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August 12, 2014
To Catch a Predator Sting – Operation Guardian Angel in North Port FL
North Port Police Operation Guardian Angel – The North Port Police department working in conjunction with several other agencies arrested 11 people who were willing to and did travel to have sexual relations with a minor. These operations have been heavily supported but a recent investigation by News 10 revealed that some of the tactics previously employed were questionable.
The investigation revealed that many of the persons arrested were minding their own business and specifically looking for adults when they were contacted by law enforcement. The story alleges that law enforcement performs a bait and switch by advertising in adult sites then once they hook the person they switch the bait. 10 investigates found that law enforcement is now routinely making the intial contac t with men who believe they are conversing with adults only to change the age they state to be by being in an adult site.
If you or a loved one has been arrested for soliciting a minor for sexual relations or travelling to meet the minor please contact Darren Finebloom at Finebloom, Haenel & Higgins. Their are defenses available to you if these types of tactics were used. I was part of the defense team that won an acquital in Sarasota County on these exact accusations just last year. I can be reached at 941-953-2622.
November 20, 2013
George Zimmerman Arrested for Aggravated Assualt
Orlando resident George Zimmerman is in trouble once again – only months after being acquitted for the second degree murder of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager in a gated compound near Orlando. This time, Zimmerman is accused of aggravated assault, battery and criminal mischief. The charge relates to an alleged attack against his girlfriend earlier this month. The aggravated assault charge is a third degree felony while the other charges are misdemeanors.
Zimmerman’s brushes with the law have been headline news most of the year, particularly the high profile trial of the shooting of Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman insisted that he shot the teenager in self-defense. His acquittal in July this year was met with strong public criticism from many in the black community who felt that Zimmerman had profiled the teenager by race and that his acquittal was an attack against the black community in general.
Zimmerman’s problems did not stop with the decision in his favor. His wife, who had apparently been loyal to him throughout the lead up to the murder trial, filed for divorce and then accused her husband of punching her father on the nose, destroying her iPad with a knife and attempting to threaten her and her father with a weapon. She rang 911 after the incident, but has not pressed any charges against Zimmerman. The incident is still being investigated by police.
When interviewed by the NBC during a “Today” program, Shellie Zimmerman said that despite still believing George’s innocence in the killing of Martin, she was not as convinced as before and felt that the incident earlier this month was an eye opener.
The current allegations against Zimmerman have been made by his girlfriend, Samantha Scheibe. She has claimed that he locked her out of her own house after a fight. Scheibe rang 911 to say that Zimmerman had pulled a gun on her and smashed a coffee table before forcing her out of the house. Zimmerman was also reported to have rung 911 himself saying that his girlfriend was “acting crazy” and that he did not point a gun at her.
When police arrived on the scene, they were able to enter Scheibe’s rented house with a key which she provided and push past a series of blockades, after which they arrested Zimmerman who apparently did not resist.
The latest incident follows an alleged attempt to choke Samantha Scheibe by Zimmerman a week or so ago. The alleged choking was not reported to the police at the time, but was brought up by the prosecution in Zimmerman’s first court appearance this week.
Zimmerman was released on a $9,000 bail under the condition that he did not carry firearms, did not go anywhere near his girlfriend’s residence and wear a monitoring device. His next court appearance is in January next year.
The murder trial and current violence charges are not George Zimmerman’s only dealings with the law. He has apparently been in trouble in the past for a number of traffic offenses as well as having to take anger management classes after allegedly attacking an undercover police officer who was in the process of arresting his friend.
According to the judge who made the decision to release Zimmerman on bail this week, Judge Fred Schott, none of the other allegations or charges laid against him affected the decision.
Zimmerman’s defense attorneys believe that he will be acquitted of the current charges when the trial takes place next year.
