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Florida Criminal Defense Law Blog

Rapper faces drug possession charge

The rapper YNW Melly was taken into custody in South Florida on Jan. 3 and charged with multiple drug offenses. The 19-year-old was charged with a count of possession of marijuana of less than 20 grams and use of drug paraphernalia. The rapper said that he believed that he would be released at some point before his next tour was set to begin.

There was no update as to whether the rapper had been released from Lee County Jail or if he had an attorney. There were also no details as to why the rapper was stopped by law enforcement. While a source reached out to representatives for the artist, it was not clear if they had any comment on the matter.

Dozens arrested in two Florida drug operations

On December 20, Florida officials announced the arrests of dozens of defendants as the result of two drug operations aimed at reducing drug activity in Fernandina Beach. The operations were coined "Operation City Sweep" and "Operation Ice Breaker" by authorities.

According to the Nassau County Sheriff's Office, the 30 individuals arrested during Operation City Sweep, which ran for four months, were drug dealers and repeat drug offenders. In total, the defendants have been charged with 97 felonies and 21 misdemeanor crimes involving cocaine, heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine, cash, handguns and vehicles. They range in age from 18 to 53, and most are residents of Fernandina Beach. One of the defendants, a 20-year-old man, is accused of being a member of the "Folk Nation" street gang and selling drugs in and around Central Park. A search of his Fernandina Beach home allegedly yielded a sawed-off shotgun, two handguns, brass knuckles and bong masks.

Drug investigation leads to the arrest of 18 in Florida

On Dec. 4, the federal government announced the arrest of 18 people who are allegedly connected with a violent Florida drug trafficking ring called the "Bird Gang." The arrests were the culmination of a one-year investigation by federal and state authorities.

According to media outlets, the defendants were involved in crimes like drug deals, simple assaults, shootings, robberies and homicides. The drugs they are accused of trafficking include cocaine, crack, heroin, fentanyl and oxycodone. The United States Attorney for the Middle District of Florida reported that 100 grams of fentanyl were captured as a result of the investigation.

Florida AG accuses pharmacy chains of fueling the opioid epidemic

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced on Nov. 16 that the pharmacy chains CVS and Walgreens had been added to a lawsuit that her office filed in May against a number of leading pharmaceutical companies. The litigation accuses the drug companies and retail chains of fueling an opioid epidemic by creating an illegitimate demand for and recklessly distributing potentially lethal narcotic painkillers.

The pharmaceutical companies named in the lawsuit include Perdue Pharma, which makes OxyContin; Endo Pharmaceuticals, which manufactures Percocet; and the generic drug maker Teva Pharmaceutical. Bondi says that Walgreens and CVS dispensed unreasonable quantities of these powerful and highly addictive opioid painkillers and failed to meet their legal duty to notify authorities about suspicious orders. Other defendants are accused of offering doctors financial rewards for prescribing the drugs.

Paying off an inspector or appraiser could be mortgage fraud

Many people who own their own homes or investment properties find it disturbing that another individual has authority over the value of their home. Professionals such as assessors, appraisers and inspectors have experience and training in identifying how to accurately price individual real estate holdings.

The figure that the professional eventually comes up with will determine how much financing you can secure for a property. It also impacts how much tax you pay on a property. Most people are happy to accept the figures provided by these professionals.

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.

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