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Florida Criminal Defense Law Blog

Florida man pleads guilty to federal drug charges

A Florida man with a lengthy history of felonies is awaiting his sentencing after entering guilty pleas on his latest string of drug charges. His arrest occurred in the parking lot of a Lake Worth Budget Inn in Palm Beach. Officers from the country sheriff's department saw him speeding in a Chevrolet Monte Carlo and confronted him in the motel's parking lot where they found 1.2 grams of marijuana in his possession, which he later acknowledged in his admission of facts.

At his sentencing hearing, he expects to get a prison sentence of at least 15 years for his convictions for drug possession, intent to distribute drugs and possessing a firearm as a felon. Additionally, he must answer for child neglect charges pending in the Palm Beach County Court. At the time of his arrest, he had a motel key for room number 12 in his pocket. When authorities searched the room, they found drugs and his 1-month-old son who had been left alone.

Man busted with 5 ounces of heroin in Florida

On Oct. 20, Florida authorities arrested a 24-year-old man after they allegedly found him in possession of more than 5 ounces of heroin. According to the Martin County Sheriff's Office, deputies pulled over the defendant in Jensen Beach near the intersection of Northeast Indian River Driver and Northeast Palmer Street at approximately 11:50 p.m. The man was allegedly driving with an expired license.

When deputies approached the car, they claimed they detected the odor of marijuana coming from inside the vehicle. As a result, they performed a search of the car and allegedly located a laundry detergent bag filled with white and blue powder. The defendant claimed the bag was filled with boat shavings and fiberglass, but a field test determined that it actually contained heroin.

What to know about stealing another person's identity

Identity theft can impact any person at any time. For instance, an individual in Florida could pretend to be someone in another state or country using information gathered online or through other sources. Examples include physically grabbing someone's wallet or sending a phony email. Between 2010 and 2015, the number of identity theft complaints doubled, and it is believed that there are more victims who are not included in official numbers.

One issue that is gaining attention from authorities is the filing of fraudulent tax returns. This happens when an criminal uses another person's Social Security number and other information to obtain a refund that he or she is not entitled to. The money is usually sent to a bank account that the criminal controls. Taxpayers may not know what has happened until they try to file their own tax return.

What to know about pyramid and Ponzi schemes

Florida residents may have heard of the terms "Ponzi scheme" and "pyramid scheme." While the two terms are similar, they're not exactly the same. The big difference between such schemes is that a pyramid scheme does not promise any specific rate of return. Meanwhile, Ponzi schemes do stipulate how much an investor can expect to receive on his or her investment.

However, what the two schemes do have in common is that they are both illegal. Those who participate in such a scam could be sent to prison. As a general rule, each type of scam requires new cash to keep going. In the absence of new money, the entire scam generally collapses. Furthermore, in both scenarios, those who invest first are more likely to get their money back compared to those who enter late. In many cases, investors are convinced to put their money into a poor quality product or one that doesn't exist at all.

Ten arrested in drug trafficking bust

On Sept. 17, Florida authorities announced the arrests of 10 people allegedly connected with a drug distribution ring in the central part of the state. One person remains at large.

According to the Orange County Sheriff's Office, the drug ring was led by four siblings, who were among those taken into custody. They reportedly worked with the other defendants to transport heroin, fentanyl and methamphetamine from Mexico to Florida, where the drugs were sold. The drugs were allegedly supplied by members of a Mexican cartel, and the ring transported up to 10 kilos of heroin into the U.S. each month.

Ocala couple nabbed for selling drugs from mobile home window

On August 23, Florida authorities arrested a man and a woman for allegedly dealing drugs out of their mobile home's kitchen window. A raid of their Ocala property uncovered fentanyl and various pieces of drug paraphernalia.

According to the Ocala Police Department, officers had recently responded to multiple overdose incidents in the area of the couple's trailer. The occurrences reportedly involved heroin laced with fentanyl. Authorities were able to obtain a search warrant for the property after an undercover officer bought drugs from the home in mid-August.

People at Miami billing company convicted of health care fraud

The owner and two managers operating Billing USA, a medical billing company located in Little Havana, have been convicted of health care fraud. A federal prosecutor documented their fraudulent claims totaling $5,692,102 to the insurers Blue Cross and Cigna.

These bills represented fake medical procedures associated with a clinic in Little Havana. An email from the U.S. Department of Justice explained that this clinic and others would send paperwork known as super-bills to Billing USA. The billing company then entered the super-bill information into insurance claims forms. Billing USA collected 6 percent on all funds paid to medical providers by insurers. At times, Billing USA created the super-bills on behalf of client clinics. Clinics would then produce fake medical records to document the claims.

Will you have to pay for an ignition interlock device over a DUI?

Facing any driving under the influence (DUI) charge in Florida is certainly frightening. There are serious potential consequences involved, even for first-time offenders. In addition to the potential for jail time and significant fines, those who plead guilty or get convicted of a DUI will likely end up completing community service and losing their license.

After that license is reinstated, people often think they can get on with their lives. However, and many cases, they must first participate in an ignition interlock device (IID) program. Depending on the number of DUI charges on your record and the presence of any complicating factors (such as children in the vehicle or very high blood alcohol concentration), even first-time DUI offenders may have to install an IID in their vehicle.

Report of marijuana smell leads to drug charges

A 27-year-old Florida man is facing a raft of drug charges after being confronted by police for smoking marijuana inside a Melbourne medical center. Police allegedly discovered cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia during a search of the man's backpack. Reports indicate that he was transported to the Brevard County jail for processing and his bond has been set at $73,500.

According to media accounts, officers from the Melbourne Police Department were dispatched to the Brevard Health Alliance facility on Sarno Road at approximately 12:30 p.m. Emergency dispatchers are said to have received a call from one of the hospital's security guards who claimed to have detected the odor of marijuana in a public bathroom. Police say that they observed the man exiting a stall when they entered the bathroom in question.

4 men charged for distributing heroin in Florida

The State Attorney's Office has reported that four men have been charged with distributing more than 2 kilograms of heroin in Manatee County. The men are ages 24, 29, 30 and 39, and two are from Manatee County. The remaining two men are from Orlando and Dade City.

Agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration executed a search warrant at a home in Dade City where the men were alleged to be cutting pure heroin for street sales. During the search, agents reportedly recovered 1.4 kilograms of uncut heroin and 900 grams of cut heroin. They also claim to have found crack cocaine, 2 ounces of methamphetamine and a firearm.

Mark J. O'Brien's cases have been featured in:
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