A Fort Lauderdale resident was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison for tax evasion.

According to documents filed with the court, the 53-year-old man evaded paying taxes on more than $1.5 million in income that he earned from 2002 to 2015. Except for the 2007 tax year, the man has not filed an income tax return since 2002. He worked for a Fort Lauderdale company selling hurricane-resistant windows to residential homeowners in South Florida. In August 2009, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) notified the man of its intent to levy his wages because of his failure to pay taxes. According to reports, the man established his own business and changed his employment status from an employee to an independent contractor to obstruct the IRS’s collection efforts. The man listed himself as the director of the business and opened a business bank account in its name. Due to the man’s change in employment status, his employer paid his business directly and the IRS’s attempts to levy the man’s wages were thwarted.

From approximately August 2009 through April 2017, the man allegedly used his business’ bank account to pay for personal expenses, including rent, cigars, international travel, entertainment, his girlfriend’s cosmetic surgery, jewelry, and a boat. He also apparently falsely classified numerous personal expenses as business expenses on the memo line of the checks drawn on the business bank account.

The man apparently admitted that he made these false entries with the intent to claim false business expense deductions and evade the assessment of his income taxes. The man also apparently admitted that his actions caused a tax loss of more than $351,241.

In addition to the term of prison imposed, the judge ordered the man to serve two years of supervised release and to pay $459,481.03 in restitution to the IRS.

When tax matters turn criminal or have the potential to turn criminal, you must take immediate action to minimize or eliminate the potential consequences. The operative word when dealing with criminal matters is speed: the earlier you have a criminal defense attorney assess the situation and work quickly to resolve the matter, the less the damage can be.

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A 17-year-old teen from Boynton Beach was charged with molesting a 10-year-old boy after he allegedly admitted it to the boy’s mother, according to police.

The teen faces charges of sexual battery of a child and lewd and lascivious molestation.

Police apparently began investigating July 18 when they met a Delray Beach woman and her 10-year-old son at Bethesda Memorial Hospital in Boynton Beach. The woman said she confronted  the teen about rumors that he had molested a child in Delray Beach. The report indicates that the teen admitted that he had touched her son.

Investigators with the Child Protection Team allegedly found signs of sexual abuse on the boy.

According to police, the boy said the teen raped him in a closet.

The teen was booked into Palm Beach County Jail and held without bond.

If your child has been accused of rape or another sex crime in Palm Beach County, it is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Due to the potential consequences that could come with a juvenile sex crime conviction, and the fact that police and prosecutors are already building a case, it is imperative to exercise your right to legal representation.

What you may not know is that a juvenile can be arrested for the same types of sex crimes as adults. This includes rape, sexual assault, child molestation and related charges. Our South Florida Sex Crimes Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton will examine all of the evidence of the alleged sex crime, including witness statements, police reports, DNA evidence and other physical evidence. We will conduct our own investigation into the charges and determine how best to proceed.

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An investigation into alleged child predators apparently resulted in the arrests of 23 men, mostly from St. Lucie County.

Operation: Guardian Angel, a joint investigation with the South Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, took place on eight random days over the course of a month, according to reports. Undercover deputies posed as children on websites and social media platforms where they claim the men pursued them.

The charges against the men, whose ages range from 20 to 79, include lewd and lascivious behavior on someone 12 to 16 years old; use of a computer to seduce, solicit or lure a child; use of a two-way communication device to facilitate a felony; traveling to meet after using a computer to lure a child; and misrepresentation of age to solicit, lure or seduce.

Deputies pretended to be 13- to 15-year-old girls and boys who were home alone during the summer.

All of the men arrested are first-time offenders.

Online sex stings are aimed to trap “so-called predators” into doing something illegal. It is very interesting that all of the men arrested have never been arrested before, which raises a big red flag. Police like to paint the picture that these men “just haven’t been caught yet,” but the reality could be that they were actually victims of police entrapment.

Entrapment is an illegal scenario where police use persuasion or coercion to convince a regular law-abiding citizen to break the law. This is considered illegal when the citizen would not have engaged in the activity otherwise without being persuaded or coerced.

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Two South Florida men were arrested Wednesday on trafficking in fraudulent credit cards after an Interstate 75 traffic stop allegedly uncovered gas pump keys, scores of fake cards and more.

A 29-year-old Hollywood man and a 42-year-old Miramar man were pulled over on I-75 northbound near mile marker 378 based on a traffic violation, according to a Gainesville Police Department arrest report.

