraudulent use of credit card, 1 count obtaining property by fraud, 1 count money laundering, and 1 count grand theft.

Detectives said the crimes occurred while the woman was principal. She resigned as principal in June 2015 and was hired in July 2015 as Assistant Director of Academics at another school. Detectives said the woman resigned from that position in Sep. 2016 when confronted by school officials about suspected fraud and theft–a total of $105,426.

The woman was arrested on Jan. 10, 2017 for grand theft fraud, fraudulent use of credit card, money laundering, and criminal use of personal ID. She was released from jail two days later, on Jan. 12, after posting a $39,000 bail. This case is still pending an outcome, officials said.

The woman was arrested Friday, July 21, at her home in north Lakeland. She will have a first appearance hearing Saturday morning, July 22, 2017.

Anyone can be arrested for a crime, as this case shows. Theft and fraud crimes are taken very seriously in Florida, and can come with severe penalties and consequences. Whether it is a misdemeanor or felony theft or fraud offense it can have serious consequences that will haunt you for the rest of your life. If convicted of theft or fraud, you are looking at serious jail time and steep fines. Any type of theft or fraud conviction will more than likely affect your job. Employers do not generally like to hire people who have been arrested or convicted of theft or fraud, which could make it very difficult to support yourself both now and in the future. Therefore, it is very important to hire a skilled criminal defense lawyer who understands the consequences a theft or fraud conviction and what it can mean to your future.

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Three men were arrested Thursday on charges of using a skimming device at a bank ATM in Osceola County, according to deputies.

The men, 36, 22, and 38 were arrested during a traffic stop. Investigators said the men were seen removing a skimming device from the ATM.

An investigation apparently began Oct. 20 after suspicious activity was reported at a SunTrust Bank located in Celebration.

All three men were booked into the Osceola County Jail.

Credit and debit card skimming is a form of theft that can happen in many different ways. The most common way is stealing personal information through ATMs. How does it work? High tech devices are installed on ATM machines that see a high volume of customers so that every time a person uses their card, their information gets stored on the device. A magnetic card reading device is installed on top of the ATM’s card reader, which looks identical to the real ATM reader underneath them, which is why customers do not usually pay them any mind.

The skimming device does not interrupt the ATM’s normal functions, so customers can still withdraw their cash, but remain unaware that their data has been stolen. While a person is sliding their card into the device to get cash, the skimming device saves and stores the card information.

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The good news is that overall crime is down in Flagler County, but the bad news is that violent crime is up in many categories.

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Uniform Crime Report, the rates of rape, aggravated assault, burglaries and stolen vehicles all increase in 2015. There was also one murder in the county, up from zero in 2014.

Flagler County’s sheriff says his deputies have managed to keep the crime rate low for a long time. And despite increases in key categories, the overall crime rate is still down .6 percent.

The increase has been blamed on population growth. In the last four years, the county’s population has grown by about 10 percent.

The sheriff said whenever they start to see a spike in crime in specific areas, they flood the zones with patrols.

Statewide, crime is also up in several categories, although overall crime is down 1.6 percent.

In 2015, the crime rates rose in the following categories:

  • Murder: 5.7 percent
  • Rape: 6.1 percent
  • Fondling: 2.0 percent
  • Aggravated Assault: 3.9 percent
  • Motor vehicle Theft: 12.4 percent

The report also breaks down domestic violence-related crime by category. Overall, domestic violence-related crime is up .5 percent.

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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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An affordable housing contractor accused of stealing millions of dollars in kickbacks to four Miami-based developers pleaded guilty Thursday to stealing federal government subsidies intended to help the poor.

The 57-year-old owner of a South Florida based construction company, faces between two and three years in prison at his sentencing this fall after reaching a plea deal on a theft conspiracy charge with the U.S. attorney’s office.

The man was charged with paying about $6.2 million in kickbacks to various founders and CEOs of different housing groups.

297924038_e957335351_zAccording to records filed in Miami federal court, they all allegedly cut a “side agreement” to inflate the construction costs of low-income apartment projects in Miami-Dade County to qualify for bigger government subsidies and then pocketed the “excess” profits.

The man accused allegedly made $1.3 million off the illicit scheme, according to prosecutors.

This man is the second builder to plead guilty in the alleged fraud conspiracy.

Last month, a 63-year-old founder of another construction company pleaded guilty to the same theft conspiracy charge, stemming from paying more than $1 million in kickbacks to other groups, according to records.

Federal conspiracy charges are nothing to joke about. When the federal government has invested the time, money and resources into indicting you on a federal charge, it is guaranteed that they will pursue your case in court quite aggressively. A charge like conspiracy carries significant sentencing and long-term consequences, so it is important that you seek the best legal representation so that your case can be handled accordingly.

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Two women accused of shoplifting from a Fleming Island Kohl’s ran from deputies and then allegedly carjacked a driver on U.S. 17 in Green Cove Springs, according to the Clay County Sheriff’s Office.

The women, a 47-year-old and a 28-year-old, were arrested Monday and charged with carjacking and false imprisonment.