One of the difficulties faced in defending George Zimmerman will be the fact that his previous trial was so controversial and his actions and personality were discussed in the media constantly in the months that led up to the trial. In Zimmerman’s favor will be the fact that domestic violence accusations like the current ones are particularly hard to prove. They often rely heavily on events that go on behind closed doors. Both the accusations by his ex wife and his girlfriend follow acrimonious arguments about separation and with emotions so highly charged it is difficult to separate fact from fiction.
December 31, 2012
How to Avoid a DUI this Holiday
With the holidays come the parties – work events, friendly gatherings, and family functions. These events naturally lend themselves to drinking, and it can be easy to lose track of consumption during such events. That’s why this time of year also poses an increased risk for DUIs (not to mention the possible need for a DUI lawyer).
Traditionally, in some states, DUI arrests double during the month of December. Those numbers exacerbate an already frightening problem. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that in 2010, adults drank too much and got behind the wheel about 112 million times, which amounts to almost 300,000 incidents of drinking and driving each day.
And each year, about 16,000 people are killed in alcohol-related crashes. Thankfully, this number is lower than it was a couple of decades ago. However, DUIs are still a glaring concern. Not only do they indicate a significant safety risk, they hit your pocketbook hard and cause other collateral damage such as job loss.
That will quickly ruin a holiday.
Bypass the holiday ticket
So how do you keep a DUI charge at bay? The answer is simple – don’t drive when you drink. But we know the answer is not always that easy. Here are a few additional suggestions that might help.
- Drink within walking distance to your home. If you can, choose outings that are nearby. Or save your drinking for a neighbor’s gathering. If you don’t have to get into a car, you have no chance of a DUI.
- Arrive with cab money. You can always go home in a taxi if you accidentally overindulge. Place a wad of cash in your pocket or wallet that you won’t touch until it is time to go home. When you need it, you won’t need to think twice about placing the call.
- Choose a safe driver. Going out with friends? Have a non-drinker claim driving for the night. To show your appreciation, pay for their meal or buy them a soda or coffee at your location. Swap nights for the next time you go out or attend a party.
- Pair your alcoholic drinks with water. Have a drink, and then have a glass of water. Each glass of water will help slow your alcohol consumption and prepare you for a safe drive home.
- Make it a one-and-done night. Have one drink and switch to a non-alcoholic option after that. Plan this in advance. In the holiday season there are always great drink options to consider – non-alcoholic eggnog, spiced cider, and flavored hot chocolate are good choices.
- Give your keys to a trusted friend. The moment you walk into the party, pass you keys to someone who you trust to keep them from you if you don’t appear able to drive. It’s important to choose the right person for this task.
- Take it to the next level. If you are concerned about drinking and driving, purchase a portable breathalyzer. It’s one way to determine if you’ve crossed a line before you step foot in your vehicle.
- Just stay home. Bring the party to you. Offer to host the family gathering. Invite your friends to your place for the night. Just remember to take their keys if they appear to drunk to drive.
Drinking and driving is one time when it’s much better to be safe, not sorry. Simply don’t get behind the wheel. You won’t regret it. However, if you find yourself with a DUI charge, hire a good DUI lawyer quickly to determine your next steps.
November 6, 2012
Hillsborough & Orange County Sheriff’s Departments Take Part in Operation Felon Sweep
962 felons with outstanding warrants were arrested in Orange County. 806 were arrested in Polk County. And another 30 were arrested in Hillsborough County. These numbers serve to contribute to the almost 12,000 individuals that were arrested across the state of Florida as part of the three-week, Operation “Felon Sweep”. Comprised of 43 sheriffs’ offices across the state, the operation was an attempt to round up as many violent felons with outstanding warrants as possible.
In both Orange and Hillsborough counties, police got creative in tracking down individuals as some arrests occurred in the early morning hours at homes and apartment buildings, when an individual was exiting public transportation and even at a local bar. Of course, once the police arrested their target, they often found additional contraband. Statewide, police seized more than $400,000 in illegal cash proceeds, 30 pounds of cocaine, 900 pounds of marijuana, 6,000 prescription pills and 400 guns.
