The Florida Supreme Court amended the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure last week, stripping Florida state prosecutors of their discretion to disclose information about informants.  Under a new rule that lifts the curtain on the jailhouse snitches who long have been the source of false testimony in criminal cases,  juries will be provided a more complete picture of the context of an informant’s testimony.

The Innocence Commission estimates that as many as 15 percent of convictions later overturned by DNA testing involved false testimony by informants at trial and that informant perjury was a factor in nearly 50 percent of wrongful murder convictions and in 46 percent of exonerations for death row inmates.

New Procedure rules protect defendants from self-serving informant testimony

New Procedure rules protect defendants from self-serving informant testimony

Three men– a native Russian and two Latvians–were recently arrested by Federal Agents who say that the men were using skimming devices on ATMs in Palm Beach County.

Reports say that the men were charged with conspiracy to knowingly use with intent to defraud one or more counterfeit access devices and knowingly possessing with intent to defraud device-making equipment.

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 3.37.38 PMAccording to the federal complaint, the men’s apprehension started with an investigation by Customs and Border Protection officers who fell upon a package originating from Turkey at a mail hub in Kentucky. The package contained a “flexible shaft machine,” and 15 skimmers or similar devices used to capture credit card information.

The Palm Beach Post is reporting that North Miami Mayor, Lucie Tondreau, has been charged with mortgage fraud and wire fraud.

North Miami Beach mayor, Lucie Tondreau

North Miami mayor, Lucie Tondreau

The federal indictment that was unsealed yesterday, alleges that Tondreau used a radio show to recruit straw buyers, who were used to defraud lenders in buying 20 properties. It is estimated that the fraud scheme involved over $8 million of funds. According to Federal Prosecutors, the crimes took place before Tondreau was elected mayor, in June 2013. Lately, the Miami Dade County Fraud Attorneys at Whittel & Melton have noticed a trend of the Department of Justice using wire fraud charges in conjunction with the prosecution of RICO, money laundering and mortgage fraud because wire fraud is the easiest crime for an AUSA to prosecute. Many times, the sentencing range for a conviction for wire fraud will exceed the sentence available these other offenses. Having a seasoned white collar crime attorney representing your interest in paramount—even you are just being investigated for a crime. The wire fraud attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help you navigate this confusing process and many times, can even prevent charges from being filed. CALL US TODAY: LOCAL (561) 367-8777 OR STATEWIDE, TOLL FREE: (866) 608-5529.

FDLE is reporting that crime is down in Hendry County.

Data shows that total arrests were down 13.9 percent from 2011 to 2012, with violent crime arrests down nearly five percent. Violent crime was defined by the study as Murder, Sex Offenses, Robbery, and Aggravated Assault.

What is unclear is the contributing factors to this decline. Were there less crimes committed, or have economic factors impacted Hendry County Sheriff’s Office’s ability to investigate and arrest?

The Martin County Sheriff’s Office is targeting meth labs and are looking to the community to help them on their quest.

News reports claim that eleven methamphetamine-related arrests in recent months prompted a town hall meeting last week, including a Stuart meth lab that was shut down last month and the recent arrest of a Jensen Beach man who was arrested for running a meth lab out of his home, despite being in a wheelchair.

Authorities credit new laws focused on cracking down on pill mills as contributing to the recent increase of methamphetamine use.

A Vero Beach man was arrested on Tuesday after he allegedly admitted to police that he had downloaded “a lot” of child porn.

During a search of his home, the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office confiscated at least 21 videos of children engaged in sex.

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IRCSO reports that the man admitted using a laptop to download child pornography. He didn’t know how many videos he downloaded. The man is being held on a $105,000 bond and detectives expect to file more charges once his laptop is examined.

We’ve been keeping tabs on the DOJ’s evolving policy on charging federal drug offenses (see past posts, here and here), and it appears that Attorney General Eric Holder is indeed keeping his promise of instituting charging policies that focus on high-level criminals as well as rehabilitation.   As part of those “Smart on Crime” efforts, the attorney general this past week announced a new policy making it easier for some drug defendants to obtain shorter sentences.

Graph courtesy of TRAC/ Syracuse University

Graph courtesy of TRAC/ Syracuse University

The Huffington Post is reporting that number of defendants charged with federal drug crimes in January dropped to its lowest monthly level in nearly 14 years, not long after AG Holder established a series of changes to the criminal justice system.

Tax evasion isn’t the only thing on former Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina’s plate these days, it appears he’s also been busted for having a mistress. News reports claim that Luis Felipe Perez, now in prison for running a $45 million jewelry-investment scam, paid Robaina more than $300,000 in cash for proceeds from high-interest $850,000 loan between friends.

Robiana's mistress is unknown. This Mary Bolen, perhaps the most famous mistress of Henry VIII's era.

Robiana’s mistress is unknown.  Mary Boleyn        is perhaps the most famous mistress of           Henry VIII’s era.

Why the cash payments for the high interest loan? The Feds say Robaina was spending the money on his mistress and needed to keep it secret from his wife. The mistresses’ identity has not been revealed.

Described by some as “draconian,” the Miami-Dade sex offender statute is forcing offenders into a life of homelessness and squalor.

Essentially, because of the strict requirements of the Miami-Dade sex offender statute, offenders are rendered homeless, migrating from one temporary housing site to another. Just when it seems like they have found a permanent housing solution,  a new school opens or a business is newly designated as a child care facility nearby, and offenders have to move or be evicted.

Sex Offenders are being forced to live in Tent Cities because of strict offender laws

Sex Offenders are being forced to live in Tent Cities because of strict offender laws

Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein told federal prosecutors in 2011 that fellow attorney Douglas Bates “was in his pocket.”

Now, the Sun Sentinel is reporting that Bates is the latest South Florida figure to be convicted in connection with Rothstein’s $1.4 billion fraud scheme— a scheme that was exposed in October 2009. Since that date, fourteen other people have gone to federal prison because they committed crimes linked to the Ponzi scheme. Rothstein is serving a 50-year term.

Attorney Bates pleaded guilty in federal court in West Palm Beach to one count of wire fraud in connection with the largest financial fraud case in South Florida history. He faces up to five years in prison and significant fines when he is scheduled to be sentenced on May 1st.