Deputies claim additional charges are pending regarding the alleged shoplifting incident at Kohl’s.

The alleged victim of the carjacking was not injured.

According to reports, shortly after 5 p.m. on Monday, the women were seen taking items and placing them inside their purses. They fled Kohl’s in a 2001 green Kia Rio with a North Carolina plate.

A deputy saw the Rio on U.S. 17, driving south toward Green Cove Springs, and attempted to pull it over.

The deputy reported that the driver signaled she would pull over. The deputy claims he saw the female passenger throwing clothes into the back seat and throwing what looked like price tags out of the front passenger window.

According to the police report, as they approached the intersection of Russell Road, the woman ran a red light, almost hit a white pickup truck and then hit the median, which busted the car’s front passenger tire.

The woman apparently kept driving. The deputy said he saw her pull into the parking lot of a Wendy’s on U.S. 17 and then pull out of the parking lot of a Winn-Dixie and turn east onto County Road 315. At that point, the deputy said he was told to discontinue pursuit of the Rio, and he headed toward the Orange Park substation.

While driving back to Orange Park, the deputy claims he spotted the Rio disabled on the side of the road and saw the two women running out into traffic. The deputy believes the women stopped in front of a silver Toyota Venza.

The driver of the Toyota stopped to see if the women needed help. According to reports, the women told the woman to drive them to the hospital, but she said no but offered them her phone to call 911.

The women allegedly forced their way into the woman’s car and told her to drive them to the hospital.

The woman told police she began driving until she saw the deputy pull up behind her with his lights and sirens on and stopped.

The women are both being held in the Clay County Jail on $180,000 bond.

Carjacking is the criminal act of taking a vehicle from a driver by threat, violence or intimidation. It is a form of robbery – the item being stolen is the automobile itself. If the carjacker is armed, it is considered armed robbery.

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Police believe a 65-year-old man used rented trucks to steal nearly 450 pallets of brick paver stones, worth an estimated $200,000, from Flagstone Pavers.

Brooksville investigators arrested the man on a felony grand theft charge resulting from a six week investigation into the missing pavers.

The company claims they never knew the pavers were missing until early February when an operator received an anonymous call from a woman who said that ’54 pallets of their pavers had been stolen and brought to a warehouse’ in Pasco County, according to reports.

A detective was able to get to the scene before the pavers were dispersed.

Police claim that what they thought were just 54 pallets of product turned out to be 450 stolen pallets.

4745160167_db76dca48d_zThe detective claims to have questioned the man who allegedly told him that he buys products from various locations. The detective said he asked the man for receipts, and the man apparently requested to speak with his lawyer.

Police claim the man had rented Penske trucks nine times for a total of 25 trucks to make multiple trips from Brooksville to Port Richey.

Police allege that from November to February, the man and a crew would load pallets into those trucks overnight and then drive them back and unload them at the warehouse, which is owned by the man’s son.

Police reported that they do not plan to arrest any of the crew members because they did not know what they were doing was illegal.

Police are investigating if an employee inside the plant was helping to facilitate the heist.

In the state of Florida, theft offenses are classified as both misdemeanors and felonies. In general, the determining factor of whether charges are a misdemeanor or felony revolve around the amount of money taken or the value of the item or items. In most cases, a theft involving $300 or more is classified as a felony. However, there are instances when a theft offense of a lower amount can become a felony due to a person’s prior record of theft-related offenses.

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Vanilla Ice, legally named Robert Van Winkle, was arrested in south Florida and charged with burglary and grand theft after police found items allegedly stolen from a foreclosed home at Van Winkle’s residence.

The home of the alleged burglary was adjacent to a house the former rapper was renovating as part of his television show for DIY Network called “The Vanilla Ice Project.”

Lantana police claim that after conducting an investigation into possible squatting, they found that several items including furniture, a pool heater, bicycles and pieces of art were taken from the home of a recently deceased man. When officers spoke to Vanilla Ice at the property, they allege that he told them he had purchased it.

5076391518_9593765c83_zReports indicate that he had no contract or down payment, and was only filming renovations of the home next door.

Police then obtained a warrant to search Ice’s Palm Beach home where they claim they found the missing items. Ice was arrested and booked into the Palm Beach County Jail. He was later released after posting $6,000 bail.

Following his release, he told reporters that the entire episode was a “misunderstanding.”

Ice was charged with burglary as well as grand theft.

This is not Ice’s first run-in with the law. The entertainer has been arrested four times in the past for domestic assault, brandishing weapons and disorderly conduct. Additionally, he was forced to pay fines after his pet wallaroo and pet goat escaped from his home and wandered his Port St. Lucie neighborhood for more than a week.

According to Florida state statute 810.02, burglary is defined as:

entering or remaining in a dwelling, a structure, or a conveyance with the intent to commit an offense therein, unless the premises are at the time open to the public or the defendant is licensed or invited to enter or remain.

If Ice is convicted of burglary, he could face up to 15 years in prison and $10,000 in fines. Grand theft charges are even more complicated than burglary charges. The potential penalties associated with a grand theft conviction can vary. Consequences depend on the total value of the items stolen.

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