Commenting specifically on the Hillsborough County Operation Felon Sweep efforts in this operation, Col. Donna Lusczyniskyi made this statement to 10 News: “All of them in our minds are considered dangerous. One, they’ve committed felonies in the past and two, most of them don’t want to go back to jail.” In an effort to bring greater awareness to the campaign to clean up the streets, the Tampa police department allowed cameras to follow them one morning as they followed their own research to catch various local felons.
One of the obstacles the Tampa police mentioned to cameras was the difficulty in not being discovered as they moved from one address to another. Here’s a look at some more numbers from Hillsborough County:
- 30 arrests
- 37 warrants served
- 50 charges
Of course, just because the operation ended does not mean that those individuals with outstanding warrants are in the clear. Especially when it comes to felonies (the most serious category of crime an individual can commit), police will continue to actively search. Even if the individuals apprehended in the sweep are ultimately found innocent of the charges alleged in the warrant, he or she will still face legal consequences for missing their court appearance or other commands issued in the warrant. Additionally, because many of the individuals are repeat offenders, they will likely deal with additional issues attached to their probation.
Operation Felon Sweep has received a considerable amount of press following the release of the numbers. That being said, law enforcement agencies often come together in small and large-scale operations to try to make a dent in specific types of crime. Perhaps it’s working. The statewide crime rate in Florida is at a 40-year low.
Getting charged with a felony offense is a very serious charge. If you have been charged with one, it is in your best interest to speak with a reputable Florida criminal defense attorney. The attorneys at Finebloom & Haenel P.A. can help inform you of the options available to you. Call today for a consultation!
November 5, 2012
Operation Felon Sweep Ends In Almost 12,000 Arrests
With the holiday season upon us, it looks like the Florida police were doing some end of the year housekeeping. Operation “Felon Sweep” was a three-week operation by the Florida Sheriffs Task Force that resulted in the arrest of 11,875 felons throughout the state of Florida. The purpose of the successful operation was to target those violent felons believed to be residing in the state with an outstanding warrant. In addition to focusing on violent felons in general, the sweep specifically hoped to find as many sexual offenders and predators as possible.
The task force behind Operation Felon Sweep was comprised of 43 sheriffs’ offices working in conjunction with each other. In addition to locating felons with outstanding warrants, the sweep also hoped the combined efforts among offices would serve to enhance law enforcement presence in certain high crime areas, provide additional patrols and resources to combat violent crime and locate contraband many of the felons were suspected of having with them.
Although the actual felony charges that the individuals targeted in the sweep varied, the presence of an outstanding warrant gave the police, in these instances, the authority to immediately arrest the individuals and take him or her in for further questioning.
The arrest is only the beginning. “Once we arrest these individuals, we bring them back here to be interviewed, we’ve solved homicides in the past and other crimes by talking to them. They’re on the streets, they know what’s going on and sometimes they can provide information that is extremely helpful to us.” News 10 quotes, Col. Donna Lusczynski from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office.
Felonies are considered the most serious type of crime an individual commit. Some examples of a felony include: murder, rape, kidnapping and sexual abuse. Not all felonies are violent in nature and white collar crimes involving large sums of money can also fall into the felony category. With the serious nature of a felony, many of the individuals picked up in Operation Felon Sweep, if convicted, could face substantial jail time as well as heavy fines, a lengthy probation and other punishments.
Just because the men and women of this sweep were wanted on an outstanding warrant (which will certainly be used against them) and now arrested, does not mean that their chance to fight the charges against them is over. At this point in the process, the individuals arrested will face legal repercussions relating to the warrant but they remain innocent until proven guilty for the crimes listed on the warrant. Because many of the men and women apprehended in the sweep are repeat offenders, they would also face legal consequences for violating any terms of a previous probation.
