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Florida Criminal Defense Law Blog

Guilty plea in United Way embezzlement

Florida residents might like to know about a former Milton mayor charged with tax evasion and wire fraud. The man was the director of the Santa Rosa County United Way, and he allegedly embezzled $650,000 from his employer. He pleaded guilty to the charges. According to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Florida, the events occurred over a period of several years. He reportedly took money for the organization's business expenses and used donations that others were not aware of to pay United Way bills instead.

To protect himself, Thompson reportedly tried to prevent audits and provided false information to those involved with the United Way. The former executive director gained several thousands of dollars per year in misappropriated funds and did not report this money to the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS seized $221,000 from his bank accounts and intends to recover all the embezzled money.

You can fight back if you're accused of identity theft

Identity theft is a serious criminal action that can lead to time in prison and hefty fines. People who steal others' identities might do so intentionally, taking advantage of their accounts and attempting to seek financial benefits as a result.

There are times, though, when identity theft cases are based on misinformation. For example, someone purchasing items with a relative's credit card might be accused of identity theft and arrested, but it could turn out that the individual was given permission to make the purchase by the cardholder.

Woman, man arrested during Milton drug bust

On April 23, Florida authorities arrested two people during a drug raid at a Santa Clara County home. One of the defendants was arrested because he walked up to the scene of the raid with drugs in his pocket.

According to law enforcement records, deputies from the Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office Narcotics Unit served a search warrant at a Milton residence, which was occupied by a 36-year-old woman. During a search of the property, they allegedly found unspecified amounts of methamphetamine, heroin, oxycodone pills and marijuana. They additionally found digital scales, plastic baggies and a notebook that appeared to list drug prices. While the drug raid was underway, a 42-year-old man approached the home and told two deputies standing outside that he was there to see the woman who lived there. The deputies searched him and allegedly found methamphetamine in his pocket.

Citizen tip leads to drug charges for Florida couple

Police in southwest Florida reported that a 26-year-old man and 22-year-old woman were taken into custody on April 10 after the discovery of illegal drugs and a handgun. The North Fort Myers residents are being held at the Lee County Jail on charges including drug possession, drug paraphernalia possession, narcotics trafficking, attempting to elude law enforcement and driving while under the influence.

The chain of events that led to the couple's legal problems began when a bystander called the Cape Coral Police Department to report suspicious behavior in the parking lot of a big-box retailer on Southwest Pine Island Road. The caller told emergency dispatchers that a woman had exited a Toyota Corolla sedan to retrieve a spoon from the vehicle's trunk. When an officer arrived at the scene, the man behind the wheel of the Toyota allegedly attempted to flee the scene.

People arrested in Florida in drug crimes probe

Two people were arrested in Flagler County and accused of drug charges. The two people were taken into custody behind the county's public library where they were said to be living in a makeshift homeless encampment. According to police, they are suspected of being drug dealers. Police said that the camp became an "open air drug market" and it is a point of attention in an ongoing drug roundup campaign by the Flagler County Sheriff's Office called Operation Spring Mix.

On March 27, the sheriff's office arrested a 38-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman at the camp. Authorities said that they made multiple undercover drug purchases of MDMA and "bath salts" from the man while they reportedly bought heroin with fentanyl from the woman. However, the drug arrests were not limited to those at the camp. After a lengthy undercover investigation, police obtained arrest warrants for 18 people accused of drug distribution; they arrested seven of these people during raids throughout the area. The sheriff also said that the agency had seized $15,000 in drugs over the past year, including heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone, cocaine, methamphetamine, THC oil and cannabis.

Florida man facing drug charges after vehicle search

A 28-year-old Florida man is facing a raft of drug possession and trafficking charges in connection with quantities of heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana and prescription medications allegedly discovered in his vehicle on March 15. The man was taken into custody by a Marion County Sheriff's Office deputy outside a Dunnellon residence without incident.

The chain of events began when the deputy observed the man traveling in a gold Ford Explorer SUV on Southwest Beach Boulevard. The deputy says that he became suspicious because he knew that the man's driver's license had been suspended. However, the traffic stop never took place as the SUV increased speed sharply on Kingfish Boulevard in what police describe as an attempt to flee the scene. The brief pursuit ended when the SUV pulled up at a Rainbow Lakes Boulevard home.

Former NFL player to avoid jail on drug charges

Court records reveal that former National Football League player Barry Cofield has entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors in Florida that will see him avoid jail time on drunk driving and drug possession charges. The 34-year-old Cofield, who retired in 2015 after playing on the defensive lines of the New York Giants and Washington Redskins for 10 seasons, will lose his driving privileges for six months and serve 12 months of probation for the DUI charge. The heroin possession charge has been referred to drug court, and observers expect it to be dismissed after Cofield completes a substance abuse treatment program.

Cofield's legal problems began in July 2018 when deputies from the Seminole County Sheriff's Office found him passed out behind the wheel of his Cadillac Escalade SUV on an Interstate 4 off-ramp. When deputies roused the former athlete, he disobeyed their orders to put his vehicle into park and instead attempted to flee the scene according to the incident report.

Designer drugs and serious criminal consequences

While many people equate drug crimes with cocaine, heroin or marijuana, designer drugs can have just as potent effects – and significant criminal consequences. Also known as club drugs, party drugs or rave drugs, these substances are functional analogs chemically designed to mimic the pharmacological effects of the target drug. Incorrectly thought to be less dangerous to users than street drugs, designer drugs are addictive, habit-forming and carry the same severe criminal penalties.

The SEC takes action against a former Apple lawyer

Florida residents may be interested to learn that the SEC filed a lawsuit on Feb. 13 against a corporate attorney who formerly worked for Apple. According to the SEC's public filing, the lawyer used his corporate position to engage in blatant insider trading. He allegedly gained or saved over $380,000 through illicit means. Because federal white-collar crimes cause people to lose faith in investment and financial systems in general, society recognizes that these offenses are quite serious. The lawyer could face up to 20 years in prison as well as a $5 million fine.

In one instance of alleged insider trading, the lawyer sold $10 million worth of Apple stock before a July 2015 earnings report was released. This led to a savings of roughly $345,000 just as news of Apple's 4 percent stock loss was announced.

Florida sheriff sets free 11 people jailed on false drug charges

The sheriff in Martin County has chosen to release 11 people from custody after the discovery that a deputy was falsifying drug evidence. Strange lab results alerted the sheriff to the situation. According to his internal investigation, he could not identify anything credible in the reports filed by a rookie deputy. The sheriff fired the deputy who had only been with the department for 11 months.

Although the sheriff acknowledged that he could not completely reverse the harm caused to the people held on false evidence, he committed the department to paying their fees and helping with expungement. The sheriff said that he might charge the dismissed deputy with official misconduct.

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