Articles Posted in Palm Beach County

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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Three Medicare fraud schemes in recent weeks have targeted a total $139.4 million, which led the Department of Justice to seek multiple convictions and a combined 33 years in prison sentences.

Each of the alleged schemes involved the use of provider kickbacks, a popular activity in healthcare, to entice healthcare professionals to inappropriately redirect clients and beneficiaries to specific healthcare businesses.

Law enforcement officials began their crackdown on Medicare fraud earlier in the year with a mix of provider convictions and settlements involving roughly $3 million dollars.

Combating healthcare fraud continues to be a top priority for law enforcement officials because of the dangers it presents to vulnerable beneficiaries in the Medicare program, as well as the potential to recover billions in Medicare spending.

A Detroit provider was sentenced to six years in prison for $10.4 kickback scheme. The case apparently involved kickbacks for unnecessary electromyogram (EMG) tests and physical therapy tests.

He was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, one count of wire fraud, two counts of receiving healthcare kickbacks, and had to personally forfeit $1.69 million.

A 70-year-old Boca Raton man was sentenced to five years in prison for $63 million in home health care fraud. Him and eleven other co-conspirators apparently submitted false and fraudulent claims to Medicare through kickbacks that were medically unnecessary, were not eligible for Medicare reimbursement, or were never provided by his clinic.

The man was found guilty of hiding the payments by using his clinic to provide a salary through the kickbacks, and was paid a flat rate based on the number of individuals he referred. The man also admitted patients for partial hospitalization program (PHP) services even though he knew the patients didn’t qualify for PHP service.

He was convicted of one charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to receive healthcare kickbacks. He personally had to forfeit $9.9 million and a personal money judgement over $400,000.

The case was investigated by the FBI, HHS, and OIG with supervision from the Medicare Fraud Strike Force and the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.

A 52-year-old Miami owner of multiple home health agencies was sentenced to 20 years in prison for $66 million in Medicare fraud that used his network of 20 home health agencies to host an elaborate kickback scheme.

The man and other co-conspirators were found guilty of recruiting individuals to represent his home health agencies in order to hide the man’s identity as they paid illegal bribes and kickbacks to patient recruiters to refer patients to these agencies.

The man also admitted that he submitted false and fraudulent home healthcare claims for Medicare beneficiaries that did not qualify for many services.

He had to forfeit $66.4 million in restitution and is convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and wire fraud.

The case was investigated by the FBI and was brought forward by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force and the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.

The Federal Anti-Kickback Statute makes it a felony to knowingly and willfully offer, pay, solicit, or receive remuneration, directly or indirectly, in order to induce business that is reimbursable under any federal health care program, such as Medicare or Medicaid. If accused of this crime, you could be facing both criminal and civil penalties.

Are you under investigation for Medicare fraud? You are not alone. About 1,400 individuals are indicted in federal court for health care fraud every year and more than 2,500 individuals are currently being investigated for Medicare fraud.

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A 23-year-old motorcyclist was killed Tuesday following a crash in Port St. Lucie, police said.

The motorcyclist was eastbound on Southwest St. Lucie West Boulevard on a 2011 Kawasaki when he crashed into a 2004 Honda Pilot as it turned onto Southwest California Boulevard.

The man struck the Honda at a high rate of speed, police said.

The man driving the Honda sustained minor injuries and was released from a hospital. The motorcyclist died at the scene.

Port St. Lucie police are still investigating the crash.

When a person is involved in a car accident, they have a seatbelt, air bags, and a sturdy car surrounding them as protection in the event of a crash. Even with all these safety features, catastrophic injury can result. Motorcyclist lack most of the protections a car provides to passengers, so you can imagine what damage a motorcyclist can sustain in an accident. Broken bones, neck injuries, back injuries and severe brain trauma are just a few of the possible injuries that could result. Even when wearing a helmet and protective clothing, there is little that a motorcyclist can do to protect themselves from the sheer impact of a car, truck, or the pavement at high speeds.

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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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