Articles Posted in Palm Beach County

A Florida man has pleaded guilty to stealing dozens of letters that contained more than $170,000 in checks.

Court records show that the 34-year-old man was convicted of mail theft Wednesday in West Palm Beach federal court. He faces up to five years in prison at a Dec. 13 sentencing.

Prosecutors allege the man was doing lawn maintenance in July when he saw a resident drop a stack of envelopes into a mailbox. Investigators say the man took 39 checks valued at nearly $172,000 from the box.

The resident noticed the letters were gone while trying to mail another letter and contacted the carrier. A neighbor also called the police after seeing someone remove the letters.

The man was identified as a suspect, and the letters were recovered from his company’s work truck.

Stealing mail or obtaining it through means of fraud or deception is a serious federal crime that carries very real penalties. Even simply attempting to commit mail theft or having stolen mail, letters, or packages in your possession can lead to serious jail time and significant fines. For these reasons, if you are being investigated for mail theft, it is very important to seek the help of an experienced white collar crime lawyer who can help you establish a strong defense.

The U.S. Postal Service delivers advertisements, personal letters, and coupons, and it also transports valuable items, such as credit cards, checks, merchandise, and prescription medications. Congress made mail theft a federal offense to help stop the theft of these types of items. A piece of mail could be anything from a postcard or a letter to a package or a mail bag. To be charged with this crime, you do not even have to keep the mail that was taken. Purchasing, receiving, possessing, destroying, and hiding mail that someone knew was stolen also falls under the broad category of mail theft.

Under United States Code 18 Section 1708, federal mail theft is a felony. If you are convicted of mail theft, you can face up to five years in prison and a substantial fine of $250,000.

Under US Code 18 Section 1708, mail theft is defined as taking any piece of mail that is not your own for any purpose. A piece of mail can be any letter, postal card, package, box or bag. Mail theft can result from stealing from private mailboxes, collection boxes, postal workers or mail trucks.

Depending on how the crime of mail theft is carried out, you could also face other charges accompanying a mail theft charge, including assault and breaking and entering. If personal identifying information was stolen and used, you can also face charges of identity theft. Personal identifying information includes:

  • Names
  • Dates of birth
  • Addresses
  • Telephone numbers
  • Tax I.D. numbers
  • Social security numbers
  • Driver’s license numbers
  • Passport information
  • School I.D. numbers
  • Employee I.D. numbers
  • Bank account information
  • Credit card account information
  • Birth/death certificate information

Much like any other types of theft charges, ignorance is not an acceptable excuse to avoid guilt. So even just accepting stolen mail could result in charges being brought against you. 

Federal prosecutors will give want you to give up quickly in these types of cases. That is why it is so important to have an attorney on your side to make sure your rights are protected and fight back against their accusations. As former prosecutors, we know where to find deficiencies and how to work with prosecutors and judges to achieve the best possible outcome.

If you or someone you love is facing a federal mail theft charge, it is crucial that you speak to our experienced South Florida Mail Fraud & Theft Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton as soon as possible. We will fight for your legal rights and work hard to help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case. 

Even if you are only under investigation, there are steps that an experienced lawyer can take to protect your rights. Do not wait until it is too late. Contact us for a free consultation and we can get to work investigating your case and building the strongest defense possible.

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Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and Key West draw in millions of visitors every year. Some come to shop, take in the bustling nightlife, relax on the beautiful beaches, dine at renowned restaurants, or even take in a Marlins or Dolphins game. South Florida can offer up a little piece of paradise to everyone that chooses to vacation here.

Common South Florida Tourist Injuries

Whether it’s business or pleasure that has taken you to South Florida, you can always face dangers. While no one expects to be injured on vacation, the reality is that it can happen. South Florida tourists may be involved in:

  • Car accidents
  • Hotel assaults
  • Boat accidents
  • Bus accidents
  • Taxi-cab crashes
  • Pedestrian injuries
  • Slip and fall or trip and fall accidents
  • Swimming or water-related injuries
  • Cruise ship accidents

Tourist Attractions in South Florida

Yes, it is true that accidents can really happen anywhere. Some of the most popular tourist attractions in South Florida include the Miami Seaquarium, snorkeling at the first undersea park in the US as they explore John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Jungle Island, Miami Dade College’s Museum of Art and Design, Miami Children’s Museum, Museum of Discovery and Science, the Bonnet House Museum and Gardens, the Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park, NSU Art Museum, the Old Fort Lauderdale Village and Museum, the Pérez Art Museum, the Stonewall National Museum and Archives, the Stranahan House, the Bass, the Kampong, the Wolfsonian, Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, Everglades National Park, Bayside Marketplace, Little Havana and Calle Ocho, American Airlines Arena, Zoo Miami, Coral Castle, Key Biscayne and Crandon Park, and many more.

