Articles Posted in Palm Beach County

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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A man convicted of conspiring to defraud more than 30,000 Americans out of about $31 million was sentenced on Thursday to 16 years in prison.

The California man was also ordered to pay $11.9 million in forfeiture and restitution.

The man was convicted of running a mortgage scheme  from November 2011 through May 2014, causing more than 60 homeowners to lose their homes.

The man apparently oversaw about 65 telemarketers and managers in his role as general manager of sales at the company.

Prosecutors claim that the Irvine-based company persuaded homeowners in dire financial shape to modify the terms of their mortgages to make them more affordable.

Four other people convicted in the scheme are awaiting sentencing.

With the housing market where it is currently, prosecutors are going after anyone accused of mortgage fraud to the fullest extent of the law. Rest assured that they will stop at nothing to achieve a conviction for this white collar crime. Their ultimate goal is to make sure that anyone accused of mortgage fraud is proven guilty.

Loan and mortgage fraud can be complicated, and most of these cases are unique. Our South Florida Fraud Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can comb through every shred of evidence in your case to filter fiction from fact, so that we establish the most powerful defense on your behalf. We can aggressively attack the prosecution’s case and make sure your rights are protected.

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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.

Last week, a South Florida federal jury convicted  a man and a woman of conspiracy, bank fraud and wire fraud charges. They will be sentenced mid-April.

The trial revealed an elaborate housing fraud scheme that was centered around a vacant coin laundry.

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The Ledger is reporting that trial testimony showed the pair used the empty coin laundry address to establish a “legitimate” front for variety of fake companies. Evidence showed that the duo falsified documents to obtain bank loans to invest in low-income neighborhoods. Then they enrolled the properties in U.S. Housing and Urban Development low-income programs to receive money from government vouchers.

A 21-year-old West Palm Beach man is accused of having sexual relations with a four-year-old girl in 2009, Plantation police are alleging.

The arrest report alleges that the  attacks occurred in 2009 when the man was 17. He and the young girl lived in Plantation at the time and he would show her pornographic DVDs before engaging in sex acts seen on the screen.

The man warned the girl not to tell anyone and she kept silent for years. She eventually told her mother, who was hesitant to contact police, according to investigators, because she was afraid that reporting the abuse would put her traumatized daughter in foster care and break up her marriage.

A Wellington woman has been arrested for DUI and leaving the scene of an accident by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

News reports say that last Thursday, Sherriff’s Deputies were called to Summit Blvd and Congress Ave about a possible DUI driver.

Investigators say that they found the suspect sitting in a Dodge Durango in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven with the engine still running. The truck had extensive front-end damage and a blown out tire, indicating to police that it had been in an accident. Earlier that day, PBSO Deputies were on the look out for Dodge Durango that was suspected of being involved in a hit and run accident in Lake Worth, where a pedestrian was injured.

The Palm Beach Post is reporting that the Boca Raton man who shot and critically injured a woman and a boy at a suburban Boca Raton home on Friday night, later died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office believes the incident was domestic violence-related.

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The shooting took place shortly after 7 p.m. in the Villa San Ramon neighborhood south of Clint Moore Road and west of Florida’s Turnpike. The 40-year-old woman was shot in the leg while the boy was reportedly shot in the abdomen. Both are expected to survive.

There was one other girl in the home, who was uninjured.

The women fled to a neighbor’s house screaming for help and a police helicopter as well as SWAT units were involved in securing the scene.

Commonly, there are mental health elements involved in domestic disputes, as appears to be the case in this event. The Boca Raton Domestic Violence Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are skilled at handling the many layers a domestic violence case may have, and handle these matters with delicacy and tact.

Continue reading “Man dies of self-inflicted gunshot wound after shooting Boca Raton woman and boy” »

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Last week, a Venezuelan man was sentenced by a U.S. District Court judge in the Southern District of Florida to 45 months in prison and one year supervised release after he plead guilty to charges of immigration fraud.

The U.S Attorney’s Office alleged that the man was the ringleader of an immigration scam that sold fake U.S. residence stamps to undocumented immigrants so they could obtain Florida driver’s licenses.

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The scope of the immigration fraud was large. According to reports, 110 people over the course of 2 ½ years were targeted by the fraud, earning the defendant and his two accomplices more than $250,000.

To build its case, court records show that investigators from Homeland Security Investigations, a unit of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, interviewed at least 46 of the 110 undocumented immigrants who bought the fake residence stamps. Phone conversations between the defendant and an undercover officer who was posing as an undocumented immigrant were also recorded and used as evidence for the indictment.

Only U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents and other foreign nationals are entitled to Florida driver’s licenses. To secure a driver’s license in Florida, residents must show proof of legal residence. A permanent residence stamp on a foreign national’s passport constitutes that proof of residence, unless of course, it’s fake.

Have you been contacted by FBI or ICE agents wanting to interview you? Or have you been charged with immigration fraud or another type of fraud? It is imperative that you contact a seasoned Palm Beach white collar crime attorney BEFORE speaking to government representatives.

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Last month, President Obama expanded his push to curtail severe penalties in drug cases, commuting the sentences of eight federal inmates who were convicted of crack cocaine prior to the passing of the Fair Sentencing Act.

According to news reports, each inmate has been imprisoned for at least 15 years, and six were sentenced to life in prison.

We discussed this issue in August when Attorney General Eric Holder outlined his vision for how the Justice Department, as well as U.S. Attorney Offices throughout the country, would handle low-level drug cases.

Specifically, Holder no longer required that AUSAs list quantities of illicit substances in indictments for low-level drug offenses in order to avoid triggering mandatory minimum sentences. In that speech to the American Bar Association, he said his focus was on shorter prison sentences for nonviolent criminals, more programs to treat those convicted of low-level drug-related crimes and reductions in the number of crimes that carry “mandatory minimum sentences.”

President Obama’s pardons of these inmates is the first indication that the administration is paying more than lip service to their commitment to correct the disparity that minimum-mandatory sentences create in the criminal justice system.

President Obama indicated that one of the reasons for his pardons was that these inmates, had they been sentenced under the current Fair Sentencing Act, would have already served their time and paid their debt to society. Instead, he reasoned, they remained in prison, costing taxpayers millions of dollars a year.

Prior to the passing of this law, studies show that there was a 100-to-1 sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine offenses, attributable in part to the unrelenting minimum mandatory sentences judges are limited to imposing in many drug cases.

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