During a search of the vehicle, police claim they found 80 fraudulent cards in a paper bag, two wallets with seven fraudulent credit cards, a credit card encoder, gas pump keys and other devices related to fraudulent card activity.

The seven cards in the wallet had numbers written on the back that appeared to be ZIP codes.

Both men were charged with trafficking in counterfeit credit cards and encoding fraudulent cards.

As of Thursday morning, both men were being held in Alachua County jail in lieu of $70,000 bond.

Anyone who uses someone else’s lost or stolen credit cards to buy merchandise or services can be charged with credit card fraud. Likewise, anyone using a bank, ATM or credit card device by using another person’s credit card, account number, or personal identification number (PIN) can be charged with credit card fraud. If a person is selling and/or trafficking credit cards or is found to be in possession of materials that are commonly used to counterfeit credit cards, they need a criminal defense attorney to help them beat these credit card trafficking and fraud charges.

Good people can get easily get implicated in this type of criminal activity.  Regardless of what role you play in this type of crime, the prosecution will take a serious stance against you. You need a strong and capable criminal defense lawyer to assert your rights and defend your freedom.

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A Boca Raton woman was sentenced to four years and three months in prison for submitting fraudulent student loan applications online.

According to investigators, the 31-year-old tricked nursing students at the Coral Ridge Training School into giving out their personal information, which she then used to sign up for loans without their consent.

At the time, the woman was an employee at the school, officials said.

Many students found out about the unauthorized loans when they started receiving letters from the loan servicing companies.

Wire Fraud is a very serious criminal offense under federal law. A conviction usually results in stiff fines and lengthy time behind bars. There are 2 major factors that outline if wire fraud was committed:

  • The accused willfully intended to devise a scheme or means to defraud another person of money or property with the intent to defraud.
  • The accused committed the scheme through the use of interstate wire facilities, such as telephone, television, email or the Internet.

If you are being investigated for or have been arrested for wire fraud it is vital to the outcome of your case to obtain legal help right away. These types of crimes are usually investigated over a solid period of time by police as they build their case. It is not uncommon for police to reach out to those suspected of committing wire fraud to try and gather more evidence against the accused. If you are under investigation for wire fraud or have already been charged, let our South Florida Wire Fraud Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton help you with your defense. We will make sure your rights are protected.

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A former Democratic state lawmaker is facing a federal indictment for allegedly using campaign funds to cover personal expenses.

It was announced earlier this month that former state Rep. Dwayne Taylor, 49, of Daytona Beach has been charged with nine counts of wire fraud in connection with a scheme to funnel money from his campaign to personal funds.

Taylor could face a maximum of 20 years in prison on each of the nine counts.

Prosecutors are also seeking $62,834, “representing the amount of proceeds obtained as a result of the offense,” though the amounts withdrawn from the campaign in the nine counts listed in the indictment totaled $2,440.

According to the indictment, Taylor “would withdraw cash from the Dwayne L. Taylor Campaign Accounts at automated teller machines (ATMs) … and, within minutes or hours, deposit the same or a similar amount of cash into one of TAYLOR’s personal accounts.”

Taylor used at least one check for similar reasons, the indictment said.

Taylor is accused of using the funds for personal expenses and then filing fake or inflated campaign expense reports to cover his alleged misuse of the money.

Under Florida law, campaign money may not be used to defray normal living expenses, other than for transportation, meals, and lodging that is campaign-related.

Taylor served as his campaign’s treasurer in 2012 and 2014, when he was seeking re-election to the House, according to reports, which deals with funds from those two campaigns.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

There are many different aspects of wire fraud charges, so it is best to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible so that a strong case can be built on your behalf. It is up to prosecutors to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you committed every element of the criminal act of wire fraud. If they cannot prove this, then they cannot achieve a conviction. This is why it is imperative for your defense lawyer to highlight any flaws or weaknesses in the case.

The elements of wire fraud generally consist of using mail or electronic communications in furtherance of defrauding, deceiving or cheating someone out of honest services.

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A woman alleges she was injured after falling between a lifeboat and a dock on a Norwegian Cruise Line ship.

The woman filed a complaint on March 10 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida alleging negligence.

According to the complaint, the woman alleges that on Feb. 16, 2016, she suffered physical injuries after falling between a dock and a lifeboat. The suit states that the woman was attempting to board the lifeboat to be transported back to the cruise ship from docks in the Virgin Islands. She holds Norwegian Cruise Line responsible because they allegedly failed to assist or provide her a safe means to board the lifeboat.