Whether you are a sports fan coming to take in a Miami Marlins baseball game or a Miami Dolphins football game, or are attending a concert, or attending a museum or beaches, suffering a serious injury can land you in the hospital in an unfamiliar place. If your injuries are severe, you will not be able to return home for work or school and you will need immediate legal help to make sure you recover full and fair financial compensation for your suffering.

Call Us If You Are Injured As A Tourist in South Florida

If you, a family member or friend is injured while on vacation, you may not know what to do. You are away from home and unfamiliar with the city and state you are in. In order to file a personal injury claim, you need to secure local legal representation, as your injury lawyer must be admitted in the state of Florida.

Our South Florida Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are happy to serve Florida residents and tourists alike hold any negligent parties responsible for causing your injuries. If you were injured in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or any other city in Florida, we can help advise you of your legal rights and options to pursue your case. We offer completely free consultations, and will never collect any upfront fees. We work on a strict contingency basis, and only get paid when your case is resolved.

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South Florida rapper Kodak Black was arrested Wednesday at the U.S. border in upstate New York on drug and weapons charges.

The rapper was with two other men in his vehicle trying to enter the country from Canada when they were detained. Four others were traveling in a separate car with Kodak.

During a search of the group’s Cadillac Escalade, which Kodak was driving, police found marijuana on the rapper and a gun inside the vehicle.

The Glock 9mm pistol had allegedly not been declared.

In the other vehicle, police claim they found two other weapons and more marijuana in the trunk.

Kodak Black was arrested for criminal possession of a weapon and unlawful possession of marijuana. Two others were also arrested on weapons charges.

The driver of the other car was also arrested.

Black was released on bond Thursday.

Due to strict and complicated gun laws, it is very easy to end up on the wrong side of the law. Fortunately, our

South Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are here to help. We can explain the charges you face and then help you resolve them as quickly as possible.

We understand Florida’s gun and weapon laws in detail, and we can help you build the strongest possible defense to whatever the charges you face. This includes gun charges as well as any other charges allegedly committed. If it is not possible to get the evidence against you thrown out, we will do whatever we can to negotiate a favorable resolution. We will fight aggressively to keep you out of jail whenever possible.

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A federal judge has awarded a Palm Beach County woman more than $677,000 in damages in a case where she was injured after a display of tables fell on her while shopping at a Burlington store.

According to the April 12 U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida filing, the woman petitioned the court for a final default judgment in her claim against Burlington Inc. Her petition stems from Burlington’s failure to appear, answer or plead the complaint.

The case involves the woman’s claim against Burlington after she suffered injuries while shopping at a Palm Beach County Burlington store in July 2016. While she was looking at a display of tables at the store, the suit says, the entire set fell forward with some of the tables striking her.  

She underwent a series of medical treatments, including spinal surgery and was told she needs knee surgery as well. In addition, she is entitled to damages for pain and suffering since she can no longer do many activities, such as dancing and jogging, that she enjoyed prior to the accident.

In regard to the woman’s negligence claim against Burlington, the court agreed Burlington “breached its duty owed to the plaintiff by creating a hazardous condition on its property” and stating the woman “clearly satisfied the elements of a negligence claim.”

The woman requested the court award $215,824 in pecuniary damages that included past medical bills, future medical expenses, out of pocket expenses and lost wages. In addition she requested $500,000 for past pain and suffering and $250,000 for future pain and suffering, as well as prejudgment and post-judgment interest.

The judge concluded the woman was entitled to $677,745 in damages and ruled in favor of the woman and against Burlington.

Store owners have a duty to keep their premises free from hazards and unsafe conditions for shoppers. Retail stores have a duty to make sure that their customers are protected, which means that they need to fix dangerous conditions in the store or provide adequate warnings of all dangers. They must inspect the aisles and shelves constantly to be sure the areas are safe.

Retail store owners that breach their duty to keep their store safe can be held accountable under Florida’s premises liability law. The most common type of retail store negligence cases involve slip and fall or trip and fall accidents, but store owners may be responsible for numerous other types of injury accidents, like inadequate security, failure to warn customers of dangers, or hazardous objects.