If you are being charged with a felony offense, it is in your best interest to speak with a reputable Florida criminal defense attorney. The attorneys at Finebloom & Haenel P.A. can evaluate your case and inform you of your options. Get in touch with us today.
March 7, 2012
Can you get a job if you have been arrested?
Possibly. It depends on what type of work it is and what you have been arrested for.
If you have been arrested, a potential employer will think about the following:
1- What have you been arrested for? Was it for a violent crime? If so an employer may not want to risk a lawsuit for your assaulting a fellow employee or customer. Was it for theft? If so the employer may not want to take a chance that you will steal from them. Is there a possibility you will serve jail or prison time? If so an employer may not want to spend time training you if there is a chance you won’t be around to work.
2- Is it a felony or a misdemeanor? Some employers may not consider a misdemeanor to be a big deal.
3- Will your sentence affect your employment? If you are going to be on probation the employer may not care. But if you receive house arrest there is a possibility you won’t be available to perform all of your duties if your job requires you to leave the county or be on-call. If you are convicted of DUI and lose your license and you drive for a living there would obviously be an issue with a potential employer.
These are just some of the considerations an employer considers when you apply for a job with a pending charge. If you have been arrested contact an attorney to discuss your options and how to put yourself in the best light for future employers.
October 25, 2010
Pinellas Drug Charges – St. Petersburg Lawyer Arrested On Charges Of Trafficking In Oxycodone
A Pinellas County lawyer has been arrested in Clearwater on drug charges for allegedly attempting to smuggle the painkiller Oxycdone into the Pinellas County Jail. The lawyer was arrested Friday at a Clearwater gas station where he was set to make an exchange with undercover deputies. The investigation began following a tip to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s.
The St. Petersburg Times is reporting that the sheriff’s received a tip on Thursday that the lawyer was bringing illegal substances into the jail. At that point detectives reached out to the lawyer to and set up a deal where the lawyer would take 50 oxycodone pills into the jail in exchange for 20 of the painkillers for himself. The attorney was arrested at the time of the exchange. The arrest took place at a Mobil gas station located on the 4800 block of Ulmerton Road.
The 31-year-old suspect has been charged with trafficking in oxycodone and possession of a controlled substance. A former Hillsborough County assistant state attorney, the current defense lawyer has been a licensed attorney in Florida for five years. He came under heavy criticism by Hillsborough County Judge William Fuente in 2008 for his defense of a shooting suspect. The trial involved David Rolon who was accused of shooting his neighbor in Sulphur Springs. The judge granted a motion for a new trial based on his in adequate representation of his client. There are no disciplinary actions on record against the man with the Florida Bar despite that judge’s ruling in the case.
In August the man was arrested on spousal battery charges that were eventually dropped. He is currently in the Pinellas County Jail on $105,000 bail on his current Florida felony drug charges. According to another newspaper report the investigation into the attorney is on-going and more information could be forthcoming.
September 30, 2010
Florida DUI News – World Series Champion Yankee Ready To Face DUI Manslaughter Charges
One of the legendary clutch hitters in World Series and New York Yankee postseason history is facing the fight of his life on a Florida DUI charge that could result in a long DUI prison sentence. Former Yankee catcher Jim Leyritz is getting ready to be tried on a DUI manslaughter charge in a Fort Lauderdale courtroom stemming from a 2007 crash.
According to prosecutors as reported in a blog post on CNN.com, Leyritz was out celebrating his 44th birthday when he decided to get behind the when of his Sport Utility Vehicle after a “alcohol-fueled” celebration. He allegedly ran through a red light and crashed into Fredia Veitch. The 30-year-old mother of two died in the crash. It was determined following the crash that Leyritz was driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.14.
