An ex-employee of St. Petersburg, FL resident Tony Little was arrested Friday on a charge of grand theft of $100,000 or more. The 50-year-old Pinellas Park, Florida man supposedly told police that he was heavily involved in online horse wagering, but did not indicate where the missing money went. He is accused of stealing nearly $600,000 from the ponytailed fitness guru.
Little supposedly noticed financial flaws last year and was planning to fire the man accused of grand theft who oversaw his Pinellas Park companies’ finances. According to the St. Petersburg Times, Little was unhappy with the man and set up a meeting for July, 27, 2010 where he was to let the man go. The man accused allegedly sent an e-mail to Little before the meeting took place, saying he quit.
Upon hiring a new accountant, major foibles were found and an official complaint was filed with Pinellas Park police. The alleged fraud started in August 2009. According to police, over the course of 11 months 152 checks were fraudulently drawn from three of Little’s holdings with a grand total of $583, 379.
Most of the money went into bank accounts allegedly controlled by the accused. Little said his name was forged on all those checks.
The accused was released from the Pinellas County Jail on Monday after posting $150,000 bail. He entered a plea of not guilty and was appointed a public defender.
There are three degrees of grand theft in the state of Florida. The degree of the crime and the penalties that go along with it increase based on the value of the property taken. In this case, the man accused was charged with grand theft of the first degree. This is committed when the value of the property taken is more than $100,000 or is shipping cargo worth more than $50,000. Grand theft of the first degree is a first degree felony punishable by a minimum sentence of 21 months in prison(assuming no aggravating circumstances or priors), a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, 30 years probation or fines up to $10,000.
Florida operates off of the Criminal Punishment Code scoring system to establish the minimum permissible sentence for all felony crimes. Under the CPC, every felony offense is allocated an offense level between 1 and 10. These numbers carry a point value where the more severe the crime equals an elevated offense level. The point value for a person’s crimes is added together and if the number equals more than 44 points, the person faces mandatory prison time. A person is eligible for parole if the number is less than 44 points. Mandatory prison time through CPC is referred to as scoring prison. In Florida, grand theft of the first degree has a ranking of a level 7 offense under the CPC.
If you are facing any type of grand theft charge in the state of Florida, contact the Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys at the Law Offices of Whittel & Melton, LLC online or call 727-847-2299 or 1-866-608-5LAW (5529).