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Two women have been arrested after Palm Beach County deputies charged them in a string of burglaries across four counties.

Palm Beach deputies arrested the two women, both 21, for allegedly burglarizing different business and stealing cars.

According to the affidavit, the string of burglaries began in July 2016 and included crimes in Brevard, Martin, St. Lucie, Palm Beach and Broward counties. Some of the targets included restaurants, computer stores and jewelry stores.

Deputies say that the two women used a pickax to commit the burglaries.

Warrants for the two women were issued in September last year.

Deputies charged both women with racketeering and conspiracy to commit racketeering. Their arraignment is set for Thursday.

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act was enacted in 1970 to allow federal prosecutors to pursue and charge those involved in organized criminal activity. In Florida, racketeering is aggressively prosecuted and a conviction can lead to severe penalties, such as years behind bars, hefty fines and even asset forfeiture.

Racketeering charges are often brought after a long investigation, and a RICO defense is usually complex. Only an experienced, You need a trial lawyer who has the experience and skill needed to prevent a conviction. Our South Florida Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are well-versed in defending those facing racketeering charges. As former prosecutors, we know how the State will prepare and prosecute its case.

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New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has been charged with soliciting prostitution at a Palm Beach County spa just hours before the Patriots played in the AFC Championship Game, according to reports.

The 77-year-old billionaire is among 25 people charged with soliciting another to commit prostitution.

The charges resulted from a monthslong investigation into sex trafficking that focused on several central Florida day spas and massage parlors suspected of being used for prostitution. The investigation began when a health inspector observed curious details that suggested women might be living at the day spa.

The man faces two counts of soliciting someone to commit prostitution. He allegedly visited a spa in Jupiter on January 19 in the afternoon and again on the morning of January 20, according to the affidavits.

The Patriots beat the Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas City later on the 20th to advance to the Super Bowl.

Under Florida law, the charge is a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail, a $5,000 civil penalty, and a mandatory 100 hours of community service and educational program on the negative effects of prostitution and human trafficking.

Covert surveillance equipment was apparently installed at the spa on January 17 as part of the investigation, according to reports.

On the afternoon of the January 19, the cameras allegedly show Kraft visited the spa and paid for services in cash at the front desk, and he was then taken to a massage room, undressed and lay on a massage bed. A female employee can be seen on the video allegedly manipulating his genitals and later wiping Kraft’s genitals with a towel, according to the affidavit.

Afterward, Kraft left the facility and got into a white Bentley, and police then conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle and confirmed his ID, reports indicate.

The next day, Kraft allegedly returned to the spa at about 10:59 a.m. and again undressed and lay face up on a massage table, the affidavit states. There, a woman apparently began manipulating his genitals and then put her head down by his genitals, the report states. After a few minutes, the woman used a towel to wipe Kraft near his genitals.

Kraft allegedly gave her a $100 bill plus at least one other unidentifiable bill and left the room at 11:13 a.m., according to the document.

Facing a solicitation charge in South Florida is a very serious prostitution-related offense that needs the assistance of an experienced Solicitation Defense Attorney at Whittel & Melton. We have defended clients accused of a variety of prostitution and solicitation offenses and understand just how devastating these accusations can be for the accused and their family. We are compassionate criminal defense attorneys that will fight to clear your name.

Solicitation is the process of seeking a sexual act for payment or asking or inviting someone to engage in prostitution. The law requires that two people be involved in the solicitation. A person charged with solicitation must have actually approached another person and offered to pay for a sex act, either in public or in private, or through word or gesture.

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A Boynton Beach woman is accused of stealing money from a Little Caesars pizza store where she worked last year.

The business owner was at home Nov. 30 and watching transactions at the shop through its surveillance system when he noticed the manager put $300 in her purse, according to a Boynton Beach police report.

From Sept. 10 through Nov. 30, $15,963 was taken from the business, according to the owner’s calculations, police said.

The 25-year-old was fired from her job at the store, and was arrested Feb. 2 by the U.S. Marshals Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force and released on $6,000 bond, according to police and court records.

The woman is facing charges of organized scheme to defraud, less than $20,000 and grand theft.

The store owner reviewed 160 hours of store video recorded during the woman’s shifts. He noticed the woman made more “no sale” entries to open the cash register than employees, and also did not move cash from the register to a safe as often as other workers, according to the police report.

The video apparently showed the woman taking money and either placing it in her purse or a bank bag or concealing it another way before taking it outside the store right away or at the end of her shift, police said.