Cruise lines have a duty to keep their ships safe and free from hazardous conditions that can cause serious injuries to passengers. When a cruise ship accident occurs due to poor maintenance, lack of security, or improperly trained staff, the cruise line can be held legally responsible for negligence.

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Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has asked the state Supreme Court to reject Wellington polo club founder John Goodman’s request that the court invalidate Florida’s administrative rules for the drawing and collection of blood in drunken driving cases.

In 2016, the 4th District Court of Appeal had rejected John Goodman appeals of his DUI manslaughter conviction based on questions raised about how blood is drawn and records are kept, but agreed to refer those questions to the Supreme Court.

In November, the Florida Supreme Court agreed to to consider Goodman’s appeal of his 16-year prison sentence by finding the answers to the following questions:

  1. Do Florida Department of Law Enforcement rules ensure proper blood draws?
  2. Should current rules include further regulations on how blood samples are screened and documented by analysts?

Goodman’s appeal argued the blood test result should have been thrown out because the results may have been skewed due to a smaller needle used at the time. Hours after Goodman crashed and killed Scott Patrick Wilson in February 2010, investigators say Goodman’s blood alcohol level was 0.177 percent. In Florida, the legal limit is 0.08 percent. Goodman was convicted twice in the fatal crash.

In her brief, filed on Friday, Bondi said the current rules are adequate and that “no other state appears to regulate needle gauge or tourniquet usage during blood draws.” She also sided with the 4th DCA’s explanation that if the FDLE tried to regulate screenings and documentation as Goodman’s attorney suggested it “would run the risk of locking in today’s current scientific methodology preventing the evolution and improvement of the system.”

“The Court should reject Goodman’s attempt to impose a hypertechnical requirement on the Department to included step-by-step regulation of what occurs in a laboratory,” Bondi wrote.

At this time it is unknown when the court will rule on the case.

DUI blood draws can be skewed by many different factors, including whether your arm was sterilized with alcohol or if your blood was extracted and stored properly, just to name a few. It will be interesting to see how the Florida Supreme Court rules on this issue.  

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Eleventh Judicial Circuit Judge Milton Hirsch ruled on Friday that Miami-Dade’s policy of holding undocumented immigrants in jail at the request of the federal government is unconstitutional.

The judge said the policy is a violation of the Tenth Amendment five weeks after Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez decided the city would no longer be considered a “sanctuary” for undocumented immigrants.

The ruling stems from a Haitian national who pleaded guilty to a felony charge of habitually driving on a suspended license in Miami-Dade. The man was supposed to be released on time served, but remained in custody at the request of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

In his ruling, Hirsch said the county has neither a reason nor a basis in law to keep the man in prison. He also added that the federal government is constitutionally prohibited from forcing the county to make the man a prisoner, and the county is prohibited from complying with that demand.

President Donald Trump is very serious about cracking down on illegal immigration. He is adamant about deporting illegal immigrants who have criminal records and reducing illegal immigration throughout the country.

Florida has approximately 900,000 illegal immigrants. Because of this, it is no wonder that our state is at the center of new illegal immigration laws and their implementation.

Whether you are illegal or documented, our South Florida Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton urge you to keep your documents on you at all times. It is also a good idea to have an attorney on hand on the off chance that a database error prompts deportation proceedings.

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A North Carolina couple allege they were beaten by another passenger while traveling on the Carnival Ecstasy.

The couple filed a lawsuit on Feb. 18 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida against Carnival Corp., alleging negligence.

According to the complaint, the couple alleges that on Feb. 28, 2016 they were in their cabin when someone knocked at the door. When they opened the door, the attacker pushed the door open and knocked the man down, pinning him with his knees and severely beat and assaulted him. The woman alleges that she was also struck in the face and injured.

The couple holds Carnival Corp. responsible because they failed to provide adequate and proper security to its passengers and violated its own policy by selling excessive alcoholic beverages to the couples’ attacker.

They are seeking more than $100,000 each, costs of this action and such other appropriate relief.

Cruise lines have a duty to provide guests with a safe environment. If an employee is aware of a danger and chooses not to address it, the cruise ship company can be held liable for the damages associated with an assault that occurs as a result.

The most common causes of assault aboard cruises include:

  • Inadequate security
  • Poor lighting
  • Incomplete background checks on employees
  • Broken door locks

If you have been harmed on a cruise ship, you should take immediate action. Timing plays a major role in these cases and you want to report the crime as soon as possible to strengthen your case.

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