The reason the case could be problematic for prosecutors is that court records show Veitch was also intoxicated at the time of the crash. Her blood-alcohol level was higher than Leyritz’s at 0.18. The defense is going to use the fact that the woman was drunk, along with alleging that she was distracted on her cell phone, speeding and driving with her lights off and they will also challenger the fact that Leyritz ran a red light claiming it was yellow at the time he went through the intersection.
The case will revolve around the seconds leading up to the fatal crash that lead to the DUI manslaughter charge. Leyritz’s DUI defense lawyers will have their accident reconstruction experts battle those from the state and that may be where the case is decided. There has also been an issue with discovery in the case. The prosecutors admitted a violation but said that it occurred before the trial ever started but the defense has been granted a hearing on that issue, which CNN reported as a minor victory for the lawyers defending Leyritz.
September 24, 2010
Manatee County Drug Blog – Anyone Know Where 260 Pounds Of Marijuana And Two Kilos Of Coke Went?
Two suspected drug dealers could be on their way to freedom as their Mantaee County drug case is at risk with the disappearance of 260 pounds of marijuana and two kilos of cocaine. The Herald Tribune ran a front page story today detailing the loss of evidence and the mess that has become evidence property management in Manatee County.
According to the story the missing cocaine and marijuana are from two separate cases and while Sheriff’s officials say they don’t really know what happened they placed some o the blame on a leaky dehumidifier. One of the issues in Manatee County when it comes to storing evidence is that the county does not use a singular location like many other jurisdictions. In Manatee, evidence is stored in three different facilities including a bank vault leased by the county.
The evidence stored in the bank vault was from old cases. According to the article there was poor record keeping of that evidence and the Sheriff’s office eventually decided to incinerate all of that evidence assuming it would never be needed. When The Innocence Project came to ask for a piece of evidence for DNA evaluation in a rape case, it was gone along with evidence that could have been used in a drug trafficking trial from 11 years ago when the suspect was recently apprehended after jumping bail.
With the recent loss of cocaine and marijuana, both cases against those defendants are in jeopardy. While the drugs seem to have been tested and weighed by the Sheriff’s office, it was never independently evaluated by defense lawyers, which may be enough to foil a conviction in both cases. Manatee County has started to use bar codes for their evidence and a central storage facility in hopes of correcting the problem that is jeopardizing the criminal justice process in Bradenton and Manatee County.
September 21, 2010
Pinellas DUI News – Woman Arrested For DUI Three Times Has Second Loved One Hit By A Drunk Driver
Tina Pellegrino’s 17-year old daughter was in a coma for 56 days after she was hit by drunk driver nine years ago and now Pellegrino has lost her fiancé in a drunk driver accident. Pellegrino was crossing a Treasure Island street with 49-year-old David Happeney when the father of three was struck by a drunk driver and pronounced dead at Palms of Passadena Hospital.
The St. Pete Times is reporting 39-year-old Ann Marie Nunn has been charged with DUI manslaughter in St. Petersburg for the crash that took Happeney’s life. Nunn allegedly had a blood-alcohol level of 0.263, which is more than triple the legal limit. Police report she had just left a bar before the crash and was not only drunk but also taking prescription medication. Happeney was not inside the crosswalk at the time of the crash. That was also the case with eight of the 14 pedestrians who have been killed on Teasure Island’s Gulf Boulevard or Blind Pas Road. Six of those eight deaths was the result of a drunk driver according to police.
Happeney leaves behind three daughters. They ranged in age from 22 to 11. He had moved to the Tampa Bay area four years ago after losing his job. He rented a hotel room on Treasure Island to celebrate Pellegrino’s 43rd birthday. The couple met three years ago and Happeney told family two years later that he was going to marry Pellegrino. The couple was headed back to the hotel when Nunn allegedly ran the man down.
Pellegrino has a history with DUI that is not limited to just having her loved ones involved in drunk driving crashes. The 43-year-old has been arrested three times for DUI herself. The most recent arrest was in 2006. The St. Petersburg Times tried to reach the woman for comment but they were unable to speak with her.