Grand theft involves stealing an item or money that is valued at $300 or more. Grand theft is a felony in Florida, and depending on the amount allegedly stolen, you could face anywhere from a maximum sentence of 5 years to 30 years in state prison.

If you are facing theft charges in Boynton Beach, our Palm Beach County Theft Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help you fight these charges. We offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case and help you understand the best defense strategy to help you avoid a conviction or maximum penalties for this offense.

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A federal jury convicted a Lake Worth man of sex trafficking women and girls during a decade in South Florida, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced.

The 42-year-old was accused of trafficking multiple women and two girls for commercial sex from 2008 through 2017.

The women lived at the man’s homes and traveled to hotels and other locations to meet men and engage in sex for money, which the man kept, prosecutors said.

The man used violence to force the women to participate, authorities said.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office human trafficking task force arrested the man in November 2017 after one of the women’s father contacted them, the agency said then.

The federal jury handed up its decision on Dec. 20. The man was convicted of three counts of sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion; two counts of sex trafficking of a minor and one count of obstructing a human trafficking investigation.

He is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 26. He could face a prison sentence of 15 years to life.

Society considers sex crimes to be some of the most heinous crimes. A conviction for a sex offense can result in serious penalties, including mandatory registration as a sex offender on the Florida Public Sex Offender Registry. In the court of public opinion, the mere accusation of a sex offense can make you appear guilty in the eyes of others, including jurors. This bias often leads to false convictions and harsh sentencing.

If you have been convicted of a sex offense, like human trafficking, you may think your fate has been sealed. However, that is not necessarily true. The prosecution, juries and judges can make mistakes, legal errors, and new evidence may come to light, which all award you the right to pursue post-conviction rights.

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More than three years after a Wellington polo mogul was convicted for a second time of DUI manslaughter in a 2010 crash that killed a 23-year-old UCF graduate, the Florida Supreme Court rejected his final pending appeal.

In a one-sentence order, the state’s high court said it wasn’t going to consider the man’s claims that the West Palm Beach-based 4th District Court of Appeal erred in October when it upheld his conviction and 16-year prison sentence.

The high court’s decision came weeks after it rejected the man’s claims that his conviction should be thrown out because of the way his blood was drawn after the alcohol-fueled crash in Wellington that claimed the engineering graduate’s life.

The founder of the International Polo Club claimed the use of a small-diameter needle to draw his blood and lax procedures at a lab falsely elevated his blood-alcohol level to 0.177 percent — more than twice the level at which Florida drivers are by law considered impaired. Justices ruled that the procedures established by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement are sufficient to protect against false readings.

The man’s first conviction was overturned due to jury misconduct. In a self-published book, one of the jurors described conducting his own drinking experiment to determine if the man had been intoxicated on the night of the crash. The second trial produced the same verdict and prison sentence.

The man is being held in the Wakulla Correctional Institution south of Tallahassee. His expected release date is June 7, 2029, according to the Florida Department of Corrections.

Blood draws in DUI cases are surrounded by much controversy. A positive blood test may seem like a nail in the coffin, but it is not. Just because the test comes back with a reading of .08 or greater does not mean you are automatically guilty. There are innumerable ways your South Florida DUI/DUI Manslaughter Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can challenge this test result. We will call into question every step of the process to raise doubt about your guilt.

Blood draws must be conducted by trained professionals and the whereabouts of the blood sample must be meticulously recorded. This is a multi-step process that has much room for imperfections and human error.

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Crews have apparently found cracks in a key part of the pedestrian bridge that collapsed near the campus of Florida International University earlier than previously acknowledged, but it remains unclear whether the fissures caused the structure’s failure.

Documents from Florida International University show the cracks were found in late February. The structure collapsed March 15, killing six people.

Reports indicate that the photos show the cracks in a piece of a support truss on the north end of the span where the collapse began.

Bridge engineers have said that the cracks suggest a problem that should have been addressed before the section that failed was moved into place.

It is not yet clear whether construction crews repaired the cracks before the failure.

The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the cause of the collapse.

According to investigators, most bridge collapses happen because of construction faults, not design faults. However, until the National Transportation Safety Board completes their investigation, it’s hard to say what might have gone wrong or speculate on who could potentially be held responsible. There are several different parties involved in the design, testing, and construction of the bridge. It is entirely possible that multiple parties will be held accountable for negligence when all is said and done.

If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in a construction-related accident, our South Florida Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help you determine what steps to take next. Our goal is to identify who is at fault and hold them responsible